Most Memorable Moments in Video Games?
As the thread title says. By moment, I mean a scene or a few back to back scenes. I'll list mine in no particular order.
- Penumbra: Overture - Red's fate. Some background info: this is a psychological/survival horror game, you spend most of it trapped in a mine with hostile, mutated local fauna, with your only friendly contact being a crazy man named Red over a radio. He seems to have good intentions for the most part, usually steering you in the right direction, but occasionally having emotional outbursts. His speech is also very unusual. So the scene I'm referring to is at the end of the game, where you actually meet Red. Once you walk into this area you see a huge metal door unlike anything you've seen in the mine, with a bright light shining through the window on the door. This lets you know you're at the end, Red mentioned this door previously over the radio.
As it turns out, he never had the answers you seek, nor was he really able to help you in any way. He guided you to him so that you can help him, by putting him out of his misery and ending his suffering (why he's miserable and suffering are questions that you should ask). When you meet him, he locked himself in a furnace, so you never actually see him. You share a few words (well... you're a silent protagonist but you know what I mean), and then you're left with no choice but to incinerate him. Red's screams... those really make the scene even more memorable. He even began shouting "turn it off!" which you can't do; you can try, but once the sequence is started it can't be stopped. After you incinerate him you're left with a key to his "living quarters." Inside his living quarters, it becomes more apparent why Red wasn't quite right in the head, and you see the reflection of all the things he mentioned. You find out that he was trapped in the mine for 30 years, since he was 14 years old. He always talked about cooking the local fauna (in great detail), and you find his collection of slugs which were his meals... and pets. You find a huge collection of old books including works from authors like Shakespeare, which explains why his speech is so strange. You find his "facilities" which just include a hole into the ground that leads into the sewers. Very chilling, masterfully crafted, and I'll always remember the disappointment of him not having answers, his living quarters and the revelation within, and firing up the furnace and hearing his final cries. This whole scene leaves you thinking "What the hell am I going to do now?" as you step through the giant metal door which Red spoke of, the door that could never be opened, venturing forward into the unknown.
- Penumbra: Black Plague - Encountering Amabel Swanson. Like Red in my previous example, she was your only friendly contact throughout Black Plague. You're only able to contact her over video chat on a computer, though her webcam is damaged so you never see her. She says she may have a cure for the virus that infects all of the hostile creatures in the game.
Throughout Black Plague you're infected with this "virus" so obviously finding Amabel would benefit you as well. You also learn that Red had the same virus, which is why he wanted you to end his life at the end of Overture (he couldn't do it himself, it was against the "rules" since the virus is a lot more than just a virus, but I won't get into this). Throughout Black Plague you're also constantly having an inner battle with this virus, which has manifested as a voice in your head, another personality, who calls himself Clarence. He has limited control over your senses and perception. When you finally make your way to Amabel, unsure if she's infected or not (you meet one other seemingly friendly, but disturbed person early on, who turns out to be infected), you're greeted to what appears to be another infected humanoid enemy just like the others throughout the game. You're forced to kill this infected creature, but once you "pull the trigger" so to speak, you hear a woman cry out. A curtain is then lifted over your eyes, so to speak, and you see that you didn't kill an infected creature, you killed Amabel. She probably wasn't infected, Clarence just altered your perception and made her appear as such. You killed your only ally in this, and Clarence laughs it off as a joke. "Come on Monkey, it was just a joke" he says in his sinister voice (although I'm actually paraphrasing). Similar to Red, you can explore her "living quarters" which are impeccably detailed and speak volumes about her personality. She was a lighthearted researcher who wanted to make things right. This creates more motivation to find the source of this virus.
- Planescape: Torment - Discovering the Pillar of Skulls. Note that your first companion in the game is a floating, sentient skull named Morte, who loves to make fun of others and joke about almost any situation. Since this game is an RPG, you have a lot of freedom in how you treat Morte and your other companions. The Pillar of Skulls is located in Baator, one of the Nine Hells. It looks like the common perception of Hell. The Pillar of Skulls contains the disembodied skulls of hundreds, maybe thousands of people, who all supposedly sent someone to his/her death with a lie. The skulls contain the wisdom and knowledge these individuals once had.
