It says a lot about how werewolves are viewed that they’re most often presented in videogames as mindless, slavering enemies to be pummeled into a fine and slightly furry pulp by the hero. Compared to witches (who have become popular as protagonists and companions) and vampires (who are often charismatic and intelligent even while they’re still cast as the enemy) werewolves often get the short end of the stick in terms of their characterization. Thankfully there are still a few werewolves in gaming who exist as much more than just canine cannon fodder.
Generally speaking when I make a list like this, I prefer not to use characters that originated outside of games. That’s why Hermione Granger didn’t get a hat tip in the witch list, in spite of how spectacularly bad her hair has been in just about every Harry Potter game ever made. But that said, Bigby Wolf demands an exception, if only because werewolf noir is such an under-explored concept. The promotional art featuring Bigby’s eyes burning as brightly as the lighter he’s holding up to his cigarette makes a pretty good case for that all on its own, never mind the fact that no one’s as well suited to be gruff and growly as a wolfman.
Okay, so Altered Beast isn’t the most complicated and lore-heavy game of its era. I can’t exactly say that the centurions the players control are fascinating characters that will have you reaching for a wiki page to read all the hot details. But the transformations these characters undergo into all manner of were-beasts (wolves included) remain incredibly novel and make the centurions well worth mentioning.
Werewolves and werewolfish characters rarely demonstrate abilities beyond brute strength. They’re meant to embody the feral animalistic side that might be contained within just about anyone. That’s what makes Zoroark interesting, because in spite of their obviously werewolfish design they have a surprisingly sophisticated skill set that relies on the manipulation of their opponents mind as much as on claws and teeth and raw physical strength. Also, they evolve from Zorua and Zorua is precious, so that’s one more mark in Zoroark’s favour.
Okay, real talk: It’s no secret that the werehog levels of Sonic Unleashed are the absolute worst part of the game. Set against Sonic’s regular levels which have him speeding through some legitimately gorgeous Mediterranean scenes, the werehog levels are general the absolute draggiest kind of brawling and puzzle-platforming you can imagine. But that said, the idea of having Sonic change forms or be affected by a curse of some kind isn’t the worst. I mean he already basically goes Super Saiyan sometimes, so the attempt to give him a less pleasant transformation isn’t entirely off the mark. Unfortunately it just didn’t turn out to be fun.
Every member of The Companions qualifies for this list, as the entire guild is composed of heroic and adventurous werewolves. Although they don’t get as much glory as the Thieves Guild or the Dark Brotherhood, they’re still an interesting group of people. What separates Aela from the pack is the fact that she comes from a long line of Companions on her mother’s side. Generations of Nord women, passing down their bows and presumably also their lycanthropy to their daughters. That’s definitely not a story you hear often. As if that wasn’t enough, Aela’s also marriageable—and about a dozen times cooler than Lydia, at that.
I’m not entirely sure that Vicar Amelia is a werewolf. I’m not entirely sure what she is at all. I’m not entirely sure what anything in Bloodborne is, and I’d say that’s probably the point. She is a human who has become a beast, certainly, and she does have some incredibly sinister dog-like jaws, for that matter. The antlers may just be there to throw us off, since she does definitely howl, too. It’s probably a mistake to try to fit any boss from this game into a tidy little pre-existing definition, but if Vicar Amelia is technically a werewolf then she’s certainly one of the more original ones out there.
Take WarioWare and inject it with a full syringe of Hotline Miami and the result will be a reasonable approximation of Keyboard Drumset Fucking Werewolf... Which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, since it actually comes from one of the developers behind Hotline Miami. In one of the more relevant stages the player assumes the form of a pink wolf slashing at people in a vibrantly colored world, all set to a pulsing soundtrack. It’s surreal, and it’s free.
There are more than a few werewolves present across various fighting game rosters, but few can boast as sympathetic a backstory as Jon Talbane. The child of a human mother and a werewolf father, Jon grew up without either parent in his life and devoted himself to finding a way to break the lycanthropic curse he’d inherited. When he eventually realizes that isn’t possible, he finally begins to accept himself as he is, and even adopts and cares for a couple orphans along the way. One of his moves is also called “Sadness Wind” so if you’ll excuse me I need to go have a small cry.
Created when a Keeper bound a forest spirit to the body of a wolf to enact revenge upon the humans who attacked his clan, Witherfang spawned a pack of werewolves spanning generations. While the keeper in question wants Witherfang destroyed, the great wolf and the Lady of the Forest bound to him instead wish to negotiate to end the conflict between the Dalish elves and the humans-turned-werewolves. There are several ways for the player to resolve this conflict, but what makes it and Witherfang so important is that the issue is not a matter of objectively discerning right and wrong. Witherfang and the werewolves are not strictly evil beings, and the Dalish elves are not strictly good, and who the player ultimately sides with is their call.
Two words: Cyborg werewolf.
Two more words: Rad sunglasses.
He does kind of look like someone tried to make a nemesis for Alf out of a pair of old jeans and some scraps of shag carpet, but with a name like Brad Fang no one could deny him his rightful place at the top of this list.
Janine Hawkins is a games writer based in sunny Canada. You can find her written and video work on HealerArcherMage.com or follow her on Twitter @bleatingheart.