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Utsu Ge
You will be doing this by the end.

Utsuge is the Japanese portmanteau for "depressing/melancholy game". As the name implies, these games' goal is to make the player cry. Most of them are of the Visual Novel variety, in which the player is guided through an increasingly (melo)dramatic story, Deconstruction mostly optional.

Games of this type contain lots of typical tear-jerking material, with death, mental problems, loneliness and rejection as central themes. A lot of them contain at least one girl with a serious disease, who has to be helped by the player. Downer Endings are very common, when the player fails to achieve this goal.

Utsuge are often populated by Bishoujo-style characters and aimed squarely at a Seinen (young male) audience. By far the most of them take the form of Dating Sims, where the dramatic material is used to give the on-screen girls more depth and character. In some of those games, the drama actually becomes much more prevalent, overtaking the premise of simply trying to date girls. Most Utsuge, being Dating Sims, also contain quite a bit of the erotic content that comes with the territory.

Another term with essentially the same meaning, but different connotations is "nakige" ("crying game"), which usually refers to games with depressing stories that get resolved in the end.

It is rare to find examples without any erotic content whatsoever, although some H-games have been re-released without adult material to appeal to a wider audience, usually without suffering any negative consequences for the story or playability. Still, gaming companies generally don't explicitly market their games as Utsuge, instead emphasizing their Dating Sim-nature to appeal to the typically male audience.

Contrast Iyashikei, which is more or less this genre's diametric opposite in Japanese media.

Examples:

  • Ever17, especially Tsugumi's and Sora's paths, or worse yet, the Tsugumi/Sora bad ending.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and its Spiritual Successor Umineko no Naku Koro ni form an interesting variation. Their main objective is not to make the players cry, but to scare them. Despite this, the games still manage to move the player emotionally. They succeeded in doing both in both series. The question arcs are supposed to confuse and scare us, but the answer arcs are straight Utsuge. Well, except for Matsuribayashi-hen. Tatarigoroshi-hen is also fueled by tears.
  • Katawa Shoujo falls under this heading as the routes can be heartbreaking. Every route has at least one Downer Ending and even some of the good endings are Bittersweet Endings. Rin Tezuka's route fits this trope the most. Hanako's route isn't too far behind, either.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend. Most of the endings to the otome routes range from bittersweet to out and out tearjerkers — and that's just the main game. When you've finished all of those, there's still Bad Boys Love, the second half of the story, which, well. Let's just say it's nicknamed Hurtful Boyfriend for a reason.
  • The Nitro Plus boys' love game DRAMAtical Murder is a nakige. The character routes of Clear, Koujaku and especially Ren have the most positive endings. Ren's is specifically considered the True Ending since 60% of the story is revealed in it.
  • Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon was so depressingly sad that even the translators for the English release were brought to tears.
  • The Crooked Man is pretty sad. At the beginning of the story, the main character David has a really bad life; his sick mother can't remember who he is, his fiancée has just left him, and he's moved to a squalid little apartment. David is constantly haunted by the fact that he can never achieve his dreams of being a pilot due to his colour-blindness. Over the course of the game the ghost of the previous tenant, who was severely depressed, tries to drag David down with him. A lot of the endings feature David killing himself. At the end, just after confronting the Crooked Man, David's mother finally remembers who he is, before dying. It gets better for David, fortunately.
  • To the Moon: You play a pair of scientists who go into a dying man's memories and try to implant a memory that he has been to the moon... except he has memory problems and doesn't know why he wants to go, so you have to find out why. Throughout the game you discover many tragic events in his life, the most well-known of which is the story of his wife's death, and their promise to meet again on the moon.
  • All of the games made by the extremely popular company Key Visual Arts, with CLANNAD often being considered the pre-eminent example of Nakige in the West. There's a reason why the Laconic page for each game ends with 'bring tissues'.

Renai GameVisual Novel TropesBut Thou Must

alternative title(s): Nakige
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