Games of the Year

RPGFan Games of the Year 2023: Best Protagonist

GOTY 2023 Best Protagonist Clive Rosfield Final Fantasy XVI

Winner: Clive Rosfield (Final Fantasy XVI)

You know nothing, Clive Rosfield.”

While not everyone was taken with the degree of Game of Thrones influence in Final Fantasy XVI‘s tone and world, it’s hard to deny that modeling Clive after underdog hero Jon Snow translated well to the game. Equal parts angst, heart, loveable awkwardness, and luscious dark hair, Clive’s personality is a winning formula. From being loved by his father and brother yet hated by his mother, to experiencing a fall from nobility, and being a not-so-special boy turned special, it’s almost impossible not to root and feel for Clive throughout his character arc. And thanks to Ben Starr’s fully bought-in performance, Clive transcends trope-ish imitation to feel like a fleshed-out person with a deep well of emotions. The game’s well-produced cutscenes continue to reveal nuance to the character as it goes on, the side quests let us indulge in the gentler side of Clive, and the explosive action combat lets us purge the Hellfire burning inside of him. It turns out Clive Rosfield knows a thing or two after all.

by Aleks Franiczek

Runner-Up: Matthew (Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed)

“You wanna scrap? You scrap with me!”

After the beautiful melancholy of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and its protagonist, Noah, Matthew enters Future Redeemed as a shot of pure, unfiltered joy. After all he’s gone through before the narrative starts, his brash, straightforward attitude is maybe even more surprising. It’s the kind of energy that the world needs to carry on toward the events of the base game, and it helps beautifully carry the more optimistic tone of Future Redeemed. The playful interplay with the rest of the cast, notably A, is even more delightful and helps distinguish Matthew from the rest of the (excellent) protagonists in the series, giving the DLC a flavor all its own, all while pulling the threads of the huge tapestry the series weaves together.

by Zach Wilkerson

Readers’ Choice: Best Protagonist of 2023

Winner: Clive Rosfield (Final Fantasy XVI) (37.3% of votes)

Runner-Up: Lloyd Bannings (The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure) (13.9% of votes)

Aleks Franiczek

Aleks Franiczek

Aleks is a Features writer and apparently likes videogames enough to be pursuing a PhD focused on narrative design and the philosophy of player experience. When not overthinking games he also enjoys playing them, and his favorite genre is “it’s got some issues, but it’s interesting!”