An open letter to cute NPC companions


Through an entirely unplanned sequence of events, I’m currently playing two big action adventure games that couldn’t be less alike. One is God Of War, a big, serious dadventure epic about an emotionally distant father trying his darnedest to connect with his (at times very irritating) son. The other is Kena: Bridge Of Spirits, an altogether more wholesome adventure about a young girl cleansing a lush, forested mountainside from a serious case of bad vibes and helping lost ghosts pass on to the other side.

About the only thing they have in common is that they both have what one might call ‘cute’ NPC companions. Dad Of War is joined by his eager archer “BOY!” Atreus, while Kena has her gaggle of black, fluffy Rot friends (above, right). According to the widely accepted law of big googly-eyes, I should find the Rot absolutely adorable and thus beyond reproach. Atreus does not have big googly-eyes (they are merely wide and naive), but he is certainly a lot cuter than God Of War’s other main companion, a talking disembodied head. And yet. Even though Atreus has now reached that stage where he’s doing all his adolescent whining and rebellion and “I know you are, but what am I?” nonsense in the space of about two hours, I would much rather have this sulky pre-teen by my side than the interminable Rot. Let me explain.

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