This is a pivotal moment in the game. It tests where your priorities are. You need to get vital information from it, but everything has a cost. Their strongest desire is Morte, your skull companion, who was once a part of this wall. As it turns out, he sent you to your death. This revelation may drive you to send Morte back to the wall, as the skulls desire. The (adopted) father of one of your companions (and possible love interest) is also on this wall, as a skull of course. You met him earlier in the game after a long search for him; to see him here, trapped for eternity, while his adopted daughter Annah looks at him helplessly, is unexpected. Annah's reaction may not be what you expect either. The Pillar of Skulls may ask for other things such as one of your other companions, or to drink your blood. Planescape is full of iconic moments and this is one of the most significant ones. The dialogue makes it stand out, as does the presentation of this horrible place and horrible construction.
- Planescape: Torment - Meeting your former selves in the Fortress of Regrets, answering most of your questions about what the game is really about. The location, especially your arrival, is very memorable, but the dialogue and story revelations take it to a new level.
- Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer - Reaching the Wall of the Faithless. Everything was building up to this climax, and it delivers. This is at the end of the game, and for the previous 30 hours or so you only had your imagination to envision what this place is like.
By this point, you should have realized that the game is not primarily about you. The Wall of the Faithless holds all the souls of faithless individuals - people who didn't devote their lives to a god. Whether or not they lived honest, good lives is irrelevant. If you don't worship a deity, you end up on this wall, trapped and suffering for eternity. There was a monumental movement called "The Betrayer's Crusade" lead by a man named Akachi, with the purpose being to tear down the wall and free the trapped souls. It did not succeed, and Akachi was punished by Myrkul, former God of the dead, with a horrible curse which affected you the entire game. One of your companions led her own crusade against the wall, and while it failed, she planned another. When you visit the Wall of the Faithless, you're faced with the same dilemma Akachi and your companion are faced with, not to mention you're looking for a way to rid yourself of the curse. The story implications and seeing the place with your own eyes are what make it so memorable.
- Mass Effect 2 - The entire suicide mission. The climax of the game - everything was leading to this point, and it's executed perfectly. It's appropriately named, chances of success seem very low and things go south rather quickly. You get to assign just about all of your companions to specific tasks, this mission is incredibly flexible and can play out any number of ways. What makes this all so powerful is the character development throughout the game; it's a 45-50 hour game, and the suicide mission is near the end. BioWare builds up relationships between characters better than anyone else. Knowing that the fate of all your companions rests in your hands is overwhelming.
Almost everyone can die, but they can also live, it depends on your past and present choices. The amount of damage your ship takes is also dependent on your past choices. Even you can die on this mission, leading to a different ending. It's one of the best missions in video game history.
- Dragon Age: Origins - Learning the true nature of the Archdemon, and how to destroy it. Destroying it also consumes the life of a Grey Warden, so either you or one of your close companions will have to die in order to kill it. When I learned this, I was already deeply immersed in the game, so I felt this dilemma as if I was actually the protagonist, as if my life or the life of a close friend is at risk. Of course, then comes Morrigan with an "opt-out" dilemma, further complicating things. You can never trust her, you knew she was always up to something, and here it is revealed to you. A vile ritual, that's perhaps unfaithful in nature, but it might save the life of whoever kills the Archdemon. Is it worth it? This is a question you ask throughout the game, and it is most powerful here.
- Dragon Age: Origins - Assault on Denerim. Seeing the capital city of Ferelden, a place which you spent a lot of time in, taken over and ravaged by Darkspawn, knowing that the 50-60 hour game is about to come to an end, being next to the King or Queen of Ferelden as he/she makes the final battle speech, saying goodbye to your companions while not knowing what will happen next, and knowing that in order to kill the primary antagonist of this battle, you or one of your close companions might have to die. It's an emotional conflict like no other, benefiting from BioWare's unparalleled character development.
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl - Meeting the C-Consciousness. You have no idea this is coming, you had just been through two back to back war zones (both of which are of massive scale, especially the second one), and all you know is that almost nobody has been inside the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the exceptions being you (and you lost your memory during one such adventure) and your former companions (who are all dead except for one). You know that you're making history as you walk the halls of the CNPP, and you know that you had just made history when turning off the Brain Scorcher and opening up the center of the Zone.
Inside the CNPP a voice is calling you. It started calling out to you occasionally when you disabled the Scorcher. You think it's the Wish Granter. But the scene I'm referring to is when you ignore the Wish Granter's calls, go deeper into the CNPP, in order to find the truth. This is what leads you to the C-Consciousness. This is such an unforeseen moment - to learn that there is a puppeteer behind it all, and then to see... it with your own eyes. The dialogue you two share adds to this, as does the dilemma you're faced with.