With 2017 almost done, it’s a time for reflection. There’s been plenty of huge games arriving this year – providing memorable moments across the board. I wanted to celebrate these moments, recounting just how surprising and exciting they were.

Of course, these are just the moments that hit me the hardest. Which video game moments were your most memorable?

(Be aware also, spoilers ahoy!)

 

10. Discovering The Link To The Original Mass Effect Trilogy

Mass Effect: Andromeda was a bit of a mess, but there were some redeeming qualities to it. Arguably these came in the form of little nods to the original trilogy, perhaps none moreso than this little cutscene which fleshes out the whole purpose of Andromeda in the process.

Turns out that hidden among all the collectibles and memories seen through Ryder senior’s eyes was a conversation with Garrus father. He was regularly being briefed about the Reaper threat from his son and had made the decision to help the Initiative because of this. It helps to reframe the game’s story as something more desperate – which really should have been the way it was done to begin with.

It may not have been a huge moment in the game but for audiences looking for details that tied into the wider Mass Effect universe, it was great to have that small connection back to the original series.

 

9. Choosing To Delete Your Save Game In NieR: Automata

NieR: Automata explores a lot of deeper themes in its lengthy run, asking the gamer to ponder a lot of deeper questions.

One of the games most memorable moments comes right at the end. Creator Yoko Tara wanted gamers the true idea of mortality. So at the very end of the game – you’re offered the chance to delete your save game data – so that it can go on to help another player in their run. This is achieved via a memory with an attached note – which that player will receive during their playthrough. You can choose what this note will say – potentially guiding them to complete the game.

In the process, your save game will be deleted completely. The only trace of it in your memory – very in keeping with the themes of morality and mortality that NeiR: Automata touches on. Very much the most creative use of a save game file I’ve ever seen – it leaves an impression long after you’re done with the game.

 

8. Kazuya Finally Overcomes Heihachi

When you’ve been following a series as long as Tekken – the true end can be something of a surprise. Given that Tekken 7 billed itself as the climax to the long-running Kazuma family feud – it certainly went out with a bang.

Tekken 7 goes hard on this motif, showing the two characters building towards the climax. Given how hilariously over the top the story goes, it’s the final battle in the mouth of a volcano that really lands the final, meaningful punch and sending Heihachi into a fiery death.

Watching the old man plummet into the lava means that his character may finally be done (well, we’re 99% sure there’s no coming back from lava death). If so, it’s a fitting end to the story that’s been running since 1995 and serves as a memorable bookend to a long running series.

 

7. Switching Places With Robotnick in Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania made a huge splash when it touched down earlier this year. It took the established 2D framework and added in a heap of exciting new twists to the execution. It’s hard to choose one moment from the game that truly stood out. The surprise inclusion of Dr. Robotnick’s Mean Bean Machine was a fun moment – though I’d argue the twist to the Hydrocity stage is all the more impressive.

Flipping the established order of this boss battle, Sonic gets to sit in the hovercraft, dropping bombs down on to Robotnick. After so many deaths and frustration over the years in these boss battles, the chance to turn the tables was delightfully meta. It doesn’t last long – but it’s a lovely little touch that helps to cement just how much fun Sonic Mania wants you to have twisting the expected experience.

Certainly one of the more memorable video game boss battles from 2017.

 

6. The First Time You See The Great Plateau in Breath of the Wild

It’s easy to forget now but there was a time when Nintendo Switch seemed like an over-hyped promise. The idea of playing console level games on a tablet seemed laughable – but Nintendo made it work.

There are so many moments in Breath of the Wild that shock and stun for the right reasons – from the final battle with Calamity Ganon through to discovering nods to past Zelda games. Perhaps though, the biggest “wow” moment still remains the first time you wander out onto the Great Plateau and take in that view.

Seriously, it can’t be understated just how powerful a moment this was for the console. For the doubters who didn’t believe, it was confirmation that Nintendo had achieved the almost impossible. For fans, it laid bare the open nature of the most ambitious Legend of Zelda game in almost two generations.

