Ashly Burch is a name that comes up often if you have ever paid attention to voice acting credits for characters in video games. Her voice acting career has been very successful, and she has won many accolades, including Golden Joystick Awards in both 2015 and 2017.
Burch’s voice acting career is an interesting one. Although she has played video games her whole life, she only considered the role of voice actors when she played Metal Gear Solid and noticed the voice acting credits. Her break into the video game industry began with her web series Hey Ashly Watcha Playin’?, which assisted her with recognition when she began auditioning for voice acting roles.
These are four of the best characters Ashly Burch has voiced.
4. Parvati Holcomb – The Outer Worlds
Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, The Outer Worlds is a first-person RPG that takes place in an alternate future. After being given the opportunity to design and customize your character, you land on Terra 2, a planet in Halcyon.
The settings of The Outer Worlds are colorful and alien. They feature giant dandelions and pastel skies. To find a power converter, you travel to Edgewater. In this town, you meet Parvati Holcomb, an engineer who is always eager to help others. You are able to have Parvati as a companion who aids you as you complete your quests.
Parvati was written by the narrative designer for The Outer Worlds, Kate Dollarhyde. In an interview with Polygon, Dollarhyde states:
Parvati’s lived a very sheltered life. She’s quite naive. She hasn’t had a lot of contact with the outside world. All she’s known is this company town — the Spacer’s Choice town, Edgewater — and her very limited social circle, which is basically her boss, her father who has passed away, and then all the machines in Edgewater.
Ashly Burch’s voice acting helps to make Parvati one of The Outer World’s most caring and morally grounded characters. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that many consider Parvati to be one of the best companions in the game. Vice magazine called Parvati the surprise star of The Outer Worlds, and many have applauded Parvati for being a positive representation of asexuality. Even Ashly Burch has been shocked with the positive reception Parvati has gotten, and said the following to ComicBook.com:
I truly, genuinely had no idea that she would garner such a response. In retrospect, it makes sense because she is representing such issues or presenting an experience that is so rarely showcased in media.
The Outer Worlds was recently released on the Nintendo Switch, which will give more gamers and fans of Ashly Burch the opportunity to enjoy Parvati and the rest of the characters to be found in Halcyon.
3. Mel – The Last of Us Part II
The Last of Us Part II is the sequel to the hit PS3 game that had players trying to survive in a dystopian world where society is no more, and an infection has turned masses of people into violent monsters.
Gamers fell in love with The Last of Us due to its attention to detail and the skillful construction of the relationship between the two protagonists, Joel and Ellie. Joel is a man who has been worn down by the world and is grief-stricken by the loss of his daughter, Sarah. Ellie is a child who must mature quickly to cope with the darkness of the world she finds herself in. Together, Joel and Ellie become a complementary pair that learn to care for each other.
The Last of Us Part II continues the story of Joel and Ellie. However, on this outing, Ellie is out for revenge against a woman named Abby and a faction called the Washington Liberation Front after they harm those close to her.
The Last of Us Part II challenges players by attempting to put them in the shoes of Ellie’s enemies. For this narrative experiment to be successful, however, The Last of Us Part II would need to make its characters believable and their motivations sympathetic. Fortunately, the voice actors of the game do an excellent job of humanizing the game’s cast. This is especially true of Mel, voiced by Ashly Burch.
Although the beginning of the game frames Mel as an antagonizing figure in Ellie’s life, as players spend time with Mel, they discover that she has many redeeming qualities. She is a medic and goes out of her way to care for injured WLF soldiers. She has a love interest, Owen, and is carrying his baby. Furthermore, she condemns many of the violent actions taken by Abby and wishes to start a new life with Owen and leave all the conflicts behind.
Thanks to Ashly Burch, Mel’s character is brought to life and forces players to reconsider their first impressions of Mel and question whether revenge is a valid form of justice.
2. Chloe Price – Life is Strange
Life is Strange has always been a bit of an enigma within the gaming world. It does not look the best, the gameplay is not particularly noteworthy and the story offers up an illusion of choice that is shattered by an ending that disregards all the player’s previous decisions. However, despite all this, Life is Strange has managed to garner itself a bit of a cult following that is, arguably, not undeserved.
