The Top 20 Most Depressing Video Games of All Time

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depressing-games-banner.jpg Video games. We play them because they are fun. But are they always happy? No. Not by a long, long shot. Here Tech Digest run-down the top 20 most depressing video games of all time, depressing not because they were bad (the games on this list are almost uniformly excellent) but because they have a dark heart, examining some of the more shadowy or painful sides of the human condition.

So what are you waiting for? Scroll down and have…er…fun?

Oregon Trail card game 

Gerald Lynch

189 comments

  • Why the he isn’t the Shenmue series on this list?! Specifically the first one, it is THE almost depressing game I’ve ever played, it’s an amazing game, but I cry a lot inside during the game and also shed real tears sometimes playing it.

  • I’ve read half of comments and played half of games in the list. I cannot see LISA, Planescape: Torment, or Sanitarium. Anyone?

  • Where the hell is Max Payne 2? It should be #1 on this list, I was so frustrated after finishing it as a kid.

  • I consider myself as a person who cries about once in maybe half a decade… but I shed a tear after finishing ‘This War of Mine’. The game explored the struggle and utter desperation faced by refugees trapped during an urban war- based on the siege of Sarajevo 1992. It would be on my list.

  • One Chance, Never-ending Nightmares, and Shelter are all games I would recommend to those who are looking for a little more sadness in their lives.

  • Say, where is five night’s at freddy’s? Binding of issac? They are damn scary yet sad you know

  • How the hell is Oregon Trail, Defcon, Kane and Lynch, Syndicate Wars, Manhunt and Missile Command on here as depressing, but One Chance, The Cat Lady, Brothers, The Walking Dead Season 2 and The Last of Us are not? I’m thinking the people who wrote this list need a refresher course on ‘depressing.’ The only depressing thing is this list has almost no games that are actually DEPRESSING.

  • RDR was depressing, in a charming way. Not just by the ending, but the whole game was a cold depiction of black mail, and one man’s quest for redemption at a high cost. Playing that game felt like you were alone, whether you were defending rebels from a tyrannical leader, to saving your friend from being hung, or to losing yourself in Tall Trees, becoming the hunted. It wasn’t a “fun” story in the true sense, the dark overtones made it feel like a solitary and memorable experience.

  • Nier is a really depressing game, it has a lot of silly banter between the unique characters, but its by far one of my favorites lol

  • Stalker, Metro 2013, Call of Cthulhu Dark corners of the ears, Condemned.
    Of CORUSE —->American Mc’Gees Alice (the first game) is the most depressed and deoslating game of all time. Just listen some soundtracks.

  • I think that Star Wars KOTOR 2: The Sith Lords, Metro 2033, and Deadlight should at least get honorable mentions
    and I’m shocked that the Max Payne series isn’t on this list either

  • Mother 3 was also kinda depressing. But seeing Majora’s Mask made me joyful, somehow.

  • Mother 3 was also kinda depressing. But seeing Majora's Mask made me joyful, somehow.

    • Mother 3 (EarthBound’s sequel) is much worse. But yeah, I agree that the final battle is really sad, because you’re fighting a being who once felt, laughed, cried, and stuff, but was overpowered and was completely obliterated by its own power.

    • Mother 3 (EarthBound's sequel) is much worse. But yeah, I agree that the final battle is really sad, because you're fighting a being who once felt, laughed, cried, and stuff, but was overpowered and was completely obliterated by its own power.

  • Dishonored. Not just Corvo’s fall and the murder of the queen, but the whole idea of the Rat Plague nearly destroying a whole civilization, then throw in some dark Outsider indifference to other’s suffering, the prevalent corruption and greed in the game, and the general disorder falling on the world paints a pretty bleak atmosphere.

  • Dishonored. Not just Corvo's fall and the murder of the queen, but the whole idea of the Rat Plague nearly destroying a whole civilization, then throw in some dark Outsider indifference to other's suffering, the prevalent corruption and greed in the game, and the general disorder falling on the world paints a pretty bleak atmosphere.

