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I guess it's sunk cost. No need to torture myself over what are effectively phantasms.

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Emotional Shot to the Gut (Spoilerburgh)

That a manly enough title for you? Some games I spend enough time with that I become attached to the characters. It's different than a book or a movie, but there's still a connection, and the investment of time and interest can lead to some pretty hard-hitting moments for the more sensitive of us, of which I'm one. I don't expect everyone to make a list like this, or even really understand what I mean, but here's mine. I'm pretty much going to Spoilertown with this, so that's my warning. As I expand this list, I realize that I actually have trouble remembering a lot of my strong reactions, even though I'm pretty sure I've had my fair share. Most games don't tend to sit nearly as deeply as films or books do with me, I guess.

List items

  • It comes up a lot when people talk about emotional moments. I don't think Aeris' death felt quite justified in the land of Phoenix Downs, though. I don't remember what they did to justify her permanent death, but it didn't sit well with me. Still, I felt sad when it happened. What really got me, though, wasn't a sad moment. There was this part where Cloud and company are climbing up a hill, and the music was this contemplative, similarly rising music. Not at all connected to the random encounters you get, it was pleasant and calm in a way few pieces of music I'd heard, especially in games, ever evoked. In general I really love the soundtrack for this game.

  • If there was a permanent death that first really got me, it was Nei's. Their reasoning was better than FF VII's if you ask me, since Nei's life was tied directly to her evil half, Neifirst. Defeating Neifirst kills them both. There aren't any strong ramifications, not like you'd see in games now, but at the time it was shocking for me to lose a character I'd begun to connect with. The tone is set early on, though, by an encounter on the North Bridge, after you rescue Teim.

  • I think it was when I hit Nein's cube, looking at the reason behind his reserved nature, that I began to realize the game's potential and a possible reason behind its appeal. But it wasn't until I saw Milla's sad beginning of her always busy party persona that had me and my SO a bit teary-eyed. I think what works is the contrast between the energetic and cartoony main game, and these silent viewmaster-style slideshows.

  • It wasn't as strong reaction, but its theme about death, and how even and afterlife could wind up killing you permanently, left an impression on me. Old Tim Schafer's not afraid of putting a bit of depth into his games, although I get the feeling he's a bit embarrassed about it at times.

  • The characters' struggles with their identities, especially Vivi's, had more depth than I was expecting, and I actually picked up on the theme of death and defiance through the end-boss, which is one of the first times, through gameplay, that I picked up on a game's theme without it having to be telegraphed to me. What really got to me was the opening song, which had the right tone of melancholy to fit a rather dark time I was going through. Not the intent of the composer, obviously, but I needed it all the same.

  • Even though they pretty much telegraphed the important choice you would have to make, I still was sad when it needed to be made.

  • The sentimental good ending helped put a strong finish to what was a pitch-perfect act of grace in freeing the Little Sisters. (And speaking to the strength of this theme, I actually played through it recently and despite knowing the ending it still affected me)

  • As with many games on this list, I never played it, but I still felt a connection to the game after watching the thing. Still, I didn't connect with this as much as I thought I would, in part because it both overstayed its welcome in places, and cheated a character death, which was really unfair. Its dealing with complex issues, even if it tried to sweep a lot of them under the rug later, was admirable, though.

  • The extent of the desecration of the river goddess was really sad and horrifying to me, but what really affected me, probably more strongly than most of the others on this list, was the small act of kindness you get to perform for a couple of restless spirits, and the old man who bore the burden of their loss.

  • A bit dark, but full of wonder.

  • just play it.

  • There's a moment that a little girl faces her destiny, giving up her freedom to be part of something bigger that was very touching to me.

  • There's something about the warped music and desolation of this that made me really contemplate our short time on this tiny orb. I'd give the soundtrack huge credit for this.

  • A wistful moment describing Roger's doomed romance with on of the babes from "part X".

  • Well, at least he helps cause a revolution.

  • At the end, you're set adrift. Yeah, it happened in Alien and yeah, this game had a sequel, but still...

  • It's not easy to say goodbye.

  • There's a desperate situation where you're fighting to save a bridge that's being destroyed by a horde of allied monsters; its destruction increases the likelihood that the town you've been charged to protect will be destroyed. This fight is nerve-wracking enough, but the music that place during this sequence chilled me to the bone. There's something to be said for getting to create your own party: I didn't feel like this situation was just handed to me, I felt as though I had a personal stake in it. I wasn't handed this party from pre-sets, I'd created this group, imagined their personalities, and now they were in the middle of a bid to halt a portion of an army from wiping out a town. The music, though, is what made this happen for me. It could have easily been just another tough fight, but the music managed to convey the PERFECT mood for the mindset I was in, struggling through a possibly suicidal and definitely ugly slaughter. After a couple of tries I managed to stop them-- and after you kill every last creature in the area the music ends in an orchestral strike. The game portion was over, but my internal narrative kept the images going, my imagination fueled by the music and the scenario. Rarely have I ever been affected by a game like that. For that reason alone (though the fight at the palisades was a great preamble) I have to say that this game has one of the best scores I've ever heard.

  • ...he didn't make it.

  • Nothing too sad, but I was surprised that I was a bit emotional when my ship jumped into hyperspace at the conclusion of my Bounty Hunter's story. This game had a definite end-feeling to it, which is probably its most generous feature, and worth checking out for that reason.