It’s very hard for games to create genuinely menacing antagonists, barring horror games. While there are definitely some video game antagonists that successfully instil a sense of fear and leave an effect on us, it’s very rarely fully realised. Gaunter O’Dimm or ‘Master Mirror’ from The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone is for me, perhaps the best villain from a video game this generation and one of the greatest of all time.
We first meet him right near the start of the main game without actually knowing it then. While searching for Yennefer, Geralt stops at the tavern in White Orchard, where he sits and talks to a supposed merchant who points him in the right direction. He appears to be just a normal innocent human being, so we think nothing of it at this time. It isn’t until the first expansion Hearts of Stone do we discover his true identity as an extremely powerful and dangerous being.
Throughout the expansion we gradually uncover the extent of his capabilities. He is able to grant various wishes, cause pain to ghosts and manipulate the world around him, including time itself. One scene in particular stands out above the rest in showing just how powerful he is. Whilst a conversation between Geralt and him is playing out, a drunken man interrupts, causing O’Dimm to freeze time. After their conversation ends, he proceeds to embed a wooden spoon deep into the eye and head of the intoxicated man, and resume time for us and Geralt to witness the outcome. This chilling and gruesome event singlehandedly demonstrates what he can do, exemplifying his menacing character. He doesn’t require an extravagant murder-fest to make us see him as a threat. This small, intimate demonstration is all that is needed, and it’s highly effective.
To further cement him as a masterful antagonist, his final encounter, or ‘boss fight’ if you will, is so unique and perfectly designed. I don’t really want to spoil it too much, in case there are still people yet to play the game, but it captures everything about who Gaunter O’Dimm is and displays this in an unsettling sequence of fights, horror, and riddles. It was a thrilling end to such an incredible expansion. Gaunter O’Dimm will stand out in gaming history as one of the most interesting, complex and unlikely menacing villains.
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Can anyone hear Gaunter O’Dimm and not think about the spoon-scene? That scene sent chills down my spine and from then on, I knew that guy meant business!
The only problem was that there wasn’t really any stakes. It was Geralt vs him, so who could possibly have won? The scene with the spoon was so powerful because it had absolutely nothing to do with Geralt. And it was on such a personal scale. It was down to Earth, and outright evil!
Remember the final vampire invasion in Blood&Wine? That was as uninteresting as dry toast! It was completely disconnected from what’s going on in the game. “Oh, there’s a thousand vampires on a killing spree? Let’s play some Gwent!”
One thing I do want to say about the final encounter is that, in my opinion, it dragged on for too long and the riddle was rather obvious. It was great in the beginning, and hooked you with a feeling of “now you’ve really fucked up”, but in the end, it was just running around until you got it right.
Great character choice, however! 🙂
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Exactly, I just loved that he wasn’t what you’d typically think of what a villain looks like. He doesn’t need to be some huge, horrifying looking being, he can instil fear with his actions.
Yeah I can see why you say it drags on a bit. I ran out of time the first time as I went the wrong way and barely had any time to reach the final section. But it was just so different witch such great atmosphere.
I do love Blood and Wine (it was like an entire new game taking me around 25 hours to complete), but Hearts of Stone was more compact and focused on its narrative. Not a single part dragged on.
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