Psychotic personalities seemed to have been remembered more than the most composed ones, perhaps because with the mental instability comes the inevitable mayhem that makes fanatics as feared as they are. Be it the likes of Caligula, Vladislav, Ivan the Terrible, or more recent personalities like Mark Chapman and Gordon Stewart Northcott.
The depiction of such personalities in videogames is not anything recent, and more often than naught such insane characters tend to become the most memorable ones. Of course, most of them are presented as hardcore villains, but some tend to occupy the regions that are morally grey and indeterminate.
We’re here to look at some of the finest fanatic characters in videogaming history. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to list just about everyone, but we’ve introduced you to ten characters that we feel mental asylums should make extra space for.
If you have any apart from the ones below that you would wish to chain and keep in a straitjacket, feel free to share with us in the comments section below.
Pagan Min (Far Cry 4)
Pagan Min will always be remembered as the lesser form of Far Cry 3’s secondary antagonist Vaas. Mind you, both of them possess profoundly different psychotic personalities, but the attempt to reiterate a fanatic villain (albeit with a bit more composure) more or less diminished the impact that a dangerous and intimidating character like Pagan could otherwise have on a gamer’s experience.
Far Cry 4’s villain is actually contrasting to Vaas; the latter had an explosive personality whose volatility was evident from the get-go. Such an unpredictable man put both fear and loathing in the hearts of the viewers.
Pagan is quite different; he comes forward as a man with composure, but with a violent side that makes him the tyrant that he is. However, he’s not as conspicuously psychotic as Vaas – after all, he has managed to intelligently rule Kyrat with an iron fist, and despite his grasp loosening slightly as the events of Far Cry 4 unfold, Pagan still manages to be a personality who induces unrest and intimidation.
The controversial Rockstar game Manhunt was released way back in 2003, and despite not having the best graphics even for that time, it managed to portray disturbingly realistic scenes of violence and gore in an unsettling fashion.
We could’ve listed the game itself in this article and it would’ve been justifiable, but instead we chose Piggsy to be Manhunt’s brutal ambassador. The middle-aged, semi-obese character would have looked like your average American had it not been for the pig’s head he likes to wear as a mask, or the terrifying grunt of the chainsaw he wields to carve his victims.
Piggsy is cannibalistic, psychotic, and has no rhyme or reason for his monstrous acts other than self-pleasure and desire to inflict pain. Yes, the character is one of several Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired villains in entertainment, but Piggsy tops it up by being the epitome of all the immorality a notorious game like Manhunt represented.
The Pyro (Team Fortress 2)
The Pyro isn’t the only class that is a heavy contender in the list of the coolest psychotic characters in videogames from Team Fortress 2, but we feel he edges ahead of the likes of The Medic purely based on the contrast between what he perceives and what he actually does.
There’s something obviously dodgy about a character who wears a gas mask all the time, doesn’t speak, and loves watching others burn, but as ‘Meet the Pyro’ showed, our pyromaniac friend is stuck in what is called the ‘Pyroland’, a utopian fantasy world inside the disturbed (and somewhat innocent) mind of the flamethrower-wielding character, where bubbles are analogous to blood, and opponents are diaper-wearing Cherubs.
The Pyro’s delusional mind and insanity is both funny and eerie, which makes him one of the standout characters in TF2.
Zachary Comstock (BioShock Infinite)
What Bioshock Infinite lacked in gameplay, it made up with its amazing story and rich characters, out of which the bearded Comstock stood out the most (alongside our dear Elizabeth).
We won’t spoil the story for those who have yet to play the game, but Comstock’s ideology and perception of the world is executed to perfection by the game’s way of unveiling the plot. His long white beard and words of praise from followers suggests Comstock’s manipulative self-proclaim of being a prophet, and his motives are cleverly shadowed for the larger part of Bioshock Ifinite.
Zachery Comstock may not seem insane at first, but as the game progresses it is evident that he is so blinded by his own faith and disguised motives, that they have twisted him into a man willing to destroy his own built dynasty to achieve his selfish desires.
Needles Kane (Twisted Metal)
Twisted Metal wouldn’t be itself without Needles Kane. Yes, this is the very same buffed up clown with forever-ignited hair who appears in every game in the franchise.
His appearance may have changed in the several installments, but Needles Kane’s psychotic wrath is evident simply because he embodies the ‘twisted’ part in Twisted Metal.
The psycho rides an ice-cream truck called ‘Sweet Tooth’, and having suppressed his more reasonable alter-ego ‘Marcus Kane’, he’s on to set and maintain the title of the world’s most notorious serial killer.
Kefka (Final Fantasy VI)
Insanity comes in many forms, but clowns tend to be the most susceptible to mental instability. Kefka is no exception to this case. The mage for the emperor seems composed at first, but as the plot gradually unveils, the villainous and insane side of the jester-like character comes to the foreground.
