With all of the video games that I’ve played over the years, I’ve come across a lot of characters. All sorts of protagonists, antagonists, and sorts of characters in between have graced my television screen and arcade monitors at one point or another. Many of them have been memorable characters that I have been highly entertained by. But only a few have left a lasting impact on me that I still feel to this day. In this post, I will point out a few of these characters who have inspired me.
No character in video gaming has impacted me more than Rean Schwarzer of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. Now at this time, I am currently early into the second game of the Trails of Cold Steel series so I am basing my perspective on Rean based on what I’ve played through so far. Even if I find out later on that he turns dark or evil, it still will not take away my sentiments to this point. Rean is just a good person with a big heart. It is because of him that the divided Class VII that we see at the beginning of the first Trails of Cold Steel game eventually starts to become more unified. He is the link that draws everyone together and the wonderful thing is that it is the result of who he is. Rean doesn’t arrive at Thors Academy trying to be the leader amongst his peers or looking to take on the great responsibilities that end up falling on his shoulders . But because of his personality, he ends up being that person that people want to rely on. He is such a refreshing character, particularly during a time when villains seems to be more popular and being a “good guy” is many times cast off as lame or unrealistic. Rean is a reminder of how good-natured people represent an example to us all and how they are very needed in the world. The consideration he has for his family and his classmates is heartwarming.
When Lara Croft was first introduced to the world on the original Playstation in the 1990s, the character quickly became popular more based on her looks than on her abilities. It wasn’t until the relaunch of the series in the 2013 video game, Tomb Raider, that gamers really got a more realistic glimpse of the turmoil that Lara’s adventures placed her in. I was quite late to the party when I finally played and beat Tomb Raider in 2019.
The 2013 depiction of Lara Croft was exceptionally well done. In the beginning of the game, she is placed in terrible circumstances where she is scared, trying to escape from kidnappers, fighting for her life, hungry, and shivering from the cold. This vulnerability was a far cry from what I had seen in the 90s and immediately connected me to her character. To put it lightly, Lara takes a beating throughout the game. I mean, an absolute pounding. The ways she can be killed are brutal, always serving as a reminder of the dangerous predicament that she is in. You see her wounded, limping, bruised, and just flat out trying to survive. By the time you reach the end of the game, you realize that this woman has endured a lot. Her perseverance and grit inspired me. And as a result of her endurance, I witnessed her grow leaps and bounds throughout the game. She started off the game very vulnerable, but by its end, she was more than able to handle herself. Adversity made her stronger and it was a terrific life lesson to learn from her character.
I have only played very little of A Plague Tale: Innocence, but that hour of gameplay was more than enough to decipher the premise of the game. Young Amicia de Rune is thrust into a perilous situation where she must protect her brother against a plague and also soldiers from the Inquisition that are seeking to hunt them down. Amica is 15 years and her brother, Hugo, is a sickly five-year-old. It’s basically them against the world as they are forced to flee their home with only each other at the beginning of the game.
Asobo Studio deserves a lot of credit for how they built this game. For instance, playing as Amicia, you are holding your brother’s hand for the bulk of the gameplay. From what I played, if you leave him alone too long, he will start to panic. The way they built this into the game mechanics was brilliant and makes the player constantly aware of protecting Hugo. It makes you feel more connected to Amicia’s plight as well. But even very early in the game, I was blown away and impressed by Amicia’s bravery and her willingness to push forward unflinchingly with her brother to ensure their survival. She is certainly a courageous young hero that anybody, young or old, would want to emulate. How many of us would be ready to take on what she did at 15 years old? At some point, I will have to get back to this game to see how the story plays out.
I’ve beaten the first two Mass Effects and have played through a decent portion of Mass Effect 3. Even if I had never played Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard is one of my favorite video game characters of all time just based on the first two games. Bioware does such a wonderful job of putting the players in the shoes of a commander as you have to make many of the hard decisions that will affect the course of the game. But the most admirable quality I found with Commander Shepard was his/her determination. Honestly, if the fate of humanity rested on the shoulders of a leader, I would hope that leader would have traits of a Commander Shepard that would do everything possible to preserve humanity down to his/her last breath. When I played Mass Effect, I believed in Commander Shepard would do whatever it took and still be able to maintain his integrity. Now, of course, I had a major hand in that portrayal due to the decisions I was making as a player. But nonetheless, whether for good or bad reasons, Commander Shepard always presses forward and there is something to be learned from that.
So there’s my top four inspiring video game characters. Some honorable mentions are Link from The Legend of Zelda, Tidus from Final Fantasy X, Mike Haggar from Final Fight, and Little Mac from Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!. What are some video game characters that have impacted you? Feel free to share in the comments below.