Let’s face it, the world is full of dangerous, blood-thirsty things. In many ways, it’s a wonder humanity has survived as long as it has without being horribly murdered by the wildlife and monsters that comprise this wonderful blue ball we’re on. Few of us human beings have the guts to face the things that go bump in the night, but even fewer do so as an occupation. Today, in honor of the spookiest month of the year, let’s have a look at some of the most famous Hunters in video games. The criteria for this simple: To be classified as a Hunter, the character must be equipped and trained to deal with monsters, demons, and/or the undead in some capacity, must have a significant amount confirmed kills (or at least, enough big time kills to make a sizeable difference in the world), and must hunt these beings on a semi-regular basis. Also, for the purpose of this list, we’ll be focusing on hunters of the supernatural. Sorry, Metroid fans, Samus won’t be appearing here. That said, let’s jump right in.
First, let’s take a look at probably one of the most devil-may-care hunters of the great canon of video games, Dante from the Devil May Cry series. I’ll be looking at the classic Dante, because while I have no long-standing grudge or burning hatred against DmC’s version of Dante, the original still has a certain panache that just can’t be matched. Of all the hunters I’ll list, Dante’s probably the one who enjoys his work the most. Being the half-demon son of the legendary dark knight Sparda, he has a lot of natural aptitude towards fighting the paranormal, and takes after his father significantly. His personality is beautifully illustrated in gameplay, as his fighting style is all about having fun with his enemies and just making a big spectacle of things. He also boasts one of the most impressive arsenals of any hunter on this list, ranging from swords and spears to nunchucks, rocket launchers, and even a demonic electric guitar. And that’s not even considering his trademark “Devil Trigger”, which allows him to turn full demon for a short time. With a heart of gold to protect humanity, an often empty wallet, and a love of pizza and strawberry sundaes, Dante’s probably the most altruistic one on this list, as he often refuses payment, even though he’s canonically in quite a bit of debt. Well, not everything pays the bills, I suppose. Not even saving the world.
Of course, Dante’s not the only half-blood who goes out and hunts in the cold night. Some of the most famous hunters in Video Games (and fiction as a whole) were known as dhampyrs: human-vampire hybrids who have an intrinsic gift to hunt vampires. While I’d love to give Alucard from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night this honor, I’d like to give a lesser known heroine her time in the sun. Rayne of
BloodRayne‘s a classic case of wanting nothing more than to run through the poor bastard who sired her. While Alucard does have a bevvy of vampiric powers at his disposal, a lot of them required magic relics and a good bit of effort. For Rayne, most of her powers come natural. Her senses, her ability to heal by sucking blood, and the ability to augment her weapons blood magic all come naturally. Of the hunters on this list, Rayne’s one of two that works for a particular group, rather than working for familial or religious reasons. It’s a shame that she’s not more well-known, aside from a god-awful Uwe Boll movie. At least she has the honor of being the first nude video game model for Playboy.
In the case of a number of hunters, their sole reason for hunting is survival and to protect those they care about. In the case of Father Grigori from Half-Life 2, his motivation for hunting the extraterrestrial undead. When you meet him in Ravenholm, he’s the last living resident, and it’s pretty clearly gone a little nutty, and considers killing zombies as “clearing his flock”. And yet, in spite of this and a very evil laugh, he’s probably the single nicest character you meet, giving Gordon Freeman a shotgun, supplies, and a few traps without even recognizing who he is. Why? Because it’s just the right thing to do. His name also has a double meaning, both referring to the Biblical Apocrypha for the group of Angels tasked with protecting humans, and after the famously nigh-unkillable Grigori Rasputin. How ironically fitting for a Russian priest.
Sometimes, hunting is something of a family business. It’s not unheard of
for an entire genealogy to be devoted to the hunting of the worst beings of the damned, and none prove the effectiveness of superior breeding than Julius Belmont from Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. Canonically the last major Belmont in the franchise, Julius’ claim to fame is that he was the Belmont who finally managed to take down Dracula definitively in 1999 at the age of 19. By the time you first meet him, he’s 56 and without his memories, but make no mistake; any man who can put down the Lord of Darkness and keep him down is not a man to be trifled with, a fact that he very noticeably demonstrates once he gets his goove back. Of all the Belmonts, he’s perhaps the most skilled, not only possessing the trademark tools of the vampire hunting trade, but a martial arts mastery that makes him a force to be reckoned with. Throughout Aria, Julius serves as a reminder to Soma Cruz that he has a chance to remain human, and promises to kill him should he ever fall to Dracula’s curse. While he’s not the most powerful of the Belmonts, he’s certainly damn close.
But, age does have a way of slowing people down, and there’s no better case for that in hunters than Eileen the Crow from Bloodborne. A member of the Hunter of Hunters covenant, her job is to hunt her fellows who fall to their tainted blood. Throughout the game, she serves as a guiding compass towards the player, reminding them to keep the hunt with the beasts, lest they end up her quarry. Considering she’s rocking the crow motif and the terrifying visage of the plague doctor (and a shortsword that she can turn into a pair of daggers), she’s certainly the last thing you want to see during the long night. Her main quest for you mainly concerns helping her with hunts and convincing her to retire, because while she’s certainly the single must agile and aggressive of the hunters you meet, she’s still an old woman who, if left to her own devices, will go straight into crazy town.
If there’s one thing these hunters all have in common, it’s that they’re all sterling examples of how bound in blood they are to their work, either going against their heritage and fighting their cursed families, or standing on the shoulders of proud ancestries, ready to do another dance with the devil in the pale moonlight just so we can all breathe a little easier at night.