Facebook Twitter YouTube Frictional Games | Forum | Privacy Policy | Dev Blog | Dev Wiki | Support | Gametee

Poll: Prefer a silent protagonist?
You do not have permission to vote in this poll.
Yes i would.
4 11.76%
No, Simon is ok.
30 88.24%
Total 34 vote(s) 100%
* You voted for this item. [Show Results]

Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Would prefer a silent protagonist. [spoilers]
Petike Offline
Senior Member

Posts: 292
Threads: 35
Joined: Apr 2008
Reputation: 2
RE: Would prefer a silent protagonist. [spoilers]

The lack of a voiced protagonist would actually render a lot of the thoughtful dialogue from the finished game impossible. This is a problem I have with silent protagonists in games in general, Half Life and Dishonored being good examples of when using a silent protagonist can lead to contrived moments. I understand that game developers like using this sort of narrative setup because they want players to imagine themselves directly as the protagonist, and fill in the blanks themselves when it comes to guessing what the protagonist would reply in a conversation. (The other reason is that it's cheaper.) That said, this attempted illussion can fall apart very easily. If the player always sees and hears other characters miming a conversation with him, but he has limited interactivity to reply, the flow of these conversations might start seeming highly artificial after a while, and maybe even pointless. If you have too many blanks to fill in yourself and NPCs have to telegraph the direction the narrative is going to take, being a strictly silent player character feels more limiting than liberating.

I think the old Thief games did the best compromise possible: In addition to briefings and cutscenes, the protagonist sometimes quipped pre-scripted remarks in-game, despite being mostly silent throughout all missions. This solution still gave you the impression the character's truly there and reacting to things, but it wasn't excessive. It struck a good balance. That said, those games are very different to what any of FG's survival horrors are going for in terms of narrative and dialogue. Frictional's games have always depended on being fairly linear and narrative-heavy, for the sake of focused storytelling.

If you look through Frictional's back catalogue, you'll notice that even Penumbra's Philip technically wasn't a true silent protagonist. He doesn't say a single spoken word outside of the prologues, but you constantly had insight into what he's thinking, so I suppose you at least had internal monologue reactions to story developments. It's somewhat ambiguous, as he could just as well be saying some of that stuff out loud, e.g. some of his communication with Red over the radio. But regardless of whether he's talking audibly or just thinking to himself, he's still reacting, adding to the player's own impressions. A fully silent protagonist could never provide that sort of thing.

I found Simon a perfectly adequate character, his voice actor did a good job. I rather liked that he wasn't panicing every other moment, but tried to sound calm and press on, even though you could clearly tell from his voice that he's feeling tired and disappointed over everything. I think he had a surprisingly good rapport with Cath, considering how different in personality they seemed to be, Cath all aloof and distant and sometimes unnervingly upbeat.

"You... silly Billy !" (Clarence, Penumbra : Black Plague)
(This post was last modified: 09-08-2016, 08:42 PM by Petike.)
09-06-2016, 05:42 PM
GhylTarvoke Offline

Posts: 236
Threads: 14
Joined: May 2015
Reputation: 9
RE: Would prefer a silent protagonist. [spoilers]

Echoing what others have said: a silent protagonist wouldn't work in SOMA. It worked in A:TDD, but SOMA's story is much deeper and more character-focused.

Regarding the voice actors: Nell Mooney (Catherine) was fantastic. I can't imagine anyone else as Catherine, and I have no complaints with her portrayal. Jared Zeus (Simon) was almost as good. Zeus and/or Frictional Games tried to make Simon an Unfazed Everyman, which was a debatable artistic decision.
09-06-2016, 11:17 PM
Yuhaney Offline
Hello Friends!

Posts: 3,466
Threads: 100
Joined: Mar 2007
Reputation: 64
RE: Would prefer a silent protagonist. [spoilers]

I guess it really depends on the game itself. Sometimes I am completely fine with a silent protagonist. I know this sounds like a repetition of Petike but I share similar thoughts very strongly about the same games.

I don't like silent protagonists in games that have mediocre to deep story line like Half-Life, Crysis 2, Battlefield 4, you name it... It works in games like DOOM, Super Mario Bros., Bubble Bobble, any crafting survival game and whatever else where the game is based mostly on the gameplay, rather than a deep emotional story.

While playing Half-Life 2, I can't but to think that why should I care so much? I feel awkward towards these characters that show huge emotion towards me by hugging and cheering when I come at their holdout. I feel like a floating camera that everyone talks to and - "hey, now I have a gun". This gun is now supposed to make me feel like an individual in the universe? I'm sorry, but this doesn't work for me. Gordon never says a word or gives a thought (or shit, if you prefer). Everyone else just tells Gordon (or me) what to think in any given situation. I guess that's why I liked Freeman's Mind. Gives at least one point-of-view what he could have been thinking. They are probably trying to make it that "you are the character, and what you feel the character feels", but it doesn't work for me. Of course I feel all the other things, but I don't feel the protagonist itself. That's the problem for me. It creates a situation where I love the game, its universe, characters and the over all atmosphere but hate the protagonist. That's not good hate either because it's for all the wrong reasons.

Penumbra didn't have voice acting for the protagonist but I still felt him because I could right click to see his thoughts on the object or subject I'm looking at. With Amnesia they added voice acting for notes and flashback cutscenes while still keeping the non-voice acted dialogue between me and the character. SOMA I can't say anything about because haven't played it yet. I also like how old Thief games do the protagonist, just like Petike.
Another thing I've always liked is how some RPGs make discussions between the protagonist and NPCs. You talk to someone and game gives options to choose from. Then these characters have the chosen dialogue. However, some games do it wrong although it's not the worst. I don't like it when you choose something to say and the protagonist then says nothing while the NPC on the other hand is fully voice acted and reacts to what you chose. It seems like the protagonist has to be on an equal level with rest of the characters in terms of interaction.

(This post was last modified: 09-09-2016, 01:04 PM by Yuhaney.)
09-09-2016, 12:34 PM
Website Find

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)