Despite what detractors might say, games are as capable at moving their players as novels or films. Anger, sorrow, relief, joy or just plain shock, each year offers an ever greater fount to draw upon when it comes to providing examples of just how powerful games can be. As such, it was no easy task to pick a top five from 2013, but that is what the OnlySP team has striven to do, so without any further ado, the list. Please note that it is in no particular order:
I’m Not Your Dad – The Last of Us (Nathan Hughes)
The Last Of Us had a lot of striking moments but none more dramatic than this scene. The loving relationship that had been built up so much by Joel and Ellie throughout is almost completely torn down with this argument. Ellie tries to plead with Joel to allow her to stay with him because she’s the only person he feels safe with in this apocalyptic land but Joel reaffirms to himself and Ellie that she’s just a package to deliver and tell hers “you’re not my daughter and I sure as hell ain’t you’re dad”. Everything about this scene is perfect. The teary eyes, the stern faces and the lamenting music in the background; Troy Baker (Joel) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie) delivered one of the most confrontational scenes in the whole game.
Bathtub – Gone Home (Lachlan McCarrol)
A missing sister, an empty house, a bathtub splattered red. It may sound simple, but the setup is more than enough to pack an emotional gut-punch. It’s a moment of heartwrenching dread, made all the more powerful by its genesis in your own interpretation of the story to that point. And the emotional payoff at the end of the scene? It left me breathless. To say much more and spoil the moment would be sacrilege – it’s just something you need to experience. Do yourself a favour and just play Gone Home.
Your First Death – State of Decay (James Thayer)
Probably an unexpected entry into this Top 5 Tuesday is State of Decay. Lauded as an open-world zombie apocalypse simulator, the game isn’t particularly known for its riveting storyline. Instead, the relationships that the player forms with the characters over the course of the game makes character deaths all the more devastating. Take, for instance, our hero Marcus. Though guarded by plot armor through the first leg of the game, once the gloves come off there is no promise that he will make it any farther than the other survivors. A misstep and an inflated sense of bravado led to the death of my poor Marcus. It was a moment that made me put the controller down and evaluate how I was preparing the survivors for the apocalypse.
The Cemetery Revelation – Grand Theft Auto V (James Thayer)
The culmination in the scene above was telegraphed within the first few hours of GTA V. Michael doesn’t want Trevor to know that Brad is dead, yet Trevor is always asking about Brad’s whereabouts. It’s a Chekhov’s gun that probably stayed hidden for too long. The emotional moment that shows up in GTA V is when Trevor expresses that he doesn’t have what Michael has- a family. Trevor is far too manipulative to be completely sympathetic, but it’s this simple truth that caught me off-guard, and the sincerity in which he expresses it exposes the depth of Michael’s betrayal, a person who Trevor has called brother.
Anna’s Kidnapping – Bioshock Infinite (James Thayer)
Oh man, that ending. Yes, certain revelations are more plot-centric, but the realization that Booker sold his daughter, and the identity of Elizabeth being revealed by the severing of her pinky, quite frankly shocked me. I could have stopped there. I’ve linked the above video to the exact moment of the “kidnapping,” and when Booker yells out her name as the portal closed I get a tingly feeling that doesn’t happen very often, across all media. I think it’s because as the exposition at the end of the game was beginning to spiral out of the realms of comprehension, this very moment brought me back in. It is my emotional high point of 2013, hands-down.