We have been guiding silent protagonists through our video game worlds since time immemorial. It wasn't until the dawn of the Playstation era that our heroes found their voice – and then lost it again. While a talkative protagonist can add a lot of depth and character to video games, it's often the silent heroes that stick with us. There are many reasons for this, but the most important is usually the identification with the protagonist: If the warrior on the screen has no voice, we tend to invest more because we can bring more of ourselves into the story. However, it gets really interesting when this principle is combined with a hero who, despite his silence, has a lot of character. At this point, we're looking at the top five silent video game protagonists – the ranking is not based solely on the character of the hero, but also on the way in which his silence was used in relation to story and gameplay.
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/960x/2020/08/Gordon_01-pc-games.jpg" alt = "Gordon is one of the most iconic characters of all time in the modern PC game world – zu Right, because the silent physicist is the epitome of the silent, strong guy.
Half Life showed us not only that theoretical physicists make excellent front line soldiers in an emergency, but also how to build silent protagonists. Valve guru Gabe Newell remarked in an interview that Mr. Freeman has no voice because he is supposed to be a mirror for the player. On Gordon's way to work, she meets colleagues, chats with security guards and plays around in the works canteen. According to Newell, the famous slow build-up is used to slowly but surely turn the player's mind into Gordon's mind. Incidentally, it is taken for granted that Gordon Freeman answers his colleagues from time to time – you as a player just don't hear the whole thing so as not to destroy your immersion. The result is that Mr. Freeman looks a bit like Lassie: somehow everyone knows what Gordon wants from him, even though he only communicates with head movements and looks. It was only with Half Life 2 that it was established that our favorite physicist is actually the dumb, strong guy. Since you are often addressed as "Gordon" during the game, his personality remains despite the silence, although you slip into his skin as Gordon puts on a protective suit. The character of the hero is not formed in the Half-Life parts by one-liner or extravagant background stories, but by the reaction of the environment to Gordon.
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/960x/2020/08/Link_01-pc-games.jpg" alt = "Link has been the eternal warrior since the NES era, who only loses a few words and still regularly saves Hyrule. Despite his size, the little Hyrulian is tireless!
Link is one of the oldest and most famous silent protagonists who were able to escape into the modern video game world. The reason for Link's silence is once again not due to dramatic things, such as destroyed vocal cords or a vow of silence, but to a design decision: Shigeru Miyamoto revealed in an interview that Link does not speak even in modern times because he wants the player to feel like that feels as if he were Link – and a hero chatting forever would not be very conducive to this illusion. Even if Link historically only utters sharp screams and now and then a moan, the little Hyrulian can definitely talk, because since The Wind Waker you can communicate with NPCs through various short, written answers. In Breath of the Wild, for example, Link doesn't speak very much because, according to Zelda's diary, "Due to the enormous pressure that is on his shoulders, he doesn't want to say the wrong thing or disappoint someone." The little warrior develops a recognizable personality mainly through his facial expressions, which since his appearance in Twilight Princess have very well reflected the emotional inner life of Left. And before you take a breath: We ignore the TV cartoon and the Zeldas on the Phillips CD-I as if they never existed. Seriously, if you want to see what happens when Link speaks, look for "Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon" or "Link: The Faces Of Evil" – but don't say afterwards that we didn't warn you!
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/960x/2020/08/Jack_01-pc-games.jpg" alt = "Jack has no official face – because he is a vessel for the player and his own Emotions. Notice especially the tattoos on his wrists.
Bioshock thrives on its strong characters, its bombastic setting and the interesting philosophical approaches that the player is introduced to during his journey through the underwater city of Rapture. Jack is the perfect silent protagonist for this kind of Art Deco psychological trip, because he represents an empty shell that the player can slip into. Because Bioshock's story definitely includes some of the most emotional moments in video game history, Jack and the gamer will become one over time. When Jack suffers a blow of fate, the player feels the full force of disappointment and horror of the young man. The special thing about Jack is that he only loses his voice after the plane crash of the intro. This establishes a few facts about Jack: he has a father and a mother, his family loves him, and great things are prophesied for him. The way he talks about himself also makes it clear that he's not dealing with the present Jack. Our protagonist only finds "his voice" after the events of the game – for good reason. Even the tattoos on his wrists become more important as you advance in the story. Even if the protagonist Bioshocks doesn't show much character, cleverly chosen details have anchored him so strongly in the world that you invest in his story without being too distracted by the atmospheric surroundings. With Jack's empty shell you become the protagonist of Bioshock yourself and do what you do best: fulfill mission objectives and kill opponents without thinking too much about Jack's past. Well, would you be so kind as to read on?
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/960x/2020/08/Wander_01-pc-games.jpg" alt = "As a young man, Wander doesn't have big muscles or superpowers. But what he does have is an infinite loyalty and willpower from which heroes are forged.
Wander occupies a very special place on this list because he perfectly embodies the tragic hero of classic Greek sagas. He's neither a muscular giant nor a quick-witted action hero. Instead, he is a pale, slim young man who wants to undo the death of the love of his life. Wander doesn’t lose a single word on his journey – he is the epitome of the silent hero who lets actions speak instead of words. The only communication takes place with his horse Agro: when his loyal companion is far away, he calls out loudly for him, when he stands next to him in a quiet minute, Wander's voice becomes soft and loving. Agro is Wanders only companion and his last connection to a completely deserted world. Sixteen colossi stand between wandering and seeing his girlfriend again. And when he literally has to conquer sixteen living mountains with only one sword in hand, Wander is not asking himself whether he can do it – but how long it will take.
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/960x/2020/08/Doomslayer_01-pc-games.jpg" alt = "The Doomslayer is the best silent protagonist of the modern video game landscape because Id- Software manages to convey one's personality anyway.
The deserved first place is taken by an ancient cult icon – or at least by its current variant. As a silent shooter hero, the "Doomguy" didn't say many words, except for an occasional grunt. Id-Software and Bethesda decided to make this whimsy a defining trait, creating a masterpiece of wordless storytelling. Explanation: The Doomslayer is a running weapon that kills demons, nothing more and nothing less. Save people? Good idea, but irrelevant. The earth must be saved from a demon invasion? A pure side effect of the fact that the Doomslayer kills every demon that ever dared to exist anywhere in the multiverse. The Slayer is completely mute. His character results from his expressive body language, which is very similar to a fully loaded shotgun: It is aggressive, conveys the meaning of its existence across language barriers, and consists exclusively of jerky, steely movements. Ingeniously, the developers combine the slayer's silence and body language with a statement at the same time. Every time the game begins desperately to bring the Doomslayer closer to the story, the Doomslayer responds to the attempt by smashing screens, ignoring instructions, and reloading his pump gun. In this way, Doom not only tells us the personality of the character, but also makes one thing clear and easy in a playful way: Gameplay is about story here.
All fans who have not yet played Doom Eternal are warned, because from here a small spoiler follows: In a certain scene we see in a retrospective how the "Doomguy" from back then transforms into the "Doomslayer" of the present. However, the only words the confused Doomguy loses are stammering threats and violent fantasies (taken from a famous comic book). Rather than ruining the character, Doom Eternal does an excellent job of telling the difference between the frenzy of the old Doomguys and the silent, greedy hatred of the eons forged Doomslayer. We take our hats off to ID software – this is exactly how you build iconic characters that years later still stick to the video game Olympus of the quiet, strong types. Which silent game protagonist is your favorite? The coveted hiker from Journey or maybe Chell from Portal? We look forward to your opinion!
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