Performance goes beyond just reading lines in a script as these actors and actresses showcased this year. It gets into your mind making it impossible to separate the character on screen from the voice that is in your head. The performances make the characters come alive and feel real. Really creepy, really caring, really enraging, the whole gamut of emotions felt by the characters is imparted through an effective vocal, and in some cases, motion capture, performance. This year, the biggest games went all out in pulling out some of the best performances in recent memory. The games may be what we enjoyed, but the performances are what will linger in our memories far beyond the end of the year. With that said, here are our winners for Golden Lance Award for Performance of the Year.
Winner: Christopher Judge as Kratos in God of War Ragnarök
Having stepped into the shoes of Terrence C. Carson, the original voice of Kratos, in 2018, Christopher Judge breathed life into Kratos. As always, the construction of a character is a collaborative fusion of narrative, art, and performance, but it goes without saying that Kratos would not have had near the resonance or reverence he does today without Judge’s absolute embodiment of the character.
Capturing the performance, as well as lending his impossibly bassy voice, Judge is responsible for every tilt of Kratos’ head and inflection in his tone. Haunted by his past and a terminal prophecy, Judge delivers a Kratos that speaks and moves with absolute intent. Not a word is wasted and yet, more than ever before, Ragnarök shows us an introspective God grappling with mortality. A single father, doing his best to shepherd his son toward a just future. A troubled man, summoning the courage to lay his ghosts to rest.
Steeped in a history awash with blood, Kratos is a character entangled with more lore than most, yet looking at those red scars and magnificent beard, Christopher Judge’s performance feels in perfect harmony with the movements, motivation and words of such a being, and that is one hell of a feat.
Runner Up: Debra Wilson as Savathûn in Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
Voice acting is described by some as giving life to words on a page. This is precisely what Debra Wilson did to Savathûn. Part of the villain’s draw is the chilling voice that haunts the ears of the player. Debra delivers a vocal performance that is equally beautiful and unsettling. Her voice can be sweet as honey one moment then razor-sharp the next. Debra often gives a sing-song cadence to Savathûn. This is most acutely felt when listening to her riddles. The delivery is perfectly wrapped in sincerity and mystique. It causes indecision on how truthful Savathûn is at any given moment. Debra Wilson is a voice actor that sends shivers down my spine every time I hear her through Savathûn. Anyone with that much talent rightfully deserves praise and to be our runner-up for the Performance of the Year.
Runner Up: Charlotte McBurney as Amicia in Plague’s Tale Requiem
A Plague Tale: Requiem was a major upgrade over the original game. Most notably in its emphasis on character performances creating the game’s strong emotional core. Amicia De Rune, played by Charlotte McBurney absolutely stunned me with her performance in this game. From the soft moments with Hugo to the tense moments when she has to defend herself. As well as terrifying scenarios when Amicia is absolutely frightened and weakened. Charlotte brought those moments to life to create a lasting impact on me.
Seeing Amicia go through the worst the world could throw at her would not have been as impactful if it was not for Charlotte’s strong voice acting. She nailed every scene she was in, with a level of finesse similar to Senua in Hellbade. For that, her performance deserves to be remembered.