Who says video games can’t be emotional? Granted, a lot of video game stories are fantastical, but once in a while, fans hit upon a golden nugget in a sea of mud. A good ending can leave a lasting impression in players’ minds, and a sad ending even more so.


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A sad one tends to put the events of the story into another context, and it also helps fans remember the game and its story in a more positive light. A bad ending can ruin a story, while a good ending can make one. These are video games with the saddest endings.

Updated October 26, 2022 by Ritwik Mitra: Video games have evolved quite a bit from the early days when gameplay was the only important part of the experience. Now, everything from visuals to story plays a huge role in making a game memorable, with the latter letting certain titles tell impactful and emotional narratives that fans will remember long after they’re finished playing through a particular title. Let’s take a look at some video games with endings that are bound to tug at a player’s heartstrings.

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25/25 BioShock Infinite

  • Released
    : March 26, 2013

  • Platform
    : PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

BioShock Infinite is a great game that needs no introduction. Ken Levine’s final work on the BioShock franchise was absolutely masterful, bringing both an emotional core to the story along with the concept of parallel dimensions.

The ending of the game is a wild thrill ride with a pretty chilling conclusion. It turns out that Booker DeWitt needs to die for Elizabeth to stop being tormented, which makes for a pretty sad way to say goodbye to one of gaming’s most memorable characters.

24/25 Cyberpunk 2077

  • Released
    : December 10, 2020

  • Platform
    : Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Google Stadia, PC

​​​​​Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that faced numerous controversies upon launch before slowly getting fixed over time. Regardless of its issues, there’s no denying that Cyberpunk 2077‘s narrative is the highlight of this title.

Players will form a bond with V and Johnny by the end of this experience, which is why the ending hits so hard. Regardless of what choice players make, the ending will always be accompanied by a tinge of melancholy because of the events that have and will transpire.

23/25 Final Fantasy 10

  • Released
    : July 19, 2001

  • Platform
    : PlayStation2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One

Final Fantasy 10 marked the franchise’s debut on the PS2, and what a debut it was! The game was a critical and commercial success from the word go, with the amazing story and beautiful visuals of the game elevating its status to a whole new level.

The story was pretty upbeat for a world that was being mauled by a massive evil presence over and over again. However, while the gang manages to beat Sin and save Spira, it turns out that Tidus was actually a dream of the Fayth along with Auron, who would disappear for good after the party fulfilled their end goal.

22/25 Transistor

  • Released
    : May 20, 2014

  • Platform
    : PS4, PC, Mobile, Nintendo Switch

Supergiant Games are known as masters of their craft, and Transistor proves once again why this studio deserves so much praise. Transistor‘s mix of real-time and strategic combat makes it a pretty unique gem that more people need to check out, especially if they love Hades.

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Transistor‘s story is pretty mysterious, with the titular sword serving as a narrator in this experience. The end of the game sees the protagonist, Red, stab herself with the weapon so that she can live the rest of her days with the spirit inside the Transistor.

21/25 Marvel’s Spider-Man

  • Released
    : September 7, 2018

  • Platform
    : PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC

​​​​​​​Marvel’s Spider-Man is a pretty cheery and engaging title that fans will have a great time with. However, all the pomp and ceremony won’t help fans get ready for a pretty emotional ending. Watching Aunt May die is a truly saddening event that is certainly meant to help Peter grow. Fans can only wait and see how Marvel’s Spider-Man will contribute to Peter’s character development.

20/25 Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons

  • Released
    : August 7, 2021

  • Platform
    : Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC, Android, Switch

Brother’s: A Tale of Two Sons tells the story of two siblings as they embark upon a brutal and unforgiving quest to find a cure for their father’s illness. It plays around with some interesting mechanics which at the time of its release were fairly revolutionary. Granted, not all of them worked, and even those that did failed to have the impact that developer Starbreeze Studios might have been hoping for. It’s an innovative and unique title nonetheless though.

With the boys’ mother already dead, the importance of finding the cure takes on extra significance and drives them forwards even in spite of the many dangers they face. The pair traverse many hostile environments and eventually encounter a young girl who helps them on their quest. As they near the end of their journey, however, she’s revealed to be a gigantic spider that plans to eat them both. Although the two brothers prevail, one of them is mortally wounded and dies immediately after his younger brother procures the cure they had so desperately been searching for. The game ends with the remaining brother and his father standing next to two tombstones; tears trickling down their faces.

19/25 That Dragon, Cancer

  • Released
    : January 12, 2016

  • Platform
    : PC, Ouya, iOS

That Dragon, Cancer is a beautifully crafted autobiographical game documenting the experiences of the Green family as they raise their infant son, Joel, who died at the age of five following a long battle with cancer. It’s a heart-wrenching experience from start to finish and, sadly, like so many other stories involving cancer, the ending is far from happy. There’s no sugarcoating to be found here, nor are players likely to make it to the end without shedding a considerable amount of tears.

