Isn't it a bit strange, that in a medium so often built for pure escapism and wish fulfilment, we hardly ever talk about the most powerful video game characters?
I'm talking the world-enslavers. The time-stoppers. Gods, Kings and God Kings who slaughter millions with the click of their fingers, only for a hero fuelled by the power of an ancient spell to down them and walk off towards the next threat.
Yes, comics and anime have intergalactic titans and film has the likes of John Wick and Terminator, but gaming's bevy of warriors could save the world or torch it to cinders for breakfast.
Now, for this ranking, we're gonna be applying every character's power set, as if they were all in the same universe. If these hulking brutes did decide to take each other on, who would be the last person standing, and why?
Obviously yes, you'll be able to find some fine print that states "If X character dies, time stops!" or whatever, but, well it's just damn fun to imagine a Super Smash Bros-style showdown between gaming's most formidable.
Also a quick note: The character must have originated in a video game. No crossovers here.
10. Alex Mercer - Prototype
Centre of the debate on whether Prototype was better than Infamous back in 2009 (it totally was), Alex Mercer's power set was sketched out to grant the player unlimited power.
Want to imitate an NPC and wear their skin while you infiltrate a compound? Just gobble them up, Venom-style and have at it. How about transforming arms and limbs, meaning you always had access to oversized fists, gigantic arm axes, whips and claws? Anything bladed would slice enemies into sashimi, and Alex couldn't get enough.
Devastator attacks let you level city blocks in a blur of tendrils uprooting pedestrians, cars and signage alike. Mercer's movement was built off the Hulk: Ultimate Destruction engine, meaning he could sprint directly up buildings, bound over mid-air vehicles like stepping stones, or take to the skies by gliding, before landing like a smart bomb.
Wearing tank missile packs on his shoulders, tackling military helicopters out the sky, eating bullets like there was no tomorrow - Prototype was a window into what gaming is like without any real challenge, and the 'escapist power fantasy' dials cranked so much they broke off.
9. Galen Marek (Starkiller) - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
I said no crossovers from other mediums in the intro, and I meant it. But Galen Marek aka Starkiller, was first created to bridge the gap between Star Wars Episodes III and IV.
In canon as Darth Vader's protégé, he was found on Kashyyyk after Darth Vader dropped by to force-throw some Wookies through the walls of their homes.
Of course, Vader senses a great amount of latent power inside Galen, and over time, nurtures it so he do things we'd never seen in Star Wars history.
Tearing TIE Fighters from their housing to throw at stormtroopers, wrenching entire platoons off their feet and sending them soaring over the horizon - there's even a scene where Starkiller grabs a Star Destroyer out of space, and wrenches it to the ground.
Sadly, Starkiller was done VERY dirty in the game's cobbled together sequel, which buried the character long before Disney wiped him out altogether and reused his name for the new trilogy's moon base.
Still, we had some great times.
8. Dante - Devil May Cry
An unkillable devil child descended from the demon king Sparda, there's a reason the game's difficulties are called "Dante Must Die"... because for the most part, he can't.
Even back in the original he was getting impaled on his sword Alastor, only to rise up off the ground, and pluck it back out his chest himself.
This was the genius behind conceptualising Dante overall. Capcom have never really put a cap on his abilities, instead pushing him to various limits, only for that to unlock some other "state" of pure innate power.
The latest example was some doubled-up demon form in Devil May Cry 5, where Dante Super Saiyan'd himself into an entirely new form, complete with boney wings and an armoured exoskeleton, to take on brother Virgil.
He's laughed in the face of giant lava spiders, taken evil bat queens and turned them into guitars. His twin blades in Devil May Cry 3 are time-worn guardians of the underworld he forced to stay quiet, so he could wield them in peace.
Like a certain hip-swaying witch I'll get to in a second, Dante is constantly operating in a state of cool. Almost two decades after he hit our screens, we've never truly seen him struggle or be down for the count, and that's the point.
7. Dovahkiin - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
For this I'm talking about Dovahkiin - or the "Dragonborn" - in their final form. The Fus Ro Dah shouting, dragon-summoning, super speed dashing phenom that becomes the saviour of Skyrim itself.
This is a robust hero that literally downed dragons before the sun had hit midday, and that was before they got called up for training.
After undergoing some wise words form the Greybeards, learning how to fire the elements from their fingertips and smith armour stronger than anything else in the land, Dovahkiin is damn near unstoppable.
Disarming enemy weapons, summoning mini tornadoes - they can even become completely ethereal, avoiding damage altogether while they think of a creative way to murder you in return.
6. Kirby - Various
Okay, bear with me here, because although Kirby might look super cute and non-intimidating, his power set has not only never been quantified, but it's pretty unbelievable.
We have a creature - who knows what he actually is - that will straight up eat you, digest you into nothingness within seconds, and steal your powers. Nintendo have never clarified how any of this works, and the nearest fans have come is deciding that inside Kirby, must be a black hole.
