Updated with a few more games!
Not too long ago, we published a list of the Best Funny Games On Switch, which showcased all the finest comedy and capers that the Nintendo Switch has to offer. But much like the iconic Greek masks of comedy and tragedy, it's pointless to have happiness without its counterpart, sadness.
Lightness needs darkness to exist, and so too does laughter need sorrow — and, you know, sometimes it's just really cathartic to have a nice big sob session. Whether your tears are triggered by starcrossed lovers, familial grief, or the existential pain of mortality itself, there are plenty of games in here to get you sobbing.
Grab the tissues and a pint of ice cream for these tear-jerkers...
What Remains of Edith Finch (Switch eShop)
What Remains of Edith Finch is a 'Walking Simulator' that doesn’t just tell an unforgettable story – it's genuinely unforgettable. As tragic as its tale is, it always manages to entertain. As one section ends and as you fight back tears, you’ll always carry on, because the next story is as engrossing as the last. If you want a strong feature-length story that doesn’t waste a minute, Edith Finch is the one you need.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Switch eShop)
As poignant, heartbreaking and memorable as it was back in 2013, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons hasn’t lost any of its emotional impact in those intervening years. With a captivating soundtrack, an aesthetic design evocative of Fable and a genuinely clever take on co-op, you can really see why it’s held in such high regard.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season (Switch eShop)
What makes this season so unmissable is Lee’s paternal relationship with young Clementine, an eight-year-old girl left alone to face the end of the world. Its a setup that could have been cheapened in the hands of another developer, but here Lee’s growing coldness is gradually thawed through his newly adopted role as guardian, while Clementine becomes far more than another stock NPC in need of protection. The seeds of the woman we see in The Final Season are sowed in these first five episodes and you soon come to appreciate that you’re seeing this world as much through her eyes as you are through Lee’s. This first instalment bodes well for the tragedy and horror to come.
To The Moon (Switch eShop)
To The Moon is a short game – it's all over in a matter of four or five hours – but in that small amount of time it manages to make its players directly confront uncomfortable situations and emotions with which we'll all struggle at some point in our lives. It's written with a degree of sincerity and honesty that gives these moments real impact – we were left with tears in our eyes a few times.
Before I Forget (Switch eShop)
Before I Forget is a short, beautiful experience that nevertheless approaches a challenging and rather sombre subject. It takes creative bravery to share a game that represents the impact of dementia, and to do so sensitively and as accurately as possible; it achieves this goal. We not only suffer the disease with Sunita, but engage with the successes and joys of her life. Before I Forget finds a careful balance that is to be commended.
Ori And The Blind Forest: Definitive Edition (Switch eShop)
Ori is known for its mega-challenging Metroidvania platformer elements, but it's also worth calling out its heartwrenching intro, which is reminiscent of Up, AKA that movie that makes everyone cry in the first ten minutes. The mesmerising art style and musical score are the icing on the cake that makes the player actually care about the protagonist and want to keep playing to the game’s conclusion.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)
You can play Majora's Mask through the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack service — and you definitely should, because it's stunning. It's weird. And it's so, so sad. It's a tale of the loss of innocence, loneliness, grief, and learning how to move on, all of which are impressively deep topics for a Zelda game that was made in under two years. Play it already!
This War of Mine Complete Edition (Switch)
Particularly poignant right now, This War of Mine is a civil war survival sim set in a fictional country called Graznavia, which sees desperate civilians holing up as best they can in a city under siege. Tough decisions come thick and fast, exacerbated by inclement weather and dwindling supplies. Robbing vital provisions from defenceless people won’t sit well with everyone in your camp and morale isn’t simply an emoji here. At its heart, This War of Mine is a game about broken people. It forces you to make brutal, demoralising decisions to get by – stealing, killing, turning ‘useless’ people away. It makes you appreciate the escapism you have at your fingertips while giving you pause for the terrible reality it depicts.
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Firewatch (Switch eShop)
Another candidate for the "Made Me Cry In 5 Minutes" award, Firewatch starts out heavy with a short story about how you became a fire lookout guy in the first place. You never quite meet anyone in this game, but with the company of Delilah, your fellow fire lookout, on the walkie-talkie, you manage to have heavy conversations nonetheless. Firewatch has that sorrowful end-of-summer vibe, with the sense that everything is about to change forever hanging over you the whole time.
