It's hard to get people to agree on what constitutes a terrible game. Outside of some notorious outliers, such as E.T. or Ride To Hell: Retribution, most games can find a fan base, however small. However, most people can agree on what makes a great character.
Characters like Nathan Drake or Geralt Of Rivia are undeniably great characters, and without them, their respective games would never have achieved their lofty, must-play status. That's because a great character inherently elevates the game they're in, regardless of quality.
A great character can make a good game great or a terrible game... well, at least tolerable. It could be (and usually is) because of great writing, but even that isn't a requirement.
If you've ever recommended a game by basically saying, "It sucks. But it's worth it," it's almost always because of either its story or style. In either case, the characters are usually to thank for that. Maybe they're sympathetic in a way most characters aren't; maybe they buck or subvert the tropes of video game heroes and villains; maybe they're just really, really, undeniably cool. Whatever the case, being in their company can somehow make playing through almost any game worth it.
So let's take a moment appreciate the characters who deserved way better games. It's their time to shine, baby!
10. Sazh - Final Fantasy XIII
Sazh stands out from the rest of the Final Fantasy XIII party - and many other Final Fantasy characters - in that he is just a normal guy. He's also notable for being in his 40s among a cast of teens and twenty-somethings.
Sazh joins the quest to save his son, Dajh. It all has to do with him being a Cocoon l'Cie, condemned by a Fal'Cie to complete a Focus, to save Dajh - turned into a Cocoon l'Cie after an attack by two Pulse l'Cies. Dajh completes his Focus and turns into a crystal and... I don't know. I do not know. Do you see what a mess this game is?
Sazh's plainness is in complete contrast to the insanity you just read, and that's what makes this mild-mannered airship pilot and single father so uniquely grounded and sympathetic. He's willing to put up with all of that just to save his son.
On top of that, he serves as the default parent of the group. Sazh's careful thinking, cool head and positive attitude consistently saves the other party members from running off and getting themselves killed. It's a thankless job and he handles it all like the world's greatest dad.