Emotional Themes Run High in the World of Gaming

Over recent years, online gaming has seen a massive boom, meaning that story-driven games are often getting left in the dark. However, a lot of franchises such as GTA, Assassin’s Creed and Naughty Dog exports, have kept immersive and emotional storytelling alive and thriving in the gaming world.

One of the many reasons why fans delve into a story-driven game is the emotional aspect. The games aren’t just there for you to complete missions and get from A to B. They’re created to fully engross you into the world and put yourself in the characters shoes.


The emotional context of some of the biggest games can make or break a game. Let’s take a look at the ones that got it right.

Be warned, plotlines of various games are revealed so spoiler alert!!

Family isn’t always through blood

Rockstar Games have always been a trailblazer at showing us the world of crime through exceptional storytelling. From the family tones in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to the turmoil of Cole Phelps in L.A Noire, they’ve shown how even the most unlikely of characters can be loved.

The Red Dead series is no exception and has made us fall in love with characters we should really hate. John Marston is the somewhat lovable protagonist in the first game and fans rejoiced when they found out he’d be making a return in Red Dead Redemption 2 as a secondary character.  

Not only do we get to see his relationship with the infamous Van der Linde gang he hunts down in the first game, but we also see the things he had to do to keep his family in Abigail and Jack safe and his relationship with new protagonist Arthur Morgan, as they both battle with their obligations to the gang and their moral compass.

Despite the duo of John and Arthur being outlaws, as player we somewhat feel sorry for the pair through heartbreaks, broken family and ultimately death. Red Dead Redemption 2 has really set the bar high for any future stories coming out from Rockstar.

Fathers of the gaming world

The father and child bond has been shown in various story-driven games but none have the emotional pull like The Last of Us and God of War. Both games follow a father figure, defending their “child” on a mammoth journey.

The Last of Us is a truly heart-breaking game even without the story of Joel and Ellie. The opening scene alone is enough to make a grown adult cry and that immediately set the tone that players would be in for a beautifully acted, emotional game. 

The game is set in a world ravished by a zombie apocalypse and Joel is tasked with transporting Ellie, a girl who is immune to the zombies, across the United States. Seeing Joel take on the mantle of Ellie’s father figure is portrayed beautifully in the game, with fans and critics giving the title critical acclaim for the storyline. 

The 2018 soft reboot of God of War takes the father and son theme and portrays it differently from what is commonly shown in games. It is clear from the beginning of the game that Kratos and Atreus aren’t close and Kratos is having to learn how to be the primary caregiver after the death of Atreus’s mother. 

The character development of Kratos on his and Atreus journey is surely one that tugs on the heartstrings, and it was no surprise that it was given the accolade of Game of the Year at the 2018 The Game Awards, even beating the highly acclaimed Red Dead Redemption 2. 

Our favourite Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, is also the unlikely father figure during the events of The Witcher 3. His adoptive daughter Ciri is on the run from the Wild Hunt. As she is a Child of the Elder Blood, the last heir to an Elven bloodline, the Wild Hunt want her for her power to influence time and space.

Much of the game is spent chasing Ciri down so we don’t get to see her and Geralt too often but the missions they have together show the love between the two and how Geralt will always put Ciri first. 

The storytelling of The Witcher is down to the book series by Andrzej Sapkowski but CD Projekt Red should take some admiration of how they were able to create the fantastic open world in what has been dubbed one of the greatest games of all time. 

“And May It Never Change Us”

Ezio Auditore was the first protagonist in Assassins Creed to join the Brotherhood pain that was brought upon his family. In Assassin’s Creed II, Ezio is happily living a life of luxury in the Italian city of Florence. However, his life takes a turn when his father and two brothers are hanged after being falsely accused of treason. This pushes Ezio toward the life of an Assassin, to get revenge on those that have wronged his family.

Ezio does everything in his power to make sure that his mother and sister still get to have an excellent life and moves them to the countryside to live out their days with their uncle Mario. We won’t mention the tragic scenes from the beginning of Assassins Creed Brotherhood. Hadn’t this family already had enough pain Ubisoft?

As a player, you have immediate sympathy for Ezio, especially when the first handful of missions in the game show how much of a strong bond the Auditore family have. The game perfectly shows the great lengths someone would go to for family.

In the later entries in the Assassin’s Creed series, there are still tones of family, but none have been able to amplify emotion like the hurt Ezio is put through. The most popular piece of music in the game series is even titled “Ezio’s Family” and has been used in various emotional times throughout the entries.


Gaming fanatic with a particular interest in story-driven open-world games.

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