Silent Characters (Including some that would be better being vocal)

I have been playing through The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask recently and while going through the game, a thought that has come across my mind is how I wish Link could speak in certain instances, as with some of the things that have been happening, I would love to get their thoughts on it instead of the blank stare that we are generally left with when they aren’t getting picked up and shaken for a misunderstanding.

I have also thought about Princess Zelda pouring her heart out in Breath of the Wild, while Link just sits or stands there, with a bit more emotion shown on his face, but still, nothing audibly said, while the version I have come to know as the most expressive was the Wind Waker version.

Speaking on a different portion of this topic, there are characters who are great and well-written as being silent, as the main character, Red in Transistor is.

I am curious as to others thoughts on characters you would like to hear speak that generally are silent, and those are silent while it being beneficial to their character, and both in some instances I would believe.

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I really hate that the latest Far Cry games have silent protagonists. I just couldn’t stand that the main character in the middle of everything that’s going on on Far Cry 5 doesn’t have an opinion, politic stance or anything about a fucking religious cult murdering people and having to deal with an array of awful side characters without being able to respond to them or express anything.

I hate that game so much.

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Sums up Ubisoft’s general take on anything political, really. Playing Watchdogs 2 I was amazed at how often a game about anarchistic hacker activists plays the “both sides” angle.

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I would feel if they tried to have an anarchistic character, who also tries to see both perspectives, they’ve missed the point.

I feel that in some instances, having a silent character works, but sometimes, I just want to hear a voice other than my own commentating.

Silent protagonists are tough. I usually don’t like them at all because they shatter all the immersion. However, having a speaking protagonists that spouts opinions diametrically opposed to what I think at the time is also immersion-shattering.

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No specific title here, but would you rather have a silent protagonist/ playable character over a voiced one, with all that you have played and experienced so far?

I love voice acted characters and like in my original post, it would be fun to hear some of my favorites speak from time to time, I would have to ultimately say I prefer the silent ones more. Maybe it’s my childhood, but as you can certainly remember I’m sure, voice acting just wasn’t a thing in video games for quite some time, certainly not until the 32 bit era did it start to become something of a thing more than a novelty here and there.

Sums up Ubisoft’s general take on anything political, really. Playing Watchdogs 2 I was amazed at how often a game about anarchistic hacker activists plays the “both sides” angle.

But let’s look at Far Cry 3. Even with its narrative failures, you at least can really see the world through Jason’s eyes and that’s important, becuase it really creates a context for what it’s happening.

We already know that Dani in Far Cry 6 will have voice acting. I hope they learned for their mistak… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH sorry, I almost believed that.


There’s a distinction to be made here. For me, silent character doesn’t mean not voice acting. It means that the character never interacts verbally with the world. Games like Dragon Age don’t have voice acting but the character is not silent at all.

The big advantage of non voiced characters is that the it’s easier and cheaper to have a much richer dialogue tree. I always compare Dragon Age with Mass effect 1. For that, I’d say that I can easily live with unvoiced player character if that means richer conversations.
But I almost never prefer silent protagonists. Unless dialogue is not ecpected.

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I would add that my interpretation treats the main character more like a mime than anything as I believe a silent character (in my eyes at least) doesn’t speak, or offer any dialogue whatsoever, whether there is voice acting or not.

Yeah, I’ve never been a fan of silent protagonists, as in the game has everyone talking (whether voiced or unvoiced) except for the character you control. It pretty much always just means other characters speak for the protagonist. It feels clumsy and awkward every time.

At least let the player choose responses to questions for the protagonist – then it will feel like actual role-playing.

Related to this – I pretty much always prefer it when the protagonist of a story is a clearly-defined character, rather than a vague nobody. Visual novels starring “Everyday Whoever” are a harder sell for me, than ones starring memorable and unique personalities.

It’s a balancing act between having an empty character into whom you can get yourself, and being a more passive player who watches the main character doing and saying stuff. This video from Game Maker’s Toolkit, at 53 minutes, is as insightful as it is long.

While it’s specifically about Mass Effect’s Sheppard, I think most of the themes are rather universal.


I don’t think having a “fuller” main character allows the player to be passive. At least, that’s never been how I’ve played those sorts of games. I tend to wonder about a character’s motives, their background and history, then reflect on their actions, whether they were right or wrong, funny or serious, and how their personalities bounce off those of other characters. I feel myself being more passive when the character is a blank slate because I don’t feel like I really have to do the work. The game doesn’t force me to create a character, and so I often don’t (and end up being bored). Passive characters can really remain a blank slate or, more often, be just a reflection of the player. I’m more mentally active when reflecting on a fuller, non-personal character.

