9 Video Games That Played With Your Emotions

Those pixels that got you right in the feelers.

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Whether it's your unholy despair when reading Fifty Shades of Grey or ecstatic joy when seeing a new Adam Sandler film, emotional responses are key to understanding any form of art. It's these reactions that uniquely define your experience and memories thereafter, with video games being no exception.

Some may mock the idea of a game evoking an emotional reaction in the same way as other art forms - and that was a fair argument back in the early days of gaming, as such complex feelings were not quite Pong's forte. But storytelling has evolved in gaming since then, and these days various titles wield the power to knock you emotionally sideways in a way that's entirely different to other creative mediums.

Unlike films, books or music, playing an active role a structured storyline can feel like you're the person moving the plot along.

This gives you a unique front row seat in any emotional drama that then gets played out, as every plot twist, revelatory rug-pull, backstab or final confrontation is yours to take in first-hand.

9. Firewatch

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There aren't many video games that are prepared to tackle such tough topics as mental illness, but Firewatch isn't like many video games.

You play as fire lookout warden (Henry), and must unravel a physical mystery that's unfolding in the woods, as well as coming to terms with the emotional mystery playing out inside Henry's own head. You see, Henry is a man wracked by personal guilt and tragedy, as he struggles to deal with the diagnosis of his wife's early-onset dementia.

Firewatch's willingness to explore Henry's fragile emotional state is the game's triumph, as it turns the first-person perspective into an entry point for the player into his mind.

Smart writing and excellent voice acting from the two leads - all played out on walkie talkie, as Henry bonds with fellow fire warden, Delilah - makes Firewatch a powerful emotional experience.


Writer. Proud owner of a 1950-2000 Grays Sports Almanac. Has never created a dystopian alternate timeline (yet).