The Best Child Characters in Video Games
Video games always connected us, not just through gameplay, but by the story it weaves. And with every story, there must be a cast of characters to life through the journey. Whether it be the protagonist, the antagonist, or the supporting cast; characters find themselves to be loved or hated by the players who live through their stories. However, among the majority of adult characters, we find ourselves in need of some badass child representation.
This is why we will be exploring our picks for the best child characters in video games. Note that the order of our picks does not rank their superiority, we love them all equally. Furthermore, the following post will contain spoilers on the games where the character’s come from.
Link – The Legend of Zelda
1986 gave us Transformers: The Movie, Top Gun, and the first Legend of Zelda game. Of course, the first LoZ game also debuted our hero, Link. Turns out our favourite mute warrior was 10 years old when he started in his quest to save Hyrule. So while we were doing normal childish things, he was fighting dragons, giant spiders, and the prince of darkness. Man, he’s really putting our childhoods to shame huh?
Link has ventured far and wide in his heroic quest – from the Lorule to Termina. What compels him as a character is not only his courage but the courage he possesses for his age. Link shows us that the world can be full of dangers, but with a spirit of heroism, anything is possible.
Ellie – The Last Of Us
One of the greatest video game characters in the last decade, Ellie is a character with who both Joel and the player journeys. Many people think that Joel is the protagonist of the first game, but in reality, he is the cameraman. This has always been about Ellie’s story, a teenage girl immune to the apocalyptic virus who is trying to find her purpose.
Ellie is a violent, foul-mouthed kid whose innocence was already shattered from being born in the aftermath of the outbreak. Consequently, her heart is hardened as she is forced to survive in an unforgiving world. Despite this, she learns to regain her humanity by seeing the beauty in small things, such as her bond with Joel, finding comics, and seeing giraffes for the first time.
Ellie shows that although she is a “little girl”, she is by no means weak, and will continue to prove those who think so wrong. She is capable, quick-thinking, and the light to Joel’s darkness. Furthermore, she is lesbian and portrays a wonderful representation for the LGBTQ+ Community. Her relationship with Riley in the Left Behind DLC has been praised extensively.
Atreus – God Of War (2018)
“Boi!” “Boi!” *breathe in* “BOOII- Atreus!”. You get the picture, 2018’s God of War introduced a difficult aspect in Kratos’s life – a second chance. After failing his first family, Kratos ties the knot and starts anew in Norse mythology. Unfortunately, his past forces him to be rash with his son, Atreus; prioritising survival over happy upbringings. With Atreus at the brunt of this, the child does his best to find the humanity in everything – even against his father’s wishes.
Atreus is a bright kid with compassion raised in a tough and toxic upbringing. Even if Kratos loves his son, Atreus is constantly hurt by his failings as a father and the former wants to meet his expectations. It is Atreus who teaches Kratos to find hope, not the other way round. For that, Atreus proves himself as wiser than his age – the true hero who soothes his father’s mistakes. In addition, Atreus quickens in intellect and in mean with a bow. This combined with his empathy makes him a lovable boi who we will protect at all costs. Or rather, he will protect us.
Clementine – The Walking Dead
A personal favourite of mine; Clementine is a child character who has grown up alongside players for many years. Making her debut in 2012, Clem’s journey is one of trial and consequences, going from a sweet, little girl to a genuine badass. In season one, we protect Clementine from this post-apocalyptic world. However, along the way, we must balance between preserving her innocence and teaching her how to survive.
Through an unfortunate end with her protector, Lee, Clem takes the first steps of independence and survival. But survival comes at a cost, as Clem slowly loses everyone she loves and travels with. Consequently, She shifts away from childhood and instead becomes more hardened. She trusts few and is forced to make the hard decisions no one can. Clementine matures in such a way that we are either proud or concerned.
Since Clem’s journey starting from Season 2 is influenced by the player, it is up to them how she chooses her decisions. Will she be ruthless and untrusting? Or will she seek to preserve her compassion and empathy? Or best of all, will she be sarcastic and uplifting? Whichever the case, players will be exploring Clementine’s path in all their walkthroughs to see their definitive characterisation of her.
