10 best video game underdogs, ranked
In video games, like in movies and literature, people like a good hero. Watching a protagonist triumph over their external or internal demons can be extremely satisfying to watch. This is doubly true for the underdogs: heroes who, on the surface at least, seemingly have no chance of success.
Video games have no shortage of such outsiders. In fact, putting them all together would probably end up with a really huge list. Nonetheless, there are certainly a handful of influential and famous outsiders out there who tend to stand out above the rest. These heroes left their mark on the games which brought them to the forefront of the minds of the public.
Daniel – Amnesia: The Dark Descent
In the case of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, it would be an understatement to say that the game is stacked against the protagonist. Not only does Daniel face an unstoppable curse from another world, but also a castle full of nightmarish monsters. To top it off, Daniel barely remembers anything from his past – hence the titular amnesia.
But the misfortunes of poor Daniel do not end there. He is forced to rely entirely on his intelligence and his loyal lantern, as there are no offensive weapons available to him. Despite these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Daniel is still able to face his nemesis, Alexander, at the end of the game. Daniel can even survive his ordeal, depending on which ending the player chooses.
Manny Calavera – Grim Fandango
In many ways, Manny Calavera from Grim Fandango is the “everyone”. He’s a normal guy (despite the lack of skin), who has to endure the chores of work and a boss who pushes him around every day. Manny comes across as incredibly human and relatable, a feat that not all video game protagonists can pull off.
When Manny is drawn out of his depths and into a series of life-threatening woes, he responds with perseverance and resourcefulness. Aside from the fantastic staging, there is nothing supernatural about Manny’s actions. It is the strength of his character that allows him to succeed in the end.
Jack – Biochoc
Many video game protagonists lead rather difficult lives. Jack, the protagonist of Bio-shock, should certainly be counted among their ranks. Unaware that his actions were not his, Jack braves the underwater horrors of Rapture through the skin of his teeth.
Using the resources around him, Jack is able to fend off the deranged inhabitants of Rapture with skill and cunning. Along the way, he is even able to overcome his brainwashing. Frank Fontaine, the author of most of Jack’s problems, eventually receives his bounty.
Henry – Kingdom Come: Deliverance
It tends to be a common trope in many open world games for the protagonist to be supremely overpowered. Think about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for such an example. Henri, the hero of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, is quite different. It is not under control in any sense of the word.
The skills that Henry learns, like fencing, are the result of practice and hard work. Even then, combat encounters can still be dangerous. It’s the feeling of well-deserved accomplishment Kingdom Come: Deliverance summons that makes it shine among other RPGs.
Amicia De Rune – A Plague Tale: Innocence
In A story of plague: innocence, Amicia de Rune is a teenage girl facing a multitude of adult issues. She is forced not only to take care of herself, but also of her much younger brother. Coupled with a raging war and the onset of a deadly disease, Amicia definitely has her hands full.
However, with the help of new friends and her own sense of courage, Amicia is able to overcome her challenges. Although they are physically outmatched against all opponents in the game, Rune’s siblings and their allies triumph in the end.
Link – The Legend of Zelda
It’s a common trope in storytelling that real heroes often come from humble beginnings. Link of THE Legend of Zelda franchise embodied this idea from the start. While Link is generally a force to be reckoned with at the end of his journey, at the start he is often described as an ordinary person.
It is the trials and tribulations that Link faces throughout his travels that make him a true hero. His task, defeating the evil Ganon and saving Zelda, is never easy. Much like Link’s peers on this list, it’s overcoming thick and thin adversity that makes Link a popular and recurring hero.
Mario – The Mario Franchise
It is undeniable that Mario is a cultural icon. Even someone who has never bought a video game before has certainly heard of him. While it’s easy to forget now, Mario definitely represents the “everyone” archetype. He’s a simple plumber, tasked with overcoming significant obstacles to save a captured princess.
Mario’s enemies are numerous. As players over the years of the character’s existence can attest, the path to Princess Peach can be complicated. Still, Mario doesn’t let his small size get in his way. He constantly overcomes his enemies to reach the end of the storybook every time.
Gordon Freeman – Half-life
Some may be inclined to think that scientists don’t make good fighters, but Gordon Freeman would have a few choice words for this summary. In the original version Half-life, Gordon Freeman looks like a stereotypical nerdy physicist. That is, until he dons his HEV suit and begins to seriously injure the alien invaders.
Along the way, Gordon uses more than his signature crowbar to level the playing field against his enemies. Yet what he manages to achieve is no small feat, especially given his lack of military training.
Ethan Winters – Resident Evil 7 & 8
To say Ethan Winters has some tough stuff is once again an understatement. Unlike Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, Ethan doesn’t have any sort of training that prepares him for the series of disasters that lie ahead. He’s just a man looking for his wife. In the process, however, Ethan opens a huge box of worms.
Ethan’s continued tenacity in the face of bio-engineered monstrosities is admirable. One need only refer to the sequence of horrific injuries he sustains throughout his journey to establish proof of his resolve. He’s a man who can take more than a punch, that’s for sure.
Clementine – The Walking Dead by Telltale
Surviving a zombie apocalypse takes a lot of courage. Most adults find it difficult to stay alive, let alone children. For a young girl like Clémentine, the chances of living should be close to zero. Clementine, however, defies the odds with her tenacity and strength of will.
Under the tutelage of Lee Everett, an oppressed hero in his own right, Clementine is able to become an independent and capable survivor. In fact, at the time of the Final season, she is sponsoring another child even younger than herself. Clémentine is, by far, one of the most memorable underdogs in recent memory.
NEXT: The Oldest Video Game Protagonists, Ranked By Age
An ingenious Xbox user’s simple and minimal modification for their Xbox Series S console makes their device much more beautiful.
About the Author