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Top 10 Video Game Detectives

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Nick Williams Gritty, observant, and usually with a checkered past of their own, detectives are popular protagonists in almost every form of pop culture, includes video games. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Video Game Detectives. For this list, we’ve limited our choices to detectives or former detectives that use deduction and investigation to solve mysteries. So, for example, though Max Payne is technically a police detective, since he spends most of his time shooting his way through his problems, he doesn’t make the cut. Mind you, since most detective games are story focused there are a few doozy spoilers on this list. Special Thanks to our users "Norris Vaughn" "Ethan Monma" "Jaime Enrique Gutierrez Pérez" for suggesting this list on our website WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Nick Williams

Top 10 Video Game Detectives


Gritty, observant, and usually with a checkered past of their own, detectives are popular protagonists in almost every form of pop culture, includes video games. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Video Game Detectives.

For this list, we’ve limited our choices to detectives or former detectives that use deduction and investigation to solve mysteries. So, for example, though Max Payne is technically a police detective, since he spends most of his time shooting his way through his problems, he doesn’t make the cut. Mind you, since most detective games are story focused there are a few doozy spoilers on this list.

#10: Ronan O’Connor
“Murdered: Soul Suspect” (2014)


When he was alive, Ronan O’Connor was a tough-as-nails former criminal turned cop, known for his violent police work and hardened attitude. An untimely death at the hands of the hooded “Bell Killer” leaves Ronan trapped between the world of the living and dead. As a ghost, Ronan is able to possess humans – he can’t quite control them, but he can see through their eyes and listen to their conversations. Using his newfound powers, Ronan slowly unravels the mysterious truth behind his own murder and the motivations of the “Bell Killer.”

#9: Kyle Hyde
“Hotel Dusk: Room 215” (2007)


After spending the majority of his life serving in the New York police department, Hyde left the force after discovering that his partner had been feeding information to a crime syndicate called Nile. After a confrontation and shoot-out, Kyle’s partner disappeared, never to be seen again. As the game begins, several clues lead Hyde to Hotel Dusk. Though he’s a now a salesman, he uses his detective prowess to examine the building, perform interogations and uncover the truth about his past and the whereabouts of his lost partner.

#8: Ace Harding
“Deja Vu” series (1985-88)


Ace Harding is a private detective who wakes up in a bar bathroom with a bad case of amnesia and a worse case of being framed for a murder. After a dead body is found in the bar’s office, Ace must work to clear his name and uncover the truth around the murder. Combatting the effects of mysterious drugs, Ace is constantly grappling with lapses in memory and strange flashbacks. A gambling, scotch-drinking, one-liner spitting kind of guy, Ace is one of the earliest examples of detectives in video games.

#7: Ray McCoy
“Blade Runner” (1997)


This game, based off the critically acclaimed Sci-Fi Film of the same name, follows Ray McCoy a young and inexperienced Bladerunner tasked with tracking down and killing rogue replicant agents. Replicants are cyborgs that are physically indistinguishable from humans, so Ray must use traditional observational techniques to catch his suspects. Unlike Deckard from film, McCoy is still learning on the job, and his naivity and self-doubt often shine through. As you might expect, many of the questions surrounding Deckard’s origins in the film also apply to McCoy, whose fate is determined by a number of different endings.

#6: Dick Gumshoe
“Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” series (2001-)


Is there any detective on this list with a more stereotypical “detective name” than Dick Gumshoe? A re-occurring character in the “Ace Attorney” series, Dick Gumshoe is the main detective assigned to investigate many of Phoenix Wright’s cases. Dick usually lays out the basic facts of the murder scene and presents his investigative findings to the lawyers and during their respective court cases. Though loyal, honest, and big-hearted, Dick Gumshoe is not a very good detective, and it’s usually pretty easy to poke holes and find inconsistencies in his accounts.

#5: Bigby Wolf
“The Wolf Among Us” (2013)


In “The Wolf Among Us,” Bigby Wolf is the sheriff of fabletown, a borough of New York where a ton of fictional characters have been relocated. Bigby has a troubled past - he was once the ‘Big Bad Wolf’, amassing his fair share of enemies. Pre-conceptions the other character have about Bigby often create problems for him as he attempts to track down the perpetrator of a series of grizzly murders in Fabletown, starting with the be-heading of a prostitute. When angered, Bigby transforms into a massive werewolf creature – usually leading to a lot of desctruction and violence. Hey man, everyone’s got their methods.

#4: Sam & Max
“Sam & Max” series (1993-2010)


Sam and Max are about as inseparable as two detective partners can be. Their personalities may clash, but together their differences allow them to tackle any case that comes up, usually in hilarious and zany fashion. Making up the Freelance Police: Sam is your classic detective who uses investigative techniques and sleuthing, whereby Max is a hyperactive, off-the-wall rabbit whose main tools include chaos and destruction, and shooting everything in sight. Well, they both like shooting stuff actually.

#3: Scott Shelby
“Heavy Rain” (2010)


Scott Shelby is a detective on the trail of the Origami Killer in “Heavy Rain.” Hired by the families of the victims, Shelby is a quiet and mysterious former cop. As the story unfolds, Shelby’s motives are shrouded in mystery – but start putting the pieces together yourself, and you’re in for a surprise. We’re not going to spoil it here, but just like Blade Runner the game comes with multiple endings, but which one you wind up with, you’ll be thinking about it for a long time.

#2: Cole Phelps
“L.A. Noire” (2011)


A World War II hero, Cole Phelps becomes a police officer in post-war Los Angeles rife with corruption, politics and crime. Cole Phelps’ standing in the police force depends on the gameplay skills of the player. If you botch too many investigations, he’ll becomes a joke among his peers. Likewise, if you show good intuition and interrogation skills, Phelps becomes well-respected around the office. Cole is an astute and tough detective – so long as you are too – yet a dark shadow, stemming from his time fighting in Japan, follows him around and sometimes interferes with his work.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Pennington
“Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door” (2004)

Tex Murphy
“Tex Murphy” franchise (1989-)

Sonny Bonds
“Police Quest” franchise (1987-98)

Sissel
“Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective” (2010)

Naoto Shiragone
“Persona 4” (2008)

#1: Professor Layton
“Professor Layton” series (2007-14)


Professor Layton, the protagonist of the popular Nintendo DS adventure series, is a world-renowned archeologist and puzzle afficianado. A good-hearted and noble person, Layton goes out of his way to help people with their problems, often by solving puzzles that correlate to the current situation. Along with his sidekick, a young boy named Luke, Layton often finds himself at the center of various supernatural mysteries. With his trademark gentlemanly British attitude and attire, Layton recalls perhaps the most famous private detective of them all, Sherlock Holmes.

Agree with our list? Did we forget any elementary video game detectives? For more hard-boiled top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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