Supporting Characters As Friends That Define The Protagonists

Thursday 30 December 2021

Supporting characters are, in video games as in movies, the often unseen heroes. With the term "supporting characters", I refer to those who are less prominent, in terms of plot and screen time, than the secondary characters or the deuteragonists, but they still may play an important role in the development of the leads, albeit this may not be always obvious on first look. Many times, such characters are friends or allies of the protagonists, but the weight of the presence in their lives varies. Usually supporting characters are not offered the chance to unfold their personality in full, which is why they may be equally underrated or overrated. Their interactions with the protagonists, however, can tell us a lot of things about them if explored carefully. They sometimes affect, directly or indirectly, the emotional and intellectual development of the lead characters, although on a first level their conduct may be misleading. In this article, I will focus on interesting supporting characters from five video games that deal with different themes and the protagonists of which follow completely different paths in their individual stories, therefore the influences that they may receive are also varied.

Lyla Park in Life Is Strange 2

In spite of being a fan favorite, Lyla is, in fact, a rather dark character. Lyla appears in the first episode and her role is overall quite brief, yet you can see, even from that limited appearance, that her influence in Sean's life is not exactly a good one. Lyla is introduced as one of Sean's best friends at school and although she seems to genuinely care for him, her attitude, surprisingly, has several layers. Taking advantage, albeit subconsciously to a degree, of Sean's mild and shy temperament, she has the tendency to always push him towards doing things the way that only she thinks is the best. Lyla obviously suffers from mood swings, and can easily fall into depression, but tries to hide her insecurities behind a supposedly confident facade. In reality, though, she is authoritative, manipulative and lacks self-esteem, but puts forward a loud, seemingly careless persona in order to be able to survive. On top of that, her biggest problem seems to be the crush that she clearly has on Sean, which makes her obsession to hook him up with Jenn, his initial love interest, marginally creepy. Lyla is an extremely toxic person, and her presence in the first episode sort of represents Sean's stagnant life in the dull and depressing suburb where he lives. Sean is obviously a lot more close to his Latin heritage than the much younger Daniel; and he has an artistic side that always wants to find expression. Daniel is the one with the "obvious" diversity (his superpower), but it is in fact Sean who is the real "rebel". Lyla is, for Sean, the balancing power that keeps him collected, but at the same time she is also the chain that holds him tied down to a life that is clearly not made for him. Breaking away from this life (albeit in a tragic way), and from Lyla as well, gives him the chance to claim his freedom and find himself, no matter the cost.

Cor Leonis in Final Fantasy XV

Cor may not have a direct impact on Noctis's development but his influence is clearly defining. He has an imposing personality and an impressive (to say the least) background story. When he was just fifteen years old, he fought against a ferocious warrior and managed to come out of the battle alive, an achievement that won him the moniker "The Immortal"; yet he never ceases being down to earth, thus being the perfect mentor and instructor for Noctis and his friends. He used to be a trusted companion of Noctis's father, and he remains close to the boy as well, offering his valuable expertise and advice when needed. Noctis has grown up somewhat isolated, having only his three close friends by his side, but his rebellious character often makes him appear cold and distant towards them, although he loves them so much. However he treats Cor with respect and always listens to him and his advice. Cor is tough and brave but he is also gentle and wise. His presence in Noctis's life has only positive things to offer, especially after Noctis's father is killed. Not so much a father figure, but more like an older brother, Cor guides Noctis to face difficulties and take responsibilities, gradually making him grow into a kind and caring man, even when he is not there to openly support him. It is not random that when Noctis wakes after his long sleep inside the crystal, Cor is among the very few people from Noctis's past, along with his three friends, who is physically there to help him fight the monsters.

Sofia in Rise Of The Tomb Raider

When Lara first meets Sofia, it is not under the best circumstances; and their second meeting is also eventful. However their relationship gradually gets better and they become good friends after a while. Although Lara's character is more or less already formed and she is confident enough to not need any particular influence, still Sofia's faith and her genuine struggle to help her people offer our heroine an extra boost of inspiration to keep going. Through Sofia's bond with her father, Lara subconsciously "sees" her own relationship with the late Lord Croft, and in that sense she kind of identifies with Sofia, becoming herself, for Jacob, a daughter that will be equally willing to help him unconditionally, somehow making up for all the time that she has lost, and will be losing, after her own father died and she missed every chance to live her life by his side. In Sofia, Lara partly sees her own self and in Sofia's relationship with Jacob she sees reflected how herself and Lord Croft could have grown together, had he not lost his life so unjustly. It is more of a personal development for Lara, but it unavoidably affects her attitude as well, and her decisions that define her connections with other people.

Luis Sera in Resident Evil 4

Luis is, in the essence, more than just a supporting character, since he plays a major role in the development of the story, although his appearance is quite limited. Initially a mysterious man, obviously keeping many secrets, Luis is revealed to hold the key to Leon's infection. Leon seems to be fond of Luis right from the start, in spite of his inexplicable attitude. But Leon is known for his unerring instinct, which means that when he likes someone, it is for a good reason. Luis is a native, and his family has a long story connected to the case of the Plagas. His knowledge of the the subject and his involvement in Saddler's plan cost him his life in the end, and he literally dies in Leon's hands, but not before he manages to give him the pills with which Leon will be able to keep his infection under control until he has access to the antidote. Luis becomes a very close friend of Leon's despite the very short time that they know each other, and he functions both as Leon's life-saver, and as the cause that gives him an additional motive to want to stop Saddler, since he was obviously devastated by Luis's death. Luis kind of stands for all the partners, friends and comrades that Leon has lost, and would keep on losing in the future, during his life as an agent, and by swearing to avenge his death, Leon claims justice not only for Luis and all those lost friends, but for himself as well. 

Francis Pritchard in Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Francis is, at the beginning of the game, rather bitter towards Adam, tending to degrade and underestimate him, but as the story progresses there is a big change in their relationship. A programming and hacking expert, Francis seems to think low of Adam at first, but as Adam proves that, apart from being physically powerful, he is also very smart, he manages to gain Francis's respect and, progressively, his friendship, although Francis is too proud to openly express it with words. Francis is, in reality, probably the only absolutely clean and sincere person in Adam's environment, and he is the one to secretly guide him towards important revelations regarding either himself or Sarif on more than one occasions. While Adam is out in the world investigating or dealing with criminals, Francis is like his eyes inside the Sarif corporation. This may also have a dual interpretation since Adam has enhanced sight, which may help him see farther, but it may prevent him from identifying what is close to him. Francis has only had one optional augmentation to better his programming skills, and in that sense he can maintain his technically enhanced side and his human one in a relative balance, since his human self is almost intact. Adam's humanity is at a very high level in spite of the many augmentations that he has received, which makes him also highly perceptive of the people he interacts with, but his intimidating appearance prevents him from forming close relationships with them. Francis sort of connects him to the world, albeit discreetly and from the shadows, and his pointed, often sarcastic input acts as a reminder for Adam of human interactions that are not based almost entirely on enhanced means.

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