Making it all better
Most video game characters are inspirational. The biggest sports stars, the toughest fighters, the most deadly snipers. In many instances, most of us would be happy to swap lives with a video game protagonist. However... some characters have a really, really tough time. They suffer terrible loss, get physically and psychologically battered, and often end up as broken husks by the climax of their adventure.
It's these poor souls I'm paying tribute to in this feature. The ones who always seem to be getting a swift kick to the nuts from life. These people seriously need a hug. I explain why, and suggest the perfect person to give them a brief moment of intimacy in their otherwise miserable life.
This feature was originally posted in July 2013. However, as it's the Week of Love, it seems like a good time to remind ourselves of these poor, loveless souls.
Ethan Mars - Heavy Rain
Pity him because: Poor old Ethan. He just might be the most tragic video game character of all time. He loses his eldest son, Jason, at the start of Heavy Rain, which causes him to spiral into depression. He loses his job, his wife and his beautiful house (which has since been bought by Nintendo as a studio for all their soulless Wii U lifestyle photography). Then--the cherry on top of the turd-flavoured sundae--sees Ethans other son, Sean, kidnapped by a nut-bar dubbed The Origami Killer.
To win back his son, Ethan is instructed to crawl through electric fences, crash his own car, and slice off one of his fingers. His only consolation is a swift, disturbing sex session with a woman he barely knows after shes bandaged his hideous wounds.
Ideal hugger: Someone manly and fatherly, like Tom Selleck (Friends era).
Desmond Miles - Assassin's Creed
Pity him because: While some would see the idea of plugging into a hi-tech version of Oculus Rift and stabbing evil-doers as exciting and adventurous, Desmond is more downbeat on the idea. Why? During the first game hes continually forced into the Animus against his will, and by the end of his session as Altair, hes aware that his actions are the lynchpin in a Templar plan to control the minds of everyone on earth. We can understand how that makes him a little sad.
And it only gets worse for Desmond. During the second game, hes kidnapped by a hipster and a spectacled know-it-all, and told to spend even more time in the Animus. Against his will. To make matters worse, hes forced to murder his almost-girlfriend. No wonder hes got a face longer than a Peter Jackson film by the time his long-lost father shows up in the third game.
Ideal hugger: Someone to administer a hug, then slap him in the face and insist that he cheers up. Someone like Sean Connery.
Max Payne - Max Payne
Pity him because: You could argue that Max brings much of his personal torment on himself. Drinking, smoking and murdering are the holy trinity of personal abuse. However, we cant help but think Max wouldnt be quite so self-destructive if he didnt suffer a series of personal tragedies (like the loss of his wife), have awful floating baby dreams, or be forced to accept work as a killer for hire.
By the time the credits of third game rolls around, Max has lost most of his hair, been shot in every possible limb by a series of private armies, and sunk enough whiskey to make half of Scotland violently drunk. We suspect that Max only staves off suicide by externalising his depressing thoughts, narrating them to the player like an red-nosed drunk rambling about his ex-wife to a bunch of terrified students in the pub.
Ideal hugger: We suspect that only someone as wilful as Oprah could convince Max Payne to hug at all.
Joel - The Last of Us
Pity him because: At the start of The Last of Us, things arent exactly going great for Joel. Hes got an unreliable job, hes lost his wife, and hes having a crappy birthday. He is, however, blissfully unaware of the colossal mountain of shit teetering just above his beardy head. Once it all starts crashing down around him, Joel loses everything and hes forced to live in one of the bleakest worlds ever committed to console.
It leaves him a hollowed-out husk of a man. A man who is happy to murder his way through hundreds of fellow human-beings on a mission he never really believes in to start with. Is it any wonder Joel clings to Ellie with the desperation of not only a father, but a father who has lost everything in his life.
Ideal hugger: Joel not only needs a hug--he needs someone to reignite his feelings of self-worth. American Pies MILF, Jennifer Coolidge would do the trick.
Dom Santiago - Gears of War
Pity him because: Although a hardened killer bro on the outside, Dom reveals his softer side during Gears 2 while searching for his wife. If we were cynical (perish the thought) wed just write off his reunion with Maria as a thinly veiled attempt to shoehorn a shock moment into Gears of Wars murder-death-kill-rinse-repeat plot. But were not, so we wont. Just putting it out there
After seeing Dom shed salty man-tears for his disheveled spouse, you start to wonder just how sentimental he gets. Does the idea of orphaned donkeys cause him to well-up a little? Did he cry at the end of the Green Mile, but tell Marcus and Cole that he just had something in his eye? Is the sneezing panda his favourite YouTube clip? Deep down, we think Dom is a big softy. Thats it, mate, you chainsaw that big Locust in half--we wont tell anyone about your Sandra Bullock DVD collection.
Ideal hugger: Even the bro-est of bros need hugs too. We reckon Marcus Fenix would hold Dom the closest.
