Memorable Metal Gear Moments: The River of Death


At a certain point in Metal Gear Solid 3, Snake is captured by Volgin and locked inside one of the cells inside the fortress of Grozny Grad. Using one of various methods, he is able to escape, and manages to get away through the sewers. However, he ends up having to jump into a river several hundred meters below.


After throwing himself into the depths, Snake finds himself standing in the waist-deep water of a mangrove river. The mangrove is burning, forming a tunnel of flames across the water. Snake begins to move forward, wading against the stream. Suddenly, it starts to rain, and the fire quickly dies out.


A gloomy figure rises above the surface, his back turned to Snake. Snake readies his weapon. “Sad, so sad. A host of sorrows.” the man says. His voice is soft and subdued, but decisive at the same time. He turns around. “And you are one of them.” he proclaims, pointing at Snake. He removes his hood, and reveals his pale, but commanding face. “I am the Sorrow.” he says. “Like you, I too am filled with sadness. This world is full of sadness. Battle brings death. Death brings sorrow.”


This whole time Snake keeps his gun pointed at the levitating man. “The living may not hear them.” the Sorrow continues. “Their voices may fall upon deaf ears. But make no mistake…” He firmly points his finger at Snake. “The dead are not silent.” A tear of blood rolls from his eye. “Now you will know the sorrow of those whose lives you’ve ended.” he says with a grim voice. The Sorrow disappears, and control is returned to the player. This is a boss battle. As you plow forward, you can see the Sorrow moving along with you in the fog, a few meters in front of you, or circling you. His voice echoes. “Light and dark are brewing within you.” he says, prophesying later events in the saga. All you can do is move forward. Attacking the Sorrow is useless, he is a ghost and bullets go straight through him. Besides, his gauge is already depleted – he has already died, after all.


As you move through the river, other ghosts start to appear. The ghosts of soldiers, the ghosts of defeated Cobra unit members, even perished animals. Soldiers stumble past you, throats slit and bloody. But they’re not random ghosts – each and every one of them represents a soldier you’ve killed during your mission. Their appearances betray how you’ve ended their lives, and up to a 100 bodies can come back to haunt you during this scene. Their voices are full of fear and agony – sensations caused by you. The soldiers cling to Snake, the man who took their lives.


Every now and then the Sorrow launches a spiraling projectile at you. You may be able to dodge some of his attacks but there is no way to effectively counter-attack. He will kill you eventually. But here’s the thing – this gives you an opportunity to escape. If Snake uses his Revival Pill at this point, he will come back to life, in the real world.


Snake wakes up and finds himself floating in the river, in the world of the living this time. Running out of breath, he claws his way to the surface, and swims to the shore, where he collapses, exhausted. He coughs up the water he swallowed, the water that almost meant his death. After a while he rises to his knees. There’s a serene atmosphere, birds can be heard singing from deep within the forest, rays of sunlight pierce through the canopy, butterflies flutter by. Snake has come back to life.


Kojima is known for his out-of-the-box boss battles, and the fight against The Sorrow certainly qualifies. It isn’t even a fight, it’s more like a situation you have to escape from. Caught between the worlds of the living and dead, Snake needs to ‘die’ as well as revive himself to escape this place. At the same time this ‘boss fight’ puts you face to face with the people you’ve killed during the game. You may not have put any thought in it when you pulled the trigger or ran a blade across a soldier’s throat, but now you are confronted with each and every kill. Battle brings death. Death brings sorrow. And this sorrow is your responsibility.


Note: when talking about this battle, Kojima mentions Sanzu no Kawa (River of Three Paths), a river from Japanese myth that the deceased must cross to reach the next world, the afterlife, much like the river Styx in Greek mythology.

  • “And thus, the no-kill tranq run was created.”

    • Alex

      Yea, thanks to this scene, I had a kill phobia in every Metal Gear game afterwards. Killing was only an extreme last resort lol.

  • Aleezy

    That scream the sorrow does when the beam hits you always scared me when it first came out.

