5. Ichiban Kasuga (Yakuza: Like a Dragon)
Yakuza has always been an interesting franchise full of colorful activities and absolutely bananas combat. So when Like a Dragon appeared and we not only were given an entirely new combat system but a new hero as well, it drew a lot of questions as to whether or not this was too much too fast for the long-running franchise. Enter Ichiban Kasuga, the Rock-Bottom Dragon. Within the first few moments of the game you’ll see that Ichiban is an excitable, impulsive, and energetic character – a vast departure from the previously stoic series lead, Kazuma Kiryu. From the way he fights, talks, and dresses, it’s hard not to immediately taking a liking to him. His personality is on the same level of the wild antics of the franchise and it he makes it that much easier to get immersed in the game.
4. Johnny Silverhand (Cyberpunk 2077)
The man himself. Cyberpunk legend Johnny Silverhand had to be just right, and no one could have pulled off the character just right like Keanu Reeves. Johnny is a legend in Night City, starting out in the band Samurai and eventually becoming labeled a terrorist for fighting against the Arasaka Corporation. Johnny is implanted in your brain, appearing as blips in your vision leaning against a wall, smoking a cigarette, or just there to mock you. You’ll have full conversations with Johnny as he weighs in on the things you see and do, often playing shoulder-devil to whatever choice lays before you. The relationship between Johnny and V is incredibly complex and one that becomes the driving force for the game. Johnny is dark, intelligent, and articulate. He helps balance out the rather one-note V and together they make a truly memorable experience. Also, it’s Keanu!
3. Gulliver (Animal Crossing: New Horizons)
Okay, probably not what you expected in the top three, but Animal Crossing has a colorful cast of adorable, loveable characters to bring to your island… and then there is Gulliver. One of the characters who appears regularly but cannot be recruited, Gulliver is a sailor who regularly washes up on your shore and requires you to gather his broken communicator parts so he can call for a ride. Often times a bit surly and always ready with a sailing pun, Gulliver feels like one of the few visitors who is a constant and who you don’t mind helping out. His quest takes a few minutes at most and his sassy dialogue is usually quite enjoyable. It’s a treat to find Gulliver passed out on your beach and especially handy to know he isn’t going anywhere until you are ready to wake him up (unlike the other visitors who wander about and go missing) Animal Crossing is already so full of charm as it is, but Gulliver brings a frantic, confused, and adorable level of sass that makes it worth seeing him every time.
2. Jessie Rasberry (Final Fantasy 7 Remake)
Jessie Rasberry is what happens when you take a minor character equivalent to a paragraph and turn it into a full novel. Having only limited dialogue in the original game, FF7 Remake saw Jessie shine as an adorable and overly enthusiastic member of Avalanche who was not afraid to put the moves on Cloud every step of the way. In the game we get to learn her backstory, we visit her childhood home as Biggs and Wedge have late night pizza with her mother. She not only is an incredibly developed character but embodies the good in humanity and the common people of the slums below Midgar. Debates have long been argued over whether or not Cloud belongs with Aerith or Tifa in a romantic relationship and Jessie has appeared as a new contender for the crown as Cloud’s love interest. While we might never see them together, Jessie – who was intended to be a minor character – has easily stolen our hearts with her good nature, enthusiasm, and forward demeanor.
And our winner for Best Character of 2020 is…
1. Kenji (Ghost of Tsushima)
Ghost of Tsushima is legendary in its own right. The narrative, controls, art direction, everything is picture perfect. Even with all of that at hand, a game can only be as good as its cast of characters, and none are more peculiar and fascinating than the odd Kenji. A farmer who sells sake and frequently finds himself in trouble, Kenji is much the eccentric weirdo to Jin’s straight-faced, honor-bound hero. Ghost of Tsushima is a somber, soulful, and cinematic experience that elevates gaming, but to balance out this tone is Kenji’s antics. He frequently finds himself in trouble from making bad deals with the wrong people. A trickster at heart, Kenji will convince others to enter into a deal with him regardless of its safety or security. Despite these wild and dangerous situations he finds himself and others in, he is brimming with good intentions. Kenji is a refreshing soul in a well of broken, serious characters. He adds levity while being respectful to the world and source material. He gives us a grounding point to see a new personality and what the common people are like. Not everyone can be Jin, but there is something familiar in a person like Kenji. He compliments the game as a necessary piece of the mural which makes Ghost of Tsushima so fantastic.
Do you agree with our list? Who do you think should have won Best Character of 2020? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the Comments section below, and be sure to stay tuned for our other entries in the Game of the Year Awards including Best Narrative, Best Surprise, and Best Performance.
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