In her now-classic analysis of digital media, Hamlet on the Holodeck, Janet H. Murray laments that video game narrative is based on a win/lose dichotomy and that this only allows for somewhat simple stories because all of them would need to have happy endings. Of course, this book was written in 1997, and we have gone quite a long ways since then on creating sad endings even if you win the game, or games that have very dramatic and tragic narratives even though you end up winning, like Majora’s Mask.
In fact, many people consider that game to be the saddest, most tragic one in the Zelda franchise, given how many people die, how many lives are torn apart, and some extremely moving yet disturbing scenes that are sure to put a tear in our eyes—remember when Cremia let her sister get drunk so that she didn’t have to live through the fall of the moon? But in this article, I will argue there is a Zelda game which is way, way worse than that. Link’s Awakening is, in my opinion, the saddest, most profound game in the whole saga.