5. Yakuza 4 – Daigo Dojima
Fans of the Yakuza series may remember Daigo Dojima first appearing in Yakuza 2 as a self-righteous punk that Kazuma Kiryu had to beat senseless. Kazuma, through his fists and calm demeanor, convinced Daigo to return to the Tojo clan and continue what Daigo’s father started. Since then and several Yakuza installments later, Daigo matured and took the mantle of the Tojo Clan’s Sixth Chairman. The responsibility of the clan’s well being, the legacy of the Tojo dynasty and the management of 30,000 members rested solely upon Daigo. However by the end of Yakuza 4, it’s revealed Daigo schemed with corrupted police officials and sold out members of his own clan for money. The Sixth Chairman accepts what he did and states it was for his people. Even as he faces down Kazuma once again, Daigo never falters in saying his choices were for the survival of the Tojo clan.
~ Rafael Serrato
4. Dangan Ronpa: Ultra Despair Girls – Warriors of Hope
It is a little bit difficult to defend the Warriors of Hope. Their mission is to slaughter all of the adults in Towa City in order to create a paradise where children can live peacefully. It is an inherently flawed idea, but once the player learns more about the children, hearts begin to wrench. The Warriors of Hope only know fear when they think of their parents, and this incredible fear, along with the convincing lies of their leader, are what push them to commit such heinous crimes. Each of the children were severely abused before snapping and meeting up with Junko Enoshima, the ultimate despair. One child literally breaks his arm to calm his shaking hand and fear in his boss fight, remembering the abuse of his father. Another girl was forced to do twisted sexual favors to depraved men with her mother (and by her mother’s choice)! Another was forced to study for days on end, and when he became sleepy, his parents would fit him to an I.V. and pump him full of energy. This is not an excuse for the actions of the Warriors of Hope by any means, but it is a stark look into the mind of a child whose innocence was murdered.
~ Evan Schwab
3. Portal series – GlaDOS
It’s hard to imagine GlaDOS as a sympathetic villain. In the first Portal, she’s often cruel and petty to Chell. But Portal 2 reveals that GlaDOS isn’t villainous just for the sake of it. Rather, she’s almost as much of a victim as Chell. Originally designed as a personality core for Cave Johnson, the personality of Johnson’s assistant, Caroline, is uploaded into GlaDOS when Cave Johnson dies before his own uploading can be completed. There are hints that this uploading was against GlaDOS’s will and may explain her bitterness and hatred of humans. Some players have noticed that GlaDOS resembles a prisoner shackled to the ceiling. Regardless, it’s hard not to feel some small ounce of pity at the conclusion of Portal 2.
~ Ryan Dodd
2. Bioshock – Andrew Ryan
Andrew Ryan, builder of the underwater city of Rapture and friend to free thinkers, makes it to the number two spot of most sympathetic villains. Rapture was built as the Eden for all creativity, where men and women reaped what they sowed and where individual freedom took a precedence to complete control. The community prospered, but soon declined and eventually turned against one another as the free-stage of Rapture proved to be open to all kinds of parasites and usurpers. When players enter Rapture for the first time, the brilliance and grandeur of the city in the sea is quickly washed away and Ryan is immediately painted as the orchestrator of Rapture’s demise. However when players finally reach Ryan, it turns out he’s as much of a pawn as everyone else. Like the ideals of his city and the freedom of the individual, Ryan freely accepts his death saying only, “A man chooses. A slave obeys.”
~ Rafael Serrato
1. Far Cry 4 – Pagan Min
As a player of games, we automatically assume that the proposed villain is indeed the actual villain. But Far Cry 4 tests the boundaries of our trust and instincts with Pagan Min, the seemingly maniacal leader of Kyrat, a country in struggle against a terrorist faction. The game picks up with you, the protagonist, in a van with natives of Kyrat. You are on your way to bring your mother’s ashes to her final resting place. During the opening scene, a group of soldiers open fire on your van; you barely manage to make it out alive. Pagan Min then arrives and punishes the soldier in charge by stabbing him to death. He, flecked with the blood of the man he just killed, offers an apology to you and takes you back to his abode with a terrorist, the man you were traveling with. At the dinner table, Pagan Min finds out your tour guide has escaped and excuses himself from the table, asking you to stay put and wait for his return. This is the player’s opportunity to flee, to start the conflict, and find a way to bring down the tyrant – Pagan Min. That is, of course, if you choose to flee. Should you decide to wait out Pagan Min, he will return in about five minutes with his sincerest apologies. He then takes you to your mother’s shrine, where you understand that your father – whom the terrorists fight in the name of – actually went insane. Pagan Min allows you to spread the ashes of your mother and takes you out to shoot some guns. The credits promptly roll. The developers of Far Cry 4 did this intentionally to prove that not all villains are as they seem. If you give Pagan Min a chance, he’s not actually all that evil.
~ Evan Schwab