Voice acting has been a celebrated, though sometimes unappreciated, form of performance since well before TV and movies were around. These days, the talented folks who have spent their careers in recording booths are slowly becoming more recognizable—and more recognized—for the amount of hard work actors put into fictional characters. Whether it is anime, cartoons, or movies, voice acting is an essential job that shows the impact fictional characters can bring on fans of those media.
Video games started off with corny and cheesy voice acting, but as time has gone by, and narrative quality has increased, voice acting has improved drastically, helping to breathe life into the characters we encounter in all types of games, from a RPGs to platformers. Just compare 1996’s Resident Evil to 2019’s Resident Evil 2 (or better yet, 2016’s The Last of Us) and it’s safe to say that voice acting has been taken seriously, improving the overall quality of video games exponentially.
So, with the many high-quality games that came out this year, who was our pick voice actor and actress of the year? Before we get to that, let’s take a look at the breadth of talent we considered for both voice actress and actor.
Ashley Burch – The Outer Worlds, Borderlands 3, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
Erica Mendez – Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Kill La Kill If, Code Vein
Brianna Knickerbocker – Astral Chain, Catherine: Full Body, Shenmue III
Erica Lindbeck – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Mortal Kombat 11, Daemon X Machina
Tara Platt – Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Rage 2, Kingdom Hearts III
Kari Wahlgren – Mortal Kombat 11, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Steve Blum – Mortal Kombat 11, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes
Ben Diskin – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Kingdom Hearts III
Chris Hackney – Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Code Vein, Shenmue III
Crispin Freeman – Days Gone, The Outer Worlds, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
Norman Reedus – Death Stranding
Joe Zieja – Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Shenmue III, Daemon X Machina
After much consideration, and some good old fashioned debate, two stood out among the rest.
Voice Actress of the Year
Laura Bailey, for her work in Gears 5, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and Catherine: Full Body
There are many lovely and incredible voice actresses working today, but if there is one you can instantly recognize, it’s definitely Laura Bailey. After starting off with a gig as an anime voice actor, Bailey expanded her horizons and delved into the world of video games, with roles such as Rayne from BloodRayne and Serah Farron from Final Fantasy XIII.
This year, we saw her return as the critically acclaimed Kait Diaz in Gears 5, reprising her role as Catherine in Catherine: Full Body, and continuing her work as Black Widow in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order.
It has been a strong year for Bailey, and her unmatched talent lands her in our top spot this year.
Voice Actor of the Year
Richard Epcar, for his work in Mortal Kombat 11, Kingdom Hearts III, and Daemon X Machina
Epcar has become a legendary voice actor for his unforgettable roles in anime, cartoons, and, of course, video games. His memorable performances this year ranged from Raiden in Mortal Kombat to Ansem in Kingdom Hearts to Brigadier General in Daemon X Machina, revealing amazing character development and depth, and nostalgic feelings to those who have been longtime fans of the series.
Many talented voice actors have done an incredible job with their performances this year, but this is definitely the year of Richard Epcar.
For more of our Year in Review 2019 series, head to our hub page.