Even without a game set inside its beautiful – and totally unnerving – halls, the underwater city of Rapture alone would almost be enough to earn a spot on our list. The design itself told the story of a failed utopia, an underwater art-deco Eden gone sour. The pools of water and rusted metal juxtaposed with the bright neon signs and period music immediately set the tone and helped deliver one of the most memorable environments in video games or, dare we say, any entertainment field.
But of course, it wasn't just Rapture and the story of Andrew Ryan's failed utopia: it was BioShock, the spiritual successor to the System Shock series, and upon its late summer release, it held us, and the entire gaming world, in ... well, rapture.
And what a game! We think back to the epic battles with the gargantuan, golem-like Big Daddys and how often we stood motionless, waiting for the sometimes gentle caretakers to pass by peacefully. And let's not forget about their wards, the Little Sisters. When it was time to fight, upon winning you're presented with the macabre and more than a little unnerving choice of whether or not to kill a little girl. Is this choice essentially meaningless? Is every Little Sister an identical model and voice, removing much of their humanity and in turn the difficulty of your decision? Regrettably, the answers are "yes" and "yes".
Though we may not remember each and every Little Sister we saved, we do remember that one. And that's far more than most video games allow.