Thursday, April 2, 2015

Best male characters in video games Part IV

Gabriel Belmont / Dracula – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Series

                Antiheroes are something rare in video games and even rarer are Castlevania games for PC, so when Lords of Shadow made its way to this platform I was somewhat excited to play for the first time a game from this series. To my surprise I enjoyed it and I got very fond of the protagonist of the series since he was my type of character.
                Gabriel Belmont is a knight from the Brotherhood of Light, a group of faithful knights who protect the innocent from the evil forces in the world. After the loss of his wife, Marie, Gabriel is sent by the Brootherhood in a quest to contact her spirit to find out a way to save the world after the heavens were cut off from the human’s plane. He finds out about the existence of the Lords of Shadow and goes searching for them in order to put an end to their terror. Guided by the old god Pan and by Zobek, a comrade from the Brotherhood, Gabriel advances through dark lands and slays every evil creature that stands in his way.
When fighting the first Lord, Gabriel finds out about their true nature and how Earth was betrayed by the founders of his order. After learning the truth, Gabriel feels betrayed and loses the faith in the Brotherhood, but continues his journey for the sake of his wife and humanity. After killing two of the Lords and taking some of their powers, Gabriel finds out that his journey was a scheme orchestrated by Zobek, who was in fact the Dark Lord of the Dead. Zobek manipulated Grabiel into killing his own wife so that revenge would blind him from the true purpose of his quest, which was to obtain the remaining pieces of the Mask of God from the other Lords. The malefic plan is ended when Satan materializes into the world and destroys the last Lord. Gabriel fights the demon and by using the power of light he is able to send Satan back to Hell. In the end Gabriel Belmont realizes that the Mask of God doesn’t have the power to resurrect his wife and is left alone in the world, watching the spirits of those who helped him fade away.
                The destruction of all the three Lords has caused an even greater problem, as a powerful demon has been unleashed into the world. The Forgotten One was imprisoned inside Bernhard castle by the three founders of the Brotherhood of Light and was freed after the three Lords were killed. In order to face this demon, Gabriel drinks the blood of a vampire, as only a dark being could enter in the dimension of the demon. After a fierce and on the edge battle, Gabriel defeats the demon by absorbing some of his power, hence, embracing darkness even more. Gabriel Belmont becomes the Prince of Darkness known as Dracula and starts tormenting humanity for countless years until he is stopped by his own son and grandson.
                After centuries of lying dormant, Dracula is awakened in present day by Zobek who warns him that Satan is planning to return into the world in order to take vengeance for the events of the past. Now weak and tormented by memories of the past, Dracula tries to gather his long lost powers to face the acolytes of Satan. Dracula battles with altered memories of the past that come to him under the form of living dreams. Helped by the last descendent of the Belmont clan and his son, Dracula puts an end to all the evil creatures that roam his castle including Zobek and Satan, leaving a world free of darkness other than himself.
                Gabriel Belmont was a knight dedicated to the cause of his order to protect humanity from all evil, but he changed during his quest to fight the Lords of Shadow. He loved his wife a lot and when he found out the truth about her death it affected him deeply, no longer caring about the lives of others and willing to do anything to resurrect Marie. The once great man destined to be the Chosen of Light, succumbs to darkness protecting a world that betrayed him.
As a human he learned to use both the powers of Light and Shadow magic and his power increased by using the artifacts worn by the evil beings he defeated. His signature weapon was the Vampire Killer, a combat cross that expands with a lashing chain capable of hitting multiple enemies.
                Dracula wanted to take revenge on the Brotherhood of Light, after the deception and betrayal, and attempted to remake the world in his own way. The order sent Trevor, Gabriel’s son with Marie, to fight his own father. Dracula defeated his son and upon learning the true identity of Trevor he saved his life by turning him into a vampire which pushed the hate of the vampire lord towards the order even forward. Despite being the Prince of Darkness, Dracula still holds a shred of humanity and during the events of Lords of Shadow 2 this can be often seen as compassion and regret can be read on his eyes and even actions.
As he destroyed the combat cross after taking the powers of the Forgotten One, Dracula relies on the power of blood to fight his enemies in melee range. Instead of the powers of Light and Shadow magic, he now wields a Void Sword and Chaos Claws which reflect his internal feelings of emptiness and suffering.
                Gabriel Belmont is a complex character being pushed at two different extremes by those who manipulated him and the events of his life. His struggles and pain reshape his personality and despite the terrible things he did it is hard not to feel empathy at times for him. It is clear that Dracula despises himself and would want a normal life, he even craves for death but there is nobody capable to completely defeat him, such is the case for the Chosen of Light and the Prince of Darkness, to bear the curse of his actions for eternity.
Even if Lords of Shadow 2 wasn’t that well received by critiques, Dracula is well written and the voice acting done by Robert Carlyle is absolutely amazing, earning this character a spot on this list.
Protector of humanity!
The Dragon!!!

