Gaming has a rich history of contract killers. It’s one of those jobs that oozes cool and everyone who needs to write an action story seems to think is way more glamourous and exciting than the reality ever could be. So of course, assassins and games go together like apple crumble and custard (I’m hungry while writing this, sorry). Recently on the Respawning YouTube channel Luke has been streaming the rebooted Hitman games in preparation for the upcoming third instalment, and I’ve been taking to Twitch to stream maybe my 30th run of Dishonored! All this murder for hire got me thinking about my favourite knives in the shadows… or in some case, heat seeking briefcases in the shadows… I’ve compiled the long list down to just 5 so have a look and try to keep an eye out over your shoulder! It’s important to note going forward that I’ll only be including one character per franchise, otherwise Assassin’s Creed could probably fill the list twice over, speaking of…
Arno Dorian (Assassin’s Creed Unity)
I know this is probably a left field and controversial choice, given the wide variety of hood wearing parkour enthusiasts in the series, it’s clear that most people would pick Ezio, or maybe the swashbuckling Edward Kenway. While both are great, it’s Arno’s gentlemanly charm that wins the day. Sure, Ezio was suave too but Arno, unlike his renaissance predecessor, was able to see the bigger picture of the secret war between the Assassin’s and Templars. He even tries to end it through peaceful means rather than more killing. That and his romance with Templar Élise stand out to me more than the womanizing Ezio, Will loves love.
Agent 47 (Hitman)
Big bald and badass, me and 47 share 2 of 3 traits! This near on Silent assassin was, for quite sometime the ONLY contract killer anyone would think of if pressed for gaming examples. With his barcode tattoo, excellent choice in suits and usage of twin “silverballer” pistols 47 quickly became I icon in gaming and even took steps to have a film series too! I mean both Hitman movies are terrible but at least they tried right? More recent games in the series have rebooted the story and are trying to make 47 more human and an actual character rather than just a controllable avatar, though these moments are reserved for cutscenes and in gameplay, this hitman is still just as silent and just as deadly.
The Dishonored games are my absolute favourites, I’ve sunk countless hours exploring these diesel punk beauties, and obviously like the Creed games, this is a series where all the playable heroes are assassins though only 2 are really in the trade of knifing fools, Corvo and his daughter/charge Emily are thrust into the roll for a brief period. But Daud, this man lives and breathes killing for cash money. He’s a mystery to basically everyone in the city of Dunwall and when you finally take control of him in the Knife of Dunwall DLC you realise he’s like Corvo, just better in every possible way. All his powers are amazing and his voice (provided by the husky sounding Michael Madsen) makes you feel like you’re playing as the biggest badass in the isles, which of course you are.
Travis Touchdown (No More Heroes)
A beam katana wielding, wrestling move master with a sick bike and a proclivity to swear and decapitate fools. I don’t think I need to say more… whats that? Oh apparently I do. Travis is the 27-year-old protagonist of the No More Heroes franchise, a series that combines all the best parts of the madness that is Suda 51’s brain. Travis gets into the assassin game purely to have more money to spend on video games (#relateable amirite?) and after dropping his first target, he decides fuck it and starts climbing the ranks to be the number 1 assassin in the world. Because when everyone in the world want you dead, why wouldn’t you just make yourself a bigger target? Travis is the complete opposite to maybe everyone else on this list, he’s loud, colourful and wild and that may be exactly what draws me too him, I love me some wacky.
Starkiller (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed)
Of course, I was going to throw a little love the Star Wars way in this list! Starkiller is the code name of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, a now non-canon Sith assassin whose missions all involve murdering escaped Jedi, at least till he has the usual heel turn to the light side that we’ve come to expect of the dark siders. Starkiller is perhaps the strongest force user ever encountered in the history of the galaxy and proves it several times, taking out masters with far more experience and famously ripping a star Destroyer out of orbit! In the follow up game we are given a new clone version of Starkiller who is famously much more whiney and creepily obsessed with the formers love interest Juno, but hey at least the first one was pretty rad right?