I’ve played my fair share of games over the years, and one aspect I’ve always particularly enjoyed and appreciated was when the characters you control (typically in action-focused games) are capable of entering into what are most commonly referred to as “rage modes”, normally temporary states of empowerment that vastly increase the character’s power and make him/her capable of devastating any nearby foes. The whole idea of making yourself more powerful by “unleashing your inner rage” or “releasing the beast within” has always been a very appealing feature for me, plus getting to tear enemies apart in a dazzling display of fury and madness is just so damn satisfying, isn’t it? I have compiled a list of my favorite rage modes and transformations in games because…well, I felt like it. This is a highly subjective list, of course, as I’m only including the rage modes and transformations in games I’ve played.
There are certain conditions that I included in this list. Firstly, I am focusing on characters who go through either physical transformations, enter states of empowerment (usually fueled through rage), or any combination of the two. Secondly, I am not including rage modes/transformations that the player has no direct control over. For example, the Prince character in the PS2 games Prince of Persia: Warrior Within and Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones goes through two different transformations: He becomes the Sand Wraith for an extended period in Warrior Within and goes through several short spurts as the Dark Prince in The Two Thrones. But both these transformations are brought about through scripted events, the player has no control over when to use them; therefore, they do not count for the purposes of this list. Thirdly, I am not including rage modes that come about through use of pick-ups or power-ups, such as the Berserker power-ups in the Doom games, since they have limited accessibility compared to true rage modes that run on meters and let players choose when to take advantage of them. Lastly, these are my personal favorite rage modes/transformations, and to keep things orderly, I am listing them in order from oldest game to most recent game. There are a couple of other rage modes I’ve experienced in my games that I am leaving out of this list since they weren’t all that impressive or effective. Feel free to share your favorite video game rage modes and transformations in the comments section.
1. Onimusha Form/Oni Awakening
Games: Onimusha 2: Samurai’s Destiny, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams
Boy, did I have some fun times with this series. Samurai and demons all killing the shit out of each other in feudal era Japan framed in epic narratives. What’s not to like? Naturally, one way through which the main characters in the Onimusha series could kill their demonic enemies was by transforming into ogre warriors known as Onimusha. First, I must make an important distinction. All 4 of the main games feature cutscenes and/or final boss battles where the hero becomes what could be called an “Ultimate Onimusha” in order to defeat their mightiest foes, but since these transformations are purely scripted, those are not the ones I will be discussing here (though I’m certainly not denying how badass those Ultimate Onimusha transformations are). I will instead be discussing the standard Onimusha/Oni Awakenings that can be used by a majority of the main characters in all games except the first one. These Onimusha forms grant the characters increased attack power, energy-based attacks, invulnerability, and they automatically restore any health the main characters may have previously lost. Their physical forms also change; while 3 of the main characters, Samanosuke Akechi, Jubei Yagyu, and Jacques Blanc, all gain a purple-ish aura and long, white hair through their Onimusha forms, the last main character named Soki, being the reincarnated form of the Oni God of Darkness, has a dark aura with the usual long, white hair.
In Onimusha 2: Samurai’s Destiny, Jubei has the ability to immediately transform into an Onimusha after absorbing 5 purple souls from fallen enemies. In Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, Samanosuke Akechi and Jacques Blanc are also capable of this same transformation, only they can activate the ability at any time they want after collecting and storing 5 purple souls. In Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, all 5 playable characters (Soki, Jubei Akane, Tenkai, Ohatsu, and Roberto) gain access to Oni Awakenings that grant them all invulnerability and other special abilities after acquiring the item called the Oni Orb (and after they’ve absorbed enough purple souls from defeated enemies). However, only Soki’s Oni Awakening has him physically transform into an Onimusha like his predecessors. These Onimusha forms and Oni Awakenings can be lifesavers, especially when fighting certain bosses or facing extra tough challenges where you battle lots of enemies.
