"Kharak is burning." (Emotional moments in games)

The other day, my iTunes popped out a piece I hadn’t heard in a long, long, LONG time. A quiet string melody that slowly built up began playing. I checked to see what it was, with a vague sense of remembering it, and the caption showed it was Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Op. 11. I stopped what I was doing and sat back to listen. And then it hit me.

I knew this piece, and it wasn’t as anything written by Barber. I closed my eyes and could see and hear it in my mind:

“No one is left. Everything’s gone. Kharak is burning.” (Images of devastation on the planet below)
A quick search on Google affirmed my recollection: the music had been used in the game Homeworld during the cut scene where you’ve tried your first jump, got surprised by a minor attack, and rushed back home, only to find you were too late.

Now I want to emphasize: I haven’t fired up Homeworld in well over 15 years. And I haven’t heard the Adagio for Strings that I can recall in that time. So this is a memory that is so implanted in my brain, that it survived all that time and yet pretty much instantly returned me to that memory upon hearing the music.

I’m not surprised it did, either. That scene was one of the most memorable points in any game I’ve ever played on a computer. It transformed a simple space game into something emotional, something visceral. It didn’t matter that it was just a computer game; I wanted to avenge their deaths, save the cryo trays, etc. And the music was a large part of that. It was one of the best pairings of music and moment I’ve experienced in a game, ever.

What other emotional moments of similar nature have you experienced?

In the western Red Dead Redemption, there’s a major milestone mission that unlocks Mexico as a playable area on your map. It also triggers a musical interlude. My first playthrough, it was night when I finished that mission, and the ride to Mexico, under the stars, with that tune playing, and the sun coming up just as I reached the pueblo… after a particularly intense mission, that was an amazing moment of released tension.

World In Conflict, with its expansion Soviet Assault was a fun game with very well done cut-scenes. One character arc in particular followed an American Captain Bannon who is introduced very much as an unlikable figure and nemesis to the main player character, but gradually his backstory is revealed and you begin to feel for him as you understand him a little better. Ultimately he goes into the final battle vowing to himself that this time he won’t screw up, that he’ll redeem himself for all his prior mistakes.

And he does, he sacrifices himself to cover the withdrawal of the others and dies a hero.

It was surprisingly subtly done, though that game in general didn’t really get the recognition it deserved in my opinion.

The ending of the opening for The Last of Us. With Joel and Sarah. Say no more.

In The Witcher 3, the part with the Bloody Baron and the botchling. I haven’t reached that part in my playthrough yet, but saw it in a “let’s play” video years ago, and still gets me a bit choked up when I think of it.

I can think of three video game sequences that made me feel terrible.

In “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic”

ordering Zaalbar to kill his best friend Mission.

In “Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare”

killing all of the sasquatches and then the last sasquatch asks why you would do such a cruel thing.

In “Mass Effect 3”

when Tali committed suicide. I had played through the game multiple times before and I didn’t even know that was a possibility.

The only such moment that I’m remembering, at this moment:

Final Fantasy XIV

[spoiler]An NPC, Haurchefant, becomes a longtime supporter of the “Warrior of Light” (the player character). He’s funny and charming, and some of his interactions with the Warrior of Light are just a little flirtatious (and, as I understand it, the flirting is a bit more overt in the original Japanese dialog).

In a cutscene near the end of the Heavensward storyline, a hidden assassin hurls a spear of magical energy at the Warrior of Light. Haurchefant jumps in the way of the spear, using his shield – and his body – to protect the player character. The spell pierces his shield, and deals him a fatal wound. Haurchefant uses his final breaths to utter a few words of devotion, then dies while holding the Warrior of Light’s hand.

The first time I played through that scene, I cried.

Later on, your character is given Haurchefant’s shield as a memento. I cried again.

Here’s the entire cutscene; the attack is at about 2:00. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1LNJVq0Lp4 [/spoiler]

Doesn’t quite fit with the OP, but the trailer for the first Gears of War game with Gary Jules’ cover of Mad World as the hero is stomped to death by a gigantic spider was moving. Also prophetic, as it turns out, to how I was going to fare in that make believe world.

Um…spoilers here? I quit reading after a couple posts.

That one button press at the end of “Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons”. I dare not spoil it, but easily my favorite single interactive video game moment.

Also, I surprising got emotional at the end of Journey. I played it long after it had first come out and had no idea that the other entities in the game were real live players. I thought it was all random A.I. characters. There was one other player in particular who was right by my side for the entire final ascent of the mountain. When the credits finally rolled and they list all the other people you had interacted with, it hit me like a ton of bricks that there was another real live stranger who had just shared that experience with me. It made me tear up because it just caught me so off guard. Shame that video games are so underappreciated as an art-form.

The Good Ending of Bioshock was touching.

The first “The Walking Dead” Telltale game. A lot of the decisions you have to take, but the ending was really powerful. The first game I ever went to Facebook to write a recommendation for. The voice acting, the Music - it was a piece of art. Especially as for this last decision there is no timer. I think I stared at the screen for five minutes wishing for an alternative to pop up. Obviously you cannot remake this magic, and even though I played some of their other titles, none came close to the impact of the first.

That was exceptional.

Not as good, but memorable for me, MGS3 ladder climb, where it is strongly hinted that we are “still in a dream”??

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgaYe4ZYYyY

I don’t have any better examples than what’s already been mentioned. I’ll just add that simply reading the subject sent chills up my spine. I can imagine the moment, with the music, right now. It really was powerful. It also motivated me to capture every single Ion Frigate in the Bridge of Sighs mission with the giant sphere of them (IIRC, there were 100+) so I could rain death upon my enemy.

When you finally find out what the bronze sphere is for in Planescape Torment. In fact, the entire end sequence in that game is so well done and bittersweet.

The final fight in Okami when all those you helped throughout the game join in prayer to help you.

In Doom (2016) when you get your hands on the double shotgun and now you can kill demons twice as fast. Always makes me tear up.