  • no_fox

    2nd favo boss fight ever! First is mantis of course

  • First time I played this I kept on dying at the end by trying to get to The Sorrow. I got so frustrated I squeezed my control and noticed I could pull up the item list. Then I was like, “lemme use this pill, I don’t wanna walk this again.” Then boom, Snake is drifting in the water.

    Would have been cool in MGSV if they showed Skullface watching Snake drowning in the river. #worstbackupever

    • Gatsu

      Haha, yeah I kept dying on it too for a while ;D. I don’t exactly remember how I figured it out, but maybe it was in a similar way lol =).

    • Same shit happened to me. I was so frustrated by this boss at the end. I did not know what I should do.
      But when I could pull up the item list I still was confused for the first time.

      I loved and hated Sorrow for “that” mechanic, but I will never forget this experience. I laugh all the time when I remember my face when I was mad at the “Game Over screen” LoL.

    • Full Options

      I was so mad at myself by not figuring this out faster, so ashamed about knowing the trick since the prison but not thinking about using it again. 😀
      Lol, I was miserably trying to find a safe passage somewhere… xD

      • Gatsu

        A funny thing happened to me, when I replayed MGS3 on my PSVita after a looong time, few months before TPP released. For a brief moment I forgot how to get past this scene lol. I was like, what the heck XD!? I’ve played this so many times! But shortly after it came back to me, rofl.

        • Full Options

          Wanna know ? Meee Tooooo !! Also it took me far less time than for my first playthrough. But I confirm that I walked the infinite river 2 times (so ashamed) ! xD
          I guess I walked it 4 times when I first played this stage.

    • Alex

      Well he probably wasn’t allowed to interfere. Thank God I was following along the strategy guide when I played. I find this series in general to be one of the few to actually benefit the player in buying a guide. Even in the Internet age, they still make great collectible items for fans.

      • Kol Leqejza

        oh, man… this says a lot about you.

        • Alex

          Oh man, you really got it out for me huh?
          I prioritize narrative in my gaming, especially in a series like MGS. I don’t get a kick out of solving puzzles or being frustrated to death like many comments here show from this moment. For first MGS playthroughs I usually have a guide on standby just in case, because I want to advance the story as quickly as possible, its always been my hook. Many people got frustrated with Vamp in MGS4 as well. The controller switching in MGS1 Mantis is probably the only time the frustration really paid off because of how unorthodox it was; it wasn’t just in-game knowledge but real world knowledge. But back to the point of guides, even if you don’t play like that on first playthroughs, MGS guides are still pretty mandatory if you want to get all the genius easter eggs and great understanding of the game itself. Every MGS game has a million things that they never bother to tell you about.

          • Full Options

            The frustration precede the extremely cool satisfaction of solving the puzzle without any help from outside. This pain is necessary, it is not wasted.

            If you try to advance in the game as fast as possible, then you may bypass a lot of the efforts that KP put in testing / setting the rhythm of your gaming experience.

            Check this very instructive video of KP’s MGS4 dev, if not already.
            I can not praise it enough. Check specially at Hideo’s facial expression @8:22, a true passion for his gamers. This video explain also how hard it can be to direct and produce a MG.

            For example in-dev game testing sessions / boot camps do not have any guide and Hideo is extremely careful at how we react on every single scene.

            Figuring out the syringe for Vamp had, like revival pill, some kind of “Eureka-effect” on me.

            I agree that you don’t need to suffer on every single easter egg but for Boss fights, that’s a different deal.

            Between parenthesis, the clash between Hideo and his lead programmer @17:42 tells so much about what he wants to teach to their hereby “students” / colleagues.
            He is basically trying to tell them to not be afraid about dead-lines for the sake of delivering a perfect MG. He is the Konami “enfant terrible”, but he justify his behavior simply by saying that there is a lot of expectation from fans (@19:23) !

