Throughout the expanse of video games, there exists a growing list of characters who, despite their top-notch design, languish in the shadows as underrated or even forgotten. Writers creating wonderful characters doesn’t always mean they will live on in the hearts of millions.
Perhaps that’s where lists like this come in to illuminate those who have fallen behind despite more than earning their place in the halls of the most outstanding video game characters of all time. For the moment, however, the toil amongst the most underrated video game characters ever.
1. Garcia Hotspur (Shadows of the Damned)
The Spanish-speaking hot-shot protagonist of Shadows of the Damned remains about as underrated as the game in which he stars. Like most characters in Grasshopper Manufacture’s games, Garcia has a goofy side that contrasts with and undermines the serious situations around him. This not only makes him stand out from the pack, but also makes him more interesting and endearing than protagonists in other, similar games.
His banter with Johnson reaches heights of ridiculousness that few other duos even attempt. Shadows of the Damned never got a sequel and likely never will, so he may have to remain an obscure gem of a character.
2. Lee Everett (Telltale's The Walking Dead)
While Clementine has gone down as the main protagonist in Telltale’s The Walking Dead games, there’s no shortage of great things to say about Lee Everett. Starting out in the story as a convict with a checkered past, Lee’s redemption arc remains an endearing one to watch unfold.
As he and Clementine impact each other’s journey players get a front-row seat to just how complicated he can be. Of course, players’ choices impact the granular details of how certain things play out, but his general path of protecting Clementine and becoming a better person still doesn’t get the credit it deserves.
3. Razputin Aquoto (Psychonauts games)
Crash Bandicoot, Sonic, and Mario may still dominate discussions about the best 3D platformer characters, but Raz, one of the most underrated video game characters, deserves a spot up there with them. Without any unique physical attack gimmicks to define him, Razputin’s equivalent to Sonic’s spin dash or Crash Bandicoot’s spin attack remains his genius.
Raz’s mind sorts out all sorts of problems throughout Psychonauts games as he trudges through the minds of others. His plucky personality and extreme intelligence make him endearing to behold, and his wild abilities gained through modifying his own brain make him a joy to play. While there’s a whole conversation that could be had about the Psychonauts games being underrated, Raz as a character shouldn’t be left out either.
4. Tomba (Tomba games)
The hot-pink hair and anime-style expressions have always been enough to pull gamer’s attention towards Tomba’s games, but his unique gameplay style and wild personality keep them engaged. There’s a lot to compliment about the Tomba games, but Tomba as a character feels like the best part. His sense of honor and playful wackiness make him a timeless character, despite being mentioned so sparingly.
5. Fiona Belli (Haunting Ground)
Haunting Ground has a lot going for it as a horror game that has aged better than most from its time. One of its strongest qualities becomes its main character, Fiona. Her determination, ability to solve major headscratchers, and ingenuity on display as she hides from threats and befriends Hewie the dog remain unmatched by most protagonists from similar games.
With no weapons, Fiona has little more than her own wits to aid her in surviving and escaping the castle and its disturbing inhabitants. Her range as a character remains impressive as does her evolution throughout the game. Compared to other survival horror protagonists, there’s no reason why Fiona lands among the most underrated video game characters.
6. Kate Walker (Syberia games)
While the adventure genre has waned, some classic franchises still have plenty of life left in them. The Syberia series remains one of the flagships in this space, in part due to Kate Walker. As one of the most underrated video game characters across several games, Kate has undergone significant challenges and emerged more dynamic and resilient from each one.
Despite her evolution, she never loses that sense of striving to help to others and bring about positive change for the world. Her personal connection with larger mysteries of Syberia will always be entertaining to discover, and while she might not be as spectacular an adventurer as, say, Lara Croft, she still deserves a seat at the table.
7. Jericho Cross (Darkwatch)
Not all great protagonists need complex or multi-dimensional personalities (see: Duke Nukem). In fact, some characters indeed feel better off sticking with simpler traits. That’s not to say there’s nothing to Darkwatch’s Jericho Cross, though. Being a half-breed of sorts, he gives the player a bit of freedom in how he behaves at certain points. Whether or not he gives in to his more vampiric side or chooses a more virtuous route stays up to the player, which adds a little ambiguity and mystique to him.
The gothic western setting of the game courses through his veins as his own appearance feels emblematic of it, and while his narrative outcomes get decided by player choices, he does embody a unique coolness that has stood the test of time.
