Even in 2019, we don’t see a ton of games headlining women. Most of the heavy lifting comes from indie developers that are less concerned with their bottom lines than mega-corporations. Regardless there’s still been multiple incredible leading ladies in games throughout all generations, so let’s take a look at some of them, with a piece focusing on the Best Heroines in Gaming.
Kait Diaz (Gears 5)
Kait was first introduced in 2016’s Gears of War 4 as a supporting character in the story, even though most the game’s narrative is heavily reliant on her. Thankfully, Gears 5 rectified this by putting her front and centre, leading to a much more coherent and interesting tale.
After an ominous reveal at the end of Gears 4, Kait begins her journey in a state of insomnia, uncertainty and paranoia. Sinister visions plague her thoughts and a devastating series of events early in the game force her to go looking for answers about her heritage. Not only is this a perfect set up for some amazing emotional high points in which Kait suspects everything, but it also opens the door into the series’ past lore.
Throw in a badass character design, arguably the best song in the series being titled ‘Kait’s Theme’ and the fact that Laura Bailey gives an outstanding performance in the role, and you have one of the best heroines in gaming.
Clementine (TellTale’s The Walking Dead)
It’s rare that we get to follow a video game character from childhood, to adolescence, all the way into adulthood – over the course of a decade no less. It’s just an added extra that Clementine remains an endearing character throughout our 7-ish years with her.
In Season One of The Walking Dead, Clem represents a hope for the future and a path of redemption for our criminal protagonist, Lee. Seeing her re-contextualise the world around her is as fascinating as it is heartbreaking. Following her, and playing as her, throughout the series gives us a slightly different take on Clem. She’s hardened and becomes an efficient survivor, but the fundamental moral goodness at the centre of her character never goes away.
Princess Garnet/Dagger (Final Fantasy IX)
Final Fantasy is full of amazing leading ladies so picking just one was a challenge. Yuna? Aerith? Celes? Lightning? Rydia? The list can go on and on but ultimately it’s Princess Garnet’s fight for independence, individuality and self-discovery in FFIX that’s so memorable.
The beginning of the game sets her up to be a captured damsel in distress as our protagonist and his group of con-artists plan to kidnap the Princess for ransom. That’s the way it looks until it’s unveiled that Garnet was already staging her own escape from her oppressive mother and willingly goes with the group in an escape attempt. She discovers an unimaginably larger world and as cliched as it sounds, she finds herself.
Many of the game’s most emotional scenes have her in the spotlight. From the opening escape sequence, her renaming herself, falling to the ground after witnessing her mother’s tyranny, returning to her kingdom to defend it almost single-handedly, and eventually cutting her hair in a scene that would be hard to emotionally explain. She’s charismatic, fun, but ultimately it’s her vulnerability that makes her acts of heroism so incredible.
Bayonetta (Bayonetta series)
Bayonetta is… different to the other ladies on the list. Many of our other heroines on the list have made a conscious effort to move away from being so overtly sexualised. Bayonetta, on the other hand, owns her sexual nature and uses it as a taunt. She provokes her demonic enemies by flaunting her figure and spanking them in the same way 12 year old boys teabag their opponents in online games.
On top of that she’s also made history as the first and only third-party lady to join the Super Smash Bros. roster (apart from half of the Banjo-Kazooie duo). Her two games are universally accepted as some of the best action games of all time and with a character as confident and lethal as Bayonetta, no one would possibly argue with the clout that comes with her name.
Lara Croft (Tomb Raider series)
This list just wouldn’t be complete without the Tomb Raider. She’s not just a big female hero, not just a video game icon, but a touchstone in the pop culture landscape. She initially made headlines because of her overt sexuality and hourglass, polygonal figure; there was even a prevalent urban myth that you could undress Lara with a glitch. Her sexualisation has been the source of immense controversy over time but it’s impossible to argue that gaming needed a break from the generic dudes at the front of every box. Lara’s sassy, assured British personality made her a welcome change of pace and it’s amazing to see one of the most enduring franchises being headlined by such a woman.
Overtime, there’s been a lot more character infused into the character of Lara, notably in the rebooted trilogy starting with Tomb Raider (2013). While this redesigned Lara is undoubtedly beautiful, she’s not sexualised and there’s so much more going on in her character. One of the best things about her is that she’s a nerd, seriously. She gushes over the history of artefacts as you collect them, and she slowly learns new languages as you uncover ancient murals. She’s more relatable then she’s ever been but later the rebooted trilogy gives her a deadly obsession with finishing her father’s research; this doesn’t always lead the best stories but it always gives Lara moments to shine.
She’s been an icon for more than two decades and I can’t wait to see how the Lara keeps evolving.
So there we have it – some of the very best heroines in gaming. But have we missed out your special leading lady? Let us know your thoughts and comments by hitting us up down below.