The Saints Row protagonist is a legitimately great character
A few years back, I wrote an article arguing that the
concept of a videogame protagonist is a tricky storytelling challenge, since
there’s an inherent conflict between the player’s own actions and what a writer
might demand of a character. I used the now-classic example of Adam Jensen in
Deus Ex: Human Revolution, who is largely an audience surrogate but will
occasionally do something moronic in a cutscene and thus force the player to
clean up his mess once they’ve regained control of him. This is still a problem
I see a lot of games suffer with whenever they try to tell a decent story, but
nobody was more surprised than me when I started playing through the Saints Row
series and discovered that it might have one of the best compromises between
characterisation and player agency I’ve ever seen in all my years of
unhealthily obsessive gaming.
The boss of the Third Street Saints is a character with no
canonically determined gender, sexuality, race or even voice. But their
dialogue and general manner paints quite a vivid picture of a witty, confident
and frequently psychotic individual. Their story is of a no-name street thug
who rises through the ranks and ultimately seizes the presidency of the United
States before having to fend off an alien invasion. But through it all they
maintain a jovial, potentially amorous relationship with their lieutenants and
display such enthusiasm towards violence and domination that it’s believable
they’d insist on continuing to help out with the ground-level crime even once
they’ve built the Saints up to the point that they command a fleet of
laser-equipped VTOLs. In short, they’re a completely irredeemable bastard who
still manages to be relatable because of their charisma and the fact that their
behaviour lines up perfectly with how most players tend to react when dropped
into a sandbox full of flamethrowers and dildo bats.
I think Saints Row as a franchise is deceptively clever in
its design beneath all the manure-spraying and pop culture references, and how the
protagonist is used throughout the overarching story is pretty damn unique.
Most truly memorable game characters tend to be the people you meet as you steer
your generic avatar around like Sheldon Cooper’s virtual presence device, whereas
Saints Row is as much of a character piece about the Saints Boss as anything
else. Saints Row 2 in particular managed some good tonal variety and
established a level of customisation and open-ended design that ended up making
me weirdly invested in the expansion of my criminal empire. Whether by
intention or by accident, Volition hit some kind of magical sweet spot that
gave players great freedom in how they expressed themselves while still
presenting a memorable and almost worryingly relatable main character.
So am I saying that every game should embrace Saints Row’s
very specific brand of protagonist? Absolutely not. But think of how many games
settle for a bland, personality-free protagonist seemingly because the creators
assume the audience won’t care, when giving players a character they can become
attached to in their own way can help cultivate the sort of devoted following
Saints Row has enjoyed. If I was feeling hyperbolic, I might even say that
Saints Row is the RoboCop of videogames: an intelligent work of fiction that’s
not afraid to revel in explosions and dick jokes.
So today I played Agents of Mayhem and after that a bit of Saints Row the Third and I got inspired to draw the Agents of Mayhem version of my character in SR since Pierce,Oleg and Gat had a version there as well. So as far as Agent name(cause Im not calling her Boss XD) I went with Hellblaze.She is a strong close range character that has incindiary type weapons.A boomstick-like shotgun and grenades for long range stuff.In my headcanon she would definetly be good buds with Pierce,Gat and Oleg.And I think that she would have a special type of friendship with Daisy,considering their personalities I can see a lot of initial Hostility from the Ladies,
Gonna add this,Im happy Volition didnt add character costumization.Considering the agents are the stronghest element in the game it would suck to risk ignoring them cause we can make our own agent.
Ok so today I got the chance to play Agents of Mayhem for the first time.Being a huge fan of the wackiest instalments of Volition,Saints Row the Third and Saints Row IV I very much looked forward to this spinoff installment. So after around 4 hours of gameplay I believe I can give an initial impression. As biast as I am I will say that it started fairly slow,I had to force myself to get into the groove of the game the first hour.However as soon as I got into the first agent unlocking mission that exposes backstory I got hooked.Main story isnt super impressive but its good enough for what I got the game for,and that is mindless shooting with awesome characters.Gameplay wise its solid,but feels slightly limited(due to the fact that having 12 characters they cut functions to make each one of them unique in their own right like say TF2 or Overwatch,something I can definetly respect).Art wise the game got me hooked from the getgo,I FUCKING LOVE IT.Perfect mix of cartoony and colorfull visuals in a saints row spinoff?Im alll for that!So all in all I cant reccomend anything but Im gonna enjoy the game for what I bought it for. Now to my personal comment on the characters I sketched,that is my main trio tem Kingpin or better known as Pierce Washington was my absolute favorite character of the original Saints Row series(Only next to my Boss character) so I was absolutely ecstatic to know that I would be able to play as him here Daisy is an awesome character that simply looks and acts almost identically to my boss character from Saints Row.They are both really bulky femme fatales and both have a “Dont give a fuck” attitude so I was pretty sold on her XD. And last but not least Yeti or better known as Uleg,not much to say I just liked him a lot in the third Saints Row XD.