Video game protagonists are often a predictable bunch. Traditionally, these protagonists are massive, hulking individuals with impressive firepower and more muscle than previously thought imaginable. The traits, however, are not the be all end all when it comes to being a grade A game protagonist. Many of the best leading roles have been filled by the off-beat and quirky – the kind of characters that scream underdog.
Over the last console generation, countless great games were released. Many of these games featured impressive characters on unforgettable journeys. Some may have steered more towards the traditional archetype of video game protagonists, but a select handful boldly dared to stare out. These protagonists may not be remembered as the years past, but they truly deserve to. Below, are the five most underrated video game protagonists of the last console generation.
5) Alan Wake (Alan Wake):
A professional novelist certainly is not the first profession one would think of when dreaming up a video game’s protagonist. Alan Wake, the famed writer of celebrated mystery novels, is anything but a traditional hero. At his core, Alan is an average man – he has a caring wife, his own issues to deal with and struggles through his work just like everyone else. However, in Alan Wake, the titular hero must shirk his normal life as he becomes wrapped up in the strange events during his vacation.
As Alan’s relaxing trip quickly takes a turn for the worse, the mild-mannered writer finds himself thrown into the role of a hero. His wife missing, Alan must overcome his own personal creations as his fictitious characters begin to blur the line between reality and Alan’s own writing. Alan Wake is a tour de force of storytelling and Alan himself is one of gaming’s definitive ‘every man’ heroes.
4) Monkey (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West):
At first glance, Enslaved’s Money looks a lot like a generic action hero. Shirtless, and in impeccable shape, Monkey’s appearance initially matches his personality during Enslaved‘s opening hours. At the game’s outset, Monkey finds himself in dire straits. Aboard a ship destined to crash, his escape with a woman named Trip ends with him captured in a slave headband, forced to follow Trip’s orders.
What beings as an unfair relationship quickly evolves over the course of Enslaved, showing the true depth of Monkey’s character. Outside of his noteworthy strength and remarkable agility, players get to witness Monkey grow from a loner to dedicated protector as he travels with Trip throughout the course of the game. Many video games attempt to capture true character development, but few manage to succeed in the way that Enslaved: Odyssey to the West does.
3) Alice Liddell (Alice: Madness Returns):
The sequel to the cult classic American McGee’s: Alice, Madness Returns continues the original’s trend in creating a grotesque vision of Wonderland. Alice Liddell the protagonist of both titles, is a young girl who has been to hell and back in her young life. Believing herself to be at fault for the fire that took her family’s life, Alice’s sanity has been put to the test and she begins Madness Returns under the care of Dr. Bumby in a London Orphanage.
During an ordinary day, Alice is pulled back into the near-destroyed Wonderland, where the true events of the fateful fire slowly become more clear. As the game progresses, Alice overcomes her past and uncovers the shocking truth of her family’s death. In Madness Returns, Alice is portrayed not as the whimsical little girl found within Alice in Wonderland, but as the deeply troubled and extremely dedicated protagonist who will do anything to uncover the truth.
2) Special Agent Francis York Morgan (Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut):
Of all the protagonists in video game history, Deadly Premonition’s Francis York Morgan might just be the quirkiest. The talented agent is a man who is equal parts brilliant and confusing; an expert FBI agent with the strange habit of talking to his imaginary friend Zach. In Deadly Premonition, Morgan arrives in the sleepy town of Greenvale and attempts to use his uncanny criminal profiling skills to solve a string of grisly murders.
Morgan’s brilliance comes from his quirks. Deadly Premonition is undoubtedly one of the most unique and strange video game titles ever created, and Morgan is one of the main reasons for this. From his lengthy asides and unwavering trust in an imaginary trend, Francis York Morgan instantly stands out from other video game characters. Despite his odd behavior, however, Morgan is undeniably one of the best at what he does and seeing his growth throughout Deadly Premonition is a prime example of genuinely brilliant writing.
1) Bayonetta (Bayonetta):
The titular character of one of the last generations most enjoyable and stylish games, Bayonetta, the mysterious and beautiful shape shifting witch is every bit as deadly as she is lovely. During the events of Bayonetta, the witch awakens from a 500 year sleep without a clue as to where she is or what she has been doing. Upon slowly coming to her senses, Bayonetta begins her journey seeking out the other half of the Eyes of the World, destroying anything that gets in her path.
In Bayonetta, players are treated to one of the most genuinely enjoyable video game characters of all time. The witch’s impressive combat prowess is put on display through her arsenal of guns, magical hair and shape shifting powers. Outside of combat, Bayonetta is as interesting as she is while happily slaying angels. Cold at first, Bayonetta’s growth throughout her quest feels natural and enjoyable to be a part of. Bayonetta may have flown under a lot of video game fans’ radars, but those who have experienced this amazing title will be quick to tell you that everything about the game – not just its protagonist, simply screams underrated.
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