“Feel the pain…of those inferior beings….as you burn in hell!”
We’re now into the final stretch as the top 25 rolls along with our top 10 characters. Tomorrow, our list continues the countdown to the #1 male video game character of all-time on Aug. 31.
10) Kratos Aurion (Tales of Symphonia) – 3 votes/187 points
Shaun: I read “Kratos” and almost had a heart attack. Because the guy from God of War sucks, but this Kratos is pretty cool. Admittedly, I never played through Symphonia — somehow, I saw an ad that made me think Kratos was the protag, so when I found out that was indeed not the case, I promptly packed back up and returned the rental. Even knowing nothing about the guy, his design and presence was enough to sell me on that game. After hearing how much the rest of the crew love this guy, including detailed reasons on why he’s so great, I think it’s only a matter of time before I return to Symphonia and find out for myself.
Chris: When you first meet him, Kratos appears to be a mercenary who has little interest in what’s happening around him. Is he getting paid for this job? Well, that’s the only important thing.
Turns out that the money is inconsequential to him, as are a lot of other petty issues. You see, Kratos is actually thousands of years old and has a bit of a troubled past. He was a human who was forced to become an angel, a tradeoff that gave him tremendous power and near immortality, but slowly stripped away his reasons for living. He found a new reason in a woman named Anna, though, and the two fell in love and eventually had a child. But an evil organization finally caught up to the family, turning Anna into a mindless monster that tried to kill Kratos’ newborn son. Faced with no other options, Kratos attacks his wife, then fights off dozens of other enemies. In the aftermath, he finds what appears to be the bodies of his wife and son. He despairs and becomes a husk of himself.
Years later, Kratos discovers that his son, Lloyd, is still alive. This is the start of a redemption story with a happy ending, right? Not exactly. Kratos feels responsible for what happened to Anna. Ravaged by guilt, he can’t bring himself to tell Lloyd about their connection. Still, though he betrays Lloyd’s group and leaves the party, he spends the majority of the game covertly helping his son. Lloyd eventually learns the truth about his father, and the two duel in the forest before they finally reconcile.
Even if the player has made certain choices such that Kratos rejoins the group, his story ultimately ends on a sad note once more. Kratos recognizes that now that his fellow angels have been killed or defeated, he no longer belongs. He offers to take a dangerous power source onto a dying world that is drifting out into space. We learn in Symphonia’s disappointing sequel that Kratos eventually gets moved out of communication range and has to say his final goodbyes. And that’s it.
So, let’s review. Forced to become an angel and live for thousands of years, Kratos watches his family get torn asunder, then sacrifices everything to help his son, and his reward is an eternity of absolute loneliness in the reaches of space. And you thought your day was bad.
For all of these reasons, plus his great voice acting and prowess in battle, Kratos deserves this spot. And if you disagree, you get a Shining Bind in the face.
Joseph: We’re into the top 10 now, and I’m not surprised to see Kratos has made the cut. I’ve played through Tales of Symphonia once or twice. I’ve seen other people play it much more than that. Personally, the battle system and graphics are a little outdated.
Kratos is the only reason I would play the game again. He is not a typical beefcake. His strength comes from his loyalty to his teammates, both past and present. The inner conflict he struggles through causes him to make some questionable decisions (like using Judgment on an entire legion of your dragon-riding allies), but he pulls through in the end and betrays his oldest friend to be there for his son. But Kratos is more than just a necessary plot point. He has fun artes and great lines, and is infinitely better than Zelos as a party member. I just wish he could be in every Tales game.