Today is a bit of a sad day for me because due to work obligations, today is my last day at SA Gamer. [Ed – We are all trying to hold back the tears :(] Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to work not only with some of the best writers I know, but also some of the best people. Beyond that, I’ve also had a chance to write some reviews and interact with a lot of you down in the comments section, and I’ll really miss getting to talk about games every day without being ushered politely onto different topics, as is the norm in my real life. In keeping with the melancholic theme of the day, I chose to talk about the games that have had me lying about allergies to cover a sniffle. (This article is, needless to say, riddled with spoilers.)
Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season One
Telltale’s The Walking Dead came out of left field and completely surprised me. I went into it expecting it to be okay, but not great; much how I feel about the TV show. What I got instead was a genuinely moving story about an ex-convict, Lee Everett, and his desire to protect an orphaned little girl by the name of Clementine. During the final stretch of the game, Lee is attacked and infected by walkers and, unable to sever the infected limb quickly enough, the infection spreads. Depending on your choice, Lee might’ve asked Clementine to shoot him, or just reanimated as a walker, but either way, it’s a pretty sad ending to a touching tale (Phrasing!).
Red Dead Redemption
For years, fans of the old spaghetti western movies had been begging big-name studios to create a cowboy game set in the old west. Eventually, Rockstar relented and what we got was Red Dead Redemption, essentially GTA with horses and a lot of desert. Nevertheless, it was a raging success and the story of John Marston’s quest for amnesty in the hopes of being reunited with his wife and son is one for the ages. Marston endures gunfights, cattle rustling, and a trip to Mexico on a raft with the sole goal of seeing his family again, even rejecting the advances of beautiful women in a show of loyalty, commitment, and love for his wife. After finally bringing his old gang to justice, Marston is reunited with his family and settles down on a ranch, teaching his son what it takes to live the life of a law-abiding citizen. Rockstar, however, was not prepared to give the ex-outlaw the happy ending he expected and he was brutally gunned down whilst defending his family against an attack by the very government agent he had been working for.
Final Fantasy VII
You would be hard pressed to find a list of gaming tear jerkers without the inclusion of both The Walking Dead: Season 1 and Final Fantasy VII, but there’s a reason for that. Both of these had me pretty damn close to sobbing manly tears. Dawid, Garth H, and Kyle convinced me to get into Final Fantasy last year and after playing through X and X2, I moved onto what’s probably ranked as one of the best in the series, VII. Unfortunately, because it’s such an old game, spoilers are impossible to avoid and I found out before playing that Aeris dies at some point in the game. I didn’t know how or when it would happen however, so I was on edge constantly, expecting it around every turn. I tried as best as I could to avoid using her as a party member, but the game still forced her personality onto me, and between her hauntingly-beautiful theme song and her kind nature, I desperately wanted to keep her alive. Like Cloud, I was drawn in by her innocence and compassion for her friends. Cloud’s date with Aeris(obviously who you end up with depends on dialogue options that you make leading up to the evening in Golden Saucer, but for me it was Aeris) was actually more depressing for me than her actual death scene because I knew that she would soon meet her demise, and the entire romantic evening would be nothing more than a sad memory.
GTA V (Michael ending)
GTA V was a game about crime, Hollywood culture, drugs, strip clubs, and a maniacal, yet somewhat endearing, redneck. After years of heists and general thievery, Michael Townley retires from a life of crime and moves out to the fictional coastal city of Los Santos. It doesn’t take long, however, for Michael to find himself in a spot of trouble and after destroying the house the house of a Mexican drug lord, he is forced to rely on some of his old methods of acquiring cash in order to repay the debt without the loss of his head and/or testicles. Joining Michael in his pursuit of the almighty (illegally gained) Dollar are his former accomplice Trevor, the aforementioned redneck, and a gang-banger named Franklin. Michael takes Franklin under his wing and trains him in the art of robbing banks and jewelry stores, and the two develop a father/son-like bond.
At the end of the game, Franklin is presented with a choice in which he can kill Trevor, kill Michael, or withstand an onslaught of enemies to save them both. Of course I chose to save them both as I was concerned about my free-roam interests after the credits rolled, but we are afforded the opportunity to go back and see how it would have played out if we chose differently. Choosing to kill Trevor had no real effect on me because as much as I found him funny to have around, his psychopathic nature made watching his fiery death quite satisfying. Choosing Michael, on the other hand, had me quite choked up. When Franklin meets with him after the final heist, Michael tells him how much he appreciates their friendship, and he even invites him around for dinner to meet the family. Mike soon figures out Franklin’s traitorous intentions and flees to the oil fields, where Franklin chases him. The pair find themselves atop an oil tank and after a moving speech by Michael about how he thought of Franklin as a brother (not the gangsta brotha, but an actual brother) a struggle ensues, leaving Michael plummeting to his death and me despising Franklin (and myself) for making this choice.
You didn’t expect my last article to exclude Dark Souls after a year of shoehorning it into almost every feature I’ve written, did you?
Dark Souls is a bleak game and despite the fact that its story is hidden throughout the world, tasking the player with piecing it together themselves, it’s incredibly deep. There are actually a few really sad aspects to the story, but the most heart-wrenching for me was the tale of Artorias and Sif.
When Manus, Father of the Abyss, was awoken, his dark energy corrupted the citizens of Oolacile, so the legendary knight Artorias and his wolf Sif set out to destroy him. They were overrun, however, and as his last heroic act before becoming corrupted by the abyss, Artorias sacrificed himself in order to protect Sif.
In the DLC, you can find and free Sif, who is still a pup at this stage, and he aids you in your fight against Manus. If you do this before facing the fully-grown Sif in the base game, the boss cinematic actually changes to reflect that he recognizes you and seems genuinely sorrowful at the fact that he is forced to attack you in order to stop you from pillaging his former master’s grave.
And that’s all she wrote, folks. It really has been a hell of an experience to be able to bring you some gaming news, write a few features, review some games, and even get into a few constructive debates with some of you. As a parting video, here’s Stewie from Family Guy walking away to the theme song from The Incredible Hulk.