The Very Best Emotional Games That Will Make You Cry

The very best emotional games offer an experience that lingers long after you’ve put down the controller, be it joy, sadness or the satisfaction of a world well told. Expressing themselves through the soundtrack, gameplay or writing – and often all three – emotional games bring a deeper gaming adventure to the forefront, and make a great change from a few quick rounds with the gang (though that can get pretty poignant, too).

Let’s take a look at the very best of emotional games from the last few years, from the evocative Journey to thought-provoking android affair Nier: Automata. Got tissues?

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The Best Emotional Games

best emotional games journey

Journey – best emotional games

Travel across the desert as a mysterious, mute figure in Journey, a game about reaching your destination with the help of others along the way. Players are joined by other anonymous players during exploration of the game’s gorgeous but haunting environments, and since you can only communicate with chirps and jumps, it’s a pure co-op experience that tugs at the heartstrings. Add the reactive soundtrack and Journey is undoubtedly one of the best emotional games you can play in an afternoon. Bonus points for only revealing other player’s identities after the credits.

best emotional games life is strange true colors

Life is Strange: True Colors – best emotional games

In Life is Strange: True Colors, you play as empath Alex Chen, navigating the complexities of a small town mystery and its resulting emotional damage on the townspeople. Reprising the series’ staple of difficult characters with psychic powers, Alex can literally see people’s emotions as auras, tying narrative to gameplay as you try to untangle feelings into a coherent storyline. A compelling episodic adventure, True Colors allows you to think about real experiences that people live through, while providing a satisfying mystery to unravel.

best emotional games spiritfarer

Spiritfarer – best emotional games

Ferry souls to the afterlife in Spiritfarer, a contemplative adventure with hand-drawn art and animation, a colourful cast of animal characters, and plenty of chances to say goodbye. Describing itself as a ‘cozy management game about dying’, Spiritfarer lets you build and manage a ferry, sailing your way across the seas while fulfilling the last wishes of the spirit passengers. A bittersweet take on resource management, this is a story to cry along to, so it’s a good thing the bright colours and vibrant backgrounds are easy to see through the tears.

best emotional games disco elysium

Disco Elysium

Not all emotional games are sad games, as proved by Disco Elysium, the detective RPG set in a politically-charged fantasy world. Inspired by games like Planescape: Torment, the game brings its isometric, decision-making format to life with a distinct art style, alt rock soundtrack, and dialogue options that other RPGs could only dream of. Main character Harry learns about himself as you do, making you empathise as you both discover how much of a mess he really is. A desolate game about an amnesiac alcoholic, Disco Elysium is also extremely funny, if you like your emotions on a rollercoaster.

best emotional games nier automata

Nier: Automata

Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by androids, Nier: Automata explores the question of life after humanity, with branching storylines and a central conflict focusing on a pointless proxy war. Like the other games in the Drakengard series this is a poignant look at the darkness of reality, the sense of struggling to a better place, and what love and self-worth really mean. One of the best emotional games to look at philosophy and psychology in a meaningful way, especially if you think beyond creator Yoko Taro’s eccentrism.

Overcome with feeling yet? Read on to find our next picks for the best emotional games to try, from games to cry over to games that’ll make you go outside and touch grass.