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Almost every single game involves a conflict of some kind against a certain enemy. Does every enemy or antagonist need a redemption arc or a more in-depth characterisation to make them appear more sympathetic or human in the eyes of the players?

So I would like to clarify here. I understand that many writers attempt to make villains less one-dimensional. Otherwise, it will too predictable or boring.

Some famous villains or antagonists have incredible redemption arcs or have a more human side that the audience can empathise with like Zuko in the Last Airbender or Darth Vader in Star Wars.

I also am speculating that I sometimes feel that when a writer attempts to make a redemption arc, it is also a manipulation in its own way that tries to make the audience feel guilty for looking at the villain in a negative way.

I think that this is especially the case when trying to mimic villains with real-life people or personalities because while everyone is human, some people refuse to change or refuse to acknowledge their complexities.

But if it is not the case of writing a villain that is meant to be more realistic, I think that trying to emphasise on a more "human" villain, it downplays the bad side or the actions that they did but the actions that they made and their humanity should be equal.

For example, let me try to explain myself.

Thanos in the MCU is given the portrayal that he was a purpose for wanting the Infinity Stones but this is not equivalent or authentic to its comic book counter-part because he is often more or less a galactic conqueror he is in love with Death (quite literally.. he is in love in the entity Death like the Grim Reaper).

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Obviously, I am not against adding a redemption arc or portraying a villain in a different perspective like for example Malificent in a recent Disney remake is a nice change but does not make sense lore-wise in terms of what will happen next in the Sleeping Beauty story.

In context of video games, I think that some villains do not need further explanation or at least that much in depth explanation for what they do, or over-emphasise on it that downplays their immoral actions.

For example, Xehanort from Kingdom Hearts comes to mind. He is basically the agent of darkness and wants to consume the worlds in darkness at all costs.

He is willing to go back through time, turn entire worlds into darkness and Heartless, quite a new Kingdom Hearts, kidnapping, conspiracy and creating a war.

And his excuse is that he wants the world to be at balance with light which does not mimic this actions. There is no actual convincing reason that his actions of wanting to make the universe more balanced.

Or another villain that comes to mind that it was hard for me to swallow was Heihachi from Tekken.

Apparently, the reason why he started the King of the Iron Fist Tournament, imprisoning his father, abusing and later throwing his son in a literal volcano, and also later sort of kidnapping and manipulating his grandson in the Mishima style of karate to expose his Devil Gene, it was all because his wife happened to come from a long line of Assassins who were related to the Devil Gene and he wants to end it the bloodline and stop Kazuya from being hungry with power which we cannot be sure if his power came after Heihachi abused him and threw him in a volcano or whether he had his hunger all along because of his Devil Gene.

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Honestly, I sometimes feel that some villains do not need a sympathetic side to make the player feel guilty or think about their actions considering that gaming is an interactive format.

Sometimes, the villains need to have a balanced perception like the many characters you encounter in the Witcher series because on one hand, they are human but on the other hand, they also have a tendency to be assholes like everyone else, or the people that you encounter in the Last of Us.

Or on the other hand, some villains are pretty self-explanatory or as fine as they are. Like the demons in Doom and the Angels in the latest entries are more akin to self-righteous being than angelic protectors.

Or Andrew Ryan in Bioshock whom had his own philosophies and ideologies but abused his own beliefs and powers for what he felt to be self-righteous, even slavery or free market capitalism without limits or red tapes, or sometimes self-narcissism as the saviour against the world of the 1950s.


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