Let's talk about memorable characters in today's open thread.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/prey-is-a-great-game-but-its-missing-great-characters
Let's talk about memorable characters in today's open thread.
It pretty obvious but the Persona series has characters that you just can’t forget since you’re always involved with them. Here are ones I fondly remember (I’ll add more when I got some time)
Akinari Kamiki - A boy who was very sick but by being with him allows him to see that life is still great.
Kanji - A man with a complex who soon was able to see that he is a man by his own right and not by what others say.
Naoto - A girl wanting to be part of a career that is filled with men. At the end she is a proud woman who will not let anything get in her way.
Futaba - From the recent Persona game. Her struggle of entering society is a struggle many of us have and in her case it even harder with possible disability and what she been through. Slow with the help from her friends she able to face the world.
where’s the hot digital lady chastising me for being a human?
Controversial but I’d say that the most memorable character you meet in Bioshock is the first: Rapture. And that you, the player, build yourself in relation to that character, to the space. In the same way, Prey feels like it handles this well in the way you start out in your old flat on Earth as you are starting the experiments, and slowly the walls (literally) fall away and you realise just how far you’ve dragged yourself without knowing it and just how little you’ve allowed yourself to know in pursuit of… at least to begin with, you have no idea what.
As to the broader question, we spend a lot of time with characters we play as but also are expected to fill them in to various extents. My Jane Shepard is not the same as yours so in what way is this a memorable character and in which way is it simply a memory of what I did? For that reason I’m not sure protagonists, even ones that are fleshed out as specific characters and not just ciphers, are ideally suited to this. And yet most games are about the protagonist.
Anyway, I’ll come back and pick some characters but it’s certainly not the easiest of tasks and, to wrap back to where I started, I probably actually remember the spaces and the character of places more than any of the NPCs in most games I play.
I honestly have no problem with Prey not having “characters” in the sense the article mentions, even if this in the lineage of games that do. Honestly, unless there were a dialogue system, I’m not sure I’d want them in there. (I really like dialogue systems you guys.) I get kind of weary from character interactions in games of this ilk where they amount to cutscenes centered around a personality. A series of diatribes.
Did the System Shock games include interactive character interactions? I cop to not being super familiar with the lineage. Also, I am only 3 hours into Prey, so suck on this tasty grain of salt while you read this, but so far the idea that I don’t have to meet anyone in the game is a relief.
Geralt of Rivia is my pick.
I find the way CDP manages to write a character that is both a conduit for the player, but is also uniquely defined to be super memorable. Geralt is me and I can transpose my opinions of the world and the people he interacts with, however at the same time I also immediately know how Geralt feels about these things.
Playing Geralt is like playing the perfect mix of roleplay and player-cipher. He’s a specific character within a specific world with an established sense of who and what he cares about, but there’s still a lot of latitude as far as how you approach to situations (and sometimes in how you react). The Hearts of Stone DLC plays on that a lot, too, when another character inhabits Geralt, sort of adding a new flavor into that dynamic.
Contrast this with Shepard, who is a player character designed to be a mix of roleplaying and player-cipher but who is much less established as far their role and their position in the world. I really enjoy playing as Shepard, but the sort of play within the confines of the role of a Witcher—being such a known and connotative role with various implications to different groups of people—was way more fulfilling to me.
Oh man, this is what I was about to say! So many RPG’s these days are concerned about making sure you can make the protagonist into the type of person you want them to be. But Geralt is Geralt, and while we choose what he says, CDProjeckt Red is careful in making sure every choice feels plausible next to one another. Whereas in a Mass Effect or etc. choosing a “good” choice one time and an “evil” choice another will make your character seem very different (I hear Andromeda actually tries to fix this in some ways though). With Geralt no matter how you make choices, it always feels in character!
Loghain from Dragon Age.
For a lot of the game he was portrayed as a simplistically villainous bad guy, and then in just a few key scenes many, many hours into the game they reveal that it was rather more complex than it appeared.