Life is Strange’s success could be attributed to a host of factors. One of them may be the soundtrack which featured melancholic indie music that did a good job of taking you back to high school with all its awkward moments and emotional turmoil.
Life is Strange also resonated with many gamers due to its host of interesting characters. Life is Strange features Max Caulfield, a teenage girl who attends Blackwell Academy and has a keen interest in photography. She can be timid at times, but she cares a lot for those close to her. Max discovers she has the ability to turn back time. Although the rules for how time rewinding works can be wonky, it was intuitive enough for players to get the hang of.
Although Max may be the protagonist of Life is Strange, and the main character players control, it could easily be argued that the story does not focus on Max, but instead revolves around her blue-haired friend Chloe Price, who is voiced by Ashly. Although Max and Chloe have been close friends since childhood, they grow apart after Max and her family move to Seattle. When they reunite later, Chloe and Max get involved a series of antics as Max tries to come to terms with her powers and Chloe tries to figure out what happened to her missing friend, Rachel Amber.
Many might resent Chloe for being emotional, rebellious and for having a penchant for getting Max into trouble. However, she perfectly represents the hormonal highs and lows that come with adolescence, and one cannot help but be charmed by her confidence and witty backchat. Furthermore, understanding that she lost her father and struggles to cope with her grief helps to put a lot of her behaviors into context. Love her or hate her, Chloe is memorable, and one of the most interesting characters voiced by Ashly Burch.
For those who cannot get enough of Chloe in Life is Strange, there is Before the Storm, which is a spin-off where Chloe is the protagonist. Although Ashly does not return to voice Chloe, it still manages to be a worthwhile prequel for anyone who enjoyed the first game.
1. Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn
In 2017, Guerrilla Games decided to take a break from their Killzone franchise and instead released Horizon Zero Dawn. The game features a post-apocalyptic world where modern civilization has been destroyed, and humans have reverted to a primitive style of living. Although the world presented is a beautiful one filled with luscious natural environments, dangers still lurk because of the existence of robotic dinosaurs known as machines.
Aloy is a feisty redhead trying to survive in this hazardous world. At birth, she is cast out of the Nora tribe and is raised by a strong yet caring man named Rost, who is also an outcast. Although the Nora children shun Aloy, her steely resolve never breaks.
To become a Nora, Aloy joins The Proving, a ritual where she competes against other Nora tribespeople in a series of tasks that test her agility and bravery. However, The Proving is cut short when a group of cultists who control corrupted machines enacts a massacre on the Nora. This leads Aloy on a journey to discover more about her origins and the cultists.
Ashly Burch’s voice acting does an excellent job of capturing Aloy’s personality. Aloy is very independent and is willing to forego traditions and customs if it means doing what she believes is right. She is also able to keep a brave face when confronting monumental challenges such as evil cults and robot dinosaurs many times her size.
However, underneath her hard exterior is a soft and loving person. Despite being an outcast, Aloy is always ready to help those in need. She also shows great affection for Rost and visits his gravesite to keep his memory alive. These touching moments are excellently voiced by Ashly, and she gives all Aloy’s words a believable weight to them. Commenting on Ashly’s aptness for the role, the Lead Narrative Designer of Horizon Zero Dawn had the following to say:
There’s an intelligence and articulate wit that’s realized in Ashly’s voice. And finally there’s an underlying vulnerability and woundedness based on Aloy’s experiences growing up as an outcast, being out in the wild.
It is a good time to be a fan of Aloy and Horizon Zero Dawn. In August, Horizon Zero Dawn will be available on Steam, allowing PC gamers to experience Aloy’s story. The PC version will come with many improvements from the PS4 version including a higher frame-rate and graphical upgrades. Most excitingly, Horizon Forbidden West has also been announced for PS5.
The four characters discussed appear on this list because they each left a lasting impression, and turned the video games they featured in into memorable gaming experiences. This would not have been possible without Ashly Burch.