Pet Peeve: Silent Protagonists

Seriously, WTF is with this game mechanic. The supposed intention by the developers is to make the experience more immersive. And they think this is achieved by having your mute main character stand there gormlessly and wordlessly as the world around you reacts and NPC’s have to make up dialogue to cover up for your silence ?!? Sorry, just had a moment as I think about RDR2 Online.


Half-Life and Half-Life 2 did this and managed to pull it off.

Maybe it’s just about the execution?


Probably an unpopular opinion, but I strongly disagree with this. As much as I like the Half-Life franchise, I hate Gordon Freeman, because in the story he is just a silent puppet that does literally whatever ANYONE tells him to do.

You would think someone that’s supposed to be smart would at least have an opinion on things. Half-life Alyx is great proof to me that it would have worked much better if he spoke.


Isaac clarke was mute in the first deadspace and that was better than both the sequels imo


I think this needs a poll!
I am mostly on the side of the silent protagonist, but I can see the charm of both, and I also think it depends on how the game itself handles it.
Lets look at GTA online, the game KNOWS your character does not talk, and there is many a time when the other voiced NPCs make jokes about it, reference it etc, which I find entertaining and funny. in that aspect I think a silent protag is perfectly fine, coz let’s be honest the only way to get your char to talk is such an online situation is specific reversed lines, that repeat over and over, and that is the same for every player in this “online sandbox”. this becomes annoying and it makes it feel like my protag is just some sort of robot. however when he is silent, and through the use of body language, it is much easier to put myself in the protag’s place and I end up experiencing the game in a more fun way.

There is also this problem I have had with talking protags, for instance, the protag I made in mass effect only has one voice, this means whenever I hear his voice on someone else’s game, or trailers, it just does not fit at all.

In the case of Half Life, I can definitely see where i voice can benefit it, although something inside me feels that there just isn’t a voice that could fit him, he is a 27 year old nerd with a PhD, yet he is killing left right and center like a psycho. So i think the silent type is better for him.

And then there is the other side of the coin, A voice can really bring life to a protagonist, for instance Kratos from GoW, him as a silent protag would have been awful, a voice makes the character be more expressive and more likeable. However I think silent protags also have their place in the gaming world, and in the end it’s all about how the game itself handles them.


It’s never bothered me too much but I definitely prefer a voice to the character.
It brings them to life.

Gordon definitely should have been voiced in my opinion.


I have to agree, I prefer hearing a voice - it was the one thing that drove me nuts in Destiny 2. No voice just your little bot speaking


Destiny 1 had a little voice acting in it… It felt weird though, after spending a year with Destiny 2. :slight_smile:


I think @TechThief nails a few points here.

If I may lend some input, personally and professionaly. While I am no game designer, it still piques my interest as a designer and the psychology of design.

Personally, I much prefer having a voiced protagonist and agree with the nuances that @Hiro had described therein. This allows the player to get a better sense of the narrtive and get invested in the story, much like reading a book or watching a movie. We are able to relate to the characters and what is happening with or to them while still keeping a sense of disconnect.

With regards to a mute protagonists, I feel it is much the same but also allows you (as the player) to become more attached, to what is now, your character. As the player invests themselves emotionally and is able to empathise more naturally with this character as it is either your choices in the narrative, or at the very least in your mind making decision, rationale and filling in the gaps. Which I guess is why you will often find the mute protagonist more regularly in RPG’s and MMO’s etc. as this builds on character creation and fitting your character, in the way you invisage them, into that world in order to hopefully get a sense of immersion.

This is obviously just some of my input and opinions on the matter and a lot of it is subjective and open to interpretation, I would love to have others thoughts, input and feedback regarding this. Quite an interesting discussion indeed.