The game is an incredibly depressing one but transcends the medium through its immersion and interactivity. It’s difficult to articulate exactly why people should consider playing it as there’s very little enjoyment to be found in the traditional sense. There’s just something about the game that just draws players in though. To have been able to share Ryan, Amy and Joel’s experiences is a privilege, but to do so also serves as a poignant reminder of how fleeting life really is and how lucky most of us are.

  • Released
    : September 20, 2019

  • Platform
    : Switch

Although Link’s Awakening conforms to the typical Zelda formula in much of what it does, it is one of the series’ more unique entries. For starters, there’s no Princess Zelda to be found here, nor are there any signs of the Triforce either. Players can, however, expect to find a fun-filled journey that spreads itself across one of the series’ most interesting and varied locales. The Switch remake obviously does a much better job of showing off all that Koholint Island has to offer, but the Game Boy version still holds up surprisingly well for one that’s fast approaching its thirtieth birthday.

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As already alluded to, the game’s narrative chooses to ignore the more traditional good versus evil storyline and instead focuses on Link’s quest to return home to Hyrule. As events begin to unfold though, players start to realize that Link’s plan to wake the Windfish will have a catastrophic impact on the island and its inhabitants; many of whom Link (and by extension, the player) has grown incredibly close to. Unperturbed by the consequences, Link continues on with his plan which causes all of the island’s inhabitants to slowly fade away. It’s technically possible to ‘save’ Marin by completing the game without dying, but she is just one of many who called the island of Koholint their home.

17/25 Professor Layton: The Unwound Future

  • Released:
    November 27, 2008

  • Platform:
    Nintendo DS

The Professor Layton series is usually lighthearted, so this might seem like a strange choice for those who aren’t incredibly familiar with the franchise. However, longtime fans know exactly why The Unwound Future makes it onto this list. Throughout the game, Layton is assisted by a woman named Celeste, the supposed sister of his deceased girlfriend, Claire.

The end of the game comes with the realization that Celeste is Claire, who had apparently died while trying to test a time machine prototype. While this would normally be a joyous reunion, Claire is unable to stay in the present and is forcefully sent back to the past, just before the time machine explodes and kills her. It’s a devastating experience for Layton and ends the game on a surprisingly somber note.

16/25 Ori And The Blind Forest

  • Released
    : March 11, 2015

  • Platform
    : PC, Switch, Xbox One

Ori and The Blind Forest is a beautifully presented game with an incredibly compelling narrative, although it’s book-ended by some tear-jerking scenes. The game begins with the death of the titular character’s adoptive mother after a cataclysmic event decimates the forest that they call home. Given the game’s primary themes include loss and acceptance, this was something of a necessity and, to the writer’s credit, it sets up the remainder of the story perfectly. That doesn’t make it any less distressing though.

Alone in the world and without a sense of purpose, Ori teams up with a light-based being called Sein to restore life to the forest. While on their journey, the pair encounter a giant owl named Kuro whose primary aim is to stop Ori. While Kuro is at first painted as little more than a textbook bad guy, it soon becomes clear that she too has experienced great loss and is acting in the best interests of her unborn child. As the game reaches its climax, Kuro sacrifices herself in order to prevent another catastrophe. Life returns to the forest and Kuro’s final egg begins to hatch, but the child will emerge into a world in which it has no one or nothing.

15/25 Corpse Party: Book Of Shadows

  • Released
    : September 1, 2011

  • Platform
    : PSP, PS Vita, PC

Horror titles don’t usually have the most optimistic endings, and the Corpse Party series is no different. A sequel to the original game, Book of Shadows consists of seven main chapters, each expanding upon the stories of secondary characters from the first title. The prologue, Blood Drive, serves as a lead-in to the homonymous sequel, adding some new contentment that pushes the narrative forward.

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The set-up for the sequel is pretty standard, with Ayumi and Naomi, two of the survivors from the original, setting out to find a way to bring back their dead friends. Things quickly go wrong and optimism turns to terror when Ayumi’s older sister is unexpectedly killed and Naomi is branded with a mysterious mark on her eye. It’s a sudden and shocking end that maintains the gruesome brutality the series is known for.

14/25 Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter

  • Released
    : October 8, 2009

  • Platform
    : Nintendo DS

The original ending to Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter was so dark and depressing that subsequent releases featured a completely different conclusion. Given the game’s target audience were primarily children, it’s perhaps understandable why this decision was made. For all intents and purposes, the game is a lighthearted adventure that encourages players to experiment with drawing mechanics. From a gameplay perspective, it’s a lot like Scribblenauts, but when it comes to their stories they could not be more different.

The game takes place in a dreamlike world in which the protagonist, Mike, is trying to rescue his sister. Throughout the game, there are several allusions to ‘that night’ and plenty of signs that suggest something is not quite right. As the game nears its climax, the player learns that the protagonist is actually in a coma and that all of the people he’s encountered throughout his journey will disappear when he wakes up. When he finally does so, it’s revealed through a series of still images that Mike and his family were in a fatal car crash that seemingly killed both of his parents and left his sister with serious facial scarring.

