Seven Deadly Wins: Best Supernatural Powers in Games

Nicholas DeBlasio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

7. Phaselock (Borderlands 2)

The Borderlands games are effectively designed to make you feel like a total badass, and many would agree that they are very successful in that. Maya the Siren’s Phaselock ability is simple at first – it isolates a single enemy and traps them in an energy sphere. As she levels up, Maya can upgrade her power to suit whatever role she desires: crowd control, life-stealing, and setting things on fire – all aspects that make her abilities as versatile as they are volatile.
Favorite: Cataclysm Tree – Versatility is great and all, but this is Borderlands we’re discussing. If things aren’t blowing up and/or on fire and/or being eaten by acid and/or being electrocuted, then the game just isn’t doing what it should. Enter Maya’s Cataclysm Tree, which turns a simple imprisonment spell into an explosion of fire, lightning, acid, and slag. Use this power, and you’ll understand why a lot of people in the Borderlands universe worship Sirens as deities. Being so overtly explosive, however, means that it lacks a certain creative finesse.

6. Shape-Shifting (Prototype 2)

When one of the major points of criticism for a game is that your character is too overpowered, you know the abilities have to be nuts. Shape your hands into huge claws and rip up the streets, lash out with tentacles and rip people in half, and grow a huge fist and smash a car into the pavement. The Prototype games have been called “badass simulators,” and with good reason. The Prototype powers offer more of an inventive outlet for mayhem than the Siren skills in Borderlands, but wantonly beating things into a pulp can get a bit dull after a while.
Favorite: Absorption – You can just stuff up, smash things to bits, and rip things apart in a lot of beat-‘em-up games and the like, but the power to eat somebody and take on their visage is really unique. It’s much cooler to ditch your bad reputation by eating someone’s face and then wearing it, as opposed to a game like Skyrim, where you’ll probably just reload your last save and forget you did anything.

5. Outsider’s Mark (Dishonored)

After the mysterious Outsider gives you his mark, there’s this constant undertone of what influence his powers exert on you. The creepy whispers as you activate Darkvision and Possession, or the growing penchant for murder if you invest in Blood Thirsty – it can be rather unnerving, especially as the Chaos level climbs higher and higher in the City of Dunwall.
Favorite: Possession – Possession bears a really interesting concept, especially for Dishonored’s merciful-or-brutal playthrough choices – you can see the world through the eyes of your enemy. It’s interesting even to see it through the eyes of a rat or fish, something with no value for the constructs of mankind but have proved to be so destructive in the events of Dishonored. Philosophy aside, possessing an enemy is great for slipping by entire squads of guards as one of their own, and yet you’re still enraptured to the game with a sense of discomfort, the fear of knowing that you only have a few seconds to get to safety.

4. Electrical Control (inFamous)

Trains, lights, television, computers – electricity runs our lives. If that kind of power were given to one person… let’s just say that it’s with good reason that inFamous makes for the possibility of going rogue. The powers in the sequel, inFamous: Second Son, are a lot flashier and probably better-suited for combat, but the electrical powers of the original game are slightly more toned-down, an aspect that has some merit, as it makes you get creative with the resources you have, rather than just be an overpowered smite-fest.
Favorite: Electromagnetism – Chucking lightning around as an offensive weapon is fun and all, but it’s been played out since the days of Zeus. Using electricity to ride power lines and rails like a super-powered Tony Hawk is a much fresher – and much cooler – concept.

3. The Thu’um (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)

Speak, and watch the earth burn before you. Bellow, and the thunder will answer your call. The dragon shouts of Skyrim are practically biblical in the power they evoke. Though some of them – such as Aura Whisper, Become Ethereal, and Kyne’s Peace – are little more than useful cantrips, the more powerful ones – Unrelenting Force, Storm Call, Dragonrend, and Dragon Aspect – really make you feel like the Dragonborn of legend.
Favorite: Unrelenting Force – Fus Roh Dah as a favorite goes without saying – it may, however, go with shouting. Gamers are a people plagued with frustrations: mobs of pesky minions, bothersome boss fights, level grinding, software bugs (especially in a Bethesda game like Skyrim), and all the anxieties of the real world. It just makes you want to yell at something really, really loudly. Unrelenting Force delivers that, with the added bonus of sending the thing that’s pissing you off flying.

2. Plasmids (Bioshock)

There are lots of games that let you shoot ice, fire, electricity, and the like from your fingertips, but Bioshock is one of the few that really makes you feel it. These powers aren’t fueled by magic or mana, but by a drug. From the injections, third-degree burns, and flayed skin, it really says something about the cost of power and the price of technology. Beyond that, the powers granted by plasmids actually interact with your environment on an at least somewhat scientific basis, like using Electro Bolt to fry everybody standing in a pool of water.
Favorite: Hypnotize Big Daddy – Sure, plasmids like Telekinesis are awesome, but what’s the first thing that comes to mind when Bioshock is mentioned? Big Daddies. Hulking animated diving suits, artificial, soulless eyes, oversized power tools – Big Daddies are cool. But more often than not, they’re trying to kill you, which isn’t cool. Enter the Hypnotize Big Daddy plasmid, and suddenly those loveable homicidal lunks become loveable homicidal lunks that are killing the people trying to kill you. That’s awesome.

1. Tears (Bioshock Infinite)

Technically, this power is wielded by an NPC, but it’s just too cool to not make the number one slot. Practically, it’s really versatile and useful to be able to bring in supplies or even automated allies from other worlds to help you in the thick of things. Conceptually, it’s fantastically unique: to breach the very fabric of reality to suit your needs, to look beyond the chaos in front of you and realize that there’s so much more out there – it’s a pretty incredible feeling. The effect can be so simple, but the ability to reach through time and space is just downright cool.

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