It's hard to qualify which game has the largest emotional effect. Mostly because emotions are a difficult thing to measure. For instance, while I would say the winner is TLoU in my book, I never shed a tear during play. Heavy Rain on the other hand, at a couple different parts, I was so shocked and saddened that I could not help myself. The game has been out for over three years now, so I don't feel the need to restrain spoilers: For example, when you can opt to have Ethan cut off one of his fingers, I was jostling about the room in panicked tears.
Despite that, I still consider TLoU as having more of an effect. When I walked into the operating room and saw Ellie on the table, with the surgeon over top of her... whoa man, I nearly blacked out with the urge to kill him.
The difference for me is that while Heavy Rain presented stronger situations to affect the emotions, TLoU built up the characters to the point that I had feelings for them. I made a youtube review in which I said as much, but before even the end of the game I wanted to hug it out with Ellie, and... well, I'd hug it out with Joel too. I cared for them almost as much as I have people in real life, and that's a huge credit to Naughty Dog. I never felt that way about the characters of Heavy Rain.
However, despite all that I just said, one other game gave me what I consider the strongest emotional impact (though TLoU still wins overall). Heavenly Sword has been out for nearly six years, so I'm going to assume I won't be spoiling anything. About 2/3 of the way through the game one of the villains, Flying Fox, puts the main character's friend, Kai, into a noose and we are led to believe this kills her. Nariko, the main character, watches it happen and screams out in horror, becoming enraged. Flying Fox tempts her into a fight and as Nariko charges toward his arena I was thinking, "Die mother ******, DIE mother ******, DIE MOTHER ******!!!"
First time I felt like that in a videogame, and then Bioshock came out a short while later, and it's been an uphill experience since then. I love the direction videogames are going.
The analogy between Heavy Rain and TLoU is spot on. Although I felt somewhat more fond of Ellie. Nonetheless, they were both great and the character fixation is at a level I never felt before. It's hard to compare it to anything, especially after playing through the game a few times. I guess it's kinda different with Heavy Rain. I felt less connected.
The soundtrack is great. I keep listening to it all the time and it just brings back memories.
Gameplay is top notch too.
Even if there were a few technicalities, I don't feel like they detracted me me from the game, not at all.
My game of a few years, perhaps the best one. It just ticks all I wanted from a game.
It has breath taking scenarios, heart breaking moments, tension and pace at times but also calmness and natural flow. I find the balance perfect between storytelling, action gameplay, graphics,, sound and emotion.
Well played, ND.
Hands down the most emotionally draining game I have ever played. I honestly couldn't play for more than two to three hours at a time because I was so **bleep** tense and on edge. Plenty of instances in which I needed to stop playing and just get away for a little while; get some fresh air. Also, I had never cried while playing a game before, and this one made me cry or have tears well up in my eyes at least five times!!
Not to mention all the thinking this game made me do afterward. Thinking about "right and wrong", morality, and humanity (or the lack thereof). No video game ever made me think about such profound topics.
For me, it wasn't. The world itself, along with the subtle music is what makes it emotional for me. They did a great job with bringing the world to life and making it feel as real as possible. I think the game could have been WAY more emotional though. They kind of set themselves up for a sequel, which will open up many opportunities for them to improve upon it.