50 Most Memorable Moments in Video Game History

20. The Silent Hills Revelation – P.T.

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When Sony announced that a demo for the previously unannounced survival-horror game P.T. would be released on the PS Store, we were all intrigued. What was this mysterious game, with its terrifying, endless corridor and uncannily realistic lighting? Then we realized that P.T. was a puzzle, one which seemed all but impossible to solve. Players were required to complete a number of seemingly random tasks in order to progress, and this, coupled with the looming presence of a ghostly apparition in a nightdress, saw many of us throw our controllers down in frustration.

But then some incredibly lucky/skilled soul solved the puzzle, and discovered that it was actually a “playable teaser” for Silent Hills, the latest iteration in the iconic horror series that was being created by Metal Gear mastermind Hideo Kojima, in collaboration with Guillermo Del Toro, and starring The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus. Needless to say the Internet erupted with feverish anticipation, and this will go down in the annals of gaming history as the greatest video game reveal ever.

19. Discovering You’re Darth Revan – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

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The second biggest twist in the entirety of the Star Wars franchise, sitting just below the revelation that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s dear ol’ dad, is the discovery that the player-character is the villainous Darth Revan in Knights of the Old Republic. No one saw this coming (and if you claim you did, you’re a liar). After being told tales of Darth Revan’s villainous crimes throughout the length of the game, the twist that you are the Sith Lord, albeit with a spot of amnesia, is jaw-dropping.

18. The Village – Resident Evil 4

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You aren’t afforded a tutorial in Resident Evil 4. You simply start up the game, listen to a little bit of backstory and then, a few minutes later, find yourself confronted by a crowd of enraged townsfolk, carrying pitchforks and baying for your blood. It’s difficult, tense and, as the guy with the chainsaw rears his ugly head, utterly terrifying.

17. The Nuke – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

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This was the game that started it all, and this infamous nuke sequence kick-started the modern first-person shooter’s trend of including elaborate action set-pieces in their campaigns. Taking control of Sgt. Paul Jackson, you board a helicopter with your comrades during the middle of a gunfight, when it is revealed that a nuclear attack has been planned in your area. The helicopter takes off but, as you move away from the danger zone, you see that familiar mushroom cloud explosion in the distance and, before you know it, your helicopter is veering out of control.

After an explosive crash-landing, you emerge from the wreckage dazed and heavily injured. As you survey the devastation around you whilst attempting to get back onto your feet, you eventually succumb to the bomb’s radioactive after-effects, with the screen fading to white and a radio message confirming that Sgt. Jackson has been “KIA.” While killing the protagonist has now become part and parcel of the Modern Warfare series, this was a truly shocking moment at the time, and a moment which the Call of Duty series has yet to top.

16. The First Colossus – Shadow of the Colossus

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The twist revealed at the end of Shadow of the Colossus is that the gigantic colossi aren’t the bad guys after all, and that you’ve actually spent the majority of the game slaughtering innocent, mythical creatures. There’s evidence of this from the very first colossus, which is happily minding its own business before you quickly mount it, clamber onto the top of its head and begin violently plunging your sword into its skull as black blood spurts forth from it. The knowledge that this is a completely innocent creature adds emotional weight during repeated plays of Shadow of the Colossus and, no matter how fun it is scaling the hulking beast, it still doesn’t prevent you from feeling guilty.

15. The Giraffe – The Last of Us

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A moment of respite in a game that otherwise leaves its players in a constant state of anxiety, watching Ellie and Joel come into contact with a grazing giraffe is so disparate from the overall tone of Naughty Dog’s magnum opus that it’d be jarring, if it wasn’t for how gentle and oddly emotional it is. Prior to this scene Ellie and Joel have been on a traumatic ride, with Ellie having only barely escaped the clutches of a cannibalistic mad man and Joel trying his damnedest to keep it together for her sake. The giraffe allowed us to see Ellie in a state of childlike wonder, something that the volatility of her surroundings nearly took away from her. A poignant, beautiful moment.

14. ‘Still Alive’ – Portal

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End credits aren’t usually the highlight of a game, and perhaps saying that they make for the most memorable moment of Valve’s classic puzzler is doing it a disservice. However, Jonathon Coulton’s original song ‘Still Alive’ plays over them, so that should go some way to explaining just why Portal’s end credits are so memorable. ‘Still Alive’ effectively encapsulates the charm and dark humor of Portal’s antagonist GLaDOS, and aside from that it’s also a very good little tune on its own merits.

13. Green Hill Zone: Act 1 – Sonic the Hedgehog

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Our introduction to the second most recognizable face in gaming, Green Hill Zone: Act 1 had us whizzing around loop-dee-loops in Sonic’s iconic shoes for the very first time. Much like World 1-1 in Super Mario Bros., Green Hill Zone: Act 1 captured the imaginations of a generation of gamers, and introduced us to the fast and frenetic gameplay that would solidify the Sega Genesis’ reputation as the home console for the cool kids.

12. John Marston’s Last Stand – Red Dead Redemption

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Holed up in his family’s barn with Edgar Ross and his men waiting outside with their guns pointed at the door, the moment when you realize that John Marston might not make it out of this one alive is difficult to stomach. John Marston was Rockstar’s most likeable character to date, and seeing him bow out in an extremely bloody hail of bullets initially raised the ire of many. However, now that the dust has settled, we can accept John Marston’s death as one of the great moments in gaming (unfortunately, switching the protagonist to the thoroughly loathsome Jack Marston was not).

11. I Choose You! – Pokémon Red/Blue

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Squirtle, Bulbasaur or Charmander? That question was asked of many a gamer back in the ‘90s, and choosing between those three cuddly critters was like a much cuter Sophie’s Choice. Pokémon Red/Blue introduced us to the creatures that would keep kids and adults alike occupied for many years to come, and it was those first three starter Pokémon that introduced us to developer Game Freak’s gloriously imaginative world of pocket monsters.

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