Heroes can always use a bit of help on their grand journeys, so sidekicks prove vital in every medium, including video games. Some of the worst sidekicks are whiney or bring down the overall experience in some other way, well-written side characters often become some of the most memorable characters in a game. We polled Inverse readers about video games in 2020, and 1,296 respondents weighed in on their favorite sidekicks of the year.
While there was a clear winner, four memorable characters rose to the top. Surprisingly, all four are from PlayStation-exclusive games, highlighting just how great Sony is at locking down game developers that value telling good stories above all else.
Here's who claimed the most votes. It was a pretty close call, with just nine votes separating first and second place.
- Lev from The Last of Us Part II — 41.1 percent (533 votes)
- Jin's horse from Ghost of Tsushima — 20.3 percent (263 votes)
- Morgana from Persona 5 Royal — 15.6 percent (202)
- Jessie Rasberry from Final Fantasy VII Remake — 10.2 percent (132)
Note: Spoilers for these four games follow.
4. Jessie from Final Fantasy VII Remake
Jessie Rasberry was a loveable character in the original Final Fantasy VII, but she wasn't in the game for long. Final Fantasy VII Remake takes the time to flesh out Jessie, her family, and her relationship with Cloud in much more detail, making her an even more memorable character even though she's not a normal party member. That's why it's no surprise that Jessie Rasberry got support from 10.2 percent of respondents (132 votes).
Backed up by a fantastic performance from Erica Lindbeck, Jessie's increased role in the remake made her one of the game's most loveable characters. Her death during the game's climax was also all the more heartbreaking for that reason, so we can only hope that Square Enix somehow finds a way to bring her back in FF7 Remake Part 2.
3. Morgana from Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 was known for its standout cast of characters, and they all got even more development in Persona 5 Royal, an expanded version of the base game that finally came west in 2020. As such, it's not too surprising that 15.6 percent of respondents (202 votes) choose a character from that game as one of 2020's best sidekicks: Morgana.
This supernatural creature that takes the form of a small cat works with Joker and co. for most of Persona 5. She always has witty commentary or insight regarding the latest things happening in the plot. Morgana was already a loveable character in the base version of Persona 5. With Royal adding more to the story, you'll only like Morgana more after this enhanced version of Persona 5.
2. Jin's horse from Ghost of Tsushima
While Jin's horse in Ghost of Tsushima barely counts as a character, gamers formed a close bond with the beast over the course of the game. Players choose a horse and name it at the start of the game after Jin recovers from his defeat on the beaches of Tsushima. Afterward, this horse travels with Jin for most of the game.
It's the fastest way to get around if you're not using fast travel, and Jin will often refer to the horse by name when interacting with it. This bond has clearly stuck with players, as 20.3 percent of respondents (263 votes) placed Jin's horse as the best sidekick of the year.
Unfortunately, you don't spend the whole game with this horse as a partner; It dies when Jin escapes to the northern part of Tsushima after being imprisoned by Lord Shimura. It's one of Ghost of Tsushima's most emotional moments, so it makes sense that this horse would be important to people even if it's not as defined of a character as some of the others on this list.
1. Lev from The Last of Us Part II
The clear winner of this poll was Lev from The Last of Us Part II, with 41.1 percent of respondents (553 votes), calling him the best video game sidekick of 2020. Lev is one of the most important characters of 2020, not only for trailblazing as a major transgender character in a AAA game but for the pivotal role they play in the redemption of Abby in The Last of Us Part II.
The game does a fantastic job at establishing Lev as a great sidekick for Abby. The bond between Abby and Lev rivals that of Joel and Ellie from the first Last of Us game. Lev broadens Abby's perspective on the world and makes her love and care for someone while Abby does all they can to protect Lev from the danger of the game's apocalyptic threats.
Though all of the characters on this list are memorable, Lev is also the one that stuck with me the most. In particular, the scene where he talks with Abby about anxiety is one of my favorite moments in a game this year! It's clear that many PlayStation exclusives have masterfully crafted and compelling characters that you want to survive, and Lev is a prime example of that.