Zevran Arainai – Dragon Age: Origins

            Dragon Age: Origins has some of the most interesting characters seen in the RPGs of the current generation. Morrigan is one of the best female characters I’ve seen in a video game and Zevran Arainai is one of the more interesting male characters seen lately (and the one guy that manages to trick Morrigan with his words!).
                Before he was born, Zevran’s mother abandoned her clan and moved together with a woodcutter to Antiva City. After the woodcutter died she had to become a prostitute to pay the debts of the woodcutter and died soon after Zevran was born. Zevran was raised together with other orphans by the prostitutes in the brothel and was sold at the age of seven to a guild of assassins. While at first he tried to oppose the training as an assassin, in the end he embraced it and became an expert. Zevran’s life was set on a trajectory of misfortunes and had little to no chance for a brighter future.
                Zevran is met for the first time when trying to assassinate the Warden and Alistair, hired by Loghain and Arle Howe. After being defeated in battle, Zevran can be killed on spot or allowed to talk in his own defense. If Zevran is kept alive he will request to join the group offering his services in exchange for his life. While leaving an assassin that had an attempt at one’s life seems unwise and many of the companions protest against it, the benefits of taking Zevran into the group can be seen shortly after as his easygoing nature and dialogues make him entertaining, while his combat skills can be put to good use. He remains loyal to the Warden even after the battle with the Archdemon. If he is romanced by the player, he can remain in a stable relationship with the Warden, which is quite surprising for someone like him (probably even for himself).
Depending on the choices, Zevran is mentioned in the sequels to Dragon Age: Origins with the option in Dragon Age: Inquisition to even help him escape his assassin pursuers.
                As a Dalish elf assassin that had a life full of misery, Zevran stands as an antithesis for most of the things he represents, too short despite being an elf and getting captured by the hero’s party which he was supposed to assassinate.
Zevran makes up for his weak physical characteristics with his quick mind and being well trained in the art of conversation. The way he talks, balancing between funny jokes, snide comments and spot on observations all with a voice similar to Antonio Banderas, make him a great company while fighting the darkspawn in the quest to stop the Blight of Ferelden. His skills as an assassin are extremely high for what can be expected from a failed assassin and his open minded thinking devoid of any judgmental feelings and the fact that he is bisexual are in a tone with his harsh life.
                Zevran is one of the best works of Bioware’s writer, David Gaider, both in older and newer games and he stands out as an open minded and lively character that is great company despite the situations.
"Let's see... when was the last time I slipped my hand into some dark hole? Hmmm... I remember. Long story, that."
Always seems cheerful.

