When it comes to complex characters, all the love tends to go to the protagonist. However, a good story rarely features just one character, and like your Batman’s Robin, NPCs – short for non-player characters – rarely get the love they deserve.
Encompassing all characters in a game that are, as their name suggests, not controlled by the player at any time, these can range from background characters that exist solely to populate the game world, to integral characters that accompany the player throughout his adventure. In a broader sense, we can even include enemies, as long as they are not controlled by another player.
When referring here to NPCs in a video game, the word “complex” can take on several meanings.
It can refer to the artificial intelligence behind an NPC’s decision, or simply mean that the character is multifaceted and intriguing. The latter will be the main interpretation, but the former can also be mentioned on occasion if an NPC also has an intelligent AI.
Let’s take a look at the most complex NPCs in video games.
Found beside his broken down wagon just north of Whiterun, Cicero is dressed as a jester, carrying the remains of his “mother”.
When first met, everything seems relatively normal – if a bit quirky – as Cicero asks you to speak to a nearby farmer to help him get his cart running again so he can bury his “mother” in a new crypt.
If the player chooses to avoid the Dark Brotherhood, that will be the extent of your interaction with old Cicero and it will be little more than a strange encounter. However, if you join the Dark Brotherhood or choose to eliminate them, you will gain access to Falkreath Sanctuary and with it, Cicero’s Journals.
The story of the Cheydinhal shrine and the death of its leader “Listener” is told inside. It becomes apparent upon reading that Cicero did indeed go insane after his final murder, the assassin of which took on various personality traits, as well as his appearance.
The eccentric killer named himself guardian of the Night Mother and decided to transport her to Skyrim, explaining the encounter with him near Whiterun.