James Sunderland - Silent Hill 2
Pity him because: The town of Silent Hill is most unkind to James Sunderland. Yes, he did murder his wife before arriving, but this crime of (sort of) mercy is brutally punished by the demons that shuffle around inside the fog. Not only is he in constant physical danger provided by hellish nurse-beasts, Pyramid Head, and the mad human inhabitants of Silent Hill, but hes psychologically tortured at every turn.
Maria constantly torments James, forcing him to confront his unfulfilled sexual desires, before dying in front of his eyes, resurrecting, then morphing into a hideous tentacle beast at the end of the game. Eddy, Angela, Laura--they all strive to make James feel as guilty as possible before he reaches one of the six different, depressing endings to the game. At worst, James finishes the story by driving his car into Toluca Lake. At best, he discovers that his entire journey was manipulated by a cruel dog.
Ideal hugger: Anyone who doesnt mind putting out for psychopaths. Someone like [Redacted Ed].
Dwayne Forge - GTA IV
Pity him because: Dwayne is just looking for a friend. Anyone will do, which is why hes so desperate to hang out with a psychotic mass-murderer like Niko. Dwayne constantly leaves Niko phone messages, yet when the pair actually meet he just kind of mopes around looking uncomfortable. Hes an emotional anchor.
However, we can sympathise with Dwayne. Life is hard at the best of times in Liberty City, but if youre an ex-con, theyre even worse. Hes forced to live in one of the worst areas of the city--a district constantly out of reach due to bridge repairs--inside a block of flats so ugly they give Kevin McCloud night-terrors. And if Niko decides to kill Dwayne at the behest of Playboy X, the police dont even bother to investigate. Sad face.
Ideal hugger: Anyone. Literally anyone. We hear Peter Andre is available.
All the Elcor - Mass Effect
Pity them because: Look, were sure Elcor experience the same broad range of emotions as any other race on the Citadel--in fact, they always tell you exactly how they feel. Throughout Mass Effect, though, the Elcor are presented as a race who are tired of existence. They seem constantly weary of everything, and each word that comes out of their mouth (?) is laced with a mixture of contempt and sarcasm.
Quite frankly, were not surprised the Elcor are so pissed off. Being physically unable to internalise any emotion means theyre easy to manipulate, and even easier to openly mock. Theyre not represented on the council (although do have a diplomat), have no Elcor Spectre to defend their galactic honour, and theyre uglier than a love child between the Elephant Man and Sloth from the Goonies. Despite it all, though, their All Elcor version of Hamlet is a thing of beauty.
Ideal hugger: As her fleeting marriage to Kris Humphries proves, Kim Kardashian likes them big, and she could probably be persuaded to hug an entire race.
Lucas Kane - Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy
Pity him because: Another digital misery-puppet created by David Cage (see also: Ethan Mars in Heavy Rain). Lucas is very much the precursor to Ethan Mars, but with the added pressure that hell commit suicide if you let him get too down-in-the-dumps. At the start of Fahrenheit / IP, Lucas is forced to commit a brutal murder and then clean up after himself to avoid prison. And thats as good as it gets for him.
The rest of the game sees Lucas getting haunted by giant insects, being tormented by his ex-girlfriend, and, er, dying (unless hes already committed suicide, obviously). Except he doesnt die properly. He becomes some kind of sex zombie, who only achieves peace after he punches the Internet to death at the conclusion of the story.
Ideal hugger: David Cage needs to give Lucas Kane a massive hug to say sorry for creating him.
The Prince - Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
Pity him because: Lets be clear, were not talking about Jake Gyllenhaals pouting Hollywood version of the Prince. Frankly, he needs a hard slap, not a hug. No, were talking about emo-Prince circa Warrior Within. Seven years after the events of Sands of Time, which ends with the bitter-sweet revelation that Farah has no knowledge of her adventure with the Prince, the Persian Royal is a mess. He hasnt slept in around a year, and is being constantly pursued by a terrible beast called the Dahaka.
This explains away his new emo look, and the fact that his dialogue and actions are much darker in this sequel. It has NOTHING to do with Ubisoft trying to reach the moody teenage demographic who were turned-off by Sands of Times softer stylings. Nothing.
Ideal hugger: We think Jake Gyllenhaal owes the Prince a hug for making him look a fool on the silver screen.
Frankly, after reading all those tales of woe we probably need a hug ourselves. Any volunteers? Hmm, thought not. Anyway, if you think any other video game characters are more deserving of a hug, let us know in the comments below. We're pretty sure there are plenty out there. What's that you say? None of them are real? Oh, right.
Want to read some upbeat features to lift your mood? We have them. Try Video Game Characters That Fit Snugly Into Ivy's Bra or alternatively, check out 8 Reasons Assassin's Creed is Secretly a Game About Cats.