8 of The Best Video Game Performances 2021

Great Games, Great Acting (and Writing, and Directing)

If you’ve been playing games for any length of time, you remember when voice acting was downright…bad. It was often done “in house,” which often meant hilariously off-key performances. In those days before performance capture, game acting wasn’t taken seriously. Pros thought it was beneath them. Developers often didn’t see the value. Or, they couldn’t afford name actors.

Gradually, things changed. Games became big business. There was more money to hire real actors. Performance capture really changed the equation, too. Now, it’s pretty much expected that a big-budget game will hire the best actors available. Great performances aren’t uncommon.

2021 was another good year for videogame actors and their craft. Everyone in the chain — from writers to actors, to directors — helped create some great characters and performances. Here are a few of our faves.

8. Armin Shimerman (Dr. Nefarious, Ratchet, and Clank Rift Apart)

Ratchet and Clank Feature

It’s great fun when an actor gets to chew the scenery. Armin Shimerman repeats his role as the over-the-top, inept, and frustrated villain in Rift Apart. Of course, an actor is only as good as the material. In this case, that’s very good. Dr. Nefarious is a hilarious foil to Ratchet.

7. Jennifer Hale (Rivet, Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart)

Rivet is one of the delights of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. She’s a female version of Ratchet and she’s funny, sassy and expertly acted by Jennifer Hale, one of the busiest voices in games right now.

6. Ozioma Akagha (Julianna Blake, Deathloop)

Mocking and threatening leading man Colt Vahn, Julianna Blake makes a great enemy. Or maybe frenimy. She’s part ally, former lover and part foe.  Her relationship is a mystery to be solved by us and Colt. Ozioma Akagha turns in an amazing, funny, and varied performance in Deathloop.

5. Jason Cavalier (Drax the Destroyer, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy)

By far, the best parts of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy are story, writing and acting. Fans have a pretty clear idea of the iconic characters. It takes great writing and performances to satisfy them. Jason Cavalier turned in an excellent performance as Drax. It was far more nuanced and funny than we expected.