2. Devil Trigger
Games: Devil May Cry, Devil May Cry 2, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, Devil May Cry 4
Disclaimer: I’m not including DmC: Devil May Cry in this category since I haven’t played the game yet; besides, it’s not part of the main series canon. Anyway, the Devil May Cry series, despite its difficulty, is another one of my favorite past times of the PS2 era (damn, those were good times), and it definitely has what could very well be my absolute favorite transformation in a video game series: the Devil Trigger. Chief main character Dante, being the half-demon son of the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda, is already a tough SOB as it is who possesses great strength, speed, agility and an arsenal of melee weapons and firearms that would make most other video game protagonists supremely jealous. But an extra perk of his unique heritage is that he can unleash the devil inside and transform into a powerful demon form that grants him with additional abilities, such as steady health regeneration, even greater strength and speed, somewhat higher defense, and depending on what weapon he’s wielding, he can imbue his attacks with different elemental attributes, like fire and lightning, and can even gain the ability to fly. The other playable protagonists in the Devil May Cry series, Lucia and Nero, also have Devil Triggers of their own (so do Vergil and Trish, though these two are only playable as extra characters with no unique campaigns of their own). After these characters land hits on enemies or receive damage from them, they gather more and more magic power, and once the corresponding Devil Trigger meters have enough juice in them, they can activate their Devil Triggers. In the case of Dante and Lucia, they also have to be wielding some type of demonic weapon in order to activate their Devil Triggers, while Nero must have possession of Vergil’s sword, the Yamato (Nero MUST be either Vergil’s very early son or the manifestation of his human half separated from his demonic half).
While Dante’s Devil Trigger appearance changes somewhat in each game, he’s pretty much always encased in red and black demonic armor and appears somewhat more bestial. This is doubly so in Devil May Cry 2 where Dante can enter a “Super Devil Trigger” state (or “Majin Form”) when he activates his Devil Trigger while his health is just above empty. In this form, Dante takes on an even more demonic-looking appearance where he grows to twice his size, has horns on his head, and has four wings on his back (more closely resembling his father, Sparda). He also has blades of pure demonic energy protruding from his forearms and is capable of unleashing a barrage of demonic fireballs on his enemies, and for good measure, he’s invulnerable to enemy attacks. In this form, even the strongest of bosses fall quickly to Dante’s greatly increased power. Now THAT is a transformation, ladies and gentlemen. Oh yeah, and Lucia’s Devil Trigger has her take on the appearance of a white, bird-like humanoid, while Nero’s Devil Trigger has a large, blue spectral demon hovering over him that swings the Yamato as Nero swings his own sword. These Devil Triggers really make players feel like true powerhouses like few other video game transformations.
3. Dark Jak
Games: Jak II, Jak 3
The Jak and Daxter series is one of my favorite series, and it’s responsible for some of my most enjoyable (and most frustrating) gameplay sessions in my younger years during the legendary PS2 era of gaming. It also brought me one of the coolest transformations in video games: Jak’s powerful and badass Dark Jak form. In Jak II, after being pumped full of the deadly substance known as Dark Eco by main villain Baron Praxis for 2 years, Jak finds that the Dark Eco flowing through his veins has granted him the ability to transform into a dark and mutated version of himself when he gets extra pissed or when he needs to really introduce his enemies to some serious pain (and he still has this ability in Jak 3). In this form, Jak’s skin and hair turn grayish, and his eyes become pools of pure blackness; his body also crackles with arcing Dark Eco energy. Jak can’t use his Morph Gun in this state, but he doesn’t really need to since his physical attack power easily doubles, as do the speed and range of his physical strikes. This increase in power lets him make short work of most regular enemies simply with his sharp claws, though that alone would not be enough for him to defeat a large group of gun-wielding enemies. Fortunately, he gains other powers in Jak II and Jak 3 that give him an extra edge, such as shockwave and arcing energy attacks, invulnerability, and a giant form where he grows two or three times his usual size and becomes even stronger.
One somewhat limiting factor to the Dark Jak form, especially in Jak II, is that Jak needs to absorb a certain amount of Dark Eco before he can activate his Dark Jak form, and he can only absorb Dark Eco from certain fallen enemies (not all enemies provide it). Furthermore, after using one of his more powerful attacks, namely Dark Bomb and Dark Blast, he automatically reverts to his regular state. Nevertheless, this is an awesome rage mode/transformation. It should be noted that Jak also has a Light Jak form that he gains in Jak 3, and while it has its uses, it’s not as empowering or intimidating as his Dark Jak form, plus it’s not even fueled by rage.