Story-wise we've seen him defeat everything from Dark Matter to dragons, possessed demon trees to psychotic emperors. Kirby barely takes a second off to recover - it's always more to eat, more to consume, digest and reconstitute.
He was the ONLY character that survived the great purge at the start of Super Smash Bros, and singlehandedly reformed the world's warriors to fight back against Galeem.
Without Kirby, the entire Nintendo universe would've been wiped out for good.
5. Bayonetta - Bayonetta
An Umbral Witch with the speciality of displacing time for lightning-fast dodges, Bayonetta was created with the sole purpose of making a character with equal sex appeal as devastating power.
Routinely strutting like she's on a catwalk, Bayonetta's power set extends to four machine pistols at a time - two of them being on her heels - as most of her power resides in her hair.
Able to constrict, lash out like a whip or transform into a giant train-sized snake to devour enemies, all of this is just the beginning.
In both games, Bayonetta can trigger various "Punish" and "Torture" attacks - specials where she summons BDSM equipment, spiked crushing pillars or whatever else Platinum Games could think of, to obliterate opponents.
The general tone of Bayonetta's approach to combat - and this mortal realm in general - is a cat playing with its food.
She's an absolute blast to control, and the only thing more common than exploding enemies into a fine paste, is a hearty cackle afterwards.
4. Kratos - God Of War
Likely many peoples' number one pick, Kratos is certainly the most popular powerful character.
Receiving godlike power after being hired by Ares to be his lead Spartan - then going on a bit of a bender, slaughtering his own family and all of the gods in revenge - Kratos is now a much older, wiser man, but with an iron will that will never be broken.
At this stage, after having his powers given and taken away - but the character still able to perform whichever overblown feats of strength the developers need - it's clear that Kratos is gaming's Incredible Hulk.
When in doubt, he'll bellow to the skies in rage, and that will summon enough willpower to see him through.
Having torn harpies clean in half back in 2005, Kratos switched realms to Nordic and set about snapping Baldur's neck too. All eight Valkyrie warriors and their Queen were downed by this more time-worn Kratos, and his 2018 outing ended with none other than thunder God Thor dropping by to be next on the menu.
Speaking of getting angry being a way to power up though...
3. Asura - Asura's Wrath
It's not that I don't think Kratos could fight someone as big as a planet, or withstand being stabbed through space and then out the back of Earth, but I'm yet to see him do it, y'know?
For that reason, Asura has to take the lead, because developers CyberConnect2 really went all out creating a custom fiction where a Very Angry Man is given carte blanche to cleave right through it.
Driven by the need to get revenge on a bunch of demigods who betrayed him and kidnapped his daughter, CyberConnect went way further with sheer depictions of power in a game, than I'd say anyone else ever has.
We're talking fights that are as mountain-splitting as their later Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot game should have been, kinetic exchanges of blows and energy blasts where ginormous craters are left in the ground. That aforementioned stabbing scene includes a sword that's a good 800 miles long, and when Asura really lets go, he unleashes a shockwave that wipes out an entire fleet of starships.
2. Geras - Mortal Kombat 11
A character so invincible and unrelenting, the only way to win was to throw him into an eternal pit, so he falls forever.
Such is the fate given to Geras, Kronika's right-hand man in Mortal Kombat 11, but to be honest, the preceding hours of the campaign outline that Geras could pretty much take on anything and come out swinging.
A master of time, we're even shown that decapitations or being flattened into a wall from a truck won't stop him. Instead, he'll just reset time - a power that only applies to him - reattach any severed limbs and keep coming.
Geras' fatalities see him strip the flesh from the front of his assailant with one quick rip, and again, he's a master of time.
If not for NetherRealm's Sea of Blood, Geras would've likely have gone on to take Kronika's crown and widen his power set to the entire galaxy.
1. DOOM Slayer - DOOM
The one guy yet to be weakened, taken down a peg or even remotely PHASED by the fact he's going up against the legions of Hell and the aliens of the cosmos, DOOMguy only received more power in DOOM: Eternal.
Now, these could be classed as spoilers for DOOM Eternal, but dive into the game's codex to supplant the handful of cutscenes thrown your way, and you'll read about one mysterious figure known as Samur, who implanted the Slayer with a godlike power, unlike anything else.
Already we've taken the marine from Earth to Hell and back again, but Eternal goes out of its way to establish that before this imbuing of celestial might, DOOMguy was champion of the Argent D'Nur coliseum, someone who was never brought down even once, and whose will to fight surpassed even that to eat or have a conversation. His three words? "Rip... and... tear."
iD Software wrote 2020's instalment as a way to make the meme-ified, OTT version of the DOOM Slayer we know and love, literally the one in the game's expanded lore.
He rips the heads off demonic preachers, wields a giant broadsword lightsaber to slice arachnotrons in half. DOOM Slayer won't stop, only exists to kill "until it is done", and from heavenly deities to skyscraper-sized Icons of Sin, he'll bury all of them and keep going.