Some Game Characters Need To Keep Their Big Mouths Shut

Illustration for article titled Some Game Characters Need To Keep Their Big Mouths Shut

In today's silent-but-deadly episode of Speak-Up on Kotaku, commenter Inspector-Jones quietly sings the praises of video game characters that have nothing to say.

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Today I was arguing in defense of Valve keeping Chell silent in Portal 2.

A few commenters remarked how they want Chell to speak, or commented on how Valve was lazy for choosing to keep the protagonist in most of their games mute. For me, the last thing I would want in Portal 2 is for Chell to speak. Having Chell snap off one-liners would totally conflict with how I imagine the character would be. I could be thinking or doing one thing, only to hear Chell something completely different than me. That contradictory wouldn't break the game, but it certainly takes me out of the moment. For example, let's look at the companion cube. Let's say someone really didn't care about the companion cube while playing Portal, now imagine if the character of Chell loved it, and would not stop blabbing about it.

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Another example, introducing voice acting for the hero in Fable 3 completely killed the game for me. In the old fable games, I could play out in my head how my character would respond to quest givers. My pirate viking king wouldn't be anyone's bitch, and the only reason he would consider doing these pathetic chores was for the cash incentive or the hopes of playing things out to his benefit. In Fable 3, my character was voiced, and an attempt was made to include a more "involving" story. Here I was being the biggest dick in Albion, and yet every cutscene, my character acted like a noble and worried for the lives of his people. Sorry Fable 3, my character wasn't a princely fellow, he was a mother fucking pirate who killed anyone who looked at me the wrong way (everyone).

People may call it bullshit, but I love the silent protagonist. It's been proven that great worlds and stories can be crafted without a voiced main character.

About Speak-Up on Kotaku: Our readers have a lot to say, and sometimes what they have to say has nothing to do with the stories we run. That's why we have that little forum on Kotaku called Speak-Up. That's the place to post anecdotes, photos, game tips and hints, and anything you want to share with Kotaku at large. Every weekday we'll pull one of the best Speak-Up posts we can find and highlight it here.

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DISCUSSION

Wraithfighter

I wouldn't call it BS, but silent protagonists are terrible protagonists.

I really do like Valve, but this is something that's always bugged me about Half-Life 2 and Portal. The player characters are really just not there. There's no character there, no development. Gordon Freeman undergoes no changes throughout the story, and really all the player knows about him is that he's a scientist and oddly durable.

I mean, what's the story of Portal? Person wakes up in a test environment, goes through a bunch of puzzles, the crazy AI tries to kill her and the person manages to mostly kill the AI instead. Halo has more of a story than that, and its protagonist is generic super-soldier space marine #117.

So long as Chell's lines are done well? With good and above all FEW lines, the story as a whole would work better than people talking to her and her being a heroic mute with surprisingly durable legs.