4. Rage of the Gods,Titans, and Sparta
Games: God of War, God of War II, God of War III
As should be rather obvious from the names provided above, these abilities that Kratos makes use of are rage modes that don’t physically transform him, but they do empower him through very explosive means (as pretty much everyone by now knows, it’s all about the rage with Kratos). It seems being a nigh unstoppable demi-god simply wasn’t enough for Kratos, right? In the first God of War, Kratos’s Blades of Chaos, after being appropriately upgraded, grant him with the Rage of the Gods ability, which runs on a meter that fills up as Kratos damages enemies. Once the ability is activated, a bolt of lightning strikes Kratos from above, creating a sort of electric armor (including what looks like the plume of a Spartan helmet on his head) that energizes him. In this state, Kratos gains more powerful weapon combos that hit extra hard, and his defense against enemy attacks greatly increases. After fully upgrading the Blades of Chaos, the Rage of the Gods also grants Kratos with unlimited magic, allowing him to cast his magic attacks as many times as he wants for as long as the Rage of the Gods lasts. In God of War II, after Kratos puts the now mortal and tortured Titan Prometheus out of his misery by knocking him into the Fires of Olympus, the ashes of Prometheus are energized by the flames and are absorbed into Kratos, courtesy of the Titan Gaia, granting him with the Rage of the Titans ability. Much like the Rage of the Gods, the Rage of the Titans has a meter that fills up as Kratos battles and slays enemies. After acquiring enough energy in the meter, Kratos can activate the Rage of the Titans, which causes Kratos to become enveloped in flames. The flames greatly increase Kratos’s physical attack power and defense. Later on in his adventure, after Kratos’s kingdom of Sparta is destroyed by Zeus, Gaia empowers Kratos further with the flames that consumed Sparta, which grants him the ability to incinerate surrounding enemies with a whirlwind of fire when Rage of the Titans is activated.
Finally, in the beginning of God of War III, Kratos has the legendary Blade of Olympus in his possession, only to lose it after being knocked off the top of Mount Olympus by his lousy father, Zeus. Some time later, Kratos finds the Blade of Olympus in the Underworld realm of Hades with the blade driven into a statue of Pandora and takes possession of it again. Retaking the blade grants Kratos with the Rage of Sparta, which can be activated, again, after damaging and killing enough enemies. Activating the ability has Kratos wield the Blade of Olympus and use it to slice his enemies to pieces. While wielding the blade, Kratos is granted with, you guessed it, greatly increased attack power and defense, and his speed is also dramatically increased, with each swing of the blade having him zoom towards his target in a flash. Unlike with his previous Rage abilities, Kratos cannot use his other magic attacks while using the Rage of Sparta, but he doesn’t really need them. In this state, the screen also darkens somewhat, with Kratos’s tattoos glowing a bright crimson, as if they are drawing in and absorbing all surrounding light. Kratos also has a rage mode in the prequel game, God of War: Ascension, simply called Rage. However, this particular rage mode, quite frankly, sucks compared to Kratos’s previous ones, so I won’t be discussing it here, as it doesn’t deserve to be included amongst Kratos’s far superior Rage of the Gods, Titans, and Sparta nor any of the other entries in this list.
5. Chaos Form/Reaper Form
Games: Darksiders, Darksiders II
Getting to control two of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Darksiders games was already pretty cool, but the fact both protagonists in the two games listed above, War and Death, are capable of transforming into large, hulking powerhouses that can make short work of damn near every enemy or boss in the games is truly badass. In Darksiders, War has access to his Chaos Form from the very beginning. When he activates the ability, he grows to three times his normal size and takes on the form of a fire imbued demon, complete with wings, horns, and a serrated blade of fire (kind of like a somewhat beefier version of a Balrog from The Lord of the Rings). It’s not long though before War’s Chaos Form, along with the bulk of his strength and other abilities, is stripped from him by his superiors, the Charred Council, as punishment for his supposed role in kickstarting the Apocalypse too early. Some time later in one of his encounters with the demon Samael, War regains his Chaos Form after Samael encourages him to unleash the rage seething within him due to the Charred Council blaming him for all of humanity being obliterated. Attacking and killing enemies, chiefly with his Chaoseater sword, allows War to store Chaos energy, and after acquiring enough of this energy, he can transform into his Chaos Form, which grants him invulnerability and much stronger attacks imbued with fire. The form doesn’t last too long, but given how powerful it makes War, he’s normally able to slay any enemy or boss he’s battling against before it ends.
