May 2, 2019
Gerard McDermott
New Game Plus / Features

Once upon a time the writing in videogames was pretty bad. These days videogames have some of the best stories out of all entertainment mediums. Sometimes a videogame will throw something at you so confronting or emotional that it stays with you forever. Here are my 5 favourite moments in videogames that reminded why I love them so much.

Life Is Strange – Chaos Theory

“Chloe! You have a visitor!”

Life is Strange is about two young women Max and Chloe who are trying to solve the mystery disappearance of Chloe’s friend. The hook in this game is an extremely well executed and satisfying mechanic where Max can rewind time. Life Is Strange is beautifully written with two massive moments that will leave you genuinely stunned. The characters in the game are all flawed enough to make them interesting, with an underlying sadness that invites sympathy even for many of the ones who are doing bad things. No-one in the game is more troubled than Chloe who has struggled with the death of her father in a car accident years earlier and now her life is a mess. Towards the end of episode three Max gets the opportunity to undo Chloe’s father’s death. She hides his car keys and forwards back to present day satisfied that she has given Chloe her father back and finally set her friend free from the loss that had ended up defining her life. Then she goes to see her friend…

Now make no mistake Chloe is a toxic person. No matter how difficult her past, she kind of person you would absolutely do not want in your life. The terrible voice acting didn’t help endear her to me, especially compared to the nuanced and convincing character portrayal of Max, and I have rarely felt more satisfied killing somebody off in a game. But even my cold, dead heart broke when the devastating results of Max’s attempt to fix Chloe’s life are revealed. Sometimes time is best left alone. Sometimes things can be much, much worse.

The Walking Dead – Dinner Time

“I wonder what dairy farmers need with this kind of stuff?”

The Walking Dead Season 1 is about a group of people trying to find a way to the ocean to escape a zombie apocalypse. The group was held together by Lee Everett, a convicted murderer who was on his way to jail when the zombie apocalypse started. After escaping a crashed police car he meets a young girl named Clementine who quickly decides that Lee is the right person to protect her while she tries to find her parents. The father-daughter style relationship between Lee and Clementine develops perfectly as the game progresses. After watching me play the game my own children wanted Lee to be their real dad. When Lee inevitably died they were very upset at the loss of their adopted videogame dad and the fact that they were now left with their non-Lee biological dad. I understood, though, because Lee was awesome and I wanted him to be my real dad as well.

After finding a farm house your group decides to stay and rest. It is perfect with an electric fence perimeter and heaps of food. While fixing a section of fence your friend Mark gets injured by an arrow and the nice people at the farm house take him in to treat him. Later at dinner you go for a walk and find Mark. What follows is one hell of a WTF moment.

The Bioshock Infinite Ending

“You think a dip in the river is gonna wash away the things I’ve done?”

Bioshock Infinite was one long escort mission that was a heap of fun to play for a change. There is a lot of talk about political and social commentary in videogames and not many do it well. Bioshock Infinite is how to do it well. From the class-based religious society and stylised portrayal of American exceptionalism to concepts such as workers under-bidding eachother for employment at the start of each day, this game is a ride through capitalist utopia. The world is wonderfully drawn and bought to life as a facade of perfection covering barely hidden torture, slavery and racism. What sort of monster would create such a world and why is the person you are saving missing her little finger?

I do not want to spoil this game because it is such magnificent combination of story-telling and gameplay. Go play Bioshock Infinite if you haven’t already. Now. The pay-off at the end is absolutely worth it.

Specs Ops: The Line – White Phosphorous

“You bought this on yourself”
“We were helping”
“What? … Oh no”

Spec Ops: The Line initially looks like a pretty standard shooting game in a crowded genre, but the story of descent into madness after a traumatic event is what sets this game apart. At one point you are making your way through a post-disaster Dubai chasing another military unit when you come across an encampment. And on a ledge overlooking it you find white phosphorous shells…

This is easily the most devastating moment I have ever experienced in a videogame. Of all the weapons humans have invented to kill eachother, white phosphorous is the one the devil himself would be most proud of us for. White phosphorous is so evil that it is officially a war crime to use it. Despite that, the USA military uses it in the middle east because war crimes tribunals are for losers. So why is this gaming moment so powerful? Because you did it. And you probably enjoyed it. The sequence is a very enjoyable break from the standard shooting fare you’ve played up until that point. It is a simple, arcadey style romp while being encouraged by your fellow soldiers. Then you get to see what you did and who you did it to. You made a conscious decision while playing the game to do something truly horrific. That is an experience only a videogame can deliver. You were not a passive observer in this and the kick in the guts the game gives you is intense because of that. Raining hot death down on your enemies is always satisfying. Walking through the aftermath of your actions has never felt so uncomfortable.

A Way Out

“Give my letter to Carol”

A Way Out is a couch co-op game with enjoyable split screen puzzle solving combined with an engaging and rewarding story. Two fathers Leo and Victor, both separated from their wife and child, work together to break out of prison and take down the man who put them both there. The main characters are wonderfully written and acted which helps players become very invested in what happens to them.

The conclusion of this game is as unfair as it is inevitable. You don’t want it to happen but the game takes you there. A Way Out is relatively short but the ride is worth every moment and the emotional ending shows how far games have come as a story-telling medium.

What other games should have made this list? What games left you stunned or delivered an emotional moment that you will never forget?

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