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In horror games, you're already trying to escape infinite peril, but some game developers decided that survival of one character isn't enough. The only companions I have no issues with are dogs because...dogs. But that's because they offer friendship and bite monsters on the shins so you can bludgeon them to death. Helpless, weaponless companions are nothing more than liabilities, like that dorky kid that wouldn't stop following you around the playground in elementary school. Oh, wait...I was that dorky kid. Repression powers activate!
My ideal companion would be one with an infinite sawed-off shotgun, shoulder-mounted kittens that mew 'Bohemian Rhapsody' to cut down on the tension. But noooo, that wouldn't be scary. Here's a useless wallflower that doesn't have enough sense to get out of firing range. So here are the top 5 worst escort missions in games, in no particular order.
5. Ave Maria (Silent Hill 2)
Just because you're a corrupted manifestation of my selfish desires and guilt doesn't mean you can constantly stand in my way and needlessly jump scare me by teleporting into rooms before me. It's almost like you're here to torment me. Ahem. I usually take Maria straight up to the third floor to deposit her like a bad check, but she keeps bouncing back and blaming me when she's the one doing Houdini acts all over the damn place.
The most bullshit sequence with Maria in tow is escaping the Brookhaven Hospital basement on Hard Action mode. On Normal mode, you could easily escape Pyramid Head and go into the elevator. Spoilers for Silent Hill 2, even though it's nearly a 20-year-old game: Maria dies when you get into the elevator anyway. So, the added difficulty to this escape on Hard Mode is such a needless hindrance. Instead of just running away, you have to shoot Pyramid Head to slow him down at each turn of the hallways. If you don't, Pyramid Head will spear Maria, instantly killing her, ending your game. Yes, even though she canonically dies at the elevator. Absolute trolls, Team Silent.
4. Tess (The Last of Us)
When an adult is more useless than a teenager in a horror game, it makes me question if this is a subtle jab at socioeconomic stigma between age groups. Tess is Joel's partner (in all senses of the word) and they've both been contracted to smuggle a girl (Ellie) to a specified lab. But my God, for someone who's evidently experienced in this apocalypse, Tess has no preservation instinct in dire circumstances. The airport full of Clickers is a daunting level, because you can't just go ham on the monsters, boot and rally. Clickers are blind and can hear exceptionally well, so one drop of a pin summons the horde. Getting attacked by a Clicker is a one-hit kill so they have to be caught unawares by silent takeovers.
I found myself screaming at Tess because she wouldn't get her ass out of the way. She also wouldn't shut up and bungled my attempts to sneak past Clickers. Ellie, at least, knew how to keep out of the goddamn way. Spoilers for The Last of Us, I actually cheered when Tess offed herself, which made think that I would be a complete asshole in a zombie apocalypse.
3. Ashley (Resident Evil 4)
The writing for Resident Evil 4 was charmingly awful at best. Some of the things the characters say sounded they had a novice translating the dialogue to English.
Luis: "Small world, eh? Well...I see the President equipped his daughter with ballistics, too."
Ashley: "How rude! And I don't believe there's any relevance with my figure and my standing! Who are you?"
None of you game developers have ever talked to a girl, have you? Other than some rare comedy, Ashley might as well be a golden retriever, only not as smart or cute. Leon can at least command her to hide in Dumpsters during zombie fights. The big downside, however, is her obnoxious wailing of Leon's name after her stupid ass keeps getting captured. Hey, Leon, did you ever think of giving the girl a quick gun tutorial so she could at least be halfway useful?
I also tend to hate Ashley as a concept, because it seems sexist to have this hapless girl following you, the brawny, tough prince in shining kevlar. It's not necessarily her fault that she wasn't given characterization to begin with. There's hints of her standing up for herself but then there's scenes where you can directly see her underwear. Look, I like a good curvy action gal like the next bisexual, but regardless of her supposedly being 20-years-old, she looks like a young teenager, which is creepy. Ada Wong is not much better; she's constantly in heels and a leg-showing dress despite, oh, the zombies wanting to chew on her thighs like chicken and rice. Sure, chalk it up to Rule of Drama, but if you want us to believe in the danger portrayed by the story, a little practicality goes a long way.
2. Little Sister (Bioshock, Bioshock 2)
If you chose to rescue the little squirts in Bioshock before, you'll start ripping them open after these missions. Toward the end of Bioshock 1, you must transform yourself into a Big Daddy, a sort of protector for Little Sisters. You need Adam into order to access the final boss fight, but the process of doing so is truly harrowing and truly annoying as hell. The Little Sister need to harvest Adam from dead Splicers and you have to stand guard through an onslaught of live 'uns. It's never just the basic Splicer either, there's always a fucking Spider Splicer or two and not enough ammo being dropped.
It begs the question, why can't I just harvest the Adam from the corpses myself? Because it's creepier if a Little Sister does it. Screw you, Tennebaum, I'm going to rip the spine out of the little runts because fuck this tedious mini-game! I say that and yet I end up rescuing them in the end because I'm even opposed of doing horrible things in video games.
Speaking of horrible things in video games...
1. Eileen (Silent Hill 4)
Henry Townsend is about as assertive as a bowl of vanilla ice-cream: bland, boring, no toppings, no fudge sauce, no cherry. The most personality you gather from him is by his flavor text of things in the apartment he's trapped in. But this game isn't about Henry's brick-wall demeanor, it's about how much the game developers hate you. No, it isn't. It's about Walter Sullivan and his mommy issues. For the first half of the game, you're traveling through wormholes in different dimensions, watching as people are being slaughtered. At first, we think we're getting burdened with an escort mission off the bat with Cynthia, a promiscuous woman who's lost in her "dream". But she's murdered in a room absolutely covered in her blood, of which Henry, the clueless dolt of an orange he is, asks, "Are you ok?" Wow, did you get those expert detective skills at photography school, Henry?
But at a midpoint through the game, after the apartment stops healing you, the game becomes an obnoxious escort mission from hell. Eileen has been beaten up badly, her leg and arm broken by Walter Sullivan. Now Henry must go about his quest with this hobbling hag in tow. It doesn't help that the endings of the game are dependent on how injured she becomes over time. Also, equipping her with a weapon is actually more of a hindrance than not, because she will start wailing on ghosts, which is completely useless. That's not all, that's not all, she also complains often that we're leaving her behind and can cause Henry to be injured by Walter because she won't shuffle her ass faster to him so he can go through the door. If she becomes injured enough, she can be possessed by Walter, spouting cult nonsense and hitting her injured arm.
"I can't use a ladder with my arm like this!" Okay, I hope you enjoy being pummeled by the two-headed baby creature.
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