In Darksiders II, Death begins his adventure greatly depowered, much like his brother War, due to him going on a mission to prove War’s innocence, a mission which was not sanctioned by the Charred Council. After leveling himself up a bit, Death reacquires his Reaper Form, which he can transform into by acquiring enough Reaper energy, which in turn is done by damaging and killing enough enemies, chiefly with his scythes. In this state, Death takes on the more familiar form of the Grim Reaper: He grows three times his normal size, dons a heavy cloak and hood that shrouds his face in darkness, has skeletal wings on his back, and carries a massive scythe. Death’s Reaper Form grants him greatly increased attack power, and while he does not possess full invulnerability like War does in his Chaos Form, he does possess much greater defense than he does in his standard form. He also floats above the ground and is capable of short-range teleportation, making him swifter than his large size makes him appear. As an added note, Death also briefly transforms into his Reaper Form in order to save himself from lethal falls and dash back up to the nearest stable ground. A handy technique, indeed.
6. Berserker Mode
Rick, the main character of Splatterhouse, is actually just a twiggy nerd with a disproportionately hot girlfriend, but after donning the supernatural Terror Mask (the other main character of the game), Rick is turned into a large, heavily-muscled version of himself capable of literally tearing apart the monster enemies he encounters in his adventure with his bare hands. But there are times where Rick’s increased strength alone is simply not enough to take on the large number of monstrosities in his path. After first putting on the sentient Terror Mask, Rick enters a Berserker Mode where he grows even larger and a number of bone spikes and blades protrude from his arms and back. Initially unable to handle this level of power, the Terror Mask regretfully limits Rick’s abilities, leaving him unable to access his Berserker Mode for a time. Later on, Rick becomes more accustomed to his new powers (and apparently more strongly influenced by the Terror Mask) and is able to use the Berserker Mode more freely after absorbing enough Necro energy from damaging and killing enemies. The Berserker Mode grants Rick with greatly increased attack power and also increases the power of his spike-based attacks. Berserker Mode also grants Rick with invulnerability, restores any health Rick may have lost, and will even immediately regenerate any limbs that may have been previously severed by strong enemy attacks. The fact the Berserker Mode can be upgraded to last a good while makes it a very useful ability to have.
7. Beast Form
Games: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Given the strange lack of modern games that allow players to transform into werewolves, I am especially appreciative to Skyrim for including this ability, among the many other abilities the game gives you. Disclaimer: I am aware that the Bloodmoon DLC for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind also provides players with this ability, but I never played that game. Also, as admittedly cool as the Vampire Lord power seems, I never used it since I much preferred my werewolf Beast Form. Becoming a werewolf in Skyrim is completely optional and also rather easy to accomplish. Firstly, you have to meet up with the group of warriors known as The Companions, which is easy enough since they reside in the town of Whiterun, which is basically the main hub for all of Skyrim. After joining them and accomplishing a mere handful of missions for them, the most senior members of The Companions known as The Circle give you the option to join their ranks. And since all members of The Circle are werewolves, you must become one as well in order to join them (which was just fine by me). After performing a ritual where you drink some of the blood of fellow Circle member Aela the Huntress, you gain access to the werewolf Beast Form.
In many ways, this is the most unique transformation on this list. For one thing, the Dragonborn can only access the Beast Form one time each in-game day, and it lasts about 2 minutes in real time (although this can be extended another 30 seconds or so each time you feast on the corpses of slain enemies, and this also helps the Dragonborn regain a portion of any health they may have lost). If you’re lucky enough to gain access to the Ring of Hircine through a separate mission, it allows the Dragonborn to access the Beast Form as many times as he/she wants. One interesting aspect about transforming into a werewolf is that doing it in front of even non-hostile NPCs will lead to them either becoming hostile or freaking out and running away, likely resulting in the Dragonborn getting a bounty placed on his/her head. The werewolf form has a number of advantages but also some disadvantages. Any armor the Dragonborn may be wearing in their normal form will be automatically unequipped in werewolf form, so they will be more vulnerable to certain attacks, especially arrows, although the werewolf form’s increased health helps somewhat to lessen the disadvantage of no armor. Any magic spells cast before entering werewolf form that increase defense or attack power will also remain active in werewolf form. Werewolves do take somewhat more damage from silver weapons, but fortunately, silver weapons are among the weaker weapon types in the game and aren’t all that common. Werewolves are incapable of using weapons or magic, naturally, but they do have sharp claws. And while claw strikes from the werewolf form may not always be as damaging compared to a higher level character’s weapon strikes, power attacks from werewolves still have devastating knockback effects, so much so that werewolves can use them to send other large enemies, like trolls and even giants, flying back a good 15 or 20 feet; their attack damage can also be increased through certain upgradeable perks.
