Queen of despair Junko Enoshima has become a pop-culture icon in the last decade, with her influence ranging from being a wild video game boss to being the center of multiple TikTok trends. As performed by voice actor Melissanthi Mahut, the Spartan misthios feels fully alive.
I defy you not to fall in love with her too. Kirsten Geary, the Illuminati faction leader for supernatural horror game The Secret World , breaks the mold in brilliant style. It takes a special kind of character to both rip me to shreds for missing profit margins and make me laugh out loud in the same block of text, but Geary effortlessly pulls it off again and again. Created for the original God of War in , Kratos has since traveled as far as any video game character in his depth and personality.
In his past incarnation, he took his cues from ancient myths, displaying bone-headed violence and amorality. Few game characters of the olden days have been so transformed as Lara Croft. Now she grapples with a complex past life that shapes her worldview. She shows surprisingly vulnerable insights as she ponders her own life choices. Sure, she remains a stubbornly male creation, frowning prettily as she mows down enemies and occasionally emoting with all the conviction of a mailbox.
But in a narrative full of unstable, immature men with tortured pasts and uncertain futures, Lester is a welcome presence. Lily Bowen is one of the most tragic companions players will find in the Fallout series. A hulking brute with a frightening voice, Bowen is in fact a grandmother, transformed by the Forced Evolutionary Virus. Her condition presents an impossible dilemma: Continue to take her medication and lose the memory of her grandchildren, whose voices she keeps on a holotape, or keep the memory of her loved ones in the near term, and eventually succumb to insanity. His insular world of New Bordeaux basically New Orleans comes apart in a series of gangland double crosses and reprisals, and the story unfolds as a classic revenge fable.
Either outcome is a fitting end, whether the player views Clay as an avenging antihero or another crook who succumbs to greed. Cocchiola is an old man who looks back on a battle in the Dolomites, in which he tries to save the life of his brother. Madeline is the most relatable character of the decade, at least for anyone struggling with anxiety and depression. Ultimately, though, Madeline is inspiring not because she destroys her demons, but because she embraces them. Returning to her old hometown after college, Mae Borowski finds herself shiftless and uncertain about her future, bogged down with depression and worry.
The town of Possum Springs is mostly unchanged, which highlights the parts that are different — the classic feeling of returning home after a long time away.
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Over the years, the old man has definitely grown on me. What started out as an over-the-top depiction depiction of a no-nonsense infantryman has turned into a much more nuanced character, someone older and wiser. Gears 5 has a ridiculous storyline, but it was still nice to have Bender I mean, John DiMaggio there when I needed him.
While the first title in the Watch Dogs series explored how hacking could complement a gritty vigilante justice angle, the sequel, Watch Dogs 2 , placed those talents in the hands of a more engaging and relatable protagonist.
Marcus Holloway is emblematic of modern-day hacktivists who understand how the technologies we rely on are also the tools used to manipulate and oppress us. Unlike his series counterpart, Aiden Pearce — a lone wolf fighting back against the system — Holloway is the leader of a movement. Life Is Strange is much more than a high school time-travel fable. Like the people in all great dramatic friendships, Max and Chloe are completely unalike; one is shy and studious, the other brash and rebellious. But they bring the best out of each other, creating an interlocking tale of love and learning.
But I appreciate Mira. If you have an asshole friend, then you can probably relate to Mira.
There is no greater villain in the Binding of Isaac universe than Mom, an abusive religious zealot who stomps on her child with high-heeled shoes. Granted, there are harder bosses in the game, but none pack the emotional wallop of Mom. Monika takes this into her own hands, self-aware of the limitations of her own genre, and turns into one of the most terrifying video game villains of this decade. She manipulates the game itself and ultimately smashes through the fourth wall. Quick-witted action hero Nathan Drake is cut from the same cloth as countless Hollywood leading men, from Clark Gable to Harrison Ford.
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But he also displays loyalty to those close to him. For most of the adventure that the titular Owlboy goes on, the silence around him is filled with the ruminations, opinions, and feelings of others, leaving Owlboy with only the ability to let his actions speak for him.
With a few sentences, the facade built around him crumbles, and the game reveals a character with one of the biggest hearts this decade. Dragons are powerful and cruel. And Paarthurnax has certainly committed horrible crimes in his blood-soaked past. But in Skyrim , he is a pacifist who resides atop a mountain, contemplating his own nature and, like a monk of old, battling with his innate desires.
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He is a study in self-evaluation, remorse, and redemption. The Far Cry series has always been good at churning out psychotic, charismatic villains.
King Pagan Min is the most colorful and disturbing of the bunch. The fans do have a point. Parvati is painfully genuine, and serves as a lens through which the player discovers the game universe for the first time. It also helps that Parvati is voiced by the extraordinary Ashly Burch. Plenty of games make the main character vague and silent, to allow players to easily project themselves into them, but Sunset Overdrive bucks that trend, and hard.
What is it about this strangely buff shark man? Sidon is relentlessly upbeat, but always reminds Link that he believes in him. He has no problem betraying his friends once they have served their usefulness. He is also self-deluded and embarrassingly boastful. He is destined for the top job, though his inept rule ends badly. Sam is cynical about the world, yet he is prepared to be convinced otherwise for the sake of the woman he loves, so he sets out on his long journey in search of himself, and of her.
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Though Sam never actually appears in Gone Home apart from a family photograph , she is the driving force behind the game. What initially seems to be a straightforward mystery story turns into a surprisingly real portrait of adolescent queerness. The picture that comes through is of a funny and creative young woman with a tender and rebellious heart. Years after finishing Gone Home , I still think about Sam. This cheeky little skeleton makes his first appearance in Undertale by doing the shake-hands-and-fart thing.
From there we get to know this highly likable chap, who just wants to get through life with as little hassle as possible while cracking excruciating skeleton puns. When he makes a joke, the camera zooms in on him while he winks. It never gets old. Blackwood Crossing is one of the most underrated narrative games of the past 10 years. The game takes place at a confusing time for the two, as Scarlett moves into adulthood, threatening to leave Finn behind. A genuine tear-jerker. Senua is an ancient warrior who battles with mental illness.
Clearly, Senua was researched and written with appropriate respect for a sensitive subject. I just started my second playthrough of Stardew Valley and I thought I could resist him, but no dice. Shane is an aimless, depressed alcoholic who stocks shelves at the local JojaMart. He hates his job.
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He hates me, initially, when I first move to Pelican Town. If I give him a gift of his beloved red peppers, he thanks me warmly. Dates with Shane reveal layers of insecurities. Shovel Knight , created by Yacht Club Games, is a lovely symbol of indie successes for the decade. The character crossed over into countless other games, and even became a Nintendo amiibo while still ushering his game and its several spinoffs across numerous platforms.