The 10 Best Video Game Characters of the Decade
Gaming has always been about immersion; the art of make-believe as it is. Still, today’s gaming is merging with other arts, and technology has reached the level of creating realistic acting, based on motion capture and inspired by the ideas of the creators. Voicing done by a famous actor isn’t anything extraordinary either.
As technology developed, so did the art. Masterpieces of gaming may include great one-liners or millions of words, and speeches worth quoting are more and more common. Instead of creating a one-dimensional character that is easy to write, the writers proceeded to developing heroes and heroines that are interesting to follow, to track, to see and hear. While games of the 1990s were good with just giving the characters names and visual features defined by necessity (like Mario’s famous mustache), now the creators are free to develop characters that fit the story and attract the player.
It was hard to select the Top 10 characters for our list; that’s why we concentrated on those from the most influential games but excluded the borrowed one. For example, Spider-Man from Sony’s Marvel’s Spider-Man is a great innovation in terms of both motion and writing, but he isn’t an original game character. The same goes for Avengers, Batman, and Joker, and other characters borrowed from comic books, movies, or TV shows. We made exceptions for book-based games, though, if the characters were only introduced in games.
The Bloody Baron (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)
Though the game is loosely based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, and the prototype story can be found in the first book of the series, the character was developed originally for the game. With such a name, you might expect a one-dimensional Vlad the Impaler type, but the character is really much more layered. First appearing as quite a pleasant person, later he turns out to be a real bloody ruler, but then we recognize that it’s his way of good doing. He has complicated feelings, too; while the beast he wants hunted it, in fact, his charmed daughter, he is torn apart by the ghosts of his past. But the main reason for the impression he gives is the way he tints Geralt’s manners, thought and ways. Stories like this make The Witcher 3 the masterpiece it is.
Dutch Van Der Linde (Red Dead Redemption Series)
One of the games that defined the late 2010s is also full of complicated, layered characters, but instead of the protagonist, we focus on Dutch van der Linde, the gang leader that used to be a legendary rebel, a Robin Hood type, degrading then to robbing hood. The one who belongs in the frontier world, he needs space for his big person, and, as the civilization comes closer, there is less and less place for a big person. The closer comes the law, the more he turns to an ordinary criminal, retaining yet his complex nature.
Edith Finch (What Remains Of Edith Finch)
It’s the case that makes us adore the character whose appearance we almost never see. Instead, we hear her voice and look through her eye to the story of her family. The items she notices in her old house, the memories from her childhood, the diary she writes, and her comments on her family members’ stories – that’s what makes us understand her, and thus, start loving her. The bitterer is the outcome, but a place on this list is a part of that great legacy that remains after Edith Finch.
Glados (Portal 2)
That’s one of the strange ways great characters are born. It’s hard to imagine GLaDOS now otherwise from a sort of artificial person with a strange, sadistic sense of humor and power. But initially, this computer we only hear was just an interactive guide that helped players through Portal. Inspired by Mother and HAL9000, it’s now a thing of her own (yes, an artificial character obviously got a gender). Its construction is highly sophisticated, and so is her personality; destructive and helpful, rational and playful, GLaDOS never reveals her mystery. But we still love her, don’t we?
Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2)
If anyone deserves to be characterized as the best villain of the 2010s, Handsome Jack should at least be nominated. He is the dictator of Pandora, not satisfied with being the head of the corporation, and one of the symbols of the Borderlands series. Players come, weapons change constantly, but Handsome Jack is always the same. He is always around; even if we can’t see him, his stories are heard. The one who can kill a person with a spoon, strangle someone for a carelessly dropped word, and organize a coup for the Dictator’s power, he has a long tragic backstory; not that it makes him a better person, but certainly a charming one.
Kratos (God Of War)
Though the game exploits characters from various mythologies, Kratos is one of those developed originally for God of War. Since his introduction in 2005, Kratos had a long way to go and evolve. From a Spartan with divine powers and divine appetite for destruction, an avenger that challenges gods, in the latest installment Kratos reveals he has layers too. At least, we learn he can be a loving father, a grieving husband, and a two-sworded warrior as well.
Marcus Holloway (Watch Dogs 2)
While social media becomes an instrument of power, hacking vital system of today’s state may get you even further. Marcus Holloway has his reasons for revenge: once he was qualified as a potential criminal, and that turned his life the wrong way. Now he is a hacker and a fighter, and a leader of a movement – both in the game and in real life. That’s why Marcus, the protagonist of Watch_Dogs 2, is on our list, and his predecessor Aiden Pearce is not.
Mira (Donut County)
Maybe there’s nothing extraordinary or heroic about Mira, but she has strong moral values, and friendship for her is about not letting your degrading friends fall deeper. Certainly, BK the raccoon is hard to persuade, but Mira does her best. Brilliantly written and cutely drawn, she is one of the most remembered characters in Donut County (that doesn’t lack humor and good characters anyway). The most contrasting thing is how her golden heart combines with punkiest looks.
Nathan Drake (Uncharted Series)
Inspired by action movie heroes, from Captain Jack Sparrow to Indiana Jones, Nathan Drake is a hero in his own right. A modern pirate with the manliest looks and the most ironic one-liners that often break the fourth wall is around since 2007, and the character is one of the reasons we love Uncharted. Not exploiting his parody potential, the developers have made Nathan Drake a postmodern take on adventure heroes.
Sam Porter Bridges (Death Stranding)
While Sam’s job is just delivering cargo across the UCA, the lands he goes through are post-apocalyptic, full of death, natural and unnatural, and life just as strange. His journey we follow is about his love and sense of life as much as about pure work. Well, we’ve seen it before, but, played by Norman Reedus, Sam is brutal and human, adventurous and reasonable; that’s what makes Sam Porter an integral hero in Death Stranding.
Agree With Us?
This wasn’t an easy choice for us, and we wait for our critics to wake up. So, which characters are your favorites? Come on, drop in, tell us why!