          • Alex

            I never rush through a game even if I really want to know the story; I play every game at my own pace and with more immersive games I play them as if I were actually the character in that situation (which is probably why I took the ending better than some others). I was over a hundred hours before I beat MGSV, loved being submerged in that infiltration simulator. I only use a guide when I run into a wall and I’m too invested in wanting to know what happens next in the story to keep enough of a level head. I had watched that documentary the moment I first beat MGS4, I know it well. I also know all about the “Eureka-effect” from many other games and the first 2 MGS games; I did not have a guide for the first two as I was not yet a working adult. I appreciate the effect but do not believe it to be as essential or memorable as the stories themselves. They are but one of many, MANY things that separate and make MGS that much more unique, as these games are the sum of all their unique parts. I myself wouldn’t berate someone bypassing them because MGS games have so much more to offer than just them. In games that are all about just that, obviously a different story.

            Another example of something like this is difficult action games. I love me a great and difficult action game like Ninja Gaiden for example; I get huge satisfaction from overcoming obstacles by being a better player and then always being that good, but I do not feel its necessary for someone to play through without cheating. If someone just wants to divulge in the fantasy of being a badass ninja without needing to actually have ninja thumbs and reflexes, they can use Game Shark or the easier mode I think later versions and installments got. My mind is more broad, I realize there may be disabled and maybe even elderly that want to get into some of this but cant. I know when Im old I sure will want to be able to experience some of this stuff.

          • Full Options

            I am sure you perfectly know how to best experience the game you play and you are more than right to experience them the way you feel it alone.

            With your permission, I may however slightly and respectfully not share your feelings about how those moments are not essential nor memorable.
            I think they are indeed memorable yet because otherwise, we won’t have such articles describing them, nor the fun of commenting on them, right ? 😉

          • Alex

            You don’t need permission for that, lol; disagreeing is more than fine and I would be naive to think most others would or should feel the same about it as me.

            IMO, an article on this confrontation can easily be written without even mentioning the revival pill; he briefly mentions it here. The most memorable thing about it to me is stuff like “As you move through the river, other ghosts start to appear. The ghosts of soldiers, the ghosts of defeated Cobra unit members, even perished animals. Soldiers stumble past you, throats slit and bloody. But they’re not random ghosts – each and every one of them represents a soldier you’ve killed during your mission. Their appearances betray how you’ve ended their lives, and up to a 100 bodies can come back to haunt you during this scene. Their voices are full of fear and agony – sensations caused by you. The soldiers cling to Snake, the man who took their lives.” and “You may not have put any thought in it when you pulled the trigger or ran a blade across a soldier’s throat, but now you are confronted with each and every kill. Battle brings death. Death brings sorrow. And this sorrow is your responsibility.” That’s the kind of stuff that haunted me to the point of playing a pacifist for mostly in every MGS since lol.

          • Alex

            Also, Vamp’s confrontation is a much more palpable confrontation regarding your point, as the whole nanomachine thing was the most memorable/unique aspect of it. It didn’t have all these other great things going for it like The Sorrow. Though the moments immediately following it, the battle against Gekkos and controlling REX, quickly downplayed Vamp’s encounter IMO.

          • Full Options

            Since the revival pill is our unique key out of this stage, I think it is quite worth to mention it. As important to me than Morpheus’s red pill to stay in wonderland.

            As for MGS4’s Vamp boss fight, I hardly find a way to compare this encounter with REX’s on-rail sequence or Gekkos shooting one. These scenes have their own tempo / atmosphere. Mechanics are too different.
            They all have their own different and high added value to the game from my POV. For me, REX & Gekkos sequences were far less stressful than Vamp’s fight, a bit more easy / restful but not obviously more exciting.

            [Joke] : I already told Gatsu few days ago that I walked this river at least 6 times already… Even if you very nicely related it, I felt walking this river for the 7th time now 🙁 … Honestly, why are you doing this to me ? 😀

          • Kol Leqejza

            i have all the guides. i bought them AFTER i finished the games.

          • Alex


  • Gatsu

    This is such an epic moment in MGS3. It was crazy to see the people you killed like that again and really creepy as well, the atmosphere and sounds. I remember having some problems finding out how to escape this River of Death, lol. Interesting piece of info about the myth Nyx :).

