Memorable Companions in Video Games

Articles ، PC April 8, 2024, 3:48 pm

By Mohammad Oliae

There’s no life without companions; that’s why they play an important role in video games. We despise loneliness. In most of our favorite games, we have a companion by our side. This companion could be either created by the game developers or it could be our own friend, and together we dive into an enjoyable co-op experience. Of course, there are countless exceptions; like Max Payne, whose philosophy essentially revolves around being a lone wolf and fighting solo.

Sometimes, someone else takes the place of a companion; like Ellie in The Last of Us. Sometimes the goal becomes the companion and wherever they are, we must go; like Clementine in The Walking Dead. Sometimes we must save and protect the companion; like Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite. Sometimes the companion is there to talk and joke around; like Wheatley in Portal 2, who later turns into our enemy and is replaced by GLaDOS. Creating the companion requires skill; because the companion is part of the hero’s character development. In the following, we will look at the most important and memorable companions in video games and describe their characteristics by providing a few examples.

Spoiler Warning!

The Last of Us – Ellie

A significant void constitutes The Last of Us. Sarah, Joel’s daughter, tragically lost her life and is now gone, until Ellie comes into the picture. Despite being headstrong, stubborn, distrustful, playful, and energetic, Ellie holds great importance in the game world and, on the other hand, requires special care. Joel comes to escort her to the Fireflies’ headquarters so they can develop a vaccine from her, as she is immune to the zombies, and save humanity. However, slowly but surely, Ellie takes Sarah’s place and fills the void left by the main character. Now the story doesn’t merely end with saving the world; rather, we are faced with a personal narrative that will make everything more complex and tragic. Therefore, the core of the story revolves around the absence of the main character, and everything, from the music to level design, serves that purpose.

The climb boosting section of the game unexpectedly plays a significant role in exploring the relationship between Ellie and Joel. In some parts, such as the “Spring” chapter in The Last of Us, the usual pattern is broken, allowing for a deeper and more memorable exploration of the characters’ emotional states.

Generally, missions in The Last of Us are designed for two people. Previously, in another Naughty Dog game, Uncharted, we’ve seen this type of level design. For example, you reach a height that is impossible to jump or encounter a mechanism that requires two or more people to operate properly. Pay attention to the grappling sections of both games. One character is usually lighter, so the other character grabs onto them and lifts them up, then finds a ladder or tool for the other character to climb up. Unexpectedly, developers use this small feature in the gameplay structure to explore the relationships between characters.

They induce fear and anxiety in certain parts, and in some sections like the “Spring” chapter in The Last of Us, they break this pattern. From the beginning of this chapter, Ellie seems to be suffering from depression and is constantly distracted. In a small moment (when Joel, as usual, hooks his hands to lift Ellie up), Joel calls out to Ellie, but receives no response and stares at Ellie, who is hooked by his hands, for a few moments. Now Ellie’s emotional state is described more precisely and memorably for us, and it becomes a suitable foundation for developing the relationship between these two characters. Developers also skillfully use moments of characters’ solitude to increase the dramatic weight of the game. Let’s remember the “Winter” chapter of the game when we, as Ellie, were alone in search of medicine for Joel.

The Walking Dead Season 1 – Clementine

Clementine means a new life for Lee. Lee, facing transfer to prison for the murder of his wife and her lover, seemingly wishes for the world to end now that he has nothing left to lose. Meanwhile, he encounters Clementine in this wreckage, and Clementine becomes his entire world and purpose. Lee has no further goal; his sole aim is to take care of Clementine and get her to her family. In this post-apocalyptic world, both Lee and Clementine grow with each other. As we progress further, we see more of the impact Lee has on Clementine. It’s as if Clementine becomes a reflection of Lee’s subconscious, and eventually, it becomes evident in a completely transparent manner, the essence of his existence. As Lee takes his last breaths, he guides Clementine step by step, and thus, Clementine becomes Lee’s successor in the game. Previously, the game has emphasized Lee’s influence on Clementine moment by moment, where Lee teaches Clementine sign language and shooting with a gun, among other big and small things that all become excuses for a deeper bond between these two characters.

