THE WALKING DEAD
Games have come a long way on paper-thin plots and shallow characters. The Walking Dead, more than any game I can recall, has been praised not because of excellent gameplay, but because of story, and the way the player can interact with it. It’s true that the arc of the game is out of the player’s control, but the illusion of agency makes every wrong turn in The Walking Dead‘s harrowing tale that much more affecting.
Runner-ups: Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3
THE WALKING DEAD
The Walking Dead‘s ending got a lot of people to cry, which isn’t exactly easy to do, especially in a video game. Every player entered the final stages of the game knowing things wouldn’t pan out in, well, anyone’s favor, but developer Telltale delivered pathos on a steady drip without ever feeling manipulative. It’s a true achievement in a year filled with disappointing conclusions.
Runner-ups: Spec Ops: The Line, Max Payne 3
ASSASSIN’S CREED III
It was generally agreed upon that the conclusion to Connor’s (the main character’s) story was satisfactory, but it was overshadowed by the severe awfulness of series-long protagonist Desmond’s story wrap-up. Mixing some puzzlingly direct religious allegory with a tiresome, “all-powerful ancestors” slant ensured that no one on staff, series fan or not, walked away satisfied.
Runner-ups: Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Final Fantasy XIII-2
LEE EVERETT – THE WALKING DEAD
Lee is an interesting protagonist because he’s normal. In a medium filled with chosen ones and fate-drive heroes, it’s refreshing to happen upon a well-drawn normal guy, with strengths and weaknesses and motivations. He’s a fascinating character no matter how the player dictates his actions or tone, which makes a lot of the game’s writing that much more impressive. In addition, he’s one of the first great African-American protagonists in video games. Save for Barrett in Final Fantasy VII (that’s a joke, by the way).
Runner-ups: Max Payne, Commander Shepard
SLENDERMAN – SLENDER: THE EIGHT PAGES
I’m not sure there’s a single video game antagonist as direct or successful in his goals as the Slenderman. Sure, he doesn’t have much of a personality or motivation. But those facts, that mysterious oppression, only adds to the terrifying sense of impending danger and fright. Many video games provide antagonists the player wants to overcome, but attacking the Slenderman isn’t important: running in the other direction, however, is.
Runner-ups: Vaas Montenegro – Far Cry 3, Haytham – Assassin’s Creed III
On the next page, sequels, their opposites, and varied looks…