Best Small Moments in Video Games

A lot of games nowadays are filled with massive setpieces and giant cinematic extravagance and that is all great and fine or whatever…but what about the small or quiet moments found within games? The ones that may even be better than those massive setpieces? The ones that may actually stick with you by the end of the game? I think if we actually look at some of our favorite games, these are the moments that are actually the best. I figured I would put together a list of some of my favorite small moments in some of my favorite games (most of them being fairly recent releases).

Bioshock Infinite: “God Only Knows”

Right from the start of Bioshock Infinite, I was onboard. As soon as the game launched us into Columbia and an absolutely beautiful score began to play, I knew this game was going to be something interesting, but I had no real clue of what I was really going to be playing. My suspicions truly began once “God Only Knows” started to be performed by a barbershop quartet in Columbia. The game takes place in 1912. “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys was released in 1966 on the fantastic album Pet Sounds. How in the actual hell is this barbershop quartet playing this song right now? It made me realize something was so completely off about the world of Columbia. I had no idea what it actually was when this song played, of course, but it is the first thing that raised this suspicious. And every time I go back and listen to this version found within Bioshock Infinite, chills are sent down my spine, it’s absolutely hauntingly beautiful and is representative of what Columbia is: a twisted world that represents America in a disturbing time, among many other things.

Bioshock Infinite: “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?”

I had to single out another moment found within Bioshock Infinite. The crazy thing about this moment is the fact that it is optional, just as “God Only Knows” could potentially be. That’s the insane thing. This game isn’t the same with either of these moments excluded. This moment is one that I consider a calming moment found within an intense game, we have struggled through bullshit (with more to come) and insane happenings (with seriously more to come) and this moment comes out of nowhere. It is quiet, content, and a moment of rest. It’s so utterly beautiful and satisfying on all fronts and is one of the most memorable parts of the game. This song holds so much weight and the beautiful cover is just absolutely captivating. And beyond that, the song wasn’t picked for no reason, it has such an absolute revolving meaning to the game itself and yet, still manages to be this wonderfully quiet moment.

The Last of Us: “Giraffes”

I may not have put this one last, but it may be my favorite small moment in any video game ever because it evoked tears. It made me tear up (well, more than one moment in this game did, this game makes me all sorts of emotional) and it’s so goddamn simple. It is the literal definition of the calm before the storm. This moment comes toward the end of the game, we are about to get into the last hour or so of the game filled with the most difficult and terrifying fight sequences (of both infected and Fireflies). We’ve gone through (obvious spoilers coming up) the death of Tess, Sam, and Henry, the near death of Joel, a frightening man named David, and we’ve seen this father/daughter relationship between Joel and Ellie become something so utterly beautiful, real, honest, and sincere (through multiple other small moments and large ones that I could talk about for days on end). And finally, we get to calm the hell down. Mind you, this happens right after the events of winter, which is arguably the most emotional tense season of the game. The giraffes come out in this beautiful large field and you can’t help but smile (or cry) and sit there for a while. From what it sounds like, most people who played the game actually sat there for a while. That’s the amazing thing. You could have just rushed right through this giraffe moment if you really wanted to, yet, most players didn’t see a reason to, it is too beautiful a moment to sacrifice in a video game that takes you down some of the most emotionally stressful moments I’ve ever experienced.

Infamous 2: “Beers”

The Infamous franchise is one near and dear to me, the first two games are some of my favorite games ever made, not only for their amazingly fun open world super power infested craziness, but also for the story (okay, not so much on the story-front for Second Son, unfortunately). The bond between Cole and Zeke is pretty goddamn beautiful, I have no other way I can describe it, and this mission late into the game that mostly just consists of a cutscene of Cole and Zeke watching a movie and drinking beers, really shows that goddamn beautiful bond off. It’s so utterly simple in its execution and is one of the few moments in a video game that really shows what a close friendship is actually like because it dares to be quiet and content with itself and simply just show these characters…I don’t know…being actual people and just…relaxing? It’s pretty damn awesome.

Metal Gear Solid 2: “Philosophical Ending”

Wait a minute, how can I use an ending to a video game as my favorite small/quiet moment? Well, Metal Gear Solid 2 is one crazy goddamn game, it also happens to be one of my favorite games of all time (and is my favorite of the franchise). Sometimes the game can appear to be nonsensical, absolutely strange, and pointless, but it isn’t. It isn’t at all. The ending of this game is by far one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced in any piece of art because it isn’t afraid. Instead of trying to build up some crazy twist like so many plots do or trying to do something focused just on character, it cuts right to the point: this is the meaning of life. This is what people are about and what we should be doing and what is necessary for us to really live on and be something more than just…well, people. It’s sincere, and people are afraid of that sincerity. And I still consider it this beautifully quiet moment because that’s exactly what it is, it uses this platform of a video to give a beautifully quiet philosophical and very necessary moment in a game filled with zaniness, it decided to turn things down for the moment and settle everything quietly, and what this really comes down to, is it manages to produce one of my favorite things ever written in fiction, not just in video games, simply because of its ability to wind things down and cut to the point with no fear.

What are your favorite quiet moments in video games? What did you think of my picks? Like them? Hate them? Let me know in the comments.

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Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

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