13/25 Persona 3

  • Released
    : July 13, 2006

  • Platform
    : PS2, PSP

Persona 3 has been credited with having thrust the series into the mainstream. The critically acclaimed JRPG boasts a much darker tone compared to its successors. Death is a prevalent theme throughout the game, so it’s only natural for it to end on a tragic note.

After defeating Nyx and saving the world, most players would expect the game to end on a high note. But the victory is short-lived, as players must watch as the main character dies in Aegis’ arms, just as their friends rush to them. The aftermath of the event is explored in FES’s The Answer, which offers the game’s cast and players some much-needed closure.

12/25 The Last Of Us

  • Released
    : June 14, 2013

  • Platform:
    PS3, PS4

It’s not the ending itself that is so heartbreaking, but the final half-hour or so of the game. Everything goes to hell once you reach the hospital, as you learn of Ellie’s impending death, rush to rescue her, and escort her out of the hospital in a blaze of bullets and morose music.

Yes, the ending proper is also very sad, as you can see Ellie’s trust for Joel disintegrate in a second. It’s certainly not as heartbreaking as some of the others on this list, but it’s not very happy, either.

11/25 Mad Father

  • Released
    : December 10, 2012

  • Platform
    : PC, Switch

Mad Father is a unique survival horror game made using the Wolf RPG Maker. Players take on the role of Aya, a young girl who lives with her widowed father and live-in housemaid. When ghoulish creatures infest their mansion, Aya must dig deep into her family history to discover the truth behind her mother’s death as well as her father’s role in the curse.

The game has a couple of bad endings players can reach if certain flags are triggered, but the most unsettling conclusion comes with its true ending. As players progress through Mad Father’s plot, they will discover that the ghouls are victims of Aya’s father’s inhumane experiments. At the end of the game, Aya opens a clinic of her own where it is revealed that she too has a penchant for human experimentation. It’s a fairly bleak ending that leaves players to question whether or not helping Aya survive her night of horrors was the right thing to do.

10/25 Shadow Of The Colossus

  • Released
    : October 18, 2005

  • Platform
    : PS2

We would rank Shadow of the Colossus higher, but the story and characters remained relatively elusive and obtuse throughout the game, which didn’t allow us to connect to it or them on a personal level. That said, it is still heartbreaking. And weird.

The horse dies (not really, but it was sad at the time), it’s revealed that you were being manipulated the whole time, and Wander is sucked into a pool that turns him into a baby. It certainly leaves an impression.

9/25 Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7

  • Released
    : September 13, 2007

  • Platform
    : PSP

Final Fantasy 7 Remake managed to change quite a few things from the original, which left the door open to some massive revelations down the line. Crisis Core ended with Zack dying to protect Cloud, just before the events of Final Fantasy 7. Most players knew that Zack was destined for a tragic end, but seeing it play out the way it did was a tough pill to swallow.

However, the end of Final Fantasy 7 Remake offers players a more optimistic outcome. Zack manages to fend off the Shinra forces that initially killed him and safely escort Cloud to Midgar. It’s definitely a happier ending and one that will undoubtedly affect future entries in a big way.

8/25 Spec Ops: The Line

  • Released
    : June 26, 2012

  • Platform
    : PS3, Xbox 360, PC

War never has a happy ending, and Spec Ops: The Line sees to that. This is essentially the video game version of Heart of Darkness, and it contains just as dark and depressing an ending. For one thing, you come to learn that “Konrad” is actually just a figment of your imagination, a figure you created in your mind to help you rationalize your deadly actions.

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You then have the option to allow “Konrad” to kill Walker, which is essentially Walker committing suicide out of grief and guilt. Fun stuff.

7/25 Halo: Reach

  • Released
    : Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

  • Platform
    : September 14, 2010

We have to say, we did not expect these kinds of feelings from a Halo game. The Halo series always told a good story, but it remained relatively emotionless and impersonal. But that all changed with the brilliant Halo: Reach.

You are forced into a dramatic last stand, and it culminates in your eventual defeat and death. The final shot of the game is your helmet sitting on a grassy plain, a painful reminder of the sacrifice you and your character had made. It’s heartbreaking, but also very touching.

6/25 Conker’s Bad Fur Day

  • Released
    : March 5, 2001

  • Platform
    : N64

For a humorous game about an alcoholic, foul-mouthed squirrel, Conker’s Bad Fur Day really threw us for a loop with its surprisingly dramatic ending. Once becoming King, Conker sits on his throne with a frustrated and dejected look on his face, furious at himself for not asking the “programmers” to bring Berri back to life.

He ruminates on enjoying what you have before it’s gone while the camera slowly pans away, leaving Conker depressed, morose, and guilty. We thought this was a comedy!

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