Weekly Thread! Favorite Voice Acting

Some of the most memorable moments in video game stories come from the performances of the voice actors. From subtle emotional depth to loud, stellar speeches, and to lines that just make you laugh, a voice actor can bring a lot to the dialogue of video games.

Waypoint, here’s some questions. It might be handy if you, the users of the forum, took them with you.

  • What are some of your favourite voice acted lines and moments in video games?
  • Do you have any favourite voice actors?
  • Do you play games, that have the option, with their original language voice acting or do you prefer to play the localization? Have you ever used video games to help yourself learn another language?
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One of my favorite performances in a game from the last few years is Melissanthi Mahut as Kassandra in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. It’s a huge game with a ton of dialogue and she nails it the entire way through. I don’t have any particular lines or scenes to call out but this bit from the very beginning is very good and fun.

And I’ll take any chance I can get to share this clip of Hidenari Ugaki voicing Majima. It seems like he’s having so much fun with it! The Yakuza games have a bunch of great VAs in it but I feel like Hidenari Ugaki’s over-the-top Majima is easily one of the most memorable. Takaya Kuroda as Kiryu is probably the other one to mention because he’s fantastic all throughout the whole series.

Also, since I’m deep in the NieR remake mines, I have to give a quick shout-out to Laura Bailey’s fantastic cursing.

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I gotta give it up for basically half of the Mass Effect cast. The lines are one thing, but it takes a lot of warmth and depth to voice characters who wind up feeling like my friends.

I want to shout-out James Arnold Taylor and David Kaye (Ratchet and Clank, respectively) for blending into their roles everywhere they pop up. Everybody knows when Laura Bailey is doing her Heroic Voice and Nolan North is doing his Deadpool Voice. And there’s nothing wrong with having a brand and getting paid for it! But sometimes you get people who get their chameleon on and it’s nice to be reminded that they’re still out there getting paid.

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Favorite ever is Transistor, and frankly it’s really the only game I’ve ever played where I was like “damn this rocks” without being prompted to reflect on VO. The character Royce Bracket in particular is fantastic, voiced by Sunkrish Bala. I don’t know Bala’s specific upbringing, but he was born in Bombay and does a very American lax, Goldblum-esque stammering drawl. Really awesome work, I was hugely impresed. (Edit: Wikipedia just calls him an American actor so I assume he’s lived in America a while, makes sense.)

Here’s Royce’s lines. You can get the vibe from just the first few: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0DviyuGNeWc

I will also never not shout out Xenoblade Chronicles for committing 100% to played-up British accents. Tremendously fun VO.

And the battle exclamations in the 2005 Star Wars: Battlefront II are endless fun. I still quote those back and forth with friends.

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Oh, there’s actually so much great VA out there. My first shout-out is to Mafia 3, which has a stellar cast delivering perfectly natural dialogue. Second is Nier: Automata (English casting. I should play the Japanese version sometime), quite a bit more Shakespearean and nailing the emotional turmoil the characters are going through. The Yakuza series is fantastic, too.

Going back further, the first time I recognized good VA was Baldur’s Gate 2’s Jon Irenicus, voiced by David Warner. He added a lot of weight to a very stock villain. The game has a great cast in general, and the dialogue strikes a good balance between VA and pure text lines. Since the VA is reserved for more important lines it truly makes them stand out. I like it when modern games stick to this formula – Yakuza walks this line more or less perfectly.

Oh, and lest I forget, I love Laura Bailey’s perfomance in Sakura Wars 5: So Long, My Love. It’s so much cheese that it could have been terrible, but she and the writing team strikes the fine balance to make it work. Just an excellent game all around.

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Hades.

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The entirety of Hades is fabulous but I really have to give it up to Avalon Penrose for being self-conscious about her contralto voice and then bringing life to the Internet’s previous wife (before Tall Vampire Lady).

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I’ve been practicing that line so much because I want to use her voice as inspiration for my next ttrpg character’s voice.
somewhere between her and Klaasje from Disco Elysium.

which speaking of Disco Elysium, it has some really good voice acting. after only seeing the whole thing after the voice acting patch, its hard to imagine it without the voice acting now

Also for a question in the OP, I do try to use the voice acting from the original language. I’m not sure I’ve played a game with something other than english or japanese yet though. but i would definitely give it a shot

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I am very into anime, so I play most games in Japanese that offer it just because I like hearing voices I recognize. Daemon x Machina having Char and Amuro’s voice actors is great content.

I have to second Majima in the Yakuza games. A really stellar performance. I also really like the Japanese performances for the Kingdom Hearts series, especially Organization XIII. If you are a fan of those games and have only seen it in English, I really recommend watching a Japanese cutscene movie sometime. Keiji Fujiwara (RIP) as Axel is an especially strong performance.

This one is cheating a little, but sometimes good voice acting comes from having fun - and Saiou in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links is very fun. He’s a villain from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX whose ace monster is Arcana Force XXI - The World and he is voiced by Koyasu Takehito. Coincidentally, a few years later, Koyasu voiced DIO in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, who is a villain that has a power called The World. But where Saiou was usually calm, DIO… was not.

So when they called him back to do the mobile game, they leaned into it.

And a couple of English ones. Jack Brand as Jack Baker in Resident Evil VII is fresh on my mind since I played it last week, but his delivery of “Nice car, Ethan!” is the sort of thing I’ll quote constantly for years. And Mikee W. Goodman’s Ancient Reptilian Brain in Disco Elysium - he starts speaking over a black screen at the very start of the game, and it sets such a great mood. I knew I’d love the game before I’d even really seen it just from his opening dialogue.

