Gordon Freeman – Half-Life Series
For our first silent protagonist, we’re starting off with a classic. Gordon Freeman lets his actions speak for themselves. You don’t need words to hit boxes or barrels with a crowbar after all. And for Gordon, he doesn’t even need a grunt of exertion.
You’d think that he would end up saying something at some point especially since he keeps getting wrapped up in other people’s problems every two seconds. Maybe a “Come on!” or a “Seriously?” somewhere.
But Gordon Freeman keeps rolling with the punches and taking everything in stride even with all of the aliens and headcrabs and other weird monsters that dare to cross his path.
One wonders if Gordon would have still stayed relatively silent if we had gotten a Half Life 3 game but, unfortunately, all of this will still only be speculation.
Yu Narukami – Persona 4
Here’s another protagonist who is surprisingly silent despite all of the weird stuff going on in his game. Yu Narukami, or whichever name the player decides upon in the game, encounters a lot of surreal and odd things.
As per tradition for the Persona games, our protagonist is relatively silent with him only really speaking when he needs to summon a Persona. Some of the other characters within the game even remark on his lack of words.
Despite this, through his dialogue options, he seems relatively casual and nonchalant even with everything going on around him.
The Persona games are known for being wild and generally surreal so having those personality traits is a feat all on its own.
Link – Legend of Zelda Series
Another classic silent protagonist, Link is practically eternally silent save for a few grunts here and there. Breaking and smashing pots is hard work.
Many Links have come and gone throughout Hylian history and each and every one of them has spoken a total of zero words. It’s one of the common elements in every Zelda game.
Some would call Link’s perpetual silence charming and others would call it lazy writing. Regardless, it has become a staple in the Legend of Zelda Series. It’s gotten to the point where it is entirely unsurprising when the next incarnation of Link doesn’t speak at all.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Link is any less of a protagonist and each Link journeys through his game with a smile and a desire to take out any pot he comes across.
The Courier – Fallout: New Vegas
The Courier is more voiceless than they are silent but, like Link’s silence is a staple for his games, voiceless protagonists are a staple in Bethesda games.
The Courier ends up with a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time due to a rather unlucky courier job. That job ends up turning into the premise behind the entirety of New Vegas.
Throughout the game, the Courier’s dialogue options and actions are entirely determined by the player so their personality gets molded to whichever one players want to see. They get to even experience particular events.
Like having an insane encounter with Benny.
These elements are only some of the things that make New Vegas a crazy and wild game. Having the Courier do and say practically whatever the player wants is just spoiling us.
The Robed Figure – Journey
Not only is our Journey protagonist nameless, they’re also incredibly silent. Granted, that’s unsurprising for those of us who know Journey. It all just adds to the game’s charm and particularly enchanting storytelling.
Absolutely nothing is explained within the game and players must make their own inferences and interpretations about what’s going on. Our darling protagonist being silent, save for a few cute little chirps, is just icing on the purely visual cake.
The player is simply along for the ride and since there are very little vocals, including from our cute little character, it’s more like you’re watching a beautiful and artistic movie.
Journey is all about showing and not telling and by having a silent protagonist, Journey brings the visuals to the forefront and truly creates an atmospheric masterpiece.
The New Kid – South Park: Stick of Truth
Our next silent protagonist, The New Kid belongs to a series that is incredibly crazy in the best way possible. The New Kid is voiceless throughout the entirety of Stick of Truth save for the very end of the game.
Trey Parker, one of the creators of South Park, is apparently a fan of silent protagonists and The New Kid’s general silence is a reflection of this.
Our main character’s appearance can even be customized by players, adding a kind of player insertion element to the game that was already touched upon by The New Kid’s lack of voice.
The New Kid’s later appearances in the next couple South Park games continue his silence, making that particular trait of his a staple to his character.
The Rookie – Halo 3: ODST
As opposed to the other characters you control in the Halo series, the Rookie is the only one entirely silent. All of the other Halo protagonists, even our brooding Master Chief, either speak during cutscenes or every once in a while during gameplay.
The Rookie’s silence is a result of a rather traumatic event that led to him being the sole survivor during a mission with his first squad. Since then he hasn’t spoken a word. Dutch even calls him “the strong silent type” at the beginning of ODST.
The Rookie’s silence adds to the eerie and dangerous atmosphere of the dark and dreary New Mombasa as he tries to piece together what happened to the others at the beginning of the game.
Akin to Journey, the deliberate voicelessness of the main protagonist really does add a sort of atmospheric something to the overall game especially since the Rookie is all alone in an occupied city.
Crono – Chrono Trigger
Another silent protagonist, Crono is your typical hero. Like Link, he goes on adventures, encounters dangerous enemies, and gets swept into so many wild situations.
Crono lets his actions do the talking and words seem the furthest from his mind throughout Chrono Trigger. He communicates mostly through gestures and visual reactions as opposed to literal words and sentences.
After all, you don’t really need to talk to save the world…right? Maybe a few words would help but Crono doesn’t need to use any at all.
Though, he does speak once during Ending 12 which is quite literally the only time he ever does. Regardless, Crono is more or less 99% silent throughout Chrono Trigger.
Doomguy – Doom Series
Another classic protagonist. Doomguy quite literally goes through hell and back with barely a word spoken.
Save for a rather humorous taunt that comes in the form of an expletive and gesture, Doomguy doesn’t really speak. Honestly, even if he could, it seems like he would rarely have the chance to with everything going on around him.
Literally everything is out to kill him and he’s always fighting enemy after enemy. One of the few indications that anything around him is getting to him is the physical changes in his portrait in the bottom of the screen.
Doom Slayer, Doomguy’s 2016 counterpart, also doesn’t speak which gives one of many nods to the reboot’s source material.
Also, we know the image is technically of Doom Slayer. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a high res and appealing image of the O.G. Doomguy’s beautiful face.
The Pokemon Trainers – Pokemon Series
Finishing out the list, the protagonists you control throughout the Pokemon games don’t speak a word which is amazing given the fact that you can have some crazy encounters in the games.
Even in phone calls, the trainers don’t say a thing. Granted, practically all of the other characters within the games speak enough to fill the protagonist’s vocal void. Especially your rival.
It’s surely to play up the immersive element of the games so players can insert themselves into the particular game their playing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to put themselves in the Pokemon world?
After all, you gotta catch em all and there’s over 150 Pokemon to see.
Silent protagonists can either be great or terrible in a video game but sometimes you can end up with a few notable gems within the archetype like those on this list.
For related news on the games and series these characters belong to, here’s a look at Breath of the Wild 2’s E3 trailer, more on Halo Infinite, the latest news about Fallout 76, and news on Journey’s appearance on the App Store.