So designer Rick Luebbers has the same beef that I have: games that attempt to "immerse" you in the story by putting you into the shoes of a character with no personality who does not speak. Misguided designers of games like Golden Sun, Half-Life and the Zelda series have the idea that this enhances gameplay. I say that it kills storytelling.
Read the full post on Rick's blog.
The bottom line:
"Making the player into the character isn’t actually what’s going on! Yes, in a game, where the player really can define their own story there might be some value here as long as the player has a way to interact with the world beyond hitting/shooting it in the head. But that kind of game was always rare and is becoming scarcer and, further, the character isn’t even truely silent there. In the other 99% of games this isn’t what’s happening. You will uncover the character’s secret past, you will marry the princess, you will travel down the beach to break your friends from prison… but this is NOT the player’s story. It’s the character’s story! The essential flaw of this technique is that a character’s story arc is defined by so much more than simply dialog and by hacking out one aspect of that you are doing nothing more than deluding yourself."