To be a recipient of moment of the year, a game has to make us put the controller down. It has to give us pause and make us wonder if any game has ever done anything like that before. It could be a moment of shock and awe. It could be a moment of genuine surprise. It could be a moment of despair, adoration, horror, or outrage. Above all else, it needs to be a moment we can not wait to talk to our friends about. A moment of the year is a moment that is so good we can not keep it to ourselves. With that in mind, here are the recipients of this year’s Golden Lance Award for Moment of the Year.
Winner: The Helmut Concert (Psychonauts 2)
One of the early levels of Psychonauts 2 features a level where you travel into a character’s brain that was put inside another’s body. You walk next to the lonely soul and hear his tales of woe. Helping him gather his senses, personified as band members to brave the world again in the form of a mental concert. During the concert, Helmut sings a song about the feeling of having the help of his senses again. It was really impactful as a conclusion with all of the context of what happened to him. Plus it was a really enjoyable song performed with Jack Black.
Runner Up: The Vacuum (It Takes Two)
It Takes Two is a whimsical game about a broken relationship. It is a game about burying your problems in the past rather than confronting them. However, it is also a fun co-op platformer in a Honey I Shrunk the Kids-kind of world. The result is what should be a light-hearted romp through the home of a young girl. It is all fun and games until the first boss battle where you realize that this is a horror show.
The finishing move against the first boss, an old vacuum cleaner, is pushing its hoses into its anthropomorphic eyes and sucking them out of his head. It is astonishingly gruesome to the point that my friend and I had to verify that we really saw what had just happened. This swerve out of seemingly nowhere makes you question every next encounter wondering if it will be the next one to drop your jaw. This moment changed the framing of the rest of the game in a way that few other moments have.
Runner Up: The Doll House (Resident Evil Village)
Lead Level Designer Toshihiko Tsuda along with Lead Environment Artists Natsumi Furuya and Jumpei Mashiba should be acknowledged among the best in the industry. Together with their team of 25 Environment Artists, they have accomplished something amazing with Resident Evil: Village. Every carpet, door, bookcase, table, and light is perfectly crafted to create a tone that is both immersive and terrifying.
The Dollhouse sequence in Resident Evil: Village is a perfect example of how the team carefully combined puzzles with narrative and horror. In addition to one of the best jump-scares from the last 10 years in video games. Often horror games can feel like cheesy teenage horror movies. Resident Evil: Village is a sophisticated arrangement of what horror can be and the Dollhouse chapter is a big part of that.