Gone Home (Switch eShop)
Gone Home's story is told in snippets through diaries, letters, and notes, as Katie, the 21-year-old prodigal daughter, returns home to find her family gone. As you explore, you find things out about your family that you never knew before — your father’s younger years as he struggled to find a publisher for his books. or stories written by your sister, Sam, in elementary school that show the seeds of a troubled soul. You discover a side of your sister that you hadn't seen, as she makes the transition from child to adult, and finds herself in the process.
Saddest for me was Jump Force Deluxe after realizing that I wasted money on it.
I know when I completed Ori and the Will of the Wisps for the first time I cried for the entire night and it took me a good month at least to get over it completely. Very unusual for a game to affect me on such a scale, it was the same with Blind Forest. Hell I cry after pushing the start button with Blind Forest because let's not forget Ori dies before his Journey even begins.
There needs to be an Ori movie. It worked with Pokémon and Sonic so I don't see why it can't work with Ori.
@RubyCarbuncle Wait...you mean in the sense of the light getting destroyed or something? I don't exactly remember how the first Ori started.
[SPOILER FOR ORI AHEAD, SORRY COULDN'T AVOID IT]
You saying you needed a month to get over it was honestly pretty funny 😅. Not mocking you of course! Ori makes me cry every single time i begin either of the games and i love them for it. They're so beautiful. The ending to the second Ori (which i don't wanna spoil here) really had me kinda devastated...like yeah the cycle can continue i guess...but does it? Or is it implied that it's actually over? Ah idk. Either way, Ori is wonderful. I just feel a little unwilling to replay them if Ori is no more after the second game.
@RubyCarbuncle An Ori movie? You want me to cry even more? 🥺
@Erigen that was my biggest spontaneous laugh I had this year, thank you!
Xenoblade Torna broke me emotionally
Oh my god the image you guys chose for What remains of edith finch
@Axecon Yeah I haven’t played it yet but I have heard it’s one of the saddest Nintendo games.
Add Gris, Celeste, and Old Man's Journey for sure. But To the Moon Everything's Alright wrecked me the worst. Also, that emotional sucker punch in Mario Galaxy's Rosalina story.
@StefanN Yup a month. Everytime I thought of it, especially the bit when Ori starts having flashbacks after the final battle with really sad music playing, a stirring of memories I just broke down. Lol listening to it right now on my YouTube Music account on my phone I can feel myself being affected by it even now. Idk I cry very easily.
@StefanN I would love an Ori movie but I wouldn't want them to make it too sad as I often found myself getting extremely overwhelmed by my emotions to Wisps. I can play it now though but that's not to say I don't find it sad still because it is.
Surprised Xenoblade 2 or Torna aren't on here, that game got me and a bunch of other people that played it really emotionally, especially at the ending.
Good on you for having Hellblade up there! More people should play it.
For my rec, I have to bring up The Missing: JJ Macfield and the Island Of Lost Memories. It's gpt zany physics puzzles, an increasingly Jacob's Ladder-like atmosphere, and most of all: self-harm hyperviolence.
All the grotesque imagery eventually adds up to a chilling revelation that will have you reviewing everything you've seen in the game thus far and suffice to say I spent the last twenty or so minutes of the game bawling my eyes out, then angry as heck at the final boss, then bawling again.
It's a bit clunky in its visuals, but the storytelling is amazable. Too bad that you can't tell people it's about LGBT issues without spoiling one of the plot twists, but I will do so anyhow if the above didn't compel you. You know how most LGBT themed games are either VNs or porn? This one's neither, and is pretty good regardless.
I'm just starting my second play through Spiritfarer now, having completed it around this time last year. I'd say that the characters have a little bit more meaning the second time around, when you have the perspective that you finish the game with with you at the beginning.
I'm surprised Gris isn't on this list.
There's a breathtaking catharsis to the ending, but the journey there is heartbreaking.
No Final Fantasy 10?
Great Ace Attorney Chronicles got me the most. The music alone makes it worth playing, but it definitely tugs at the heart strings when you finally finish the final case of Resolve. Just so. Freaking. Good.
I cried playing Hollow Knight (the part where you climb out of the abyss and the non dreamnail ending)
Quite a few excellent and very sad games in this list. Night In The Woods, Firewatch, Gone Home, Link's Awakening and What Remains of Edith Finch all made me cry at one point or another. Although the top price in that regard would probably belong to To The Moon. Such an emotional story!