This may also be how I play such games. From what I hear, folks who play sand-box games or with “empty” characters spend a lot of time figuring out who they’ll be in the world. I tend to play table-top RPGs when I want to do that. RPGs, for me, are when I can enter the world of another character and think about who that person is or was created to be. Again, that might just be me.


That sounds so incredibly lame and annoying.

I am very anti-silent protagonist. It just makes conversations with NPCs feel awkward. You get talked AT and you just fidget around like a doofus as a response.
I get the idea behind voiceless characters is to “let the player immerse themselves in the role”, but I connect much better with a voiced protagonist who has a voice/personality, or in RPGs’ case, text dialogue options.

My one caveat would be characters with story driven reasons for being silent and NPCs being aware that you aren’t speaking back.


I thought Juan from Guacamelee should have spoken; I thought that would fit the game better

But, probably too late to change it now : ]

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Red was a good SP. (and similarly, I thought The Kid From Bastion was as well.) The twist of the very loud narrator and a passive player voice worked fine for these games. Whether you actually like the narrator or not, you don’t have to ‘be them.’ (And geez does that make all the difference in not being forced to ‘be’ something you don’t like in a video game!)

It would seem genre matters quite a bit when it comes to VP or SP. you can do a VP easier in a third person game than in a first person game. How ‘active’ the player voice is basically an element of the player’s perspective.

When i can move around or do things that do not really reflect what my character is insinuating, or i’m going in a completely different direction can be very jarring and awful. For example I might be exploring something and taking my time in a level or map, and every 30 seconds i’m kindly reminded by myself that 'i need to hurry up, so-and-so’s waiting for me at the helipad!" what if i dont want to hurry up? I dont really care about so-and-so at the helipad rn i want to look at this graffiti on the bathroom stall!

I’ve played a few games that do exactly this.

There’s also a middle ground too maybe where you only have occasional comments or do it in clever ways that let you get away with more and in a completely safe way of going about it (Thief or Duke Nukem for example, that have movie outros/level intros as well as the occasional comment) and of course any kind of mid-game ‘cutscene.’ (where the first person game takes a break to play you a third person movie essnetially, see how that works???) It seems that Yakuza 0 went an interesting route too with NPC interaction by having grunts, chuckles and other utterances to give it a bit more life in the dialogue interaction sequences, these feel a bit like cutscenes within themselves too actually (not sure if i’ve seen this done elsewhere) I would venture to argue that at minimum, that occasional feedback like ‘grunts’ would be a good replacement over nothing. Why even something as simple as jumping in the original quake that you’d grunt going ‘gurr… gurr…’ gave it some flavor that wasn’t forced.

It’s a double edged sword in some ways because you cannot come up with a character everyone is going to like and want to ‘be’ so you got to have some tricks with perspective and go in certain was that dont risk breaking immersion. I wonder what are some of the more hilarious modern epic fails of this where the developers screwed up. XD


I see this quite a bit unfortunately when it comes to platformers. For some unexplained reason, a lot of developers have made it a point to include little quips with various main characters in 3D platformers. If you are going in a completely different direction than you are supposed to go, or idling for too long, they say one of 5 lines roughly that just comes off as annoying and breaks the immersion for me.

I’m not opposed to voiced characters, but if you are going to go that route, there needs to be great effort put forth, and I just see more often than not, it’s best to have the character be silent.


Good example. I didnt think of idling animations runing into trouble with this. I stand by the hypothesis that if a developer was creative they might find a way to illustrate this in another way rather than flat out ‘telling it’ Mario could give a confused ‘Hmmm? and proceed to stare at the player as if expecting a response or something’ and this would be so much better than something like ‘immma bored!’ but care should be taken however you choose to do it so as to not have players feel forced or goaded.

And for the love of god if you are specifically going to have an animation where the player character fall salseep and loudly snore make sure the idling animation takes enough to that it ensures that is exactly what the player must be trying to do. Imagine how bad a game could be if that was set to something as short as say 10 seconds? You’re thinking about where to go next… Too slow Zzzz… :turtle::zzz:Look at that tree Zzzz… :zzz: :palm_tree:


I agree wholeheartedly. I think that usually with Nintendo properties, they have found ways to be more creative with how theyir characters express themselves. Why include 10 different lines of dialogue when you can use that time and money in other areas of the game that are more needed. I want to reiterate I’m not against having quips or voiced lines at all, but they need to be justified and used well.

I just re-played Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for my list and am now working on the predecessor, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D…

I reflected on how Cranky Kong went from a wisecrackin’ shopkeeper to more of a Silent Protagonist when he became “playable”

Of course, there’s only monologue during the shopping sequences in any case