    This game have a special place in my heart. It’s one of the most emotional games to me.

  • Mr. Sir Shpee

    As a PC gamer, it was so cool to catch up on the series for TPP. It was worth watching them all (save for finishing MGS4 idk why) for Snake Eater alone. What a game.

  • Full Options

    THyX for the souvenir 😉 ! The Sorrow’s empty life gauge… I would pay to see my face while trying to figure out which weapon could be suitable for an actually EMPTY life gauge !

  • kirtanloorii

    LOL. Look at the picture they used for this article. I can’t tell if they are being funny or stupid.

    • Gatsu

      Haha yep I was wondering too why it have that picture xD.

      • How about disposing all kinds of weapons too :^)
        Make peace and play games together but I guess that’s too much…

  • Full Options

    I had also the same kind of “revival-pill” feeling / trick in MGS4 during the Vamp boss fight. Took me a substantial amount of time to figure out the syringe technique.

  • Guys, vote for Metal Gear Solid here, for the Best. Game. Ever.:

    MGS2 won against Witcher 3. YESH!!!

    Let’s do this community.

    • Gatsu

      I’ll vote :). 😀 MGS2 ftw, also Sonic 2 won against UC2. Sonic ftw.

      Hmmm well Dark Souls is really, reeally good too imo but my vote would go to MGSV ofc :).

      Although, to be honest there can’t be just a one single best game ever. That’s what I think, but always nice to vote for favorite games anyway.

      • Dark Souls was fantastic.
        But, MGSV in terms of scope and everything else was so high tht you can’t even compare, still. It’s great tht people choose a good game overall.
        The battle is still there and previous MGS games are winning things.

        • Gatsu

          Well said :).

    • Full Options

      Thanks for sharing / Done !
      MGS was PlayStation exclusive. I hope that the fact it won the best PlayStation game of all time will help a lot.
      Although MGS2 likely has a tough match ahead… Resident Evil 4… :/

      • Yeah. It’s a tough match, because RE4 is more mainstream.
        But to be honest, RE4 is not that great as people are trying to say about it.

        RE1 and RE2 were excellent though imo.

        • Full Options

          Exactely, RE4 audience was huge. It was a super cool title and RE1/2 were really awesome but…
          MGS !!! MGS !!! MGS !!!
          MGS2 !!! MGS2 !!! MGS2 !!!
          MGS3 !!! MGS3 !!! MGS3 !!!

    • Mr. Sir Shpee

      MGS1 vs. MGS3 would be neat to see

      • I would’ve voted for MGS3

        • Mr. Sir Shpee

          Could still happen, they both just need to advance.

    • MGS 2 has to win

    • BurntFM

      OMG MGS is going against Shadow of the Colossus. I can’t take it! That’s too much pressure man.

      • Danny Patten

        MGS easy.

    • Yeah that is kind of weird but seeing 3 Metal Gear titles in those brackets is good enough 😀

    • Tom Brearley-Smith

      In the wise words of Shia LaBeouf…

    • Full Options

      All right, the MGS’s 1/2/3 all in div’s semi-finals now ! Good job guys ! Fingers crossed !

    • Spectralbuttplug

      I voted smash bros accidentally instead of kingdom hearts.FUCK

    • Venom_Sina

      MGS2 vs.RE4 is a hard choice for me.I can’t pick one.But Dark Souls vs MGSV:I would’ve voted for DS,cause it’s a better game overall.More replay value,fun online,hard gameplay,not having the same mission over and over and over and over again (lol).But the other ones (MGS vs SotC – MGS3 vs.ME2),I will vote for MGS games.It would be funny if both MGS and MGS3 make it to the next round.

      Overall,it’s hard to choose a single game as the best game ever created.We got a lot of great games and people have different opinions.Seriously MGS2 vs. RE4?Both of them are great.We can’t easily pick one.

      Thanks fort sharing,bro.When the time comes,I’ll pull the trigger…I mean,I’ll vote for every MGS game out there,lol.