Gris needs to be on there as others have said. To The Moon definitely was a gut punch. What made the sadness of that game dialed up to 11 for me was when I played it back in the day it just so happened to be right after my ex of 6 1/2 years and I broke up. I was already a wreck and so it was extra icing on the depression cake
Man, I cried like a little bitch at the end of TWD Season 1... Heart wrenching stuff. When my girlfriend asked me if I was crying I couldn't speak and teared up even more. Once I was able to speak I finally said: "It's just so sad, you know?"
She had no idea a videogame could have such a profound effect on me, haha
@PineappleLake No voice to cry suffering.
The opening to Ori is up there with the opening to Up for most tear duct opening beginning in media
I haven't finished Child of Light yet because every chapter hits me so hard
Personally I found out Detention (by Taiwanese developer Red Candle Games) to be the saddest game I ever played. It has a deep plot, a devastating ending but also horror elements that kept me away from playing at night.
I'd add The First Tree to the list. Most of the game is quite chilled, but the end of the journey is very sad. I thought it was quite affecting, bu my offspring (who beat me to the end of the game) enjoyed playing most of it, but was so upset by the ending they asked for the game to be deleted from our Switch so they wouldn't have to see it in the list and be reminded of it
I didn't connect with Night in the Woods at all but I find it a bit strange that it makes a lot of lists in video game media for a multitude of reasons.
The saddest game I have on Switch is Anodyne 2, even the "happy ending" is mostly an emotional gutpunch.
Final fantasy 15’s ending was sad, it was the first video game to make me tear up.
You might add Bioshock Infinite. It was quite sad at the end when you realize it is predetermined/doomed to fail
Also Little Nightmares 2.
The only thing I’m crying about is not being able to buy a n64 controller for my switch and play major as mask how it’s meant to be played
I guess I like sad games that you you cry because I've played over half of these. Haha!
For a second there, I thought that there was a game called "Major ass mask". Wouldn't that be something? 😆
Played Edith Finch, honestly didn't get what the review was all about, I felt nearly nothing throughout that whole thing and when it ended I was just confused why this was supposed to be emotional. Child of light, same thing. Now To the moon and Ori got me good, especially Ori had me tearing up five minutes after the game started. Love that game and its sequel even if that one didn't get me that emotional a second time.
As for the zelda games... eh? Link's awakening, sad? I found the plot twist more interesting than saddening. Sure, the implications are a bit sad, but the game just shrugs it off and trudges on. Majora's mask lost any chance at impact with how the internet spoiled it completely for me when I was younger.
I'm one of those who can take human sadness in media pretty well, but if it's visited on an animal, that hurts. Maybe it's a distillation - stuff happens, but when it involves what I perceive as an innocent, I have a much harder time with it. That's probably why the Ori intro cuts so hard.
@TSR3 I enjoyed the First Tree, for the most part. I find the...gimmick at the end of the game intriguing and wonder if my boy will ever see what I left behind there for him.
No Clannad??? That game is sad incarnate.
This needs Gris.
For me, I'm not sure that Hellblade is sad? It may make one cry, but not for that reason. The novel of Last Exit to Brooklyn makes me cry, not because it's sad, but for the horror of the causal abuse/violence that can be easily inflicted.
@Noelemahc - that sounds like a really interesting game! Thanks for writing about it.
@RubyCarbuncle Awww man i feel you and i find that kinda nice. I too cry easily. But that just means your emotions can express themselves unhindered, which i would say is healthy. Of course that doesn't count for every emotion but feeling sadness is different to anger or something. And crying helps process things. So yeah, cry away, i'll sure do too, haha
"Sad" isn't the word I'd describe MM with. It's "melancholy".
Triangle Strategy gave me tears of joy and sorrow many times.
Dark Souls is pretty endlessly bleak if you're paying attention. I didn't think of Gone Home as very sad?
Edith Finch and Blind Forest definitely belong on here, 100%.
Pinstripe deserves a spot though, absolute gut punch of an ending.
Where the heck is Rime? Saddest game ever made...
Horace belongs on this list!
Agree with Nepo...
How could you forget Rime?
I also remember Mario Odyssey, the bit where you are climbing the tower with Cappy and Mario chatting. The realisation the adventure is over and they are saying goodbye. That got me.
I wouldn't exactly call them "sad" games, but Final Fantasy 7 and Super Metroid. Those of you who played them know what I'm talking about, and y'all know you cried the first time you saw it. Don't try to lie!
@Nepo Ohhh forgot that one. Brutal.
