Touching Moments In Gaming | GameSided Roundtable

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Daniel George (Twitter)

The Last of Us is easily one of my Top 10 games of all time. Naughty Dog really outdid themselves in creating a realistic post-apocalyptic world, while telling a very real story of a truly flawed man. As much of the story focused on Joel, it too shone a light on its enigmatic female lead in Ellie. Forced together under unforeseen circumstances, it takes the length of almost the entire game for the two to truly bond as a team.

That doesn’t mean that Joel is truly honest with his female compatriot traveler, even if he believes it is to her benefit.


The Last of Us ends with Joel saving Ellie from a medical procedure that will kill her in a Fireflies effort to find a cure for the disease that plagues humanity within the game. Instead of telling her the truth, Joel insists that the Fireflies gave up hope looking for the cure, meaning her sacrifice would be ultimately useless. As the game comes to a close, Ellie knowingly asks Joel to swear that what he’s told her is the truth. Joel lies.

The exasperated, knowing “Okay” from Ellie is such a gut punch that caps off an emotional reckoning of a game. I know, you know and even Ellie knows that Joel is lying, but to keep herself alive in a landscape littered with the terrors of monsters and men, she has to go along with the only person who has stuck with her through and through. Even though she gets to live another day, it comes at the expense of being treated like a child, even when she’s shown she is so much more than that. I have no qualms telling you that I shed a tear or two with that ending.

Rebekah Valentine (Twitter)

I’m an incredibly emotional person, so this one’s tough. If a story has any emotional moments at all, you can bet I’ll be in tears for them. But there’s one that keeps coming back to me, likely because it’s still so fresh in my mind and was such a punch in the gut. It’s Clementine’s dream from The Walking Dead, Season 2, Episode 5.

Yes, yes, I can hear the fans protesting now that the ending of Season 1 was much more powerful than the end of 2, and overall it definitely was. But I think the end of Season 1 (and here come the spoilers) is why seeing Lee again, if only for a few moments, hit me so very hard. For a few short minutes, Clementine is a very little girl again, free to cry and seek advice from the most consistent source of love and safety she had through the entire series. Clementine’s dream of Lee sets up the choice she must make in the coming moments while painfully reminding the player of the choices that are already far behind. And it hurts even more, as you realize that none of those past choices really made that much of a difference in the overarching story, yet all along they were shaping Clementine as a character. Season 1 wasn’t about keeping Lee and Clementine alive, it was about helping Clementine grow up. And the dream just rolled it all into a big ball of sad and threw it at me.

Season 2 made it harder to care about anyone other than Clementine, and at times even hard to love Clementine herself as she became silent and dark. But this brief return to Season 1 at just the right time reminded me why I loved her, and why even the ineffective choices are important. When I saw Ben and Kenny and Katja and Duck and of course, Lee, again…I just cried. And didn’t really stop til the end of the game.

Keith Myers (Twitter)

The end of Final Fantasy X.

This one is probably cliche by now, but it still needs mentioning. There is something completely heart-wrenching about Yuna whistling on the dock hoping that Tidus will return. She knew he wouldn’t, but in her desperation she was there calling for the man she loved.

The moment is made even more powerful knowing that Tidus and Yuna both knew this was going to happen. The pair made the ultimate sacrifice for the good of everyone. There was no happy ending. The world was saved and the great evil defeated, but the people most responsible for the triumph were torn apart. One was gone, and the other left to grieve by herself.