  • What about “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.”(SoC being my favorite), or “Metro 2033/Last Light”, or “Don’t Starve”…. Or even “Papers Please”…. Those games have generally the same feeling of helplessness, AND I LOVE IT… If anyone knows more games like those I listed, please reply….

  • What about “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.”(SoC being my favorite), or “Metro 2033/Last Light”, or “Don't Starve”…. Or even “Papers Please”…. Those games have generally the same feeling of helplessness, AND I LOVE IT… If anyone knows more games like those I listed, please reply….

  • masseffect 3 although its pretty awesome the last of us never played it oh and final fantasy x the ending is super sad from what ive seen on youtube

  • masseffect 3 although its pretty awesome the last of us never played it oh and final fantasy x the ending is super sad from what ive seen on youtube

  • Metal Gear Solid 4. Video Kochima deliberately designed this to be a massive tear jerker, and undoubtedly he succeeded

  • Metal Gear Solid 4. Video Kochima deliberately designed this to be a massive tear jerker, and undoubtedly he succeeded

  • Nier?? i cried for 2 days after beating it…i couldnt even handle going back to finish the Kiane ending for a week…

  • Nier?? i cried for 2 days after beating it…i couldnt even handle going back to finish the Kiane ending for a week…

  • Pathologic. Very disturbing game about plaque. It’s very depressing and you know one thing. City going to die, like it or not.

  • Pathologic. Very disturbing game about plaque. It's very depressing and you know one thing. City going to die, like it or not.

    • What about Mother 3 where your mother dies, the world where you’ve grown in gets completely different and then is proved to be a fake, and you kill your own brainwashed sibling?

  • I couldn’t agree more with The Walking Dead being on this list. Just hearing the track “Goodbye” (the one that plays before the end credits) sends chills down my spine.

  • I couldn't agree more with The Walking Dead being on this list. Just hearing the track “Goodbye” (the one that plays before the end credits) sends chills down my spine.

  • Phantom dust. It may have an odd moment or two but the look and feel of the game is sad. And it is one of the saddest stories of loneliness I have ever seen.

  • Phantom dust. It may have an odd moment or two but the look and feel of the game is sad. And it is one of the saddest stories of loneliness I have ever seen.

  • my only complaint is that none of these games are depressing. I mean you listed the reasons well but if you actually want games where you’re crying rivers for a week then play something like Mother 3 or To the Moon.

  • my only complaint is that none of these games are depressing. I mean you listed the reasons well but if you actually want games where you're crying rivers for a week then play something like Mother 3 or To the Moon.

    • Yes. It’s the only one in this list who, rather than being sad or dark, is truly DEPRESSING.

  • Solatorobo. I swear to God, it looks like happy furries everywhere, but it’s such a damned sad game.
    From about halfway through the storyline, it just becomes incredibly
    depressing, you beat it, and then spoiler alert: There’s a whole part
    2, which doubles the game length, and is 100% depressing. 3/4 of this
    game makes your world feel bleak. Regardless, it’s still insanely fun,
    and is in my opinion, the greatest DS game to ever come out.

    Either way, if your local gamestore happens to have this gem (It’s very very hard to find, and most copies come with the ost too) but I highly recommend getting it. You won’t be disappointed.

    Also I agree with Bob, mother 3 should definitely be on that list.

  • Solatorobo. I swear to God, it looks like happy furries everywhere, but it's such a damned sad game. From about halfway through the storyline, it just becomes incredibly depressing, you beat it, and then spoiler alert: There's a whole part 2, which doubles the game length, and is 100% depressing. 3/4 of this game makes your world feel bleak. Regardless, it's still insanely fun, and is in my opinion, the greatest DS game to ever come out.

    Either way, if your local gamestore happens to have this gem (It's very very hard to find, and most copies come with the ost too) but I highly recommend getting it. You won't be disappointed.

