Throughout history gamers have taken control of many characters, but most of them are heroes. Those who are willing to sacrifice anything for the greater good and the extermination of evil. However occasionally gamers are given the chance to control someone different, a protagonist that doesn’t care about anything and walks the gray line between good and evil. They fight because they’re either forced to do so or for selfish reasons and don’t care who they have to hurt to get want they want.
The eldest twin of Dante, Vergil, is an enigma. In his original appearance in Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening Vergil’s past is never explained, all that we know is that Vergil disappeared for a year in search for the key to the demonic world so he could acquire his father’s sword. Vergil doesn’t care about anyone or anything and other agrees to assist people when his goals are being met. He reluctantly agrees to help Arkham in activating the tower Temen-ni-gru but betrays him when he ceased to be useful and does the same with Dante.
In Ninja Theory’s remake of the popular franchise Vergil’s attitude changes but not his desires. He doesn’t demonstrate the same cold attitude and showcases that he truly loves Dante. However things shift dramatically after Mundus dies and Vergil’s true intention is revealed: to take Mundus’s throne with Dante at his side to rule humanity. Dante refuses and defeats his brother, leaving him to undergo a radical transformation in his own adventure Vergil’s Downfall. In both editions it’s clear that Vergil desires power and is willing to do anything to get it, whether it’s saving humanity from a dictatorship or flooding the ground with bodies he’ll stop at nothing to become the most powerful being in creation.
The legend of Kratos is full of incredible accomplishments and tragedy. After being tricked by Ares into killing his family and having the ashes of his wife and daughter cling permanently onto his skin Kratos swore revenge on the Gods for the nightmares that came afterwards. After successfully claiming the power of Pandora’s Box, killing anyone who stood in his way, Kratos kills Ares and was granted his former master’s position by the Gods of Olympus after attempting to commit suicide. But even after being crowned the new God of War Kratos is still haunted by visions of his dead family and becomes increasingly aggressive. After Kratos is betrayed and murder by the Gods, led by Zeus, he sought his revenge by reigniting the Titanomachy. In his desire for the destruction of Olympus Kratos murders every God who served under Zeus and without the Gods to keep the chaos in check the apocalypse began. Although glimpses of his humility are shown, when he attempts to save Pandora or when he buries his brother Deimos, he ultimately always requires to satisfy need for revenge and is willing to kill anyone who stands in his way viciously.
3. Commander Shepard
You’re probably asking how the only soldier capable of stopping the Reapers and saving the galaxy from annihilation is an antihero? Shepard’s story is malleable and can be shifted to lean towards the either the heroic paragon or the deadly renegade. Throughout the massive trilogy Shepard is forced to make a series of decisions that determine the lives of millions and the loyalty of his team. In this odyssey Shepard makes a lot of difficult choices such as deciding the fate original council and determining whether to cure the Krogen Genophague. The choice is never clear and ultimately it’s up to the player to decide whether they want Shepard to be the ultimate hero or antihero. But when Shepard walks the path of the renegade he becomes one the cruelest and deadly person you’ll ever play as.
4. Shadow the Hedgehog
Built by Dr. Gerald Robotnik to be the ultimate life form Shadow is frequently described as the dark incarnation of Sonic. Shadow is sharp, calm and very capable. Once set on a objective he does whatever it takes to complete the task. However despite being created for righteous purposes Shadow hated humanity for the death of his only friend, Gerald Robotnik’s granddaughter Maria. Although he desired revenge for her death eventually Shadow decides to keep his promise to Maria and save humanity from the Biolizard.
The eldest and leader of the four Horsemen, Death is the most feared and deadly of the Charred Council’s personal warriors. While Death and his brothers are responsible for the maintain the balance between heaven, hell and mankind they are not perfect. Death is arrogant, sarcastic, cold and calculating. He prudently uses anything or anyone to reach his own goals. Throughout Darksiders 2 it is explained that Death has done and seen many things, ranging from genocide, the destruction of worlds and reaping souls from across the universe. It’s clear that Death doesn’t wait for things to happen and prefers to act quickly and efficiently. Although he is shown to be baron of any emotional feelings it’s clear that he cares deeply for his brothers, as he didn’t hesitant to cut off his War’s left arm, take a deadly blow for Fury or sacrifice himself to resolve War’s crime.