I'd add any of Tokyo RPG Factory's games, but especially I am Setsuna. Also Torna - The Golden Country. Xenoblade 2 is a bit too ridiculous to take seriously, but Torna is separated enough and well-written enough to get you pretty invested in the characters. Then there's games like Dark Souls, Iconoclasts, and Hollow Knight, where forming an emotional attachment to a character is basically just asking to be hurt. They might be more just bleak than actually sad depending on how you set your expectations.
@Erigen Really? I actually think it's pretty fun if you go into it looking for a flashy explosion-fest with a lot of cool characters. I wouldn't buy it for the narrative or the multiplayer, but figuring out how to exploit the cpus into oblivion is a great time.
No Disco Elysium? As a depressed drunk, I frequently had to put it down to go to bed because everything feels bad, man.
@Nepo agreed: when I got to the end, I couldn’t believe the truth about the boy. It took a few minutes to sink in. ( I hope that’s not a spoiler!)
@Jcdbengals Same! The big reveals in the last cases of 2 got me tearing up, it can get really heartbreaking and emotional!
Opus Echo of Starsong NEEDS to be on this list
Forgotten Annie was kinda emotional too when you think about this world of forgotten things that once held meaning in our world with their original owner, but have fallen to another dimension. It made me think about a lost action figure, favorite shirt, a hat I wore as a child, stolen bike, etc. Don't let me even spoil a certain character that you had to choose to kill or save... Underrated sadness.
I would add Gris, Celeste and Horace. Horace left a lasting impression on me about humanity and caring for a robot that at first seemed to have little emotions. Quite the feat.
@mr_benn I want to do another playthrough of Spiritfarer, but I don't know if my heart can take it. No other game or movie has ever made me cry that hard. Alice & Stanley destroyed me.
Arise : a simple story would be a good honorable mention
Gris and The House in Fata Morgana are missing from the list.
Especially Fata Morgana. I cried six times playing through it. To the Moon is heart breaking but Fata Morgana is soul crushing in my opinion.
Owl Boy....that ending
Maybe Disco Elysium, could swap that for Links Awakening. Pretty sure nobody is gonna play that game for its "sad" story
@Zimon I can't believe I forgot Fata Morgana after everything I went through with that game! I'll add it when I get the chance
@KateGray OPUS: Rocket of Whispers deserves to be on this list because I didn't feel like I was playing a game so much as a game was playing with my emotions. Holy crap it was sad. But amazing.
@tabris95 Spoilers! Or not... I haven't gotten very far into Echo of Starsong yet, but after playing the first two OPUS games I expect to find myself awkwardly holding back tears on the train a lot from here on out.
Interesting match-up. I'd definitely say Final Fantasy 7 is sad in very explicit, obvious ways that everyone can agree with.
Super Metroid, on the other hand, I don't know. I obviously love it, and that ending is an all-time videogame moment, but I wouldn't associate "sadness" with it. I mean, it's emotional, but it's also rousing and heroic.
Why'd you leave out life is strange?
house in Fata Morgana
Kingdom Hearts 3
If you play Senua’s Sacrifice, do it with headphones. Then watch all the behind the scenes videos. That is a powerful and important game, made by people who care.
@UltimateOtaku91 For real, X and X2 still get me. Just hearing the first few notes of X’s ending theme is tough.
Ah man, I REALLY wanted to like Spiritfarer, and for the first few hours I really did, the graphics and the music are gorgeous, but after a few solid evenings of playing, progression seemed to grind to a halt and searching for resources became a bit of a chore/grind, and I dunno, the characters' stories didn't click with my emotions the way I thought they would (except for the hedgehog, her story was beautiful)
I cried so hard with the walking dead season 1 that ending got me.
Removed - unconstructive feedback; user is banned
I agree with To The Moon for sure.
First game that hit me with the feels was final fantasy 6 (or 3 as it was then in the west). I was astounded that a video game could do that. There’s some pretty heavy themes going on at the start of the second half of that game. I know ff7 has a more famous moment in it but it didn’t have quite the same resonance for me.
I seem to remember that early ds game being pretty sad too but I can’t recall the name of it or even what happens. It was a story based game, quite short, that made lots of use of the ds hardware. EDIT: another code - two memories. Googled it. Still don’t recall the specifics though.
Oxenfree had its moments too as I recall. And when it comes to Zelda, actually BOTW had an overall tinge of sadness. I know the story (the memories) only made up a small part of the game, but the flashbacks to what was with Zelda and the champions, contrasted against Link battling all alone a hundred years in the future, had a certain poignancy.
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