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I don’t know if good is the word I’d use for it, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Tim Curry in Gabriel Knight. His relaxed New Orleans drawl swaps between decent and borderline parody so often it’s hard to know whether it’s intentional or just apathy from an established actor playing what I would imagine would be considered a downgrade at the time.

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Nier Automata’s Japanese dub sticks out to me. 2B’s actress was mostly doing something she was familiar with (I dropped off the show but at the time I thought it made some sense that 2B shared a voice with Mikasa from Attack on Titan), but on subsequent play throughs the acting in it felt very well directed; like once you knew what 2B knew her tone and some of her delivery started standing out more. Though it was subtle enough that it could just as easily be coincidental.

Automata also had Aoi Yuuki in it, which always helps. Patrick did an interview with Yoko Taro at the time and I always enjoyed this response re: Pascal’s voice.

I selected a female voice actor because one of the settings for Pascal is that he “chose a voice that would soothe children.” However, in actuality, it was because Taura-san [Takahisa Taura], the game designer at PlatinumGames who created Automata with me, declared, “I will not work if you do not use the voice actress, Aoi Yuuki.”

Speaking of, the most recent Granblue story event saw the return of a set of triplets who are all voiced by Aoi Yuuki doing three different voices. Granblue in general has kinda reached the point where pretty much any voice talent you can think of is in it, other than like… the lady who does Goku, I guess. She probably doesn’t need the work anyways.

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I would like to shout-out the French voice acting in FF7 Remake. When I started to replay on hard mode, I realized I really didn’t want to have to listen to the English VA again, so I started trying out the other dubs. I don’t speak much French, but I like these performances so much more than the English or even Japanese VA. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything that credits the French VAs.

The number one reason for this is Barrett. In English, it feels like the direction/casting decision was “Let’s get someone that sounds like Mr. T”. In Japanese, he sounds like any other big muscular protagonist. But in French, he sounds like a cartoon revolutionary (instead of a cartoon black man), which is a perfect choice for how his dialogue is written. This makes the elevator speech in the very beginning land so much better for me, because he comes across as a ridiculous person (which is how everyone reacts, and is great), without that feeling connected to his race. Barrett is still the only named character of color, which is still bad, and I have no idea if the VA is black, but it feels less gross this way.

The elevator scene starts at 17:32: https://youtu.be/HjTkq0LDcwo

Also, Cloud sounds like he’s pretending to be the lead in a noir film, which works perfectly for a character that is putting on a tough guy facade.

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Double Fine, and its predecessor work at LucasArts has been very consistent with voice acting for over 30 years, which is wild to think about. Like, the voicework in Day of the Tentacle has a comedic timing that games today still have trouble hitting, the charming performance by Tony Plana in Grim Fandango is one of the greatest ever, and they were able to even reel-in Jack Black to make for a hilarious and loving tribute to metal in Brütal Legend. One of the things I can’t wait for with Psychonauts 2 is the undoubtedly stellar voice direction that is sure to be everywhere in that game.

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Run you pigeons! It’s Robert Frost!

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Others have already mentioned Transistor and Hades, but I’d also throw in Logan Cunningham’s performance as The Voice in Pyre. Those sermon intros before each rite are just ** chef’s kiss **

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One of my favorite performances is Cristina Valenzuela as Velvet in Tales of Berseria. The character has a really intense story arc and her actress utterly nails it, completely selling lines that could sound ridiculous coming from someone else. In particular, there’s a scene late in the game where Velvet has to re-examine her motivations that makes me tear up just from thinking about it, largely because of Valenzuela’s performance.

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I’m also going to add John Gegenhuber’s performance as Kirin Jindosh in Dishonored 2. The Clockwork Mansion is a masterpiece of level design in a technical sense, but it’s also the aesthetics which make it so memorable. Jindosh’s voice coming over the speakers of the mansion and clockwork soldiers really helps bring it all together as not just a puzzle-house, but this character’s puzzle-house. The way the clockwork soldiers eerily fire out something like “Playback: the clockwork soldier has detected something…” when they get a glimpse of you and go into search mode, for example. Those kinds of barks from guards are common in stealth games, but the little twist on it when it’s the in-fiction placeholder line from development of the tech is great

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Jennifer Hale and Brandon Keener in particular make a very, very powerful combo. I don’t think there’s a single miss in that entire cast, though. Even the ones I don’t like as characters have great VA performances.

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Just had a vision of a marriage DLC where my Shepard marries Liara and I ask Garrus to be my best man.

Anyway, here’s Dee Bradley Baker talking about being an entire Star Wars show https://youtu.be/1UxfT-LUFUE

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Ok, so I spent some time thinking about this, and I just keep coming back to Fallout 4. It’s a bit of a dark horse, I guess, when it comes to narrative and narrative-adjacent topics like voice acting, but it’s got a ton of great performances. I mean, Nick Valentine? Hancock? Linda Carter just casually shows up and sings a bunch of torch songs at you? Piper Fucking Wright? Piper is one of the few video game characters I’ve developed an honest-to-god crush on, and 90% of that is just the way Courtney Ford’s voice sounds when she calls you “Blue”. Also, Courtenay Taylor’s performance is really impressive for pulling together all the vastly different ways you can play the Sole Survivor into something that feels coherent.

As for the localized vs original voices, I do generally prefer the originals. Bayonetta makes me question that, though. The JP voices are fantastic, of course, but the English voice cast – but especially Hellena Taylor and Grey Delisle-Griffin – is clearly having a great time camping it up in a way that I think works even better for the feel the game is going for. I think ultimately that’s an exception rather than the rule, although just like with anime dubs it does seem like game dubs in general are a lot better than they used to be.

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