While the dialogue of any video game character is extremely important, most of it rests on the hands of the voice actor. Voice acting is tough since most of it is just recorded dialogue and the performer has to rely on their imagination of being there at that moment. Luckily, many voice actors are getting better performances now thanks to motion capture where they can physically be their character.
This list is going to specifically look at moments in games where they were memorable due to the performances of the voice actors. These were moments where you were blown away by how well the actor captured the essence of that character. When trying to prove to non-gamers that video games are an excellent storytelling medium, you typically show them moments like these. Here are the ten greatest voice actor moments in gaming.
10 Lincoln Confronts Sal Marcano - Mafia 3
Despite Mafia 3’s many issues (mostly gameplay), no one can deny that it told an amazing character-driven tale of revenge. There are many noteworthy cutscenes, but the best one has to be in the game’s final act where Lincoln Clay confronts Sal Marcano. Voice actors Alex Hernandez (Lincoln) and Jay Acovone (Marcano) both give so much to their characters.
Even after systematically slaughtering everyone is Marcano’s organization, this final confrontation is somehow calm. Marcano even pours Lincoln a drink. In a weird way, both of these men respect each other. Even when Lincoln is ready to finally seal Marcano’s fate, you can hear his voice he’s just relieved to finally get his revenge, but also unsure of what’s next for him.
9 Dom’s Sacrifice - Gears Of War 3
The Gears of War franchise was no stranger to heartfelt emotional scenes, all while being a testosterone-driven gorefest. It’s most tragic character has to be Dominic Santiago, who was still reeling from the events of Gears of War 2 where he had to kill his own wife to end her suffering. You can tell throughout the whole game that Dom is an empty shell of his former self.
All of that led to his heroic sacrifice to save his team in the third entry. He’s determined to let this be the end and he’s being both selfish and selfless as he commands his team to jump away from the explosion. Actor Carlos Ferro’s had players in tears as he yells “You never thought it would end like this? Huh, Maria?”
8 "I Chose Rapture" - BioShock
Andrew Ryan’s opening monologue is one of gaming’s best moments ever as it’s followed by the breathtaking reveal of Rapture. “My name is Andrew Ryan, and I’m here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?”
This opening line perfectly sets the stage for what Rapture is and the ideologies the game will be exploring. Armin Shimerman brings Andrew Ryan alive with such determination, but you can tell there’s a sense of wickedness in his voice.
7 “I Never Sleep” - Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Bayek’s introduction in Assassin’s Creed: Origins is just downright terrifying, even though he’s the main protagonist. It’s only a minute long cutscene, yet it wastes no time letting players know that Bayek is not a man you’d want coming for you. Abubakar Salim brings out the pure hatred in Bayek’s voice as he’s about to kill Rudjek.
That being said, his yelling doesn’t feel over-the-top. As he gives the “I never sleep.” monologue, his voice just rises and rises, increasing the tension within those few seconds. Bayek is relentless in his pursuit of vengeance, and this opening act perfectly sets that up.
6 Spider-Man Vs Doc Ock - Marvel’s Spider-Man
While the debate will never end on who’s the greatest live-action Spider-Man, it’s no contest that Yuri Lowenthal is the best voice actor to play the web-slinger. He’s able to capture that sarcastic nature of the character, but when it’s time to pull at the heartstrings, Lowenthal is tremendous, especially in the final battle against Dr. Octavius.
The action in this battle is breathtaking, however, things get extremely personal after Octavius admits that he knew Peter was Spider-Man all along. Peter lashes out in a fit of rage after feeling completely betrayed by his former mentor/father-figure. You can almost feel as if Lowenthal is really crying while recording this.
5 "Who Are You?" - Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
The fourth entry in the Uncharted series really delves deep into Nathan’s flaws as a person. Nathan comes back to his motel room only to get caught red-handed by, Elena. Nathan’s choice to lie to his wife comes off as a selfish act once we see Elena’s reaction to it. Nathan may be a great thief and con-artist, but he’s terrible at lying when it comes to Elena.
Nate’s subtle awkward laughs show he has no idea what to say as he knows deep down that he’s done the wrong thing. Hearing Elena yell at Nate is heartbreaking as it’s from betrayal rather than actual anger. Performers Emily Rose and Nolan North have always had great chemistry, so it’s tough to have to hear everyone’s favorite couple go through this rough argument.
4 “I’m Afraid” - Red Dead Redemption 2
Arthur Morgan is now considered one of gaming’s greatest protagonists. Much of that is attributed to voice actor Roger Clark’s legendary performance in Red Dead Redemption 2. He may come off as a tough hardened criminal, but underneath is a man who truly regrets the dangerous life he’s lived and wants to be a good man. We finally get to see Arthur at his most vulnerable when he opens up to Sister Calderon about his tuberculosis.
While the wonderful facial animations help this scene a lot, it’s Clark’s nuanced performance that brings it home. Clark is able to show that Arthur is desperately trying to hold back his tears and maintain his gruff demeanor. When he finally lets it out, every player cried, too.
3 “A Freaking Spoon!” - Borderlands 2
This is definitely the funniest entry on this list. That being said, this hysterical story from the villainous Handsome Jack says a lot about his character. Casually reaching out to the player via their ECHO, Jack tells a story of a time where his army is massacring an entire town and then some desperate man tries to defeat him with a spoon.
You can tell actor Dameon Clarke is having a blast with this monologue as Jack can’t hold back his laughter, but that’s kind of the point. Jack is a twisted individual who truly believes he is the hero of his own story. To him, anyone who opposes him is obviously a villain, including the player.
2 Sarah’s Death - The Last Of Us
It was tough choosing a specific moment from The Last Of Us since the entire game could’ve been an entry. However, seeing Joel hold his dying daughter remains one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in all of fiction. Voice actor Troy Baker says that this scene is the hardest task he ever had as an actor.
He was so focused on performing, but Creative Director Neil Druckmann kept pushing Baker to make it actually feel real. You can hear Baker fully breaking down during the scene and it only enhances the emotional reaction that gamers felt during this harrowing introduction.
1 The Definition Of Insanity - Far Cry 3
Looking back, it’s a shame that most players had already seen this monologue prior to release since it was shown in the E3 demo. Still, it remains of the most chilling villain monologues in gaming. Actor Michael Mando was so good in his audition for Vaas that the developers changed up the character to resemble him and personality.
As he has Jason tied up, Vaas begins to tell him what the definition of insanity is. It’s brilliant writing, but it’s made all the better by Mando’s unhinged performance as the psychotic antagonist. He goes from zero to a hundred. Then back to zero. Then back to a hundred a few more times. You just never know when he’s going to snap and it’s just so unsettling to experience as a player.