    • Mr. Sir Shpee

      I voted some, but that list is so wack at times. Deus Ex as an 8 seed is a crime, Half-Life 1 at 13 is just a joke and Half-Life 2 at a 4 is shameful as well. At least the Metal Gear games got pretty good seeds overall.

  • Raven_Sorrow

    The Sorrow made a huge impact on me. Not only the out-of-the-box boss battle but is words. That speech I memorized.. It made me feel guilt and question all the “kills” I made in videogames over the years. For a moment though xD soon i was like “what the hell man?! its just videogames!”. But it made me think for a minute and I loved the impact it had. And thus it became part of my nickname. My too favorite bosses. The Raven is underrated!! The badass compared pulling ears to shooting a frickin’ Gatling gun xDD and I had a bit of fascination with those because of Arnie’s Predator and Terminator 2 😛

  • Gatsu

    Hyper off-topic—>

    Oh maan, good old Westwood Studios <3…I miss it. Command & Conquer games by them were some of my first RTS games I played, THE BEST! Such good memories… Their games were also some of the first in RTS genre. I recently noticed that Origin has the whole collection, maybe I should buy it so can replay :).

    I don't have them as physical on PC anymore :(. I haven't played the newer ones and hear they ain't so good games when are done by a new studio. RIP.

    Any other old fans here of their games? Remember this epic game and intro :D?

    My favorite of the series, had such good gameplay, OST, actors and the cutscenes were so cool. Michael Biehn, James Earl Jones and Joseph D. Kucan(Kane ftw!)…

    C&C1 OST is very memorable to me. Just listen to this OST from the very first C&C. superb ;)!

    • Mr. Sir Shpee

      never played C&C but Red Alert 2 + Yuri’s Revenge is free on Origin atm and I claimed it

      • Gatsu

        I claimed it too, RA2 is awesome :).

        • I loved playing these games although sometimes I had problems clearing missions. Gotta pick ’em up again.

          • Gatsu

            Yeah I had problems with some missions too, but I think it was because I was quite young and didn’t always understand everything I had to do :).

        • Meumels

          Red alert 1 is a prequel to both Red alert 2 and Tiberian dawn depending on which faction you chose.

          • Gatsu

            It is? I don’t remember that it would be a prequel to Tiberian. But it’s been long time I played them anyway :).

          • Meumels

            Kane is on the side of the soviets

    • kuaikukia

      My first introduce RTS is warcraft. Second is dune then third is Command & conquer, fourth is Red alert. From all this four, my all time fav is C&C series because of the dude call himself Kane. I like his character and became a big fan of him. Playing from C&C DOS, tiberian sun, firestorm, C&C3, Kane wrath, all follow the path of NOD. I even make a mod of him. At last, when EA release C&C4 tiberium twilight, It really breaks my heart. The game is just another money grabbing franchise. No base building is just make the series goes wrong. Sorry for the rant. lol

      Just you know some of the crew from westwood go to company name Petroglyph games and make an RTS called such as Universe at war and grey goo is the latest. I hope people check that out and give them some support 🙂

      • Gatsu

        I love Kane :D, one reason why Tiberium series is my favorite. It’s cool that Joseph D. Kucan is the actor that played Kane, who is epic villain btw and he also was the director of the live action cutscenes for the series :). Tiberian Sun:Firestorm was freaking epic ^^. For the Brotherhood of Nod! I remember being quite young when first C&C appeared and it was mind blowing, loved using those nuke bomb cheats lol.

        I think I should play C&C 3 Tiberium Wars, but I don’t know why I never got to play it much yet :(. I think I was sad that EA cancelled Westwood studios so didn’t play it or then my PC was bad to run it. I hope it’s good :D, and it has Kane. Damn I’ll get it today lol. Yea my bro played the last one, 4th and told me how bad it was. Westwood cared about the series so np about rant. I’d like to buy the whole collection from Origin, but I don’t like EA so dunno what I do.

        My 2nd RTS was Dune and I think 3rd was Warcraft :D. Don’t remember well was there others.