    Also I agree with Bob, mother 3 should definitely be on that list.

  • Try Eternally Us. It’s about going through the five stages of grief, namely: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

  • Try Eternally Us. It's about going through the five stages of grief, namely: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

  • Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life/Another Wonderful Life…That game had me and my kid in tears bawling with no shame. Since then they have refused to allow such an ending in their subsequent releases.

  • Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life/Another Wonderful Life…That game had me and my kid in tears bawling with no shame. Since then they have refused to allow such an ending in their subsequent releases.

  • Oh and don’t forget the bioshocks, First one you can’t advance without killing your baby sisters, second, if you watch the end of bioshock infinite you’ll realise you’ve sold your baby to pay back a debt, in trying to save her, chopped off her finger, sentenced her to a life of slavery and torture only for her to drown you when she points out you are the one who’s been enslaving and performing experiments on her for her entire life…

  • Oh and don't forget the bioshocks, First one you can't advance without killing your baby sisters, second, if you watch the end of bioshock infinite you'll realise you've sold your baby to pay back a debt, in trying to save her, chopped off her finger, sentenced her to a life of slavery and torture only for her to drown you when she points out you are the one who's been enslaving and performing experiments on her for her entire life…

  • Red Dead Redemption. You spend the entire game changing your ways and life for the sake of your family only to be shot to death in one of the last missions.

  • Red Dead Redemption. You spend the entire game changing your ways and life for the sake of your family only to be shot to death in one of the last missions.

  • **SPOILER ALERT**
    In SILENT HILL ORIGINS, THE PROTAGONIST IS FORCED into a misty and hell of a city where he has to face his worst fears including animals killed driving, mental patients, HIS MOTHER in a ASYLUM who tried TO KILL HIM (HER OWN SON) when he was young, his FATHER who committed SUICIDE BEFORE HIS EYES and save a girl who is going as a sacrifice from a cult.Let alone the dark depressing soundtrack of the game.

  • **SPOILER ALERT**In SILENT HILL ORIGINS, THE PROTAGONIST IS FORCED into a misty and hell of a city where he has to face his worst fears including animals killed driving, mental patients, HIS MOTHER in a ASYLUM who tried TO KILL HIM (HER OWN SON) when he was young, his FATHER who committed SUICIDE BEFORE HIS EYES and save a girl who is going as a sacrifice from a cult.Let alone the dark depressing soundtrack of the game.

  • another one that was just plain sad was To the moon. That was just depressing at all times. The farther back in Jonny’s memory you go the more sad it gets.

  • Time Hallow. Its kind of a depressing game all around, but at least you put everything how it should be

  • another one that was just plain sad was To the moon. That was just depressing at all times. The farther back in Jonny's memory you go the more sad it gets.

  • Time Hallow. Its kind of a depressing game all around, but at least you put everything how it should be

  • I’m amazed that The Binding of Isaac wasn’t o the list you wouldn’t notice at first but it has a very sad story line.

    Before the DLC came out it was just a story about Isaac’s mother (referred as mom) being told by God she is to sacrifice her son to prove she loves him above all else. Isaac watching through the door notices that she’s grabbing a butchers knife while over hearing the conversation she just had with herself. Isaac was sent into a panic looking for an escape plan, he found a trap door under a mat, without hesitation he threw himself into the unknown dept below.

    This is only a speculation.

    -He fights his lost brothers and sisters that have probably been illegally aborted by the coat hanger (actual item in-game) and some how survived in the basements. Realising what she has done she takes anti depressants (the pills).

