The Best Horror Game Protagonists

When it comes to video game protagonists, the stars of the horror genre perhaps have it the worst of all, being placed in horrifying scenarios. Whether facing a viral outbreak or battling their own inner demons, these horror game protagonists have proved they have what it takes to beat the odds and come out on top.

The horror genre has an important place in video game history, and these protagonists play a large part in why their respective games have been so well received. They have the strength to face off against their antagonists while ensuring their games remain enjoyable, despite the dark subject matters they’re exploring.

10 Reunion Gone Wrong: Sam Giddings (Until Dawn)

Although Sam Giddings is one of eight protagonists in Until Dawn, she’s one of the first characters you’re introduced to after the prologue and plays a large role in the game’s story. Described by the game as diligent and adventurous, Sam receives an invite to return to the lodge, after the presumed death of her best friend a year earlier.

After things start to go awry at the lodge, Sam is the most rational of the group, staying out of drama and helping her friends at the climax of the game’s story. Hayden Panettiere played this character well, resulting in Sam being one of the game’s most likable characters.

9 Face The Past: Fang Ray Shin (Detention)

Released in 2017, Detention follows in the footsteps of games such as Silent Hill 2 that place an emphasis on the psychological struggles of its characters to demonstrate its horror. Taking place in Taiwan under martial law during the 1960s, the game follows student Fang Ray Shin as she confronts her troubled past.

In a purgatory-like environment, Ray must face up to the mistakes of her past and the guilt she feels for telling Instructor Bai about the book club’s reading list. The game excellently takes you through Ray’s past and portrays her actions in a way that doesn’t villainize her, and instead shows the horrors people faced in this period.

8 Stock Up On Your Batteries: Miles Upshur (Outlast)

Miles Upshur is the protagonist of the 2013 game Outlast and is an investigative journalist looking into the strange happenings at Mount Massive Asylum after receiving an anonymous tip. Unlike many other horror game protagonists, Miles is desperate to escape the asylum after running into its patients, with his main objective being to leave the place rather than explore it further.

It’s refreshing to play a horror game through the eyes of someone who has a more realistic reaction to what’s going on around him, and you’ll definitely be on the same page as him as you search for an exit.

7 Unlucky Engineer: Isaac Clarke (Dead Space)

In Dead Space, Isaac Clarke is a horror game protagonist you wouldn’t want to swap places with. After traveling to a mining ship to complete repairs and also search for his girlfriend, Nicole, he discovers the ship’s crew members have been killed and are now horribly mutated. Isaac was unlucky enough to find himself in these horrific scenes out of the blue, and is just a regular engineer beneath it all.

Despite being unable to rescue Nicole, Isaac sticks to his values and fights Necromorphs not only to survive, but to save humanity as well. His unwavering determination and loyalty make him one of the best protagonists in horror games to date.

6 A Horror Game Of Jurassic Proportions: Regina (Dino Crisis)

This iconic red-haired protagonist is the lead character of Dino Crisis, a game developed by Capcom of Resident Evil fame. Although the game shares many similar features to the Resident Evil series, the premise of this game is entirely unique. It involves you fighting back against dinosaurs who have been expelled from their original time.

Though she has a sarcastic attitude and often acts aloof during her missions, Regina grows to care for her teammates and shows her bravery when coming face to face with terrifying dinosaurs.

5 The Powerhouse: Aya Brea (Parasite Eve)

Square’s underrated 1998 game, Parasite Eve, blends RPG and survival horror elements brilliantly, to create a truly unforgettable hybrid experience. From the memorable opening scene that shows an audience at an opera performance spontaneously combusting, you know that you’re in for something special with this game. The protagonist, Aya Brea, is no exception to this.

An NYPD officer, Aya courageously fights to stop Eve after surviving her attack at the opera hall and gaining superhuman abilities. She deserves to be remembered as one of the best female protagonists, not just in horror, but in gaming as a whole.

4 Severe Writer’s Block: Alan Wake (Alan Wake)

The titular protagonist of Alan Wake, Alan is a bestselling writer struggling with writer’s block, who journeys to Bright Falls at his wife’s suggestion. Alan soon realizes that the town of Bright Falls is under the influence of a mysterious presence, as his wife is dragged into the lake by an invisible force.

The game’s excellent dialogue helps to uplift Alan’s character even further, and you’ll be gripped by the opportunity to discover the truth behind the town, as well as Alan himself. Alan’s complex character is part of what makes this incredible game so compelling.

3 Well-Written And Complex: James Sunderland (Silent Hill 2)

Silent Hill 2 is perhaps the most revered entry in the series because of its dive into psychological horror. The game’s protagonist, James Sunderland, might not be the most likable character, but the game portrays his struggles in an effective way. This makes the reveal that he killed his terminally-ill wife all the more impactful, as he feels genuine guilt for what he’s done.

James’ journey to take responsibility for what he did is one of the most poignant storylines in horror game history, and is one of the reasons this game is still one of the most popular in its genre.

2 Where’s Everyone Going? Bingo?: Leon S. Kennedy (Resident Evil)

The Resident Evil series is home to a whole host of brilliant protagonists, chief among them being Leon S. Kennedy, who’s gained notoriety among fans because of his appearances in many of the series' most iconic entries. Leon was first introduced in the 1998 game Resident Evil 2, having the worst first day of a new job ever.

Since debuting as a rookie police officer, Leon has come a long way. He got the chance to be the sole protagonist in Resident Evil 4, traveling to the remote village of Ganado to rescue the president’s daughter from the cult of Los Iluminados. Leon’s one-liners are a part of what makes the game so enjoyable and solidifies it as a favored entry in the series among fans.

1 The Next Generation: Heather Mason (Silent Hill 3)

Set 17 years after the original Silent Hill, Silent Hill 3 follows Heather Mason, the reincarnation of Alessa Gillespie and Cheryl Mason, as she travels to Silent Hill to get revenge on Claudia Wolf for causing her father’s death. Eventually, Heather discovers her true identity and stops Claudia by destroying her cult’s god.

Heather Morris did a great job of voicing this iconic protagonist, and it’s easy to emphasize with Heather’s struggles as a teenager thanks to her performance. It’s also touching to see the relationship between Heather and her father, Harry Mason, who was the protagonist of the first title in the series.

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