For a video game character to be considered good, they must evolve alongside the story they are placed in. A character who remains largely the same no matter the events that befall them can quickly grow stale. Countless video game characters fall into this trap, but some embrace evolution and shine even brighter because of it.
Many video game characters will undergo severe changes by the end of a narrative, but sometimes a more subtle change can prove just as effective. A silent alteration in a character’s mindset or motivations can intrigue a player and encourage them to examine the character to unearth why they are changing.
8 Tom Nook – Animal Crossing
Tom Nook has undergone multiple changes since his first appearance in Animal Crossing, but his core values remain mostly the same. Though most players would regard him as nothing more than a money-hungry monster, he is perhaps one of the most endearing characters to grace the franchise.
Each entry in the franchise graces the tired tanuki with a different role. Once a proud store owner, Tom has gone on to bigger and better things due largely to the success of his previous businesses. Though he still plagues the player for their bells whenever he gets the chance, his willingness to house and raise two abandoned tanukis named Timmy and Tommy reveals him to be a far more loving creature than what players initially thought.
7 Lara Croft – Tomb Raider
Lara Croft has undergone multiple changes throughout each of her video game depictions, but the franchise’s reboot captured her transition from explorer to survivor better than them all. On an expedition to the Dragon’s Triangle, her ship capsizes, leaves her marooned, and forces her to adapt to survive.
It takes a long time for Lara to adapt to her new environment. She has never experienced anything like this, so it is only natural for her to be as frightened as she is. She becomes more confident in her abilities throughout each game and comes to slowly embraces these challenges no matter the dangers they pose.
6 Miles Morales – Marvel’s Spider-Man
Miles Morales is arguably one of the most iconic spider-men to be introduced to the Spider-Man universe. His first appearance in Marvel’s Spider-Man depicts him as a caring young man who suffers a great loss, but his role in the game’s sequel presents him as a force to be reckoned with.
Like Peter, Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider and is gifted otherworldly powers as a result. Peter takes the inexperienced Miles under his wing in an attempt to train him, but only Miles can truly figure out his purpose in his mentor’s absence. To protect New York in Peter’s stead, Miles finds himself at the center of a sinister plot that slowly changes him over time.
5 Claude – Grand Theft Auto
Though Claude was first introduced in Grand Theft Auto 3, he made a brief appearance in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas where he was coerced into a relationship by Catalina in an attempt to make CJ jealous. Their relationship begins as a facade but somehow manages to last for nine consecutive years.
Claude is a silent protagonist who rarely conveys emotion. He spends the beginning of his relationship with Catalina following her orders but slowly forms his own identity and motivations after her betrayal. His former lover’s actions force him to stand up on his own two feet and make him stronger as a result.
4 Yuna – Final Fantasy
Yuna became a summoner to honor the memory of her father who sacrificed himself to defeat Sin. She believes that following in his footsteps is her destiny but, the further she ventures, the more she begins to question her purpose.
After successfully vanquishing Sin at the cost of multiple lives, Yuna goes on to reshape her future. She becomes a sphere hunter and uses her newfound freedom to scavenge Spira in search of allusions to its past. Having spent the beginning of her journey adhering to the wants of others, she finally gets the chance to live her own life and jumps at the opportunity to shape her own path.
3 Emil – NieR
Emil is first introduced in NieR as an intelligent young boy capable of unleashing tremendous power. The protagonist learns that Emil can turn whoever his eyes fall on into stone, a revelation that explains why he shields his eyes with a blindfold.
Emil eventually unshielded his eyes in a last-ditch effort to protect his new friends from his deformed sister. Doing so, however, caused Emil’s body to expire and placed his consciousness in a skeleton-like form. NieR: Automatashowcased that he eventually came to embrace this new body as it served to remind him of his fallen friends.
2 Sora – Kingdom Hearts
Sora begins his journey across the galaxy after his home world is engulfed by darkness. He sets off with Donald and Goofy in the hope of reuniting with his friends, but the events that befall him subtly alter his character.
Once an inexperienced young boy with no knowledge of the outside world, Sora embraced his destiny and became one of the most powerful keyblade wielders to ever exist. He has matured throughout the Kingdom Heartsseries and now fights against the darkness for the sake of all worlds, as opposed to when he did so just to protect his friends.
1 Joel Miller – The Last Of Us
Joel Miller is first introduced in The Last of Us as a caring and loving father who, on first inspection, harbors little anger towards anything. After losing his daughter amidst an infected outbreak, however, he becomes bitter and hateful, that is until he meets Ellie.
Joel is reluctant in forming a bond with Ellie during the beginning of their adventure but slowly begins to open up as the narrative progresses. The game’s sequel, The Last of Us: Part 2, sees him discarding his once rage-filled ways in favor of returning to how he once was with his daughter.
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