Breath of the Wild can arguably be thanked for showcasing just how much the Nintendo Switch wanted to be taken seriously. The fact that it’s considered normal at this point just shows how far the console has come. I seriously doubt any game on the console will match that single moment for “wow” factor. Truly one of 2017’s most memorable moments.

5. Achieving the Chicken Dinner in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

It could be argued that skill isn’t the main trick to winning in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. For many gamers, luck is the biggest factor in successfully avoiding a bloodbath. But few moments in 2017 were as memorable or as delightful as finally being the sole survivor.

After sneaking, hiding, shooting and sometimes just fluking your way into the final 10 – it’s really all bets off as 100 players fight for the chance to be the sole survivor. Because no two games are the same – it’s near impossible to guarantee success – which makes that success all the more enjoyable.

In particular when you’re fighting in a tiny area of the map, the tension rising as you hope you can pick off your opponents. Winning feels good. Winning in PUBG is hugely memorable.

 

4. Losing Your Hand In Resident Evil 7

The opening minutes of Resident Evil 7 are incredibly tense. You have no real idea what’s going on and as more creepy things begin to happen – there’s a huge sense of unease that hangs over the swamp you’re wandering around. So of course, when the game takes a sharp left turn and you lose your hand after Mia pins it against a wall- realize you’re in for something truly special.

The first person perspective only adds to the effect of it all. After your hand is removed, your character holds the gushing stump with a sense of shock. This is only added too when you have to pick up your fallen hand as an item – cementing the shock of it all.

If there was a moment that really made me realize that Resident Evil 7 was the right sequel for the long-running series, this was it. A game that wasn’t afraid to shock and surprise.

 

3. Being Wowed By Cuphead’s Graphics

When Cuphead was being shown off at E3 2016, I couldn’t quite believe that a game would be able to pull off such a brilliantly unique look without compromising in terms of gameplay. When the game touched down earlier this year, I was delighted to be proven wrong.

There’s no other mainstream game that comes close to matching Cuphead in terms of “wow” factor. From the way enemies move and react to your input, to the way boss battles are gorgeously animated. It’s one of the few moments in recent years where I legitimately felt excited by graphics in a game – and I hope that it serves as inspiration for other developers to push the envelope in similar ways.

Cuphead may very well have been the best thing to happen to a Microsoft console this year. It’s certainly memorable.

 

2. New Donk City Celebration in Super Mario Odyssey

Nostalgia is a dangerous thing. It can be beautifully woven to create moments of resonance within games – too much can see a title become nothing more than a tribute act. Not only did Super Mario Odyssey address this balance perfectly, it created the moment of the year that literally had me beaming for hours afterward.

The level itself is set up as a celebration within New Donk City. From here you play through a gloriously delightful throwback to the series 2D origins – which sees you weaving throughout the city and taking in the splendor of it all. It shouldn’t work in honesty, but it manages to be so excellent and wonderful that it’s hard to be cynical. Not least because the entire thing ends up with Mario danging on stage at the end.

Cliche? Yes. Awesome? F-yeah. Memorable to the extreme.

 

1. Wolfenstein II Beheading It’s Main Character

It’s not often video games go all the way in killing their main characters off, so hats off (or should that be head?) to Machine Games for having the main character of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus unceremoniously lose his head.

Not only are you captured by Nazi’s – you’re marched out into the National Mall and set up for an execution in front of a hugely happy audience. At this stage, you’d expect someone to dive in and save you – it’s video game logic. Yet as Sigrun Engel begins swiping her sword, you’re forced to endure every brutal slash.

It’s brilliantly gory and the game makes no apologies for putting you through the entire thing, as BJ loses his head and has it thrown into a roaring fire. Luckily there’s a machine that grabs his head, rushes it to the resistance and puts it on life support. From here you’re granted a synthetic body and the Nazi killing continues in earnest.

No other video game in 2017 can match the silliness/over the top shock this brings the first time you see it. It’s hilariously gory but so brilliantly realized that you’ll forgive the pulp fiction nature of it all. Let’s be honest, it makes you feel a lot better about your situation.