We’ve seen some incredible games in 2017, but what about individual characters? Yes, there’s been the usual suspects in the form of Mario and Link, but other games including Persona 5, Nier: Automata, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Cuphead to name a few, have introduced us to characters who have captivating stories, goals, or are just beautifully hand-crafted.
So you’ll probably be surprised to read that none of them feature in the Best Character list. It’s shocking I know, but there were three standouts this year. Oh, and all of these characters are women, well, more or less. Let’s begin with the winner though and as soon as you see the image, you’ll understand why.
Senua is the most complicated and conflicted character among a myriad of worthy protagonists this year. Others may suffer from oppression or the need to survive. Senua has a quest to find her lost companion, but also has to somehow do this with her psychosis. Not only does this tie into the gameplay, it also is a big part of what makes Senua so remarkable.
As the events unfold during the gameplay, we learn more and more about Senua, how she is isolated from her community for being different, how one person took it upon himself to get to know Senua – in turn showing kindness she’s rarely seen, and indeed what happened that led to her pilgrimage she is now taking. Perhaps the biggest masterstroke was incorporating her psychosis into the gameplay, allowing the player to not only experience it first-hand – noise and all, but also see that in Senua’s case she can use it to compensate for the camera’s fixed perspective.
She’s no doubt the most worthy winners for many, giving a face to a condition otherwise taboo and will likely spark more conversation about people with mental conditions for years to come. I honestly think that Senua’s character was key to why Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice worked so well. Ninja Theory’s creation is therefore utterly deserving of our award for Best Character 2017.
Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn – Runner Up
As video game protagonists go, a fiery redheaded woman is about as rare as they come, yet Aloy and Horizon Zero Dawn in general struck a chord with a lot of people. The game’s central plot might feature giant and deadly robots threatening to destroy the handful of human tribes and cities that remain on Earth, but it’s interwoven with a personal journey of discovery for this orphaned child struggling to find her place in the world. Is it with the Nora tribe that rejected her? Perhaps the more openminded tribes in the world? She needs to find answers to who she is before she can know.
It’s that inquisitive nature that really defines her, and marks her out as an outsider from the Nora tribe. Where they shun technology, she’s eager to embrace it and find out what it does, to learn about the world and how it came to be this way. While her perspective as an outsider has lead to compassion for others, she also doesn’t take crap from anyone who’s messing with her. It helps that she kicks arse in combat, using a wide array of semi-primitive weapons to take down robots of all sizes that roam the lands, making her an all round action heroine.
Going on Aloy’s journey with her was a true pleasure in 2017, and it’s really no surprise that Aloy has quickly become a favourite amongst the cosplay community. It’s only the truly exceptional that kept her away from the top spot.
Rabbid Peach – Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle – Runner Up
Rabbid…Peach? At first glance you probably think we’re having a laugh, after all there have been so many more conflicted characters with more meaningful stories. Rabbids meanwhile have generally been that mascot that Ubisoft have pushed onto us more times than we’d like to count. So why is Rabbid Peach even being considered?
If you’re asking that question, you need to play Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. While the other cosplay Rabbids you come across have some character, Rabbid Peach is wildly different from her human counterpart. Peach is generally a nice and caring monarch, but Rabbid Peach is a selfie-taking snooty prankster, that just so happens to be part of the funniest bits in the game. The scene where she eyes up Peach before being disgusted by her dress? Glorious! The scene after the first boss is defeated as she snaps tons of selfies? Genius!
Yet what keeps her from the top spot is purely that she’s a little bit one note. She’s a fun character with many great moments, but when looking at the other two characters mentioned beforehand, she just doesn’t compare. She’s a character that may be a flash-in-the-pan success story, never to be repeated, but she’s still one of the best of this year.
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- 2B – Nier: Automata
- Bruz – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Kokichi Oma – Danganronpa V3
Are there any other characters in games that have been overlooked? Did your favourite not even get a mention? Feel free to sound off down in the comments below!