I haven’t even mentioned how werewolves have incredible stamina and can sprint faster and for a longer period of time than pretty much any other creature in the game, or how their roars can frighten many enemies and cause them to run away for a short time, and these roars can also be upgraded through certain perks that allow them to summon wolves or other werewolves to fight by the Dragonborn’s side. There are other minor disadvantages to the werewolf form, like not being able to pick up items and equipment and not being able to check the world map, but those are hardly worth mentioning. While the Beast Form in Skyrim may not be the most obviously powerful transformation in this list, it doesn’t really matter in the long run, it’s still damn fun to use. To me, there are few things more satisfying than using your ferocious werewolf form to tear your way through a fort full of bandits or a cave full of vampires.
8. Ripper Mode
Games: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a spin-off to the critically acclaimed Metal Gear Solid series, and it’s quite the departure from the main series in terms of the style of gameplay. But I was perfectly fine with this game not focusing so much on the main series’ usual formula of stealth gameplay; being able to actually play as a Cyborg Ninja and slice enemies to ribbons rather than simply watching a Cyborg Ninja slice enemies to ribbons in (admittedly cool) cutscenes was a dream come true for yours truly. They bumped up the experience even further by adding a rage mode type of ability for main character Raiden in this game. About halfway through the game’s campaign, Raiden encounters a couple of cyborg enemies named Jetstream Sam and Monsoon who try to overcome Raiden through psychological means. More specifically, they make it so that Raiden is able to hear the fear-filled thoughts of the cyborg enemies he has been killing (nanomachines, son), and upon realizing that many of his enemies were fighting him simply because they had no other choice and were not actually pure evil, Raiden found himself doubting his purpose for fighting and his whole outlook on life in general.
This eventually backfired, however, as Raiden soon admitted to himself that he doesn’t kill his enemies as a means of protecting the innocent from their evil machinations like he originally convinced himself, he simply gets off on slaughtering those foolish enough to f#@k with him. Upon reaching this rather morbid epiphany and deciding to no longer hide his true self, Raiden’s murderous tendencies, personified through his old childhood nickname of Jack the Ripper, come bursting out. Thusly, Raiden was now capable of entering the aptly named Ripper Mode when his energy meter is full (which originally was only used to power his separate Blade Mode technique). Ripper Mode is very straightforward but effective. In this state, Raiden emits a blood red aura and his attack power is greatly increased, so much so that even more heavily armored enemies can be felled from just a handful of Raiden’s most basic attacks. It’s somehow strangely fitting that one of the most straightforward rage modes on this list would end up having the most complex and philosophical backstory behind it…but what else should one expect from a game whose story received the approval of Hideo Kojima?
9. Wolf Form
Games: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow- Mirror of Fate
It should be noted that I never played any of the older Castlevania games (I know, I know, so sue me), I’ve only played the Lords of Shadow games; therefore, I will not be including any transformations on this list that may have been in those older games. The first Lords of Shadow was pretty good, and Lords of Shadow 2 was…alright. Surprisingly, it was the game released between the two main titles, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow- Mirror of Fate, that ended up being my favorite of the series. This 2D side-scroller was, apparently, more akin to the older Castlevania games, and it was a surprise hit for me. One of the three main playable characters, the vampire Alucard, has a number of cool abilities, like the ability to glide, breathe underwater, use of a Mist Form that lets him phase through certain obstacles and drain health from enemies, and most importantly, the ability to change into a Wolf Form. At some point during Alucard’s adventure in Dracula’s castle, he is attacked by two large clockwork statues wielding scythes, and as they swing their scythes at him, his inner rage bursts forth and manifests itself by transforming Alucard into a bipedal white wolf. Alucard uses this new strength to stop the scythes from striking him and then proceeds to snatch the scythes away and uses them to destroy their wielders. This Wolf Form runs on Alucard’s magic meter and doubles his attack strength, and it’s also the only way for him to break through certain walls adorned with wolf head statues that lead to normally useful upgrades or collectibles. Aside from looking pretty cool, Alucard’s Wolf Form is quite useful in a jam.