This is one of the lists that I wasn’t sure I could pull off, since I don’t like spoilers. That said, I am confident that I can make my choices here as spoiler light and/or free as possible. Each of these had my jaw on the floor when I witnessed them for the first time. To me, they represent some of the best storytelling moments in RPG gaming history. Each has its own merits for execution, and emotional impact on the player. On that note, here they are.
The Traitor’s Identity – Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean
While searching for the sealed pieces of Malpercio, known as the End Magnus, Kalas and friends come to the realization that there is a traitor amidst their party. That traitor’s identity is not revealed until all pieces are found, and the true enemy revealed. The reveal here is not only a shock, but is also a first in game storytelling, from what I have played over the years. The fact that I would have never seen it coming gives it a spot on this list.
-“Die Pig!” – Suikoden II
Not much of a spoiler here, but a powerful scene nonetheless. At this point, a small village is being razed, and its population slaughtered by the Highland army, led by Luca Blight. After cutting down a villager in front of a woman, she begs for her life. Luca demands that she get on all fours and act like a pig in front of him. She does so, and is then immediately cut down with “Die Pig!” being the last thing she ever heard. This scene sets the tone for how mad and bloodthirsty the Highland general truly is, making him one of my favorite villains out there. He has no remorse, and sees the world as something to be dominated.
What also gets to me is that this entire scene is done in a 2-D environment. No high-end graphics, just pure storytelling. I shudder to think of this scene redone as either a remastered game, or even an anime series.
-“Burn This Into Your Eyes!” – .Hack//G.U vol. 2 – Reminisce
This is one of the pivotal moments in the .Hack//G.U. series, as Ovan finally reveals everything to Haseo. This includes the identity of Tri-Edge, the Player character responsible for putting Shino into a coma. Not only does this reveal throw Haseo way off balance, but the aftermath of this very scene is bone-chilling. Tri-Edge appears, and PK’s Atoli and Pi. Haseo watches in Horror as their character bodies corrode and disappear. Not knowing if they have become comatose, Haseo must now face his nemesis alone. This scene, being one of the most important scenes in the game, is masterfully performed, and the fact that this game included actually good voice acting, it only added to the experience.
-Doma Castle – Final Fantasy VI
This scenario didn’t actually get to me when I played this for the first time. Granted, I was a kid back then, so I didn’t really understand the situation. Playing it through now, I understand the gravity of what has happened. In order to speed up a skirmish against the Castle of Doma, Kefka defies the orders of General Leo, and poisons Doma’s water supply. This wipes out most of the inhabitants of Doma, as well as members of the Imperial army, as they were also using the same water supply at their base camp. This is a demonstration of Kefka’s insanity, and is merely a precursor to what he is truly capable of.
-The Dark Hour that should have ended – Persona 3
After all the hard work done to defeat the twelve Shadows of the Full Moon, it was the understanding that the Dark Hour would be over… Well, it isn’t. It’s not long after the next Dark Hour that you realize that you have all been pawns in someone else’s game. Defeating the shadows only made things worse, and now you have to deal with a lunatic. The real jaw dropper is the identity of said lunatic. It’s another reveal that is just excellently performed, and really demonstrates the Persona theme of having another side of yourself.