Video Games With The Saddest Endings

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. 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.


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This makes it important to have an ending in a video game that caps off a wonderful journey and justifies the many hours that players have invested in a game. This can be easier said than done, with players demanding the highest quality standards from their games and having extremely high expectations that can be hard to match. Thankfully, there are many games that stick the landing with a sad ending that serves as a melancholic end to the player’s journey.

Updated on March 13, 2024, by Ritwik Mitra: It’s amazing to see video games that make a playthrough as emotional as can be. There was a time when gaming used to be simple, so to see story-driven video games try their hardest to get players invested in an emotional narrative. When games succeed in this goal, it’s amazing to realize that many players have shed a tear after finishing their favorite video games, getting invested in these stories and shedding tears at the emotional endings that follow.

WARNING! Spoilers ahead.

28 Inscryption

Bidding Farewell To Leshy Is Surprisingly Emotional

Inscryption - Gameplay


October 19, 2021

Daniel Mullins Games

Roguelike , Deckbuilding

The first act of Inscryption is a masterpiece, with players growing to hate Leshy and his manipulative ways. However, it turns out that this character just wanted to enjoy a good card game with the player, actually putting effort into the roleplaying process, unlike a certain dungeon master who takes over in the final act.

When the game is being erased, Leshy sits down with the player for one more round of Inscryption. Players have grown to like this character, his sentient nature making it clear why one of the developers, Kaycee, found it downright impossible to delete Inscryption from existence. Even after the score tally disappears, Leshy plays on until he is deleted, making this farewell a bittersweet experience.

27 Final Fantasy 15

Noctis Must Purge The Realm Of Ardyn’s Influence At The Cost Of His Own Life

Noctis and friends riding chocobos

Final Fantasy 15

November 9, 2016

Action RPG

It’s a shame that Final Fantasy 15‘s development cycle was so cursed that the game was released in somewhat of an unfinished state despite being in development for way too long than it needed to. The game’s story was so ambitious that a movie and an anime series were released for the title as well, with many people feeling that this hurt the effectiveness of the story instead of helping it.

The game itself was memorable for the bond that the four characters shared while exploring the open world, with regular banter and emotional moments hammering in just how close this band of friends was. After Noctis is encased in the Crystal and the world slowly goes to ruin, he comes back and reunites with his friends to take out Ardyn once and for all. Unfortunately, taking out this malevolent entity meant that Noctis would have to give up his own life, making for a tearful farewell as he shares one last moment with the gang before sacrificing himself.

26 BioShock Infinite

No Matter What, Booker Must Perish To Prevent The Rise Of Prophet Comstock

BioShock Infinite Elizabeth Close To A Factory

Bioshock Infinite
PlayStation 3 , Xbox 360 , Microsoft Windows , macOS , Linux

March 26, 2013

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.

25 Bloodborne

None Of The Three Different Endings Have Outright Positive Connotations

Ludwig in Bloodborne

As is the case with most FromSoftware games, Bloodborne is a title that will wow players and make them feel lonely as they fight back against the oppressive nature of the Hunter’s Nightmare. The game’s dark Gothic atmosphere is just a front for the nightmarish Lovecraftian horrors that lay within, with players slowly uncovering a horrible mystery that seemingly has no end.


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Horror games aren’t only known for their frights. Some of the best horror games have rather sad endings that do away with the scares.

All three endings in Bloodborne are pretty sad in their own right, and even the one where the player escapes the Hunter’s Nightmare isn’t without some horrible connotations of its own. The fact that the true ending of the game involves the player becoming a Great One is proof enough of how dark the game’s ending really is.

24 Cyberpunk 2077

V’s Attempt To Take Control Of His Body Fails No Matter What He Does

V and Jackie facing off against a squad of Maelstrom gangers in Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077

December 10, 2020

​​​​​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 Final Fantasy 10

Tidus Is A Dream Of The Fayth That Must Disappear After Yu Yevon’s Defeat

Tidus gazing at Sin outside the Zanarkand Ruins in Final Fantasy 10

Final Fantasy 10

December 17, 2001


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 Transistor

Love Works In Mysterious Ways, With The Ending Proving This Statement And Then Some

Perfect Gaming Characters - Feature - Red holds on to Transistor


May 20, 2014

Action RPG , Strategy

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 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 Marvel’s Spider-Man

Peter Makes The Hard Choice To Sacrifice Aunt May For The Greater Good

Spider-Man battling Tombstone

Marvel’s Spider-Man

September 7, 2018

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 Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons

In A Quest To Save Their Father, One Of The Brothers Loses His Life

The ending of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

August 7, 2013


Brothers: 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 forward 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 have 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 That Dragon, Cancer

The Entire Game Is An Emotional Gutpunch, Documenting The Life Of A Baby Living With Terminal Cancer

That Dragon Cancer

That Dragon, Cancer

January 12, 2016

Numinous Games


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.

Link and Marin beach Link's Awakening

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

September 20, 2019


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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Nintendo prioritizes gameplay over story, with most titles opting for lighthearted narratives. However, a select few games end on really dark notes.

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 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 Professor Layton: The Unwound Future

Layton’s Partner Can Only Stay With Him For So Long, Destined To Die After A Failed Experiment


  • Released: November 27, 2008
  • Platform: Nintendo DS
  • Developer: Level-5

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 Ori And The Blind Forest

The Antagonist Kuro Ends Up Being A Sympathetic Figure Who Sacrifices Herself To Protect Her Unborn Child

Ori and the Blind Forest art

Ori and The Blind Forest

March 11, 2015

Moon Studios

Platformer , Adventure

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 Corpse Party: Book Of Shadows

The End Is Marred With Death And Despair, Which Is On Brand For The Corpse Party Series


  • 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 Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter

Mike Is Revealed To Be In A Coma After An Accident That Led To The Death Of His Parents And Scarred Her Sister

drawn to life the next chapter box art

  • 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 was 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 Persona 3

The Protagonist Dies A Slow Death After Sacrificing Himself To Save The World

persona 3

Persona 3

July 13, 2006


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 The Last Of Us

Joel Lies To Ellie About The Fireflies And How Humanity Is Doomed With His Selfish Decision

The Last of Us

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 players reach the hospital, as players 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.


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Players were heartbroken when they realized that these so-called friends weren’t really on their side.

Yes, the ending proper is also very sad, as players 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 Mad Father

Aya Ends Up Going Down The Same Dark And Depraved Path As Her Father

Mad Father is all about the psychological scares

Mad Father

December 10, 2012


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 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 Shadow Of The Colossus

Wander Kills All Of The Colossi and Almost Unleashes Dormin’s Wrath, Losing Himself To Save His Love

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus

October 18, 2005


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 the player was being manipulated the whole time, and Wander is sucked into a pool that turns him into a baby. It certainly leaves an impression.

9 Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7

Zack Dies A Heroic Death After Sacrificing Himself To Save Cloud

Zack and Cloud laughing together

Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core

September 13, 2007

Action RPG , Fighting , Action-Adventure

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.