Like War Death is a gifted warrior but unlike his brother sees killing as an art. Throughout Darksiders 2 Death is seen taking sadistic pleasure in eliminating those who stand before him. It’s clear that Death cares little for others, outside from his 3 brothers, and is willing to do anything to accomplish his goals. Although Death saves the supernatural world of the dangerous corruption he did it because it corresponded with his own goal to save War.
From the start of Shadow of the Colossus the reason for Wander’s mission is clear but not his objectives. He wants to bring his dead loved back to life and travels to a forbidden land with a stolen weapon to make a deal with the devil. In exchange for killing 16 creatures that roam the landscape the dark deity that inhabits the temple he entered will resurrect his beloved. But these creatures, although some appear to be hostile, are guardians that ensure the imprisonment of that demon that Wander made a deal with. Despite being one of the most moving stories you can experience in video games can Wander be seen as a hero? He is willing to do anything to save his love, even if it means that everyone else suffers at the hands of a vicious immortal.
7. Jackie Estacado
Jackie Estacado, a man who doesn’t fight for any reason other than his desire for revenge. On his 21st birthday the contract killer was endowed with dark powers called The Darkness. Jackie accepts the demon to use for his vendetta against those who attempted to kill him and murdered his girlfriend Jenny. While Jackie kills a great deal of dangerous people and, if the player chooses, help some people alone the way does make him a hero in the eyes of the player. This is because during the events of The Darkness and The Darkness 2 it’s clear that Jackie does care a great deal about the people closest to him. However Jackie’s goals are always personal and he’s willing to fight anyone who attempts to challenge or stop him, even The Darkness.
8. Cole MacGrath
In the inFamous series Cole MacGrath is given a choice between being a hero or antihero. Althought Cole’s alternate self, Kessler, commits unspeakable crimes in order to prepare Cole for the upcoming threat the young conduit maintains his own identity and path. During the events of inFamous 2 these passages begin to branch further as Cole has to choose between survival and the lives of billions. Choosing the inFamous route causes Cole to take a more violent and sadistic approach to every objective such as killing innocent people, sacrificing others for his selfish desires and manipulation. However when people see you as a monster perhaps it’s best you give them what they ask for.
9. Alex Mercer
Infected by the Blacklight Virus Alex Mercer woke up in a morge with no memory of his past. His quest begins with a simple task: find out what happened to him. However things become more complicated as Alex begins to learn the conspiracy revolving around the virus and the corporation he worked for, Blacklight. Throughout his journey Alex is responsible for the deaths of millions of people after he realizes that he was the one who caused the epidemic. He also learned that the Alex Mercer died when it was released, instead the virus took the form of the first organism is could find, which was Alex Mercer. This discovery didn't effect him and although he saved what was left of New York from a nuclear explosion he eventually decided to start a new epidemic and release the virus again, leading to the events of Prototype 2. Alex is a cold-hearted scientist who believes in survival of the fittest and eventually believes that humanity is too weak in it's current evolutionary state. At first he was willing to tear through civilians to get to answers but now it’s to fulfill his own goals.
10. Paxton Fettel
In his first iconic scene the first successful psychic commander was seen consuming the body of a Armacham scientist after taking control of a battalion of telepathically controlled clone supersoldiers, seizing all control of the Armacham Technology Corporation and killing all the occupants. As the story progresses the protagonist and brother to Fettel, Point Man, eventually kills him and find out that they were the children of a powerful psychic named Alma who was at the center of Armacham’s project for psychic commanders. Fettel wanted to free his mother and punish those who caused her suffering, but fails to complete his objective.
Fettel returns in F.E.3.R as a specter with supernatural abilities such as possession. It’s in this game that Fettel showcases that he actually cared for this brother, despite being murdered by his hands, and attempts to assist him while trying to stop Alma. However while he cares for Point Man these feelings are easily trumped during the final moments of the game when Fettel desires to consume Alma, thereby granting him her power, where Point Man attempts to kill her. Is clear that Fettel enjoys the suffering of others and causing pain, all in the pursuit of power, but he did help in preventing the end of the world and attempt to save his mother from Armacham. Paxton Fettel may not be the most outstanding antihero in the gaming community but he is one of the best.