The Moments You Never Forget

I'm working on a video game right now. It's been a pretty fun experience coming up with the game's overall design philosophy. Partly due to Shaun's awesome thread, I started thinking about this idea of shaping "The Moment." Modern games, like Uncharted or Call of Duty, kind of suck at this. They are basically "moments" nonstop, which means there's never anything particularly standout and awesome.

Good games craft moments in ways that surprise you--like Marathon's "I know who you are," Halo's Flood reveal, Half-Life's tentacle reveal, Alien vs Predator 2's first twenty minutes of absolutely no Aliens whatsoever in the Marine campaign, and so on and so forth.

The best games, though... man. They're amazing.

Take Thief, for instance.

I've talked about Thief before, because Thief is the best stealth game of all time, and one of the best games ever made. The other day, I was making my way through the Bonehoard, one of the creepiest levels in video game history, and I had two really, really amazing moments.

I had lowered myself into a room with two of the undead. I accidentally alerted one to my presence, and it began shambling over to me. I tried to climb the rope and get out of there, but I couldn't do it! Here I was, jumping like a moron, trying to climb back up this rope and get away from the zombie, and it was just wandering over, growling at me, until finally, I freaked out, ran like a madman over to some water and dove in.

The next moment came when I discovered my first Burrick. Now, I'm not going to spoil what a Burrick is for you, because it's very important that you encounter one to understand why it is the scariest creature in video game history. At one point, I found myself in a large room with... four of them? Five? There were a lot, and they ALL. WANTED. ME.

So I stabbed one in the face.

The previous Burricks I'd encountered had me screaming like a little boy who thinks he's braver than girls but really isn't and/or choking to death.

This one reacted the way I'd been reacting and ran away from me. When I came back later, it did the same thing. Sure, the others tried to kill me, but I, Garrett, master thief, had scared the piss out of a monster and it knew me.

BONUS: Another time I played Thief, I alerted a Hammerite, who began following me, being all shouty and hammery. Obviously, being the mortal thief I was, being chased by a Hammerite was not a particularly desirous course of action, so I did what any reasonable person in a stealth game would do: I ran for the water, dove in, and swam away.

So, when he jumped in the water and ran along the bottom of the river after me, swinging his hammer, I was very surprised.

I was also terrified.

At least, I was, until he drowned.

So! When playing games, what's that MOMENT for you that gets seared in your brain? What's the thing that radically changed the way you felt about a video game--for the better?