    *DLC Spoilers*

    In this add on it revealed that Isaac had a father and that before this story began they all had a wonderful life. Isaac got born successfuly, his father wanted another child. But she didn’t want one and she didn’t also want Isaac either. The father continued and the mother kept secretly kept aborting all of the children and throwing them down the basement. She realised what she had done and told the father in a furious rage he left them and mum kept Isaac. Isaac went into a depressive state and may consider suicide. But before he was about to make his decision his mum Couldn’t stand Isaac and went into psychotic breakdown and got a message from her self that it was god and told she was to murder Isaac. And the game starts… He sobs his way past mum to convince her not to do it. A metaphor for defeating mums heart, and he goes and decides if he should commit suicide or not. Cathedral (not to commit suicide) or even deeper (commit suicide). If he decides to live he finds a chest with a dead body in it probably one of his brother or sisters with some photo’s in it.

    -Isaac’s parents are married.

    -Successfuly has Isaac

    -Isaac dresses up as his mum as a way of saying that he loves her

    -Isaac’s father is told about the abortions

    -Isaac’s Depressive state

    -He considers suicide

    -The Father leaves

    This is the most depressive game I’ve ever played.

  • I'm amazed that The Binding of Isaac wasn't o the list you wouldn't notice at first but it has a very sad story line.

    Before the DLC came out it was just a story about Isaac's mother (referred as mom) being told by God she is to sacrifice her son to prove she loves him above all else. Isaac watching through the door notices that she's grabbing a butchers knife while over hearing the conversation she just had with herself. Isaac was sent into a panic looking for an escape plan, he found a trap door under a mat, without hesitation he threw himself into the unknown dept below.

    This is only a speculation.

    -He fights his lost brothers and sisters that have probably been illegally aborted by the coat hanger (actual item in-game) and some how survived in the basements. Realising what she has done she takes anti depressants (the pills).

    *DLC Spoilers*

    In this add on it revealed that Isaac had a father and that before this story began they all had a wonderful life. Isaac got born successfuly, his father wanted another child. But she didn't want one and she didn't also want Isaac either. The father continued and the mother kept secretly kept aborting all of the children and throwing them down the basement. She realised what she had done and told the father in a furious rage he left them and mum kept Isaac. Isaac went into a depressive state and may consider suicide. But before he was about to make his decision his mum Couldn't stand Isaac and went into psychotic breakdown and got a message from her self that it was god and told she was to murder Isaac. And the game starts… He sobs his way past mum to convince her not to do it. A metaphor for defeating mums heart, and he goes and decides if he should commit suicide or not. Cathedral (not to commit suicide) or even deeper (commit suicide). If he decides to live he finds a chest with a dead body in it probably one of his brother or sisters with some photo's in it.

    -Isaac's parents are married.

    -Successfuly has Isaac

    -Isaac dresses up as his mum as a way of saying that he loves her

    -Isaac's father is told about the abortions

    -Isaac's Depressive state

    -He considers suicide

    -The Father leaves

    This is the most depressive game I've ever played.

  • Doom 3 could easily make the list, i mean Hell on erm…. populated Mars, and therefore watching the brutal deaths of many, and seeing the aftermath, is pretty messed…..

  • Doom 3 could easily make the list, i mean Hell on erm…. populated Mars, and therefore watching the brutal deaths of many, and seeing the aftermath, is pretty messed…..

  • This list was pitiful I agree with Limbo, and Gta but the most depressing game I played so far is Nier the American remake due to language problems and a slight altering in the story if anyone knows of games along the lines of Nier message me. I want really depressing games.

  • This list was pitiful I agree with Limbo, and Gta but the most depressing game I played so far is Nier the American remake due to language problems and a slight altering in the story if anyone knows of games along the lines of Nier message me. I want really depressing games.

  • I’m surprised Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep wasn’t on this list. A very depressing game actually. All three main characters all have tragic ends that prequels the story of Kingdom Hearts. One becomes possessed by the main antagonist in the series, and looses control of his body. Another character has his heart shattered/looses his heart, which makes him unable to wake up, and remains in an endless sleep for over 10 years (Still sleeping currently since the last game came out last year). Finally, we have the female lead who strives to save both of her friends, but ultimately sacrifices herself to save one the possessed one from descending into the world of darkness, and locks the sleeping friend in a maze like world to protect him. Not a single ending is happy at all in this game.

