You’ll encounter silent protagonists in every genre of gaming. Many of those protagonists accomplish monumental tasks, defeat rivals and archnemeses, and even save the world (or in many cases, the entire universe). However, many of those same quiet protagonists are nothing but a vessel with which the player completes missions. Yet, there are some developers who go above and beyond in their writing to give their mute heroes some personality. These top five protagonists may not speak, but they still carry out their quests with an extra dose of gusto.
5. Chell (Portal Series)
Chell powers through Aperture Labs by proving that she is either very clever or extremely lucky. Her relationship with GLaDOS is one of the most enthralling and entertaining parts of the game, which is impressive considering that Chell never says a word. Portal 2 explains away Chell’s silence by implying that she has brain damage from being in an induced coma for too long.
4. New Kid (South Park: The Stick of Truth)
Like Portal, South Park: The Stick of Truth pokes fun at the silent protagonist trope. Many of the characters we are familiar with from the TV show must suffer through awkward interactions with the New Kid who either refuses to speak or is not capable of doing so. This leads to some funny moments in an already hilarious game.
3. Doomguy (Doom 2016)
Doom (2016) was filled with some of the coolest moments in gaming. For decades, Doomguy has been a force to be reckoned with and this latest entry is no exception. Doomguy may be a man of few words, but that does not mean that he has no emotions. The entire game is structured around his unstoppable rage at the injustices of science and Hell alike. The first ten minutes of the game are a perfect prelude to the journey you are about to embark on with Doomguy. When Doomguy is in the elevator listening to Samuel Hayden explain why they were researching Hell, Hayden says, “[…] our interest in their world was purely for the betterment of mankind.” As he says this, our hero glances down to find a man murdered at his feet. He cracks his knuckles and punches the radio Hayden is speaking through. It captures the entire feel of the game in one swift introduction and tells us that we are not controlling just another yes man.
2. Jack (Bioshock)
Speaking of yes men, some might argue that Jack’s monologue at the beginning of Bioshock disqualifies him from this list. However, once he enters Rapture and begins his journey, his silence is indicative of something much more sinister. Jack is ranked high on this list because 2K managed to turn a gaming trope into an intensely clever twist.
1. Link (The Legend of Zelda Series)
Of course, Link is number one on this list, how could he not be? For decades, we have been guiding Link through his adventures and the only vocalizations we have gotten from him have been in the form of screams, yells, and gasps. Yet, despite his silence, Link has proven that he is capable of deep emotional resonance. Perhaps no character has inspired gamers to feel for its characters as much as The Legend of Zelda has. That is in part due to Link’s ability to showcase his feelings. Rather than speak, Link displays his raw emotions through unabashed action. When he is angry, he fights powerfully and furiously. When he is caring, he nurtures. In the rare moments of respite he is afforded, he is smiling. We feel those emotions with him because we grew up with him. To many fans of The Legend of Zelda, there are no words capable of matching the gratitude that they feel toward the series and its developers. Therefore, silence is just fine.