8. A2 (NieR: Automata)
B2 and 9S steal the show in NieR: Automata, and perhaps rightly so, but we shouldn’t forget about A2. Her personality resembles B2 in some surface-level ways, her resilience and boldness reveal themselves through some questionable decisions throughout the game. While the player might not agree with everything she does, she remains sympathetic as her decisions will always be understandable. One can see why she gets remains one of the most underrated video game characters, but she still deserves more notoriety than she gets.
9. Barry Burton (Resident Evil)
Without throwing shade at Leon Kennedy or Jill Valentine, Barry Burton deserves a larger share of Resident Evil's relevance. His reliability and resourcefulness make him stand apart from other series mainstays who often lose their way. On top of saving other characters’ lives on a regular basis, Barry demonstrates his ability to hold up as a character in the underrated Resident Evil: Revelations games.
Why he hasn’t been explored more remains a mystery, but make no mistake, Barry would make a great lead character for a series of spin-off or even mainline Resident Evil games. A story that puts Barry’s loyalty to the test could kick off a new era for the series.
10. Kat (Gravity Rush 1, 2)
With the two Gravity Rush games themselves so underrated, it should be of little surprise that their main protagonist would also fly under the radar as one of the underrated video game characters.
Kat, despite her games not setting the world on fire, remains an outstanding character. Controlling gravity holds up as an engaging and unique power that might feel like flying at times, but would be more accurately described as falling. With her evolution tied in with the two games’ narratives, success in the game means success for Kat. This mutual relationship makes it easy for anybody who plays through either game to empathize with her. Her quirky personality and endless optimism go a long way to keeping her a joy a play, and earns her a lot more love than she currently gets.
11. Faith Connors (Mirror’s Edge)
The Mirror’s Edge games never quite took off like EA wanted them to, and sadly, we may never see Faith again. This becomes even more disappointing when one sees just how great of a character Faith has always been. A strong female protagonist with a sense of justice, Faith never shies away from going against the grain. Her cool look and unflinching focus on aiding her fellow rebels make her an instant classic. Despite Faith being an outstanding character with compelling qualities, gamers just don’t seem to talk about her anymore, which remains a big shame.
12. Abe (Oddworld games)
No underrated video game characters on this list has been screwed over worse than Abe. As a former employee of the month of Rupture Farms, Abe finds himself at the center of a conspiracy to turn his fellow employees into the company’s newest snack food. Abe doesn’t wait or cower though. When fate called, he answered and started rounding up his fellow Mudokons, taking on a messiah-type role that he never asked for.
His responsibility to his people only grows as the game unfolds, making him an endearing and lovable character who stands the test of time. While only starring in a couple of games, Abe remains one of gaming’s best protagonists both from a design and narrative standpoint. Being thrown head-first into situations and being forced into leadership positions will always be relatable and entertaining to watch, and Abe deserves much more notoriety for handling it the way he does
13. Jimmy Hopkins (Bully)
Jimmy Hopkins starts out as a predictable teenager: rebellious, attitude problems, moody, the works. Still, as the player guides him through the various happenings at Bullworth Academy, the choices he makes and the consequences he conjures end up refining him more and more in Bully.
While various themes of adolescence get explored throughout the game, so too do the many complexities of making one’s way through a prestigious boarding school. Different social circles, faculty, and others interact with Jimmy in different ways, and in deciding how to navigate those social situations, Jimmy emerges as a sympathetic character regardless of how bad or good the player makes him. While a Bully 2 may never happen, maybe one day an adult Jimmy could show up in a Grand Theft Auto game? Probably not, but one can dream.
14. Max (MDK games)
The two MDK games that would ever hit consoles would see the main character outshined to some extent by the cigar-smoking four-armed dog Max. While not a main character, it’s hard not to enjoy Max’s presence wherever he shows up. His unique design, funny disposition, and interesting action-oriented gameplay make him a blast to play in MDK 2 and show a lot of potential that would go untapped to fans’ dismay. His loyalty to Kurt keeps him rooted in being a dog, yet, when he’s on his own, it's clear he could star in his own game.
15. Amicia (A Plague Tale: Innocence, Requiem)
Amicia de Rune wins players over right away with her dedication to her ill-fated younger brother Hugo and resilience in the face of extreme odds. As she struggles with young adulthood, Amicia’s burdens only widen as her brother becomes intertwined with a global catastrophe.
While she rarely understands the situation's complexities, her moral compass always guides her to the right decision. Amicia performs about as well as anyone could hope to in the situations she finds herself in. Despite this, she’s rarely mentioned in conversations about outstanding modern action-adventure game characters. Hence her place among underrated video game characters.