The dictionary states a ‘Hero’ as someone who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements and who possesses noble qualities. However, as we’ve seen in countless video games, not all protagonists are as flat and perfect as the ideal hero.
Here’s a list of 8 characters that defied what it means to be a ‘conventional hero’ and instead took a slightly more twisted path towards saving the world.
- Booker Dewitt (Bioshock Infinite)
‘Bring us the girl. Wipe away the debt.’ Is a constant mantra that plays throughout the entire game of Bioshock Infinite and in Booker Dewitt’s conscious. Before Booker -and the player- come to develop a special bond with the girl, Elizabeth, the detectives sole purpose is to free a prisoner in the floating sky of Columbia and wipe away his gambling debt. However, fulfilling that deal becomes impossible when the two are thrown into an intense civil war and her former captor, Comstock, does everything in his power to get Elizabeth back and kill Booker. What starts off as an already complicated plot gets even more physiologically twisted as Booker learns that the world and people around him aren’t as simple as he thought they were. Despite an inevitable bad ending, Booker chooses to fight for Elizabeth no matter what his past, present or future says.
- John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)
As a former outlaw, is it even possible to carry out a heroic deed? In John Marston’s case at least, it is. After being raised by gang-leader Dutch Van Der Linde and spending the early years of his life considering himself a robin-hood-like figure, Marston was ultimately shot and left to die during a robbery gone wrong. Making the decision to pack up his family and leave that kind of lifestyle for good, Marston almost succeeds. That is until a man named Edgar Ross and the Bureau of Investigation wants to use John’s past and skills to kill off his old gang. Marston’s son and wife are kidnapped to serve as motivation, ensuring that he gets the job done whether he likes it or not. Despite wishing for a better life for him and his family, John shows throughout the game, that there are no boundaries to what he will do to save his family – including sacrificing himself.
- Joel (The Last of Us)
After putting us through the gut-wrenching opening of Naughty Dog’s masterpiece The Last of Us, it’s an understatement to stay that Joel was in need of a little good in his life. That good, came in the form of a tough-as-nails teenage girl named Ellie that spent most of the game helping Joel out by being an awesome shot or putting him in his place when he was busy drowning in his misery like he was the only sad person out there. Ellie helped Joel find purpose when he didn’t really have one. However, when she selflessly agrees to help Marlene’s team in finding a cure for the infection that’s been plaguing the entire world, Joel has too much trouble letting her go. Instead of leaving the hospital and possibly saving the world, Joel chooses Ellie.
- Ezio Auditore (Assassins Creed)
When we first meet Ezio, the soon to be bad-ass assassin is just a normal kid (with exceptional climbing skills) hanging out with his brother and having fun. However, the more easy-going scenes at the start of Assassins Creed 2 doesn’t last too long, as we soon watch Ezio’s brothers and father be hung for treason. Confused and angry, its when his mother reveals the truth about their family being assassins fighting to stop a group called The Templars that our Italian hero decides to finish what his father started and hunt down the people who did this.
- Kratos (God of War)
A character who once would do anything for his family, Kratos even went on a perilous quest that killed most of his men just to find a cure that might save his daughter from illness. However, the blood thirst and his growing pride get the best of him. When he is about to die in one particular battle where he meets his match, Kratos pledges allegiance with Ares, God of War so he can live. However, the allegiance turns out to have been the worst possible choice that Kratos could have made. Ares uses his blood thirst to have him kill innocents and even his family in order to pass ‘3 tests’ that would solidify Kratos pledge to him. Enraged by all that he’s done and who he has become, Kratos vows to stop the God who betrayed him.
- Max Payne (Max Payne Series)
On-again, off-again cop, Max Payne, is driven by a blind rage for revenge when his wife and child are murdered. Dissatisfied by the measures his fellow cops take to find the killer, Max builds up quite the body count in his quest to avenge his family. Though his measures might be less than proper or heroic, Max never backs down from a dangerous case and always kills the perpetrators who did wrong by him or others.
- Dante (Devil May Cry)
Obnoxious, rowdy and anti-authority, Dante is anything but a hero if you’re just skimming the surface of his character. As someone who grew up raised by demons all his life and seeing things that no one should have to, Dante developed a deep hate for the race (even question his own humanity by ripping his chest open because of his Nephilim roots) and has been doing his part to rid the world of them since he was capable of holding his own. He may not be riding in on a white horse anytime soon, but at the end of the day, Dante is the one to thank for having a few less demons in the world.
- Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy)
Ever since he was a young boy, Cloud always dreamed about being a hero and often, considered himself to be better than others. It’s not until much later in Cloud’s story of joining the army and befriending Zach Fair that he shapes into the anti-hero we all know and love. After traumatically being experimented on and loosing two of his closest friends, Cloud simultaneously kind of looses it by pretending Zach never actually existed and pulls himself together to help his friends fight the villain Sephiroth, who he thought to be dead.
Just to name a few, these are some of the best written anti-heroes in video games today. – what’s your list? Let us know in the comments down below!