Utsuge Discussion

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Utsuge Discussion

Post by Magikarp on Fri Aug 02, 2013 12:26 pm

Have you guys heard of utsuge? It translates roughly to "depressing game", and it's a mostly Japanese phenomenon in which a game is designed to invoke sadness for the player instead of joy. I absolutely love it when a game isn't afraid to be sad or challenging because it's a departure from the assumption that video games must be about having fun and feeling empowered. There are so many narrative techniques exclusive to video gaming that make it an effective medium for conveying all sorts of emotions, and I'm a bit of a tragedy fan so I'm naturally drawn to utsuge. So what are your favourite sad games?

Key examples are Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, many visual novels (special mention goes to the works of Key Visual Arts) as well as this site's favourite, Nier. There are also more and more Western titles following this route, such as Heavy Rain, To the Moon and The Walking Dead.

A word of caution before diving right in though, many sad games are also eroge, so you might want to be careful of what you're getting into first. Sometimes the explicit content is used effectively to further

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Re: Utsuge Discussion

Post by MattS on Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:08 pm

I'll be honest, I had no idea this was a thing. Now that I know it's a thing I'm apparently a massive fan:

Ico: Loved it
Shadows of the Colossus: Loved it
Nier: Nerdgasm
Heavy Rain: Thumbs up
To the Moon: Hells yes
The Walking Dead: Eeeeh, yeh.

Surely Demon's Souls and Dark Souls (and previous games from From such as the King's Field titles), also belong to this genre.

Mind you - I also tend to enjoy films and books designed to make people feel pretty crappy. I'm a big fan of The Road, for instance. There's something very human in misery, and so seeing misery play out in narrative I find to be a very appealing artistic concept.


A word of caution before diving right in though, many sad games are also eroge, so you might want to be careful of what you're getting into first.

Now I'm absolutely sold on the genre.

Seriously (and I get to make the rules of this forum, Eroge talk is kosher for Otaku gaming forum), I heard great things about The Song of Saya over at Kotaku (http://kotaku.com/saya-no-uta-the-song-of-saya-the-kotaku-review-509012142), and that game fits with this theme. And assuming you can stomach the content, it is an incredible piece of narrative.

Thanks for the great thread idea!

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Re: Utsuge Discussion

Post by Chalgyr on Fri Aug 02, 2013 5:13 pm

I had never heard of the term, but like Matt - there certainly are games I have played that fit this theme and number among my favorites. But then, a lot of my writing (I have done quite a bit of fiction writing for fun in the past to go hand-in-hand with the MUD I designed) tend to deal with those heavier themes and certainly do not come out with rosy, happy endings. Thanks for bringing this topic up - interesting to say the least. Having played all of the suggestions you mentioned, Magikarp, do you have any others you can suggest?

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