When it comes to survival horror, we generally ask to stand united with some of the biggest and most fearless figures in the known kingdom. But when we're saddled with the defenseless rogue NPCs who favor cowardice over bravery, escapades rarely result in heroism. And, you know, that can lead to some pretty stressful situations out on the battlefield from time to time.
Of course, we've seen a number of useless video game characters over the years, and not just those who associate themselves with Ashley from Resident Evil 4, either. In fact, roots go way deeper, as does our hatred for each of their redundant characteristics and expressionless features. And on that note, we'll continue to pour our ambivalence over the survival horror realm by slating our top five leads.
5. Daniel (Amnesia: The Dark Descent)
Granted, on paper, Daniel struck us as an incredibly promising protagonist, and a worthy lead for the critically acclaimed survival horror debut Amnesia: The Dark Descent. But boy, was he a terrible hero, to the point of being the most breakable character in video game history. Thanks to his bad case of amnesia and fear of the dark, and, you know, everything else—it made for a pretty stressful journey. And it was a lengthy journey at that, no thanks to Daniel cowering in every available nook and cranny.
Of course, playing as a defenseless protagonist is a fantastic way to raise the fear factor—especially in survival horror. But, like all things, too much of anything can be a recipe for disaster. And on that basis, Daniel strikes out as being a pretty useless protagonist, as well as one that can barely overcome an obstacle without suffering some melodramatic consequence as a result.
4. Thomas (Maid of Sker)
Maid of Sker is visually stunning, and a real jewel on the survival horror front for those who enjoy peeking around old British manor homes for clues and keepsakes. But as far as its protagonist goes, well, things definitely aren't as pleasing on the eye, and the characteristics border more wooden than wondrous. But that's Thomas, in a nutshell, and you're stuck with him whether you like it or not.
Fortunately, there are moments in Maid of Sker when you can deflect blind enemies by using a mechanical box to send out a wave of sound. But, like our expectations for Thomas, it soon broke into a thousand pieces, effectively making the whole situation a short burst of false optimism. Though, luckily, the character's lack of worth doesn't make a lick of difference, as most obstacles can be breezed past without issue. So that's something.
3. Miles (Outlast)
Admittedly, we expected more from Miles, Outlast's in-house investigative journalist. In fact, we expected a lot more, which is precisely why our feathers felt rustled after coming to terms with his pointlessness. Although steady with a camera and quick to unravel a scoop, the Outlast lead fell worryingly short in almost everything else. And that's not something we needed after stepping into the hostile world of Mount Massive Asylum.
Anyway, it could've been worse. Outlast wouldn't have garnered such a high reputation if it wasn't for the lack of combat. It worked, and then some, but at the cost of including one of the worst protagonists in the history of the survival horror genre. Worth it? I mean, it's a matter of opinion, for sure.
2. Barry (Alan Wake)
There's nothing worse than a clingy literary agent who bolts to your side like a bad odor. But that's Barry Wheeler, in a nutshell, riddled with off-the-cuff one-liners, a dire taste in summer wear, and an unfortunate sense of false pride. Love him or hate him, he does play a pretty significant role in Alan Wake, and it's your solemn duty to protect him whether you like it or not.
Sure, Barry did have his uses over the course of the shadow-heavy journey across Bright Falls. But, after being hit with a freight train chock-full of recklessness, he later became more of a nuisance than a credit to the duo. Without the ability to contribute toward tough encounters, he settled for being a backseat driver and nothing more. And, you know, that's not really something anyone needs when up against two smoking barrels.
1. Ashley (Resident Evil 4)
Of course, it just has to be Ashley from Resident Evil 4. There isn't a day that goes by where we don't fantasize about the infamous character being engulfed in incendiary grenades, to be honest. Those who have endured the painful slump of an escort mission will understand the hatred that boils from the underbelly of frustration. That, unfortunately, is something that'll never dissolve.
Don't get us wrong, Ashley did have her moments in the spotlight. Of course, we hated every one of those moments—but she outshined the story nonetheless. It just wasn't, you know, for the right reasons. She had a bad habit of drawing unwanted attention, and it made the play far more tedious than it needed to be. That said, it was certainly an unforgettable experience; just not one we wanted to see again. Thanks, Ashley.
So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.