Storytelling in video games is extremely important; whether this be through traditional means or through abstract means, it still plays a very integral part in the immersion of the game. And a good story depends on engaging characters, something with which the player can connect and feel some kind of emotional attachment. I have found through the years that some of my favorite characters are the ones that have less to offer directly to the story of a game, if anything to offer at all, but have a lot more to them than what can be inferred from a glance. Here are some of my favorite less developed characters, who at first provide little to nothing to the player, but have worked their way into my heart as unforgettable acquaintances.
Siegmeyer, Knight of Catarina (Dark Souls)
As soon as I saw the Catarina Knight at the end of the bridge leading to Sens Fortress, I was expecting a tank of an enemy NPC. I approached him to find that he was just a dull man waiting for the gate to open. As soon as he said, “I have run flat up against a wall. Or, a gate, I should say…” I decided that he was an awesome character and I wanted to befriend him, if possible. I later learned that Siegmeyer has his own story, like many other NPCs in Dark Souls, and I was determined to do my best to complete it. Siegmeyer, though large and dopey, is the second most interesting character from the Souls series (next to Solaire of Astora).
He is very interesting because his major character trait is perseverance no matter the odds. Every time players encounter Siegmeyer, they find him in a particularly dreadful scenario, usually leading to the player saving him, but he still presses on in search of adventure. Siegmeyer is an admirable character; he is noble and steadfast in a world full of darkness and undeath, and he was and always will be a hero in my eyes, even if I had to save him on almost every occasion we met.
Weighted Companion Cube (Portal)
I think it is safe to say that most everyone who has played Portal had some kind of attachment to the Weighted Companion Cube. This was massively due to very clever psychological conditioning in the game, making the player treasure the cube in Aperture Laboratory’s solitary setting. Many players probably felt sadness and even anger when they had to “euthanize” their short term ally in testing chamber seventeen. I tried every potential option to keep the Weighted Companion Cube with me throughout the game, from attempting to glitch through the door to looking for cheats or bug exploits, to no avail. It is strange to think that through being kept away from a friendly presence and being constantly berated by GLaDOS that people would be drawn into a friendship with an inanimate cube. I was truly saddened when I could not keep the Companion Cube, though fortunately I was able to avenge my fallen companion in the end.
Journey is a masterpiece among games, a true testament that games are art and need to be appreciated as such, and its beauty is perfectly balanced with the ease of the game. While playing Journey, I spent a lot of time exploring- chirping, hopping, and flying my way around, looking for any secrets I could find. During the desert portion of the game, I noticed a different sounding chirp far off in the distance, and after traversing the hills of sand I found my companion, otherwise referred to as “Friend.”
Friend and I traveled throughout the game together, forging an unspoken, but rather chirped, bond between us as we traversed the sands that made the game so famous. I find this example to be particularly interesting because the game has no direct way of communicating other than chirps, which usually leads to someone hopping up and down and chirping frantically. Regardless of this lack of direct connection with the companion, a strong bond is formed throughout the game and only gets stronger until the very end. I have fond memories of each friend who accompanied me on my many journeys.
The Little Girl (Elona Plus)
The Little Girl Companion in Elona was originally presented to the players as a joke on a Japanese stereotype. Unfortunately for Elona creator Noa, she ended up not only loved by the players, but she coincidentally is the strongest companion option, even being a stronger choice than the bear. In Elona, known for its very random nature, it is no surprise that the little girl is a creature in the game, as well as being a companion; but when I first played the game and chose the little girl as a companion, I had a strong feeling that I must protect her, like a big brother to a little sister.
Fortunately for the little girl, she can dual wield katanas with no problem (despite her small size), so I really did not need to worry about her in combat. Unfortunately for her, immense stats do not negate the fact that she is still a little girl and does not know much about the world. Because of this, she needs to be protected more from herself than from the monsters of dungeons. The little girl, a joke gone surprisingly right, is my favorite starter companion in Elona, hands down, just for the sake that she is great in terms of game mechanics. And you can not deny she is just cute.
Otto von Chesterfield, Esquire A.K.A Chester (Don’t Starve)
Chester is the most adorable abomination of a chest and some kind of orange, multi-legged, furry dog creature, thus I instantly vowed to protect him whatever the cost in order to keep my companion… and so I could use him for his storage capabilities. Chester as a character adds nothing to the game aside from a handy function as a mobile chest that will follow the player. But, much like the Weighted Companion Cube, he is an unsung hero of the game.
Without Chester, the game is much more difficult than it should be; the nine extra slots for storing items are massively helpful when it comes to long hauls or spelunking into the caverns that have recently been added. Chester, aside from being massively useful, also provides the player with some comfort in the harsh world of day to day survival. Because of his steadfast loyalty and his furry exterior, Otto Von Chesterfield, Esq. will always be my favorite orange, dog-like, chest abomination.
Through the creation of this list, I have noticed a trend in the characters chosen. Each character provides a relief from being alone in games that create an overbearing sense of loneliness. Looking at each character, I was naturally attracted to them for little to no reason other than me choosing them to be my friend because they were available. And after choosing them I found they end up having more to them than meets the eye, only reinforcing my fondness of them. I am certain that there are more characters that I could add to this list, but these five make the strongest impression, and I will not forget them anytime soon.