5 Video Games Where Mute Protagonists Fit the Context Perfectly (And 5 Times They Felt Out of Place)

Story-driven video games rely heavily on their protagonists to deliver the desired experience. They are the lens through which players view the events of the game and experience the story as it unfolds. It is therefore necessary for developers to create a protagonist that works well within the context of their game.

Silent protagonists are characters who do not speak for the duration of the game. They interact with other characters as well as their surroundings, but never speak and give us no insight into their psyche. These protagonists are used to provide an immersive role-playing experience for players, who can really feel like they are living the events of the games.


Silent protagonists who were perfect for their respective video games

1) Doom Slayer in the Doom series

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With a soft reboot of the series in 2018, Doom made a return to modern consoles. Focused on fast-paced, demon-slaying action that puts players in the Doom Slayer’s combat boots, these video games are a perfect fit for a silent protagonist.

Also known as Doom Guy, the protagonist is an ancient warrior who awoke on one of Mar’s moons to battle the forces of Hell. Being a voiceless personality, he allows players to immerse themselves in the storyline as they unleash hell (pun intended) on their enemies.

Doom Guy being a silent, no-nonsense killing machine also adds to his mysterious personality.


2) The Hunter in Bloodborne

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The Hunter is a customizable silent protagonist in FromSoftware’s Bloodborne. Players assume the role of the hunter as he traverses the desolate town of Yarnham and battles various opponents.

The hunter’s origins, appearance, and abilities are fully customizable, and he never speaks throughout the game. This reinforces his role as a silent protagonist, as he is just a ship that provides an immersive experience for the player.

The silent nature of the protagonist also adds to the game’s mysterious environment. Lore is revealed through exploration and progression through the story, rather than the hunter. By prioritizing the world over the protagonist, FromSoftware allows players to truly appreciate the plot of the game.


3) The undead chosen from the Dark Souls series

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FromSoftware continues its trend of using silent protagonists with Dark Souls video games. The series is known in the video game world for its difficulty, especially because of its creative and overpowered bosses. However, the lore and world-building in these games is equally impressive.

Through the role of the silent protagonist, players are constantly reminded that they are mere pawns in the grand scheme of the Souls video game world. Similar to Bloodborne, players can customize their protagonist’s appearance and abilities and shape their origins accordingly.

With video games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, FromSoftware has set the standard for the role of the silent protagonist who delivers a rich and engaging narrative.


4) Link in the Legend of Zelda series

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Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series is one of the most popular names in gaming. Since its first installment in 1986, the franchise has garnered huge critical and commercial acclaim and has become synonymous with the Nintendo brand itself.

The protagonist of the game is called Link. Through decades of video games, it’s had multiple versions and incarnations, but we’ve never heard of it. The reason is, as stated in the official narrative as canon, that Link is focused on his tasks and simply prefers not to talk. However, his silence has more layers.

Link as a character is everything the game’s story needs him to be. He is a stand-in for the players themselves and acts in accordance with the flow of the narrative. This allows players to feel truly immersed in the game, even if it comes at the cost of emotional moments in the story that feel bland due to Link’s lack of communication.


5) Sparrow in Fable 2

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The protagonist of Fable 2 is known as the Hero of Bower Lake, with the nickname “Sparrow”, given to them by their sister. They can be male or female, depending on the player’s choice at the start of the game.

Fable video games feature narrative progression and plot mechanics influenced by morality. Choices made by players at various points in the story shape its unfolding and affect their overall experience. A silent protagonist is ideal for such a scenario.

Sparrow does not display any personality traits or opinions of his own, allowing players to play as the character himself and make their own choices independently.


Silent protagonists who felt out of place in the context of their video games

1) Miles Upshur in Outlast

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Outlast is a first-person survival horror game developed and published by Red Barrell in 2013. It is one of the most unique and creative horror video games, with its first-person camcorder perspective. nobody.

Players assume the role of Miles Upshur, an investigative reporter who enters a mental institution after receiving an email from a whistleblower to investigate alleged suspicious activity.

Despite the immersive and engaging nature of the gameplay, players wondered how much better the experience would have been had Miles expressed himself in-game. The lack of dialogue and expression on his part hinders immersion, as he experiences traumatic events without uttering a word.


2) Claude in Grand Theft Auto 3

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Grand Theft Auto video games are known for their unique and dynamic characters. The franchise is one of the best-selling titles in gaming, with GTA 5 being the highest-grossing game of all time. However, the series deviated from the norm with GTA 3.

Released by Rockstar Games in 2001, the title chronicles the experiences of Claude as he seeks revenge on those who betrayed him in the colorful and violent town of Liberty City. However, for the first and only time in the series, the protagonist has no in-game dialogue.

The appeal of GTA games is in the role-playing aspect, as players can control unique protagonists and experience the world through their perspective. A silent protagonist robs players of that experience and hurts long-term narrative delivery.


3) Gordon Freeman in Half-Life 2

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Half-Life 2 is considered one of the best video games of all time. Released in 2004 by Valve, the game takes place twenty years after the events of the first game.

The plot follows Freeman as he is awake in this futuristic world and must fend for himself while battling antagonistic forces. He goes through a journey of epic proportions throughout the game, as he joins a faction that rebels against the Combine and gradually gains legendary status among the rebels.

These events and these experiences would have been much better if Gordon Freeman had not been a silent protagonist. For an individual struggling to find their place in a dystopian and hostile world, we never get to truly explore their psyche or feel their feelings.

For a game as narratively masterful as Half Life 2, one can’t help but wonder if Valve missed a good opportunity here.


4) Corvo Attano in Dishonored

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Released by Bethesda in 2012, Dishonored is a first-person action game that follows the adventures of protagonist Corvo Attano, accused of murdering the Empress. He is forced into the life of an assassin and embarks on a journey to exact revenge on those who conspired against him.

Dishonored is extremely popular in the stealth action video game genre. It received positive critical reception upon release due to its unique premise and execution. The game’s narrative and plot, while at times predictable, was engaging and entertaining.

However, the execution fails with the developers’ choice to make Corvo a silent protagonist. The inability to delve into the psyche of a character wrongly accused of murder hinders the overall game experience.

This is a missed opportunity on the part of the developers. The game would have been more immersive if players could better understand Corvo’s perspective.


5) Deputy in Far Cry 5

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Far Cry 5 takes the series to the fictional Hope County in Montana, where players must battle Joseph Seed and his cult of religious fanatics.

Ubisoft’s Far Cry video games have always been known for their immersive open worlds and thrilling antagonists. The narrative relies more on character interactions than the actual plot, which can sometimes be linear and predictable.

However, in Far Cry 5, the protagonist does not speak or communicate with the other characters in the game. The lack of dialogue is intended to put players in the shoes of the deputy so that they can feel as if those who lived these events. However, by creating this divide between the protagonist and the villain, the game loses some depth in the storytelling.

Far Cry video games are at their best when the protagonists display some personality and interact with NPCs as well as antagonists, such as Vaas in Far Cry 3.


Note: This article reflects the views of the author.


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John C. Dent