Heroes are what make so many games as great as they are. Whether a grand adventurer or a support to the main protagonists, heroes can be anyone and everyone, as long as they have a noble goal to reach and the means to take it into their own hands. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the heroes always have to be good guys-and we’re not talking about traditional villain protagonists alone here. We’re talking about people who have been long praised as being the heroes of their tales, when in reality they might just be the real bad guy all along. To that end, here are Bit Cultures’ Top 10 Villainous Heroes.
10. Sora (Kingdom Hearts)
Kingdom Hearts is complicated. Like, overly complicated. One thing is clear about the series: its protagonist Sora is a hero, through and through. He slices his way through the legions of darkness in order to save his friends and the world/multiverse/whatever the hell’s at stake in each installment. The thing is, he doesn’t really consider the cost of his actions. Heartless and Nobodies are manifestations of a person’s heart and souls respectively (to put it simply). This means that anytime he’s attacking one of these “creatures,” he’s attacking something that was once a tangible human being. Hell, Sora actually becomes a Heartless at one point himself, and he’s even met his own Nobody. He more than likely knows that, on some level, they are people. This doesn’t stop him from assaulting those poor unfortunate souls with his Keyblade at the first given opportunity. Sora proves you don’t have to be a Heartless to be…well, heartless.
9. Reimu (Touhou)
It might be hard to imagine this cute and seemingly innocent shrine maiden as a villain, but do not be fooled. Throughout the majority of games it is Reimu’s task to solve the ‘incidents’ that occur. In the path to restoring the status quo, Reimu will run into multiple characters, a chunk of them having nothing to do with the incident she’s looking to solve. Reimu has simply assumed they’re responsible, either from prior knowledge of them or due to them being unfamiliar. She often goes about accusing them first and only learning after winning that she was wrong. It is the indiscriminate attacks that make her less heroic than she otherwise lets on. And we aren’t the only ones who think so. Another character from Touhou, Kanako Yasaka, has said as such herself: Reimu could be a goddess with more faith in her shrine, but at the moment, she acts more like a youkai (demon).
8. Professor Oak (Pokemon)
Pokemon Professors are always an eccentric bunch. Whether they’re sending you on egg deliveries, asking you to save them from a puppy, or walking around with no earthly idea on how to button a shirt, they’ve always been strange-except for Professor Oak, who’s just a curmudgeon who just wants the youth to do his dirty work for him. Don’t believe me? He sends out a couple of local kids (including his own grandson, whose name he can’t remember despite living in the same town as him), to fight off monsters and criminal syndicates, cheers on on his grandson’s rival as he tears apart the poor kid’s dreams of success and glory, and then give said rival a piece of single paper going “Good job!” in exchange the no doubt months of work he put in once all’s said and done. And after all this, he tries to moralize by saying you can’t use your bike indoors. Jerk.
7. Adam Jensen (Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided)
In Human Revolution, Adam Jensen (ex-cop turned security guard) becomes heavily injured during an attack on Serif Industries. As a way to save his life, he was heavily augmented. And he isn’t just going to go on with life without learning who was behind the attack. Depending on how you play the game you may have many bodies trailing behind Jensen’s path to uncover the truth, but no matter what there is some blood on his augment hands through the events of Human Revolution. Jump to Mankind Divided, where he’s becoming more sequestered and paranoid of the Illuminati control and conspiracy that he is mistrusting even to those he should trust. Not forgetting his other illegal activities: hacking, breaking and entering, and stealing to name a few. To give a small token in Jensen’s defense, they started it. It’s just that Jensen is on the path to end it, no matter what.
6. Lincoln (Mafia 3)
Despite being a repetitive 3rd person cover based shooter, I enjoyed Mafia 3 because of it’s excellent story. Even though it was a standard revenge story, the writing and voice acting elevated above most other games. What’s most interesting is that Mafia 3’s protagonist is an unapologetic criminal. There are no illusions of grandeur or “doing the right thing”. Lincoln’s been hurt and is exacting the most horrible revenge he can imagine upon his enemies. Thus by the end of the game, Lincoln is as much a villain as the Italian mobsters he’s hunting down. The final scene between Lincoln and the mob boss focuses on the sad truth that they are essentially the same person. Lincoln tears down the mob, but keeps all the same vices. Drugs, prostitutes, and murder still thrives in New Bordeaux, it’s just Lincoln in charge now.