Furthermore, Clementine eventually becomes a young mother through her adopted son, AJ. The Final Season proves that Clem’s biggest challenge is to take on the role that Lee was to her. Additionally, the player can choose to explore Clem’s sexuality – to see whether she is Straight, Lesbian, Bisexual, Asexual or Aromantic. Overall, Clementine shines in her child characterisation and development immensely through her 4 season journey.
Amicia & Hugo De Rune – Plague Tale: Innocence
Parent-child bonds make a great trope, but what of ones between siblings? Uncharted 4, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Metal Gear Solid; all of these are games with adult sibling relationships. Although Uncharted touched on some flashback scenes to the brothers as children, we haven’t quite gotten a full game where it was two child siblings against the world. That it until Plague Tale: Innocence came in with Amicia and Hugo De Rune.
Two children of the De Rune noble house, Amicia and Hugo haven’t seen each other due to the split between their parents. Despite their first meeting together, the siblings were thrust into the world of danger as The Inquisition sought after Hugo. Now alone, Amicia is forced to take her role as an elder sister seriously as she tries to keep them both alive.
However, with man-eating rat swarms, superstitious villagers, and The Inquisition after them, things aren’t so easy. Amicia is forced to kill to protect her brother and is determined to survive at all costs. On the other hand, Hugo doesn’t understand the danger but shows empathy, compassion and innocence that Amicia lacks. Although the two butt heads, they learn to rely upon and trust each other – forming a bond stronger than anything.
Amicia is a great child character in the sense that she shows intelligence, charisma and badassery all in one. Armed with a sling, she takes on the entire Inquisition to protect her little brother. Hugo especially is incredibly adorable and wholesome, but can also hold his own if needed. The two form a duo that could take on the world– something we may see in the sequel.
Eli – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
A very unique choice on this list, but for those who have seen him, you’ll know why. Metal Gear Solid saw the first appearance of Liquid Snake – twin clone brother to Solid Snake. In the first game, an adult Liquid laments his hatred to his father, Big Boss, and is shown to be a fearsome foe.
In MGSV, Big Boss (or Venom Snake) encounters his ‘son’ leading child soldiers in a ‘Lord of the Flies’ situation. Eli is shown to be a badass who displays skills almost on par with the legendary mercenary himself. Eli is insisted that he will surpass and destroy Big Boss to achieve his own destiny. However, Eli constantly fails and is traumatised by his fate as ‘the inferior one’.
Eli is interesting because he is a child antagonist, which is something we rarely see in video games. He is a child who is incredibly compelling as a villain and wows every scene he’s in. Whether it is a fight scene or scheming, Eli proves his worth with how close he wins against Big Boss.
Furthermore, he is a sympathetic villain too. Eli was created by Cipher to be turned into a weapon. However, Eli believed himself to be created as the inferior one, to make his brother stronger. In the unfinished section of the game, Eli laments how he isn’t a person, but a copy of Big Boss. When he vows vengeance on his ‘father’, we can’t help but feel like he is justified in his anger.
Tiny Tina – Borderlands 2
I mean there’s no other way to describe Tiny Tina than “World’s Deadliest 13 year old”. One of the greatest additions to the Borderlands franchise, Tiny Tina is a bundle of joy wrapped in explosives. Certainly, her introduction is proof enough, singing ‘Pop goes the bandit’ joyfully before blowing a psycho up. Nothing says adorableness like a lullaby and a gory mess of bandit parts everywhere.
Tiny Tina is a child that makes us question what teenage life on Pandora would be like. Enough to have superior energy, cravings for crumpets and of course, the best tea parties ever! Tina’s vocabulary is unique, to say the least, involving a lot of “shawty”, “girl”, and “fiiiine” 80% of the time.
If her eccentric behaviour isn’t enough, perhaps her love for her friends will be. Underneath all her unpredictability, Tina finds family in the vault hunters from the first game, especially Roland. This is especially the case in the DLC, Assault on Dragon’s Keep where her true character shines. With Roland’s death, Tina plays a game of Bunkers and Badasses (their version of Dungeons and Dragons). Along the way, she delves into the 5 stages of grief and finally accepts his death.
Ashley Burch breathes the greatest of performances in both the main game and the DLC – humanising Tina’s character. With a mixture of extraordinary humour, adorableness and humanity, Tina is, in her words, “a cosmic dragon!”. She has become a recurring character in later games such as pre-sequel and Borderlands 3, but is now given her own stand-alone game.