Lady Dimitrescu to Antón Castillo, 5 most impactful video game characters of 2021

To drive a narrative forward, you require characters that captivate you from the get-go. Some achieve this feat via a great backstory, while others rely on plot development or acting. In video games, it is a culmination of these qualities, where talented voice artists breathe life into a digital puppet, made of polygons. Your bond with these characters is then strengthened as you get to interact with them or take complete control over their actions or choices.

Despite the pandemic setbacks, 2021 bore witness to some remarkable games and characters that had a huge impact within the industry and around. So, let’s take a moment to go over them before the year ends.

Lady Dimitrescu – Resident Evil Village

Alcina “Lady” Dimitrescu stole the show at Capcom’s annual event, as players around the globe were instantly bewitched by her appearance. Sporting long retractable sharp claws and an even menacing grin, the “tall vampire lady” served as a fitting tyrant to the survival horror nature of Resident Evil Village. Her character design inspired several cosplayers, fanarts, memes, and erotica, which led to her becoming the face of the game.

Lady Dimitrescu in Resident Evil Village. (Screenshot)

Her impact isn’t just attributed to her appearance, though it played a key role in her rising fame. Towering at 9 feet 6 inches, Dimitrescu was vicious, chasing us through the narrow hallways as we held onto our dear lives. But there was another side to her as well, that of a caring mother. In moments of calmness, you could peer into her bedroom as she wept over her nightstand for her dead daughters. Daughters that you, the player killed. Her devotion towards the game’s ultimate antagonist, Mother Miranda was also superbly portrayed, where her tone would change into a nervous one at first, and then ultimately start ignoring orders as her rage grew.

Her mutation into her true dragon-like form was quite absurd but served as a great boss battle nevertheless. Marking her first video game work, theatrical actress Maggie Robertson delivered an outstanding voice acting and motion capture, and even went on to win ‘best performance’ at The Game Awards 2021.

Cody and May – It Takes Two

Yes, we know Cody and May are two separate characters, but the entire objective of this game was to reunite them as a couple. It Takes Two took the depressing subject of divorce and child trauma and turned it into something magical – a fun co-op platformer where you play as doll-like interpretations of a clashing husband and wife. Taking part in numerous challenges and puzzles, you soon realise how much you need each other, and learn about how badly the separation is affecting your child’s mental state.

Clashing couple Cody and May in It Takes Two. (Screenshot)

The disputes between the two are realistic as well, where they constantly shift blame and refuse to communicate. Cody would act all careless and do guy things, while May continuously nagged and did girly stuff. It was up to the players to pick sides and work together to find a solution, and in time, rekindle their lost love. In fact, the game was so impactful that a lot of struggling couples online reached out to the director Josef Fares and thanked him for fixing their relationship.

To many, living vicariously through these digital dolls served as therapy. To others, it might have just been another couch co-op game from the studio. Either way, it was extremely fun, brimming with unpredictable moments, a vibrant tone, and lovable characters that you could relate to on some level.

Antón Castillo – Far Cry 6

If there is one franchise that knows how to glorify villains right, it is Far Cry. ‘Breaking Bad’ star – Giancarlo Esposito’s involvement in the latest iteration drove tonnes of fans to buy the game at launch. The role of a refined, ruthless dictator in search of ultimate power very much suited him. And as his first time doing motion capture, he did a tremendous job.

El President Antón Castillo and his son Diego. (Image credit: Far Cry 6)

Antón Castillo’s deadpan nature didn’t take away from his love for Yara. He deeply cared for his land and its people, to the point where he would twist religion to his liking and get the job done. His relationship with his son was complicated as well, where he had to show the “right amount” of love and strictness to raise him as a worthy successor.

That cold personality of his even seeped into real life, where Ubisoft’s marketing team made YouTube advertisements based on his character. These would involve clips of Antón looking straight into the camera and taunting users to skip the 5-second ad break, answering fan mail in character, and menacingly laughing in your face. As you would have guessed, many of these became meme-worthy material for the internet.

Master Chief – Halo Infinite

As predictable as this looks, one can’t deny that the Master Chief had a great arc this time. Halo Infinite was heavily banking on its campaign aspect for being more “humane” than ever before, and they sure delivered. We got to see a new side of him, a talkative one that’s filled with regret and emptiness following Cortana’s deletion. It was a personality trait that a lot of players could relate to. And him wearing a helmet and not knowing what he looks like helped many imagine their own reality – by putting themselves in his shoes.

Master Chief and The Weapon meeting for the first time. (Screenshot – Halo Infinite)

The Chief’s older, wiser nature made him emotionally vulnerable, where he would gradually open up to his new AI companion, The Weapon. These aspects are further reflected onto the battlefield, where his movement, despite being clinical, felt sluggish. There is a lack of motivation and lingering fear that hovers over him in every step. It is difficult to put together in words, but you’ll feel it when you play it. What’s fascinating is that this new direction never bothered the longtime fans. They loved it and wanted more, with many donning their Master Chief helmets from Gamestop and chanting tales of 343 Industries’ redemption arc.

Mono – Little Nightmares 2

Being able to communicate stories with no dialogue is an exceptional achievement. The Little Nightmare games manage to do this by creating an almost psychological horror scenario, where making any kind of noise could instantly get you killed. Donning a light brown paper bag over his head and a khaki trench coat, Mono is essentially a shy kid who never speaks. His personality is shown through his actions, where he appears to be a noble and confident boy who would go out of his way to help others.

Mono and Six. (Image credit: Little Nightmares 2)

His low self-esteem sticks out like a sore thumb, where he believes that the world hates him, but that doesn’t stop him from being nice. His anxiety makes him nimble and resourceful, which reflects onto the player as you believe he won’t be able to make a particular jump or hold onto objects in mid-air. These qualities and special powers are revealed to you and Mono at the same, highlighting how much potential lurks beneath that mask of his.

As you complete levels and make a new friend (Six), his confidence grows, to the point where he’s able to take the bag off his head with no fear of the cruel world. It’s an empowering sight to see, and the game’s genre-bending climax takes it to another level, giving him a creepy, almost dystopian character development.

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