It's Father's Day! And whilst gaming certainly has a diverse catalogue when it comes to fathers as protagonists, or even antagonists, we've narrowed down a list of our personal favourite father 'figures' from across the generations. What's interesting is that most on this list aren't actually biologically related to their in-game children, illustrating that a paternal bond can sometimes be much stronger than a blood bond.
See for yourself. Oh, and spoilers ahoy!
Geralt of Rivia
The Witcher 3 (2015)
From the outset of the game, Geralt dreams of time when Ciri is young and living amongst the Witchers. Geralt makes it a point to train the young girl in his own craft, which traditionally would only be taught to men. Despite this, it is clear that Geralt takes great pride in Ciri, and even enjoys her frequently rebellious and wayward nature. Sadly for Geralt this dream of a memory doesn't last long and we are soon taken with him to the main game where he enters a desperate search to find his surrogate daughter. He scours three countries in order to track her down and as he discovers more about her fate she is always out of reach, making him even more desperate to find her. Depending on your choices as you search for answers with Geralt, the hunter may make some pretty morally ambiguous decisions. Killing is of course no problem, but he will also torture when necessary (including allowing his former lover, Triss, to be tortured in order to gain information from a Witch Hunter) and in one instance even allow the raising of the dead.
Ultimately we don't want to spoil too much for those who haven't finished the game yet (we haven't either) but I don't think it'll be giving too much away when we say that when you do finally find Ciri, their reunion is very touching. It is clear that Geralt is as worried sick as any real father would be (more so, actually, if Ciri's real father is anything to go by) and he takes great joy in travelling with her for the missions where they're together. Together with Yennifer, as Ciri's motherly presence, the trio make a very loving, if dangerous, family unit. Geralt indulges Ciri and at times helps her have a little fun in what is otherwise a hard road for her, all the while Yennifer stands by and shakes her head at the both of them.
Will it work out alright for Ciri and Geralt? We could easily tell you, but that would be one spoiler too far.
Red Dead Redemption (2010)
John's sole motivation throughout the game is to be reunited with his wife Abigail and their son Jack. But to do so he has to act as a bounty hunter throughout the lands he once terrorised, on the chaotic border between the American West and the north of Mexico, where the game's is set. John meanders through the political turmoil of the warring American and Mexican sides, not adopting a role in either by serving both in order to meet his own agenda. He helps out anyone who can help him track down the former members of his gang, all of whom have since disbanded although remain very much in their outlaw life. After finally hunting down Dutch, the man who once led their gang, John is allowed to return to his family at the farm. But the peace is only brief, and it is revealed that the lawmen were actually deceiving John all along. The US army, led by the very men who recruited John as a bounty hunter, assaults the farm. Once more, John prioritises his family's safety over his own and sacrifices himself so that they can escape. Years later, Jack Marston grows into a capable warrior and exacts revenge on the one who led the attack on the farm, inspired by John's example as a father, and heads out into the Old West to make a name for himself.
In an alternate timeline, the Old West is infected by a zombie epidemic and John (who, as always, is committed to protecting his family) journeys across the wilderness in search of a means to cure those with the plague and restore order. Although not strictly canon, this DLC expansion illustrates once more how selfless and defensive John is when it comes to his loved ones.
Telltale Games' The Walking Dead (2012)
Their relationship does go through some strain when Clem starts receiving messages on her walkie talkie from a stranger, informing her that he knows where her parents are. Clem keeps the truth of these conversations from Lee and ultimately it's down to Lee to save her again when when it turns out that the mysterious stranger is about as dangerous as you would expect a mysterious stranger in The Walking Dead to be.
Ultimately the ending is not a happy one. Lee gets bitten, once again while protecting Clem. It is Clem that is with him in his final moments as he slowly turns and it is down to her to shoot him and save him from the existence of being a Walker. After that, life goes on for Clementine, but she is stronger and better prepared for life in The Walking Dead because of the protection that Lee offered her... Now excuse us while we go cry some more.
BioShock 2 (2010)
Although perhaps arguably more machine than man, Subject Delta was once a human who inadvertently discovered the secret underwater dystopia Rapture during a diving expedition in the North Atlantic before the events of the first BioShock. This man was not allowed to return to the surface and ultimately transformed into a Big Daddy prototype by Rapture's science team, and then assigned a 'Little Sister' to look after. During the events of one fateful New Year's Party, Delta is attacked by a group of splicers led by Sofia Lamb (the biological mother of Delta's assigned Little Sister), and is subsequently put in a deep comatose state. Meanwhile, civil war befalls the city and eight whole years pass before Delta reawakens. When he finally does come around he discovers Rapture in ruins, but still somehow inhabited. Learning that his Little Sister, 'Eleanor', is still in the city, Delta sets out to find and rescue her from Sofia Lamb, Rapture's newest self-proclaimed dictator, and keep her safe from Rapture's various rival, spliced-up factions. The game's ending very much depends on how you, as Delta, react to the various Little Sisters who encounter throughout your journey across the city. Eleanor survives in each of the different endings, but will always follow the examples you set during your playthrough since you play the the part of her only paternal figure.
If you rampaged through the city without mercy, harvesting Little Sisters for your own gain, then Eleanor will adopt these personality traits and set out for world domination as the credits begin to roll. But if you fought to rescue the Little Sisters and support your allies during the game's events, then Eleanor will instead take this code of honour on board instead.
Happy Fathers Day!
What are your favourite icons of fatherhood in gaming? Let us know in the comments below!