Time was the ‘Escort Mission
’ was the gravest offence a developer could inflict upon its prospective players. Some of us have a hard enough time keeping our own health bars filled, let alone that of some helpless bint!
Yet somehow this dynamic crept in, establishing itself as a gaming staple. The omission of the aforementioned health bar certainly helped. But perhaps developers realised the scope of their experiences, both dramatically AND mechanically, was improved via the inclusion of a sidekick!
This list is dedicated to said couples, said partnerships, said duos that helped transform games from a solitary adventure into a voyage of teamwork and fellowship.Think of Kane and Lynch
’s bickering, Salem and Rios
’ bromance or even Chris and Sheva
’s African rampage.
And then stop thinking about that crap, and think of something good instead...10. Atlas and P-body – Portal 2
Portal 2’s unsung gem, Atlas and P-body represent gaming synergy at its finest. The puzzles are simply unsolvable without the wits (and Aperture HPD) of a second player. Admittedly, the absence of an AI partnership accounts for its low ranking. But the ability to High 5, much to GLaDOS’ consternation, secures their place on the list...9. Marcus and Dom – Gears of War
In a franchise as lacking in subtlety as Gears, it comes as no surprise that the rapport between its twin testostertanks is somewhat on the nose. However there’s a palpable warmth to be felt between the crossfire and chainsaw fumes. There can be little doubt Epic’s decision to IMPOSE upon gamers this grizzled AI partnership immediately elevated Gears above its contemporaries.8. Link and Midna – Twilight Princess
Not only was Midna TP’s principle exposition engine, she also popped up regularly when you’re in wolf mode to do a little bashing! While rocking the green windsock cap, she’d periodically squawk advice from your shadow or to teleport you across Hyrule. Certainly not the most stirring team on this list, Link and Midna did act as a blueprint for this generation’s gaming duos.7. Ellie and Joel – The Last of Us
Bit of a concession to peer pressure here – Though I find the whole ‘grumpy, emotionally distant father figure tolerates wide-eyed sassy teenager’ dynamic both tired and derivate this late in the game, there can be no question as to TLOU’s production values nor the quality of its script.
So while, to me, The Last Of Us seems overly familiar, and Ellie herself is, at best, window dressing, the dramatic toll wrought by Naughty Dog’s pioneering facial animations or Troy Barker and Ashley Johnson’s simmering chemistry, easily bubble over inadequacies I find in the premise.6. Ratchet and Clank – Uh... seriously?
Arguably the antithesis of the above entry, Ratchet and Clank are a defining videogaming duo i.e. They’re bags of craic! You control the former, the latter supports with gadgets, puzzle solutions, and amusing quips. Theirs is not a song for the ages, but when it comes to gratuitous entertainment, Ratchet and Clank engineer a matchless combination.5. Elizabeth and Booker – Bioshock Infinite
Another pairing which won’t break any moulds, it’s the bells and whistles (read. Vigors and Tears) that make this union sing – Elizabeth is basically the aforementioned wide-eyed teen, but she’s a reality bending, shotgun tossing, coin flicking, puzzle solving wide-eyed teen. Elsewhere, Booker’s the quintessential grouchy, impatient paternal archetype. But at least he’s got a lyrical quality to his tone and is less prone to wallowing in self pity when the time comes to pop asses with caps.4. Amaterasu and Issun - Okami
Okami is a sweeping mythological epic. You play as a Sun Deity in wolf form. Your foe is an eight headed serpent threatening to plunge the world into an age of darkness.
Needless to say a little levity is much needed. Enter Issun, the struggling artist who rides around on your nose, cracking wise and questioning your motives. But rather than run the risk of being superfluous (he is an artist...) he’ll also hijack Ammy’s transcendence to sketch the very sunrise into existence. The differences between these two may be seismic, but it speaks to Okami’s overall quality that the endgame surfs a tsunami of welling player pride...3. Monkey and Trip – Enslaved
Despite the playable character’s ferocity, this marks one of the list’s sweeter duos, one born of open aggression which blossoms into dependence and blatant attraction. Marked down because Trip doesn’t offer much in the way of structural assistance (she opens the occasional door), all is forgiven when considering the fact she’s the sentimental core and offers a refreshing cheerfulness to Monkey’s hard won cynicism. Oh, she also doesn’t own a BLASTO-STICK!2. The Prince and Elika – Prince of Persia
The devil, as ever, resides in the detail.
At a surface glance, their wry flirtation is a stereotype. However, the intricacies of their character animations denote an unmatched affection. While Elika might clasp a falling Prince’s wrist, he in turn may piggy back her over difficult terrain. With a tap of triangle she’ll charge to his aid in battle, while he’ll casually catch her in his arms following a treacherous fall.
Coupled with sharp dialogue, veteran performances from Kari Whalgren and Nolan North, a last minute shocker and the fact YOU’RE NOT CONTROLLING THE MAIN CHARACTER, 2008’s unsung classic is infinitely more charming than the floaty platforming it was slated for...1. Wander and Agro – Shadow of the Colossus
A relationship too primal for words, the bond between these two as they undertake their solitary, desperate charge hardens into something physical.
The only company you’ll keep for 15+ hours, like any beast, Agro will occasionally defy Wander’s commands, though also work tirelessly, loyally to speed you from danger.
More than a mere companion, Agro becomes an extension of Wander’s (almost) silent will, navigating rough terrain and running literal circles around titanic game. And when he makes THE sacrifice, bucking Wander from his back, I defy even the most unfeeling brute not to be physically winded!
Wander and Agro top this list because the connection gamers feel for this duo isn’t contrived through scripted circumstance or manipulated by wordy dialogue. The fondness builds organically, through trial, through error, through GAMEPLAY.
Touching? Peerlessly so.