        Alright thx for the bit of info, I will take a look at those games <(^_^<).

  • FoxTamerMGO

    After listening to zeroe’s tapes in MGSV.. MGS4’s Big Boss seemed kind of a DICK talking down to zero, wouldn’t you agree?

    • Mr. Sir Shpee

      I still think “Wouldn’t you agree?” is a control phrase for Venom tbh

  • Full Options

    Just in case, Hideo tweeted about MG few hours ago something like :

    “In Peacewalker, Snake became for Paz the deterrent for Costa Rica even though he had no army, so the player is forced to build and army. The revenge is the motivation in TPP to join an arms race again against nuke equiped opponent. Whether or not the Nuclear Abolition cutscene plays, players have abandoned the role of Snake.”

  • WhatTheJuicay

    Who wrote this article? This was very well written. Makes me want a metal gear solid novel

  • valentikary

    Great review of this clasic!!

  • Venom_Sina

    I was replaying Call of Duty:Black Ops’ Vorkuta mission and I found something interesting.Viktor Reznov’s dialogues are really interesting.In this specific scene,he sounds like Big Boss!!!

    Russian Prisoner:Reznov, you sure you can trust this American?
    Reznov:With my life…He and us are not so different. We are all soldiers
    without an army…Betrayed…Forgotten…Abandoned. In Vorkuta, we are
    ALL brothers…

    • Gatsu

      Pretty cool :)!

    • hunner

      Reznov was by far the best character of WAW and BO1. The plot twist at the end of the game was terrible.

    • Spectralbuttplug

      Jews I loved bo1’s campaign

    • MrVux007

      besides Capt.Price… Viktor Reznov was my favorite character in COD

  • Schmojima

    For all you Stefanie Joosten addicts:
    She made a nice ad for the &TOKYO Brand… 😀

    • Full Options

      Venom cuckolded by Quiet and Ocelot in chapter 3 ?!! xD
      Mmmh, I have a baaaad feeling about this… Now I get what turned him into such a demon… xD

      • Mr. Sir Shpee

        At least Venom doesn’t end up killing himself like Huey did

      • Spectralbuttplug

        Ocelot?Jeez I’m too dumb to understand.Why ocelot?

    • Raven_Sorrow

      Stefanie :3

    • Oh now I really feel like visitting Tokyo

  • Gatsu

    I didn’t know that Stefanie and Donna are going to Game Awards ;). I wish I could go too.

  • Jav

    I’m trying a graphics mod in pc but it looks too dark at night.

    • Mr. Sir Shpee

      What mod is that? It looks wonderful. Plus dark nights would actually make me use NVGs.

      • Jav

        I’m trying 2. One is “extra extra high settings” and the other is “e3 2013 mod”. I just wrote “metal gear solid v mod” in google and used the first page I saw. The fps are still in 60.

        • Mr. Sir Shpee

          Oh. I was talking about your reshader, specifically. I thought it might be E3 2013 but wasn’t sure. Apparently darker nights have been removed in the latest version but I’m going to try it nonetheless. Hopefully there isn’t much of a drop.

    • hunner

      Can you post pics of it at night? ?

      • Jav

        Here are to you.

  • Full Options
  • ObsessedGeorge

    Great read Nyxus, I always enjoy these articles! 🙂 Thank you.

    I was reading a wrestler’s wikipedia page, when i saw his filmography section. What 2011 Metal Gear is this?

    • Thanks! No idea what that Wikipedia page is referring to.

      • N-Shifter

        Check this out, this is what it’s referring to:

        • BurntFM

          Ouch! that was painful to watch. That trailer gave me FOX DIE. Y’know how there’s low budget “B-Movies” this is like a D-Movie

  • Spectralbuttplug

    I just deleted the save for mgsv tpp.Im gonna try and look over its mistakes while not ignoring the. Side ops at all.

  • Spectralbuttplug

    Did you know you could avoid the skulls fight for mission 16 by using the f ballista

  • The Omnipotent Snake

    This is one of the parts that made MGS series MGS.