Take a look around. Our world isn’t exactly the nicest of places. Keyboard warriors torment real people into suicide or rage against whatever machine they believe is dealing injustice. There are wars that end the lives of thousands. Misguided children and adults protest against the freedom of speech. The power of the media has reared its head in our culture, feeding the minds of our nations with fear and hatred. Wouldn’t it be comforting to think that there was something you could do to hit the reset button on it all? And then you continue to think that maybe, just maybe you could build a brighter kingdom – no matter the cost. Once the plans for a world reborn or the annihilation of the human race has crossed your mind, you have then fallen into the role of villain. Without further preamble, BitCultures presents our top ten most sympathetic villains.
I will forewarn you that there will be spoilers ahead.
10. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – Psycho Mantis
In Metal Gear Solid for the original PlayStation, Snake battles one of coolest video game villains to date – Psycho Mantis. Psycho has the ability to completely mess with the user’s mind, pulling tricks like switching the active controller port on the PlayStation or reciting save data on your memory card. Unfortunately for Pscyho Mantis, when he chose to attack Snake in Metal Gear Solid IV, he was in for a surprise. Psycho Mantis appears after defeating Screaming Mantis and the last Beast. He begins his taunting by attempting to read into Snake’s past, but he quickly realizes he cannot find the save data. This, Psycho says, is because Snake received a skill increase – “or, rather, a hardware” increase. Needless to say, when Psycho Mantis attempts to reroute your PlayStation controller, he finds switching a wireless model too difficult and is defeated. You kind of feel bad for the villain way in over his head.
~ Evan Schwab
9. Dark Souls – The Great Gray Wolf Sif
Great Wolf Sif makes you feel like the worst human being. I fought him when I was under-leveled and it was extremely difficult. When I finally lowered his health to three quarters, I was ready to shout for joy. But then he started hobbling and half heartedly swinging. In the space of ten seconds, he had changed from a monstrous beast to a whimpering animal. For the first time in Dark Souls, I felt no joy killing a boss. It was even worse when I discovered his backstory. Sif is defending his master’s grave and simultaneously trying to prevent you from reaching the same fate. But you have no choice other than to kill him. Heartbreaking.
~ Ryan Dodd
8. Mass Effect series – The Illusive Man
When one believes one is doing the right thing, it’s difficult to persuade one otherwise. Such is the case with The Illusive Man, leader of Cerberus, and the man who brings Commander Shepard back to life. Fans familiar with the first Mass Effect title will understand the angst that comes with allying with Cerberus and The Illusive Man in the second entry. As it turns out in the series finale, Commander Shepard discovers that The Illusive Man is actually being controlled (unbeknownst to him) by the Reapers – humanoid kind’s enemy. When he discovers that his belief, his drive, his accomplishments have all been working against his true desire – to save humanity – The Illusive Man finds a way to die. Death before dishonor, right?
~ Evan Schwab
7. Star Wars: The Old Republic – Bengel Morr
As a padawan, Bengel Morr was assumed lost or killed when the Sith Empire invaded Coruscant and laid waste to the Jedi Temple. The Jedi, after years of silence, rebuilt the Order on the planet Tython, but a mysterious force then began attacking the Jedi and its students. It’s soon revealed Bengel Morr was responsible for the attacks. He survived the Sacking of Coruscant and then returned to bring down the order he once belonged to. When players finally confront the fallen padawan, Morr says he plans to destroy the Jedi and reform the Order. However, Morr reasons that his revenge stems from the cowardice of the Jedi Masters who fled and allowed the Sith to destroy the Temple. Even though Morr attacks the Jedi, almost slaying his former master, his motives lie with the lives lost and ruined because the Jedi failed to defend their own temple.
~ Rafael Serrato
What would happen when the woman you are sworn to protect and love is forced to die perpetually before your eyes? Say what you will about Final Fantasy XIII and its incarnations, but Caius Ballad is a villain worthy of our sympathy. Caius originated at the end of the world, the days before its impending destruction. He and Noel are sworn guardians of the Seeress Yuel, a woman capable of foreseeing the future. However, those with the abilities to foresee and fix the future are given a death sentence. Using the power will eventually lead to Yuel’s demise. So, in an effort to change Yuel’s fate, Caius discovers a way to distort time and space to bring chaos into the world – all in an effort to save Yuel. He has seen the poor girl he is supposed to protect die time and again, and he simply wishes to ease her and his pain.
~ Evan Schwab