God of War – Atreus

Atreus, as the teenage son of Kratos, is much less popular compared to his father. Many were dissatisfied with controlling Atreus in some parts of Ragnarok instead of Kratos, but we must remember that many of the emotional and shining moments of the 2018 God of War are indebted to his presence. Atreus, experiencing a wide range of emotions such as fear, anger, and excitement, presents us with another version of Kratos that we hadn’t seen before. Kratos sometimes appears to smile and becomes worried or affectionate. Atreus also plays a small role in the gameplay of the game, shooting enemies or taking on a prominent role in solving some puzzles. These small details, along with the dialogues between father and son, greatly contribute to the portrayal of the relationship between these two.

Portal 2 – GLaDOS

GLaDOS is considered one of the most bizarre characters in the video game industry. In the first installment, she is the antagonist of the story, but in the second installment and towards the end of the game, she becomes the ally of the main character. At the beginning of the game, we are accompanied by Wheatley; a cute, playful, and of course, stupid robot, with whose help we escape from GLaDOS. It doesn’t take long for us to reach GLaDOS and defeat her, and immediately Wheatley takes her place and becomes even more villainous than GLaDOS. He connects GLaDOS to a potato and now, with the help of GLaDOS in potato form, we have to defeat Wheatley. Our interactions with GLaDOS and solving puzzles alongside her are some of the most interesting and memorable moments in video games.

The Last Guardian – Trico

Trico in The Last Guardian is so lovable and beautiful that the emotional bond between him and the game’s protagonist will be remembered for years. Slowly, as the story progresses and the puzzles are solved, the relationship between the main character and him becomes stronger. Trico doesn’t speak, and instead of words, the developers have designed a variety of animations and visual nuances for him, through which we understand his feelings. Trico has very gentle eyes, and the developers have skillfully portrayed his various emotions such as fear, curiosity, excitement, anger, and affection.

Spec Ops: The Line – Adams and Lugo

If we were to name the best narrative performances in the history of video games, Spec Ops: The Line is among the first games we must mention. Two characters accompany the main protagonist of the game, Martin Walker: “John Lugo and Alphonso Adams.” All three of us have landed in Dubai, the city of the dead. Dubai is filled with phosphorus fires and sandstorms are constantly raging in the game. The accompanying characters of Walker bring many of his moral characteristics to light and play a significant role in the game’s narrative. Adams is the second-in-command of the team and has extensive experience in the field of war. Lugo, however, is an unstable and troubled character. The contrasts between these characters make the perilous moments of the game even more dramatic and memorable than ever. The game excellently explores the companions’ characters and as memorable companions, they will remain in our memories.

BioShock Infinite – Elizabeth

What makes Elizabeth memorable is the complex relationship between her and Booker. From the very moment we encounter her, their relationship is established for us. She, who has never left the palace she’s been trapped in, now faces Booker and escapes from that palace with him. Elizabeth has a special ability, which is manipulating the environment by opening Tears. Fortunately, Elizabeth can take care of herself well, and there is no need for us to constantly protect her. Additionally, she finds equipment and first aid supplies for us and talks about her past and feelings throughout the game. The developers, without any cutscenes and solely through dialogues and environmental storytelling, narrate the story of this extraordinary game in the best possible way for us.

Red Dead Redemption 2 – Van Der Linde Gang

Generally, Arthur is known by his loneliness; by exploring the game environment and fighting alone. However, there are also many moments where we have to complete missions accompanied by one or more other characters. From train robberies to hunting animals and more, most of these activities are done with members of the Van der Linde gang. Sean, Pearson, Uncle, Sadie, John, Hosea, Dutch, and even Micah; all have exceptional characterizations, and carrying out missions alongside them adds a different atmosphere and feeling to the game. Just remember the brilliant level of rescuing Jack from the Braithwaite Manor, where we go to war with enemies alongside all gang members. In this stage, as we approach the manor, it feels like we have control of the entire group and are a single entity.

Do you have any memories of your favorite companion in a game?


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