Maniacal, short-tempered, flamboyant, destructive, and cruel, Kefka’s endorphins are driven solely by watching the destruction and death of everything around him. Kefka suffers from megalomania as well, and wants to transcend himself to god-hood, while watching the fabrics of existent get destroyed in his wake.
If there was ever a purely classic villain in the Final Fantasy franchise, it would be Kefka, whose motives are cynical and inclined towards unreasoned chaos.
Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2)
The leader of the Hyperion Industry seems too intelligent to be mentally insane, but his constant babbling and lacking display of empathy throughout Borderlands 2 earns him the spot of being a fanatic who has no remorse in killing thousands for his own pleasures.
What’s more annoying is that despite his cold personality, Handsome Jack is one asshole you really appreciate having around in the game, as his character puts life into your adventures in the post-apocalyptic Borderlands world.
The plethora of dick jokes and harassment give him a clichéd feeling at times, but what makes Handsome Jack so brilliant is that he manages to deliver a personality that has the same foundations as GLaDOS, but one that functions in a completely opposite manner.
While the Portal 2 antagonist is composed, clever, and subtle in harassing you, Handsome Jack is crude, maniacal, and blunt with how he tries to put you down, making him familiar yet unique in his own way.
The Villager (Animal Crossing, Smash Bros.)
Don’t let that cute smile and those big eyes fool you – whichever Villager you observe will have a psychotic darkness to them that is only evident when an axe hits you from the back, only for you turn around and witness no change in that strangely welcoming face.
The Villager’s eerie expressions are a mismatch with the sadistic tools he uses to cause havoc to his opponents, which is why the character earns a spot as one of the more psychotic videogame personalities.
Made famous by the announcement at E3 for Super Smash Bros, The Villager has become a fan-favorite psycho character, even though he may have not intended to be one by Nintendo.
The blank smiling expression combines a bit too well with lethal weapons he’ll use to disrupt your progress, such as an axe or a large, painful bowling ball. It’s almost as if the Villager is a toned down, Nintendo version of Kevin, the creepy serial killer from Sin City.
Vaas Montenegro (Far Cry 3)
Far Cry 3 was easily one of the best first-person shooters in reason history. In fact, it was so good that Ubisoft decided that an almost carbon copy with a slightly different setting is worthy of being called Far Cry 4. The company even went as far as trying to recreate a Vaas-like character in the form of Pagan Min.
Those who played both the games would know that despite Pagan being a well-designed psycho villain, he comes nowhere near as close to Vaas. One of the best psychotic characters to ever have been designed, Vaas induced fear and hatred in viewers from the beginning till the very end (of himself) in Far Cry 3.
His mental instability was evident right from the start of the game, as his mood shifted from calling you ‘amigo’ to pointing a gun at your head while he screamed at the top of his lungs. Vaas’ character never faltered throughout the entire game – in fact, it only got stronger and more appreciable, the most memorable moment being halfway through the game’s story, when he teaches you about the definition of insanity, only for you to find out that he is the perfect embodiment of that very definition.
There were plenty of other brilliant characters in Far Cry 3, and despite Vaas not even being the primary antagonist, he managed to overshadow each and every one of them by a mile. You just knew that something crazy was about to go down whenever the Mohawk man would show up in a cutscene.
The Joker (Batman Arkham Asylum/City)
The Joker is widely regarded as one of the greatest villains ever created in comic series, but his execution has always been below par in both movie and game adaptations. That changed drastically when the late Heath Ledger played the role of Batman’s arch enemy in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and we thought we had seen the finest execution of the murderous clown possible.
That is of course until Batman: Arkham Asylum came. Movie and comic-based games often fail, but RockSteady executed their two Arkham games to near perfection, and it would’ve been impossible without the rich characters, of which The Joker stood out the most.
The voicing of The Joker by Mark Hamill will go down as one of the finest voice acting performances ever, as his enunciation of every phrase carried the weight of both ruthlessness and insanity. From the start till the very end of both games, The Joker’s physical and radio presence is both refreshing and alerting, making the dark darker and the amuzing more humorous.
Heck, the Batman theme is always dark and serious, yet Hamill’s Joker managed to cut through the shades of grey and black with his cocky jokes with perfection, as they echo the halls while you as Batman try to pick out the madman’s minions one by one.
The Joker’s ruthlessness and intense hatred for Batman was further glorified by the murkier depiction of desperation and collaboration with the Dark Knight that is observed in Arkham City, which leads to one of the most shocking and darkest endings for a comic-based videogame.
The impact of Joker’s role as both a villain and a character in Batman Arkham City is only finalized by the depressing and dark song he sings while the credits role towards the end, making fans wonder what turns the next game in line (Batman: Arkham Knight) would take without the presence of the evil genius.
The Joker, for his impact on the Batman Arkham series, is easily the greatest fanatic psycho character to have been successfully depicted in videogaming. Even though the character is not RockSteady’s own master-craft, the way he has been executed and played by Mark Hamill and the design/animation team would make Jerry Robinson become teary with joy.