My Top Ten Video Game Villains: Part 1 

Years upon years of playing video games of all sorts, stemming from the fantasy realm, down to fighting games, into horror and action ones, has given me a large perspective on story writing and video game structure as a whole. Today, I wanted to start up a mini-series of articles. Not talking about heroes (yet) though, I wanted to address the undervalued, overlooked villains of video gaming. The antagonists, binary oppositions, the people who keep our beloved heroes in a job. There are a lot of villains in gaming. Some really, really good ones, and some really, really terrible ones. This article will address my personal 10th – 6th best villains in gaming. Bear in mind, I have not played every video game ever, so this will be based off my personal experience in the video games I have played. 

Without further ado: 

10. The Stranger (Telltale’s “The Walking Dead”) 

 

Speaking of overlooked villains, here we have debatably the most warped, maniacal villain of them all. However, unlike most villains in gaming, the stranger’s villainy is triggered via a thirst for vengeance. After Lee and company loot the Stranger’s car in Episode 3, it leaves him and his family with no food or supplies, and a car with no gas. As we know from his dialogue with Lee in his introductory episode, his son and wife died shortly thereafter, leaving him alone in the world. He kidnaps Clementine and holds Lee at gunpoint, planning to eventually kill both of them after describing his motives to Lee. Thankfully, a brief distraction is all Lee needs to take him down. The reason I believed the Stranger deserved a spot is because of HOW he came to be a villain in the first place. For a brief moment, it’s easy to find yourself actually somewhat sad when you (or Clementine) kills the Stranger. Then you remember that he keeps his wife’s severed head in a bag that he carries around, along with the fact that he literally kidnapped Clementine, and you go right back to hating him. As you should. 

9. Rais (“Dying Light”) 

 

"You come to us, like a snake in the grass. Here, in a city of lies, you are the biggest liar of them all." If Rais was good for nothing else, his surprisingly philosophical nature would get him on this list almost by itself. The sadistic, clever, ruthless Harran gang leader nearly brought about destruction to the city itself, until a timely intervention by hero and defector Kyle Crane brought Rais to his grave at the last moment. Rais ultimately spent a lot of the game’s story representing what a realistic villain actually would be: powerful, but not arrogant. Secluded, but not afraid to turn up and show someone who’s boss. Powerful and a powerful leader, one who wasn’t afraid to lay down the law, but one who also was likable and beneficial enough to others to keep his big, powerful army happy. Rais’ biggest mistake was ultimately a moment too much of arrogance; he could have characteristically left Harran on the escape helicopter, dooming Harran to a fate worse than death. However, he did not, and ended up dead for it. Still, his well built personality and ruthlessness definitely earn him a spot on this list. 

8. Carver (Telltale’s “The Walking Dead”) 

 

Carver and the aforementioned Rais are so similar to one another that I briefly contemplated making them 8A and 8B. Nevertheless, Carver receives the edge for how he differed from Rais in trying to deal with the game’s main protagonists. In many ways, Carver is also quite similar to the Governor from the popular namesake TV Show. Another area Carver differs from Rais in is that, while he is much more angry and violent with meddling prisoners in his camp (as evidenced when he dropped Reggie on his head on concrete, killing him, or when he nearly beat Kenny to death with a handheld radio) he also, unlike Rais, wants to eventually integrate the prisoners into his community, as contributing survivors and friends. When he is not angry, Carver is far more pleasant and methodical than Rais is. Ultimately, he ends up meeting his maker, AKA a very angry, vengeful Kenny, by way of getting pummeled to death with a rusty crowbar. Not quite as ceremonious a death as Rais’ was. 

7. Tabuu (“Super Smash Bros Brawl”) 

 

With better story writing and more of a context, Tabuu could easily have ended up leapfrogging all the way to #1. Nevertheless, Tabuu is the final boss in what many of us in our childhood spent hours grinding through in SSB’s famed Subspace Emissary mode. At long last, Tabuu is revealed to be the source of the potential destruction of Nintendo’s gaming world (and, as we also find out, a special Sega superstar’s). Defeating him would liberate all of gaming from his wrath. In game, he fills the role of a final boss quite adequately, and one must be skilled if they want to emerge victorious, even in the game’s easiest mode. For as amazing as this all sounds, worth reiterating is that, given the magnitude of Tabuu’s character and how long it takes to actually get to fight him, he should easily have ranked at the very top of this list. However, little/no context is ever actually provided to Tabuu’s character, he pretty much completely comes out of nowhere right at the end, and because Subspace Emissary was, in essence, a silent film, we really have nothing memorable about Tabuu from an actual character perspective. This slew of disappointments cannot possibly stack up to the more beneficial aspects of Tabuu, with regards to him being on this list at all, but it’s enough of a downside to keep him out of the top five. 

6. Withers (“Neverwinter”) 

 

The insane, undead mad scientist from the infamous Tomb of the Nine Gods is by far the most underrated villain in the game’s history. Many give Acerak all the credit for the elaborate, difficult end game dungeon, when a huge majority of the credit actually belongs to the man behind all of the complexions the dungeon has to offer. Though he is comparatively easy to defeat juxtaposed to fellow bosses Orcus and Ras Nsi, Withers presents an entirely unique challenge that’s only even slightly precedented by the Kabal boss fight in the Master Spellplague Caverns. Where we have Orcus and Ras Nsi as ultimate “kill these guys quickly or lose the fight” challenges, Withers presents a “weather this massive storm and survive an absolute truckload of damages and debuffs or lose” challenge. If you have epilepsy, you may wish to turn away from the screen, lest you be utterly bombared with numbers, flying all over the place, of Withers and his various gadgets, minions, and traps causing mayhem for you and your party. A party with a decent Devoted Cleric should be able to defeat Withers. For a party without one, though, this fight is an absolute nightmare. Between Noxious Gas, the Flamethrower, Withers’ Accursed Bone Golem friends, and Withers’ fun assistant in Bigby’s Grasping Hands, even the bulkiest of Tanks can end up dead within mere seconds without a solid Cleric to back them up. Withers ultimately places on this list, in some ways, out of sympathy; this is yet another character who could have shined in a more prominent role, and another character who was actually seriously important to the plot of the story, and yet a character essentially going miscast, overlooked in favor of the more popular Avatar of Orcus and the greater challenge of Ras Nsi. Unfortunately, for the party to win this fight, they must bring about Withers’ ultimate destruction, so we will never actually see Withers rise up to claim his rightfully deserved role in prominence. What a shame. 

Numbers 5-1 come next week!