  • I'm surprised Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep wasn't on this list. A very depressing game actually. All three main characters all have tragic ends that prequels the story of Kingdom Hearts. One becomes possessed by the main antagonist in the series, and looses control of his body. Another character has his heart shattered/looses his heart, which makes him unable to wake up, and remains in an endless sleep for over 10 years (Still sleeping currently since the last game came out last year). Finally, we have the female lead who strives to save both of her friends, but ultimately sacrifices herself to save one the possessed one from descending into the world of darkness, and locks the sleeping friend in a maze like world to protect him. Not a single ending is happy at all in this game.

  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant. The game opens with the bad ending of the first game where the love interest died for the hero! He spends the entire game torn between wanting to live for her sacrifice and wanting to just roll over since she’s gone. Also a previous poster said Alundra, dead on. But more than anything, Nier guys. C’mon. The base story is sad as all hell as it is, then you get the extra endings and the full story is revealed?

    ***SPOILERS***

    Since you find out that your quest to save your daughter not only doomed the entire human race to extinction, not only ended the lives of alternate versions of your own and your daughter’s self who were fighting to live just as hard as you were, but then finally ends your own life and pulls a ‘all memories of you are gone’ with the vague hope that a violent, dirty mouthed hussy can do a good job of raising your daughter in your absence.

  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant. The game opens with the bad ending of the first game where the love interest died for the hero! He spends the entire game torn between wanting to live for her sacrifice and wanting to just roll over since she's gone. Also a previous poster said Alundra, dead on. But more than anything, Nier guys. C'mon. The base story is sad as all hell as it is, then you get the extra endings and the full story is revealed?

    ***SPOILERS***

    Since you find out that your quest to save your daughter not only doomed the entire human race to extinction, not only ended the lives of alternate versions of your own and your daughter's self who were fighting to live just as hard as you were, but then finally ends your own life and pulls a 'all memories of you are gone' with the vague hope that a violent, dirty mouthed hussy can do a good job of raising your daughter in your absence.

  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant. The game opens with the bad ending of the first game where the love interest died for the hero! He spends the entire game torn between wanting to live for her sacrifice and wanting to just roll over since she's gone. Also a previous poster said Alundra, dead on. But more than anything, Nier guys. C'mon. The base story is sad as all hell as it is, then you get the extra endings and the full story is revealed?

    ***SPOILERS***

    Since you find out that your quest to save your daughter not only doomed the entire human race to extinction, not only ended the lives of alternate versions of your own and your daughter's self who were fighting to live just as hard as you were, but then finally ends your own life and pulls a 'all memories of you are gone' with the vague hope that a violent, dirty mouthed hussy can do a good job of raising your daughter in your absence.

    • omg Mass effect 3… Curing the Genophage… Putting an end to the quarian/geth conflict… And if you tried every single ending, the one where you shoot the kid is the most depressing thing ever.

  • I actually broke down playing Heavy Rain not just once but twice. I had just become a father for the first time and… SPOILERS! At the end when you’re making the motions to do CPR on your drowned son, I just couldn’t handle the implications. Great list!

  • How about Metal Gear Solid… If you can’t tap quick enough Meryl dies and you have to ride off into the sunset with Hal, If you save Meryl you end on the line “Where to Dave?”. Both versions seriously messed up 1998 for me.

  • I actually broke down playing Heavy Rain not just once but twice. I had just become a father for the first time and… SPOILERS! At the end when you're making the motions to do CPR on your drowned son, I just couldn't handle the implications. Great list!

  • How about Metal Gear Solid… If you can't tap quick enough Meryl dies and you have to ride off into the sunset with Hal, If you save Meryl you end on the line “Where to Dave?”. Both versions seriously messed up 1998 for me.

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