The quest for vengeance is a common trope in all media, and video games are no exception. It seems like every other game release features an opening cinematic depicting the death of a wife, father, son, or pet iguana, at which point the main character is expected to go on a massive killing spree in order to avenge his or her loved ones.

You know, like in Red Faction: Guerrilla, when your dearly beloved brother gets killed ten minutes into the game and you spend the rest of the 15 hours on a destructive, red-tinted rampage. That’s basically one step away from a screen with text that says “The bad guys just killed your brother and now you’re really angry!”

The problem is that too many companies release games that focus on this “obligatory revenge” dynamic and simply expect you to care about the people or things that you’ve lost. Players don’t get the opportunity to form a bond with the characters they’re supposed to be avenging. So, if you have no emotional connection to the person or reptile you’ve lost, what’s the point?

I’ve compiled a list of games that not only immerse the player in the game universe, but also address the spectrum of emotion inherent in the arc of loss and restitution. I pulled from a variety of options, and while some games are popular, some might seem totally random, but I assure you that every game on the list does an exceptional job of spinning a superb vengeance-colored yarn. Here is an in-depth breakdown of eight games that go above and beyond the concept of vengeance to deliver a sense of poignant anguish in loss and triumphant catharsis in victory.

BEWARE: Extensive spoilers ahead. Here be dragons.

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This article was first posted on May 14, 2013