The power of a single line of dialogue is insurmountable. Movies and TV have long made use of the one-liner to bring home a point or central theme, but the emphasis on dialogue in video games is still a relatively new concept that has been explored in mostly the past decade.
The most chilling one-liners stick with players. They are memorable, turned into memes, and forever tied to the specific character that utters them. Players know them by heart and can quote them on demand. In some cases, they are tied to the game’s story so as to perfectly sum up its tone in one perfect line. It is for these reasons that the best gaming one-liners have so much staying power.
7 “War. War Never Changes”
The iconic Fallout line that will forever embody the series, this is a perfect opening quote. Thanks to the narrator’s somber tone and the eternal discord of mankind’s warfare in the Fallout series, this line is reusable and often signals the beginning of the chaotic struggles of society and its oppressors.
War never really does change, just the technology and the number of casualties. Unfortunately, this is a video game quote that is easily applicable to the real world. A little too easy.
6 “Our Time Has Passed, John”
- Red Dead Redemption
- By Dutch van der Linde
Dutch will forever be one of the best antagonists in video game history. Red Dead Redemption and its sequel created a beautiful world filled with changes, both natural and societal. Dutch seems aware of this, but whether John or Arthur are remains a bit vague.
Relationships are another key theme in the game’s expansive story, namely those with John Marston and his old gang. Dutch’s chilling final speech is one that players are not likely to forget soon after finishing the game.
5 “The Cake Is A Lie”
- By GLaDOS’ previous test subjects
This one might have become a meme in its day, but any Portal player knows the context is much more sinister. This meta one-liner seems to speak directly to the player themselves, referring to the mundane awards and achievements that are thrown the gamer’s way when they complete the objective.
Before it was an internet joke, “the cake is a lie” was something much more disturbingly real.
4 “Come Into My Web. It Is Time… For You To Feel The Fear!”
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
- By The Fear
A little hokey, but The Fear is nothing to dismiss as a joke. Metal Gear Solid is a series that has seen its fair share of villainous soldiers and their prolonged speeches, and the third game in the franchise didn’t shy away from these tropes in the slightest. The Fear lives up to his name and his subsequent boss fight is no walk in the park.
Most of all, it is The Fear’s delivery of the iconic line that makes it work as well as it does. Voice actors are a crucial part of these one-liners having the effect they do.
3 “Gotta Get A Grip”
- Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
- By The Son
Psychological thrillers are becoming increasingly popular in the indie game community, but few have the lasting effects of the Hotline Miami series. From the get-go, players aren’t sure who is real and who is an imaginary figment, making things a little tricky in terms of trusting the protagonist as a reliable figure.
The hallucinatory aspect of the games makes for some interesting mechanics, and this memorable line has stuck as a simple enough summation of Hotline Miami’s atmosphere. It’s hard to get a grip when the world is falling apart.
2 “A Man Chooses, A Slave Obeys”
This iconic line is spoken by the architect of the legendary Rapture in the first BioShock game. Without giving away too many spoilers, it directly relates to the nature of the game’s world, and one could argue video games as a whole.
Gaming characters largely do what they are told, either by the player or by the title’s code. They don’t have the same freedom of choices we do, which is something the Bioshock series loves to explore, especially through a moral lens. A freaky and chilling one-liner that sticks to players like glue as they proceed through the ruins of a utopia.
1 “No Russian”
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
- By Vladimir Makarov
Only gamers who have experienced the terror of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s campaign will know these words, but they likely know them by heart. The words uttered before the horrific airport bloodbath mission are as infamous and frightening as they come.
A disturbing foray into the psychopathic agendas of military death squads. Makarov was as convincing a villain as they come, but this one-liner and his subsequent actions cemented his status as one of gaming’s most grim antagonists.
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