Writing the list of my top 10 favorite characters in the Final Fantasy series was a very enjoyable and rewarding experience. It allowed me to relive my experiences with these characters, as well as learn a few new things about them. Because of how fun that experience was, I thought taking it to the next level would be even better. Why restrict myself to one series? Instead, I want to focus on my 10 favorite characters of all time! Hooray!
In my opinion, the characters are the most important part of a video game’s story. Even if your story is exciting, it just isn’t as good if the characters in the story are bland and dull (I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy XII!). A cast of good characters can breathe life into a game, and are essential to making a game stand out.
A great character needs to be the whole package. They need to have a likeable personality, but still need to have room for a sufficient amount of development. Given gaming’s long history of cliched characters, this isn’t exactly an easy thing to accomplish. Most gamers want the idealized hero who is capable of things most people are not. While I find this kind of character entertaining, they aren’t particularly well written or developed. They also continue to grow more stale as game after game featuring these emotionless heroes are released day in and day out. In my opinion, the characters on this list are ones who are either completely unique, or are the best examples of their corresponding archetype.
I wanted to keep this list to one character per series, but there are two franchises who’s characters are just too strong. It just wouldn’t have felt right leaving these characters off in favor of lesser characters just for the sake of limiting my list to one entry per series. But I promise that even those two franchises only have two characters appearing on the list, so it isn’t too bad. I’ll also be writing two honorable mention entries for two characters from two different franchises just so I can say I have 10 different franchises represented on my list.
Again, subjective opinions, haven’t played every game, you get the drift. Now, let’s begin the list in the typical fashion: with a character that no one else has heard of!
#10 – Kyle Hyde
Kyle Hyde is an ex-cop now working as a salesman for a company called Red Crown. He uses his job and his relationship with his boss to travel to various places in order to gain new information about his father’s death, as well as the mysterious disappearance of his former partner, Brian Bradley. As his search for information carries on, he slowly uncovers the truth behind forces much bigger than he: a criminal organization known as Nile, as well as the hunt for a priceless jewel known as the Scarlet Star. Kyle must then use his knowledge and intuition he has acquired as a cop to solve these mysteries, as well as find the connections with his father’s death and Bradley’s disappearance.
Kyle Hyde… is kind of a dick. He’s acts just how you would expect a washed-up ex-cop would act. He’s sarcastic, impatient, doesn’t really like talking with anyone, and loves him some good ol’ fashion booze. But he’s also incredibly smart, and usually knows exactly how to get inside a person’s head. He uses his intellect to outsmart everyone around him into giving him the information he wants, even if giving up that information is not in their best interest. His intelligence, combined with his sarcastic and somewhat coarse nature, make him a very entertaining character. The way he manipulates the other characters surrounding him often leads to some very funny dialog, as well as some powerful and serious character interaction.
As Kyle peels back the layers of the mysteries he is investigating, he slowly begins to develop as a character. At the beginning of Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Kyle isn’t much more than a loner who is hung up on the past. As he interacts with the other characters staying at the hotel, he begins to see that his own pain isn’t the only thing that matters. He learns the story of Dunning Smith, his daughter Jenny, and Mila Evans; a story that is equally tragic when compared to his own. This, combined with the truth surrounding Bradley’s disappearance, makes him finally realize that dwelling on the past is a waste of time.
However, Kyle once again stumbles upon his past in Last Window: The Secret of Cape West. He discovers the truth behind his father’s death, and is able to finally put his demons to rest for good. Having found the jewel that caused his father’s death, Kyle finally begins to feel at peace. Throughout the course of two games, we see Kyle transform from the typical ex-cop into a regular guy who can finally put his past behind him.
Why does he deserve the #10 spot?
The story of Kyle Hyde sounds like something that would be taken straight out of one of TV’s countless cop dramas. That being said, the uniqueness Kyle presents as a video game protagonist is what makes him deserve this spot. A character like Kyle Hyde is normally portrayed as an emotionless jackass who never really develops significantly as his story goes on. However, Kyle is more of a smart ass than he is a jackass, which leads to some very amusing dialog and character development. His often insincere nature makes him likeable despite the fact that he is a rather typical character. For the most part, he is a fully developed character at the end of his first game, but still has some room to become even stronger. Last Window then offers a satisfying conclusion for Kyle’s development, further cementing him as a realistic and fleshed out character.