Geralt of Rivia – The Witcher Series

                Geralt of Rivia, also known as White Wolf, Gwynbleidd or the Butcher of Blaviken, is the main protagonist of the Witcher series by the polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and also of the video game adaptations.
                Geralt is one of the very few existing witchers, monster hunters for hire who possess supernatural abilities and reflexes. As a child, Geralt was taken to the witcher's fortress, Kaer Morhen, where he survived the Trial of the Grasses surprisingly well, a series of mutations which granted him superhuman physical and mental abilities. Moreover, he went through with additional experiments and is the only known witcher who survived them, his white hair being a testimony to this.
                White Wolf is a legend both among witchers and common folk. His sword fighting skills are unmatched and he has only been defeated once, ironically, by the sorcerer Vilgefortz. In a morally grey, ambiguous and racist universe inspired by the Polish history, Geralt is a cynical and noble person which follows his own code of ethics. For example, he does not slay intelligent or self-aware creatures such as dragons. Additionally, he prefers not to get affiliated with political or racial groups unless as a means to an end or to protect his friends. As part of his profession as a witcher, he is forced to take decisions which always have grim consequences.
                When it comes to his ideology about humanity, White Wolf comes off as an arrogant and misanthrope individual. However, the most important person in his life is Ciri, the Lion Cub of Cintra, who is destined to him and to whom he is like a father. In the books  Geralt is portraid as going to immensely great lengths to protect her and would give his life for her without hesitation. Moreover, he is involved in an on and off relationship with the sorceress Yennefer. The two are bound to love each other forever, but a prophecy prevents them from being together. Geralt also cares a lot about his friends: the bard Dandelion who always gets him in trouble, the sorceress Triss Merigold, the dwarf Zoltan Chivay, the vampire Regis and the witchers from Kaer Morhen. Given his misanthropic nature, Geralt represents the archetype of the unpopular hero and protector of people from evil.
                The series of books present Wolf's adventures as a witcher and the story of Ciri, the Child of Surprise, who is prophesied to be the force that will change the world. The games follow the books and conveniently place Geralt in a state of amnesia after his supposed death in Rivia. During his quest to recover his memories, he fights against the Salamandra group who attacked the witchers in Kaer Morhen and chases down a mysterious figure, an assassin of kings, while unwillingly getting involved in the racial conflict between humans and non-humans: the dwarfs and the elves. With his memory now regained, Geralt will pursue his personal quest to find Ciri and battle the Wild Hunt in the last game of the series.
“Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”
Eyes of the wolf...
Older, wiser, but still menacing!
Big thanks to Wolfe for writing about this character!

Dak’kon - Planescape: Torment

                In my opinion, Planescape: Torment is one of the best, if not the best RPG that was ever created, and this is due to its incredible story and companions. While all of them have interesting personalities and stories, Dak’kon stands out through his relationship with the game’s protagonist, The Nameless One.
                Dak’kon is a Githzerai, a people that inhabit Limbo, a place where matter only takes form and is held together through the power of concentration. As such, a great emphasis is put on knowledge and especially on the word *know*, as shown in the player’s dialogues with Dak’kon.
                Dak’kon is the last known wielder of a karach blade formed of chaos, which alters its shape, appearance and abilities depending on his power and mental state. Moreover, he was a leader in the city of Shrak’at’lor and his concentration and knowledge were required to keep it whole and functioning. However, during a crisis of faith where he came to doubt the prophet-leader Zerthimon, his will faltered and the city crumbled to dust. The player eventually finds out that an earlier incarnation of The Nameless One found him in the ruins of the city and saved his life, but used this as a debt and enslaved him until The Nameless One’s life was “no more”. However, as Dak’kon did not know that The Nameless One is immortal, this oath bound him in servitude for eternity. The player can also find out that the previous incarnation had enslaved him for his karach blade, which is capable of destroying the multiuniverse.
                In the Githzerai culture, slavery is a serious taboo, and thus Dak’kon is a pariah among his people, who even attack him as he walks through the alleys of Clerk’s Ward. Despite the fact that the current incarnation of The Nameless One can tell him that the debt is nullified, Dak’kon’s sense of honor does not allow it. The depth of the character is revealed later on in a dialogue which I have found to be one of the most profound moments in any video game.  When I, as The Nameless One, sincerely vowed that I will find a way to remove the debt between us, Dak’kon’s face filled with regret and said that we both are now doomed for eternity. In the end, his stalwart character causes him to fight until his last breath for The Nameless One, although a way to revive him exists.
                Finally, Dak’kon is a character that really stands out through his quest of *knowing* himself and through his noble personality and strong will.
“As I fell from the walls of Shra’kt’lor, *know* that my self was broken. My blade was mist, my mind divided. I was adrift upon Limbo’s seas, and I wished to drown. I died for days, my mind awash in division, when death finally came to me. It wore your skin, and it had your voice. *Know* that when death comes for you, *know * that I shall meet its blade with mine. *Know* that when all dies around you, *know* that I shall live for your sake.”

Big thanks to Wolfe for writing about this character!

To be continued...


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