BioShock Infinite has been released, and we’ve been introduced to one of the most fascinating characters in recent video game lore: Elizabeth. This girl possesses the uncanny ability to bend the space-time continuum to her will. And while she’s gorgeous and mysterious (as the cos-player above so easily demonstrates) it’s not merely her looks and miraculous nature that cement her in our minds; it’s how we met her. We won’t soon forget storming that seemingly impenetrable fortress or high tailing it away from Songbird as he searched frantically for his missing counterpart.
As this encounter with Elizabeth proves, many times it’s the circumstances in which we meet characters that gives them their so-called ‘cool factor.’ I’ve spent the last few days digging through a long list of impressive characters to find a few that have managed to stick with me over the years. These folks stand out for their unique, memorable circumstances in which they were introduced.
Make way for “the best first encounters” in the video gaming world!
1. The Little Sister, BioShock
The Little Sisters from the original installment of the BioShock series manage to effectively disturb and charm simultaneously. They seem so innocent, and yet it’s clear that there’s something deeply wrong with these little girls’ souls. Their yellow-demon like eyes bore into your being, and remind you of the sins that have been inflicted upon them. Each time Jack meets one of these little girls, he’s given a choice: harvest their essence for ADAM or free them from their bondage.
The first encounter with a Little Sister leaves Jack with this option, and as you stand there, egged on by Atlas to commit the unspeakable, it’s near impossible to follow through with murder. I’ve only met one gamer who has gone through the game willing to kill for the extra cash; it’s easy to see why. These girls are adorably freaky.
2. Pyramid Head, Silent Hill 2
James gets a quick shocking look at his triangular “friend” before this first freaky encounter, but it is this outright highly disturbing scene that sticks in players’ minds. As James peeks through the window slit from a nearby closet, Pyramid Head goes for a full on sexual assault on the closest pairs of legs he can find. The intense scene sets the tone for a dark, disturbing tale full of sexual undertones.
When it’s eventually revealed that Pyramid Head is a spiritual manifestation of James’ pent up sexual frustration and guilt, a new reading makes itself clear. If the mannequin legs are meant to be symbolic of the repressed sexual desires James held back when Mary was sick, then Pyramid Head must be a stand in for James. Our “hero” is more messed up than we ever assumed.
3. Ezio Auditore, Assassins’ Creed 2
Assassin’s Creed 2 had the balls to go where no game has gone before. Seriously, how many times have gamers been presented the opportunity to witness (and participate in) the birth of their main protagonist? Waving little Baby Ezio’s arms with the flick of a stick is a hoot! This is a perfect introduction to a future womanizing killing machine!
I seriously doubt we’ll see a scene like this replicated for a while. Hats off to Ubisoft for the brilliance.
4. Pharos/Ryoji/Nyx, Persona 3
Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat. But the circumstances surrounding the Harbinger of Death are too macabre to pass up.
The protagonist is first introduced to Nyx in the form of Pharos (that creepy little kid that visits you in your sleep and throws you strange cryptic riddles). By about the halfway point of the game, the kid disappears, only to be replaced by Ryoji, a new student that starts attending your school. He seems like a sweet guy, but there’s something off about him. Everyone’s hunch is correct, the guy is actually a manifestation of Death, and come next year, he’ll be ending the world. He offers up a choice, have your memory wiped and enter blissfully into the state of nothingness, or fight an un-winnable battle against his true self: Death Incarnate. Never ones to accept defeat, our heroes opt for the latter option.
Chills will run down your back when Nyx’s true form is finally revealed. And despite the fact that his spirit was formerly housed in Ryoji, he’s on the warpath now; nothing is turning him away from the death wishes of the world. This character’s truly complex motivations, and the messed up choice that he offers to our group of heroes is what earns his three incarnations a spot on this list.
And those are the “Best First Encounters” in the gaming world. Two are downright freaky, one is quirky, and another is seriously messed up. But they’re all memorable, and some of my fondest memories are associated with each of them. Let’s here some of yours!