The silent (or at least very quiet) protagonist is a very special staple of gaming that seems to have been around since the dark ages. Initially the need for developers to conserve precious space on a cartridge/floppy disk/whatever, the silent protagonist has become more of a conscious design choice in recent years, one that allows for more subtle forms of expression to be explored that don’t rely upon reams of heavy dialogue. Below are ten protagonists who are capable of such subtle expression, without the need for many words.
The Hero – Dragon Quest series
One of many heroes prefers to talk with his blade
What is most impressive about the Hero’s lack of speech in Enix’s seminal RPG franchise, is the sheer commitment involved. The Dragon Quest series has been going steady for nearly sixteen years now, and in that entire time the main protagonist of each game has failed to utter a single word. That is an intense silent treatment right there. What’s more impressive is how the supporting characters are able to completely carry the narrative in spite of the Hero’s vow of silence.
Cloud – Final Fantasy 7
A cynical demeanour, spiky hair, an oversized blade! This guy has everything!
RPGs are renowned for their quiet heroes and, though Cloud isn’t entirely silent, he set the precedent for the brooding and cynical RPG protagonist. The moody hero has been copied many times since Cloud first appeared in our lives in 1997, and his strong silent demeanour is one of the many staples of FF7 that has since gone on to influence the genre so profoundly.
Red/Blue – Pokemon Red/Blue
For a game that was prominently about fantastical creatures, it wouldn’t make sense to have a blabbermouth protagonist who attempted to steal the show. Pokemon thus made the sensible decision of including a silent protagonist, ripe for the game’s millions of players to project themselves onto.