Reaper-tition: The Many Faces of Death in Games


Death is the main protagonist in THQ and Vigil Games' upcoming Darksiders II, which sees history's most morbid jockey doing what he does best (which would be killing, naturally) while trying to clear the name of War, one of his fellow Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  This wouldn't be the first time, however, that we've encountered the Grim Reaper in some capacity or another throughout gaming's long history.  So unsheathe your scythes and take your final walk down morbid memory lane with us as we explore Death in gaming.

Dante's Inferno

While the character of Death in Visceral Games' Dante's Inferno was written off almost immediately after you meet him as the first boss after the game's tutorial level, he is no less memorable.  His trademark scythe, a bound-together bundle of bones, becomes Dante's go-to weapon for the rest of the game.  However, Death being dispatched so quickly in the beginning of the game raises a troubling question: if Death is no longer around, what's happening to all of the foes that Dante is dispatching?  Hmmm...



The Castlevania Series

Another amusing take on the Grim Reaper, Death has been a mainstay in Konami's Castlevania series from day one, sporting his iconic robe and scythe for pretty much the entire franchise.  However, instead of being the main boss (I mean, it's Death), he's little more than Dracula's second banana.  Which raises, yet again, another head scratcher: is Dracula really that badass that Death will basically be the Jerry Lewis to his Dean Martin?



Grim Fandango

While not technically Death in the purest sense of the word, Grim Fandango's Manny Calavera still dons the iconic black robe of the Reaper in order to collect souls from the world of the living.  However, once he brings them back to the land of the dead, the truth is revealed: Calavera is just one of many reapers, who operate as travel agents for people looking to make the 7-year trip to their final resting place in accordance to Mexican folklore.  While not the most traditional take on Death, this boney Bogart is still a source of moribund memories.



Conker's Bad Fur Day

Conker's Bad Fur Day, Rare's irreverent and foul-mouthed platformer for the Nintendo 64 (and later the Xbox), gave us a short statured Grim Reaper by the name of Gregg, who again operates in a less than malicious fashion.  When he comes to collect Conker the Squirrel's soul the first time he dies, he crudely explains that squirrels can exploit a loophole where they can have as many chances at life as they need, provided they possess the squirrel tails to do it.  This makes him hate squirrels almost as much as he hates cats and "...the way they meow and piss everywhere..."



Hexen II

Well, this is about as typical a design as you can get for Death, one of the bosses in Raven Software's 90's classic Hexen II.  He's pretty much hits every mark on the Grim Reaper checklist.  Tattered black robe?  Check.  Skull for a face?  Check.  Scythe?  Check.  Hell, he's even on a pale horse!  However, he boasts one major difference from all of the other iterations of Death on this list: he's a video game boss from the golden days of first-person shooters.  What does that mean?  It means he's one of those cruelly difficult boss battles that made old farts like me fling our mice across the room (or at least as far as the cord would allow) in blind, spitting rage.

Bonus: Odin Sphere

This one may be stretching it a bit far, as Odette from Odin Sphere isn't an actual representation of Death, but rather a unique take on Hel, the Norse goddess of the underworld.  However, she's close enough to the subject for government work, and she is easily the most unique entry on this list.  Her over-the-top fashion sense, semi-skeletal frame and impressive...endowments...make her look like Russ Meyer got into the goth scene.

Oh, and she has a spider in her lady-parts.  Just mull that one over.