I think this is a big reason why people love the Mass Effect series. The game had plenty of incredibly memorable characters, and the more you interact with your party members the more you learn about them and find out what lies beneath the surface.
I still remember that scene in Mass Effect 2 where you re-unite with Wrex and the first thing he does is get up from his throne and yell “SHEPARD! Shepard, my friend!!!” That realization that Wrex missed me as much as I missed him hit me in a way I really did not expect.
The rebels from Ogre Battle 64 are all really interesting. Within a a complex political game, no one’s means or motives are perfect, and watching the side wrestle with this is great.
Calo Nord is the most memorable bioware character
Undertale featured characters who were far more memorable than I had expected them to be. That game truly wears its heart on its sleeve in terms of influence from anime and classic RPGs. Many of the characters and enemy designs come off as notebook scribblings from a devoted fan, but thats what makes the quirkiness and the emotional moments all the more striking.
Playing through the game and growing attached to every character made the true ending, with its goofy but climactic power-of-love-and-friendship-conquers-evil moments feel incredibly genuine. Despite its short length, it felt like completing an incredible journey. Add on the additional evil, kill 'em all playthrough where you murder every single character in the game, coupled with the fact that these actions permanently alter your game file, and you truly get the feeling that you are committing an atrocity, all because of how much you grew to know these silly little characters.
Geralt is an obvious choice, but I’d also add in Ciri and Yennefer. But Alistair and Morrigan and, to a smaller extent, Lelliana, have stuck with me for almost 8 years now. The narrator from Bastion as well. Siegmeyer of Catarina from Dark Souls. Also Glados.
Vivi Ornitier from Final Fantasy IX.
FF is a series that I feel misses the mark on characters a bit more than it hits. FFIX is my choice for the game in the series that has a genuinely great cast across the board with no real weaknesses to speak of. Even among such a great cast Vivi is special though. Vivi’s story is about struggling with identity and purpose. It was amazing to see this traditional Black Mage(design and all), previously just stat husks what did the magic, who was given a personality, anxieties, and love. It’s a concept that isn’t exactly new but much like Nier Automata, which deals with a lot of this same stuff, it’s all in the execution. The way Vivi learns and grows throughout the huge journey Final Fantasy games throw you into is what makes him so special.
i’m a bunch of hours into prey, and i definitely agree that it doesn’t do much in terms of memorable characters. but i find that doesn’t bother me at all — i really, really love prey.
it’s an immersive sim, with emphasis on immersive. arkane obviously put so, so much work into level and art design, and they’ve created spaces that feel really good to inhabit. i get the sense that they really focused in on the place, and not the people, as an intentional design decision.
i find it really evocative of the von braun in system shock 2, in that you’re constantly retracing your footsteps, and end up internalising the geography of the place. since so much thought obviously went into the relationship between the player and the space, at least so far i’ve not really felt the absence of interesting characterisation.
anyway, memorable characters: how bout bao-dur from kotor 2? i really love that he lived through war and traumatic experiences, and in the aftermath his response is to become kind and gentle.
Having finished Prey last night, I so wish I could comment on this.
As for my favorite characters, Morte from Planescape: Torment would be at or near the top of my list, even next to more recent excellent characters like Wrex or Solus (or, hell, pick a character) from Mass Effect or the Bloody Baron, Olgierd von Everec or Gaunter O’Dimm from The Witcher 3.
Can you give an idea of how long it is? I saw someone say it was 23 hours but Austin is saying he’s at 20 with a third of the game left?
it’s a game with a ton of exploration + optional stuff in — i’m like 15hrs in, but probably half that is just exploring + doing things adjacent to the critical path. so that number depends a lot on how u approach this kind of game!
Austin’s estimate is about right. I ended right at 30 according to Steam,[/spoiler] and I did a fair amount of backtracking while hunting for missing crew members (but not all of them) and side missions. If you’re only concerned with the main story, it’s obviously shorter, but [spoiler]there will be consequences. Sort of.