Stepping away from the monthly releases, this month we’ll be taking a look at some of the top games with female protagonists (for the most part), in celebration of International Women’s Day!
A decade ago, there weren’t too many games around that featured well developed female characters, but more recently we’ve been treated to some truly excellent titles starring some awesome heroines who will be sure to inspire and captivate a much more diverse gaming audience. Here's my top 5!
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Previously known for the formulaic shooting franchise Killzone, Guerrilla Games announcing a vibrant and unique game like Horizon: Zero Dawn seemed to come straight out of left field.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been sent back to the tribal age, inhabiting a version of earth where people are hunted by strange robotic animals. You play as Alloy, who was cast out of her tribe as a girl, and after being attacked by a mysterious cult, has to journey through what’s left of the planet to find the truth behind the world they now live in and learn how she may just have a big part to play in the future of humanity…
Although the gameplay is extremely enjoyable, the real highlight here is the story and characters, with intrigue driving the plot forward, and some enjoyable writing from our bad-ass and sassy protagonist.
The Tomb Raider franchise perhaps didn’t start off on the best foot with female representation in the original games, thanks to some very questionable proportions. However, the franchise reboot – headed up by major publisher Square Enix, and the talented team at Crystal Dynamics – gave a much stronger focus on Lara Croft as a person, and not just a generic eye-candied character to drive the game forward.
The first reboot (confusingly just titled “Tomb Raider”) focused on Lara’s origins, as we follow her very first quest that leads her down a path filled with adventure and mystery. The three follow up games (Rise and Shadow) piece together a new epic trilogy that’s truly worthy of the remaster.
The most recent release of our list, Control, was one of Remedy’s finest achievements – managing to take home various awards and nominations for best action title, best story, best art direction (the list goes on). But even more impressively, a few GOTY awards in a year which saw games like Sekiro, Devil May Cry 5 and Fallen Order, so it’s clear to see it’s made quite the impact…
Control follows the story of Jesse Faden, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control, who sets out to fight back against an unknown hostile force, as well as uncover answers to her mysterious past.
There’s not too much detail I can go into without entering spoiler territory, so all I’ll say for now is to get out there and pick up this game.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
One of the most popular franchises of all time, Uncharted, focuses on the misadventures of one Nathan Drake, a man from humble beginnings who traverses the world seeking long lost treasures of legends, such as the fabled treasure of El Dorado, the Lost Kingdom of Shambala, etc.
Along the way, we meet a few different women who play a supporting role to Nathan, but with the main franchise nicely tied up, it was time for a spin-off based around two fan-favourites…
This time around, adventurer Chloe Frazer and mercenary Nadine Ross team up to take on a ruthless warmonger, in order to venture through the Western Ghats in search of the legendary Golden Tusk of Ganesh. The new dynamic duo offers a much better insight into the pairs untrusting but dependent partnership, which manages to successfully shake up the Uncharted formula.
Speaking of troubled relationships, For our next and final game…
The Last of Us
I might be breaking the rules a little here, but I think the Last of Us is worth a mention just because of its truly incredible characters, and the evolving relationship between our 2 protagonists, Joel and Ellie. Although technically Joel is the central character for this entry, Ellie acts as the cornerstone of the game and despite the fact that we’re playing as Joel, this is very much the story of both characters – not to mention the fact that Ellie will be taking over as the protagonist for the upcoming sequel.
The Last of Us takes place in a world ravaged by a super-evolved fungal infection, turning humans into crazed virals attacking anything in sight, and with the last bastions of humanity forced into a military dictatorship. All of this acts as the catalyst for our pair, as Joel (A grizzled gun-for-hire who lost his young daughter at the start of the apocalypse) and Ellie, (A young girl born into the end of the world who has a mysterious immunity to the infection) must travel across the remains of America on what turns out to be a gritty and dark, but unforgettable, journey.
The highly anticipated sequel is soon to be released, and if you haven’t already played through this incredible game, you owe it yourself to get that done sooner rather than later.
So, there’s our round-up of the best games around at the moment with female protagonists, in celebration of women in games for International Women’s Day!
We’re also celebrating International Women’s Day by offering all women who are set to graduate from a Games or Interactive university course this year a free CV and/or portfolio review to help give you a great head start in the industry. So if you’re a girl graduating in games, check out how you can get involved here.
If you’re keen to stay on the girl power hype, have a read of our Women In Games 10 year challenge blog, where we meet some powerful females in the games industry. You can also check out our 2020 survey blog on the industry’s gender pay gap here.
As always, if you'd like to discuss any of these games with me, please feel free to get in touch with me on twitter @SansonWray
**All opinions are our own. If you love them too, great! If not - don't hate the player hate the game. Also, we have not been paid to review any of the titles included in this blog. Links are NOT affiliated.**