"Silent protagonist" usually refers to a player character in video game that does not speak throughout the whole game, except for short sounds or interjections. But quite a number of silent protagonists are not actually silent in-game. Other characters inside the game acknowledge them as a normal person who talks.
For example, in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the protagonist doesn't speak with voice -- but makes conversations with other NPCs throughout the story.
Today, we're counting down some of the most silent protagonists in all of gaming. These characters are not just lacking voiceover -- they're also silent throughout their respective games and don't make any sort of conversation.
Red is the default name for the protagonist of the first generation Pokémon games. He does not have his own lines during the entire game, and other NPCs infer Red's situation from the items he has or other things that might show what Red wants.
In the second generation of Pokémon games, he is the hidden final boss of the game. His only line in the second generation games is "......". As such, many Pokémon fans consider Red as a cool and chic, silent character.
Gordon Freeman is the protagonist of the Half-Life series, a famous FPS franchise developed by Valve Corporation. Valve didn't include any lines for Gordon Freeman, so that it would be easier for a player to immerse themselves in the game.
His quietness is not only just something set by Valve. In Half-Life 2, a character named Alyx Vance humorously jokes about Gordon's silence, saying:
Man of few words, aren't you?
Corvo Attano is the protagonist of Dishonored, a stealth action game developed by Arcane Studios. Corvo does communicate inside the game through actions such as killing, hugging, and giving stuff -- but he isn't very talkative.
Even in Dishonored's DLC "The Brigmore Witches", where Corvo appears as an NPC, he does not have a single line. Dishonored's writer has talked about about Corvo's silence before:
I'm biased, of course, but I think Dishonored grips you much more viscerally, more emotionally. And that's on purpose. Corvo doesn't talk and I think it works because everybody knows what Corvo would have to say.
Chell is the protagonist in Portal series, a puzzle FPS developed by Valve Corporation. Erik Wolpaw, who wrote the dialogue for Portal and wrote Portal 2 with other people, felt that the personality of Chell wasn't really important for making Portal.
GLaDOS, the nefarious artificially intelligent operating system, is irritated by Chell's silence -- saying "Are you even listening to me?". Wheatley, another AI from Portal 2, asks Chell to jump, instead of talk, to respond his questions. As these examples suggest, characters in Portal series DO understand that Chell is a silent woman.
Many gamers just accept silent protagonists without doubts. But game developers often have good reasons for using silent player characters -- perhaps to help players immerse themselves in the game,or because of the lack of technology, or because too much recording would needed, etc. And gamers know that. We accept it.
That is why some actually silent characters becomes special. The real quietness gives some extra characteristics to the characters that are unlike other protagonists.
I believe that there are more actually silent characters out in the world of gaming. When you are playing some game with a protagonist that doesn't talk, it can be pretty fun to think about whether the character is just a seemingly silent character, or a character who is truly man/woman of few words!