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Do you know what really sucks about main characters? They always survive, no matter what. Indeed, the survival of main characters has become a staple of storytelling so entrenched that it can remove all suspense from a game’s narrative. I can understand the difficulty of killing off main characters, what with developers spending so much time writing them into the game, but sometimes it comes as a meaningful surprise when we see a character we’ve played as for so long bite the dust. Here’s a run down of some games that use this device well. This list contains heavy spoilers.
Shadow of the Colossus
You all probably saw this one coming from a mile off, but there’s a reason why the death of Wander is often seen as the standard for main protagonists biting the dust. Having quested to defeat the monstrous collosi so that he may revive the heroine, Wander is tragically turned into one of the beasts he has spent the whole game fighting. Adding insult to injury are the platoon of soldiers from the society he once belonged to who come and start attacking him. Heartbreaking bravery right there.
Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth
The survival horror genre got its name for a reason, tasking players with keeping their characters alive throughout a campaign of arduously difficult enemies and situations. I always wandered why players only had to survive physical dangers in these games though. It was thus that Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth brought in a sanity meter you had to maintain that, if it hit rock bottom, would cause your character to suffer an ambiguous fatality.
Final Fantasy X
The main character sacrificing himself at the end of the game is a well entrenched RPG cliché, but to have the main protagonist just disappear is pretty sad really. Indeed, it seems like Tidus’ journey through Spira is plagued by disastrous events that he has little or no control over, but finding out he’s just a dream of the Fayth is the final blow.