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Best Video Games With Female Protagonists

There can be no denying that, in the past, women in video games have been overlooked at best, and poorly written fan service at worst. Thankfully, though, things are now changing. Developers and publishers are realizing that women actually do play games, are worth writing about, and games with female protagonists do sell.

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Female protagonists are part of a growing trend in video games as developers look to branch away from the burly macho men of yesteryear. As always, the indie scene is also doing a fantastic job of providing us with layered and flawed characters. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some great games with equally great female protagonists.

Updated on November 28, 2023 by Rebecca Phillips: Since it’s been a few years since we last updated this article, we decided to give it a refresh and add some more fantastic female video game protagonists.

23 Night In The Woods

Mae Borowski

Night In The Woods group of friends sat together

Night In The Woods

Platform(s)
Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One

Released
February 21, 2017

Developer
Infinite Fall

Genre(s)
Adventure

The protagonist of Night in the Woods is Mae Borowski, a 20-something college dropout who finds herself back in her hometown of Possum Springs after struggling with her mental health. Despite the cast of characters being anthropomorphic animals, Night in the Woods explores a variety of important themes and messages, and does so with great care.

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Mae in particular has resonated with fans of the game, as her struggles are realistic and relatable. Her character drives the plot as she reconnects with the people of Possum Springs, and discovers just how much has changed since she left home.

22 Final Fantasy 6

Terra And Celes

Final Fantasy 6 Terra artwork

Final Fantasy 6

Platform(s)
SNES, PS1, Game Boy Advance, PC, Mobile

Released
April 2, 1994

Developer(s)
Square

Genre(s)
RPG

The Final Fantasy series has treated us to some excellent female party members over the years, but it’s rare to see one given a starring role. That’s not to say it never happens though, with the Final Fantasy 13 trilogy and the Yuffie DLC for Final Fantasy 7 Remake serving as a testament to that. The pick of the bunch, however, is undoubtedly Final Fantasy 6, which as well as being one of the series’ very best entries, features not one, but two female leads.

Terra’s struggle to come to terms with the revelations about her lineage and past allows you to get a better idea of her mental strength, while her physical strength is on display right from the beginning of the game. Likewise, Celes’ time on the island with Cid also serves as a test of her mental toughness and her ability to move past her depression and reunite the party ultimately serves as the catalyst for Kefka’s downfall.

21 Portal 2

Chell

Chell evading gLADOS through an orange portal

Portal 2

Platform(s)
PS3, Xbox 360, Switch, PC

Released
April 18, 2011

Developer(s)
Valve

Genre(s)
Puzzle, Platformer

Valve doesn’t make new games all that often since the creation of Steam, but, when it does, they tend to be good ones. The first Portal game was a wonderfully written physics-based adventure that captivated gamers everywhere and its sequel was even better. For as enjoyable as the gameplay and puzzles in the titles are, however, the games’ biggest strength is arguably the captivating relationship between their protagonist, Chell, and the psychotic AI system, GLaDOS.

As a silent protagonist, it would be easy to discount Chell as a bit of a nothing character, but there’s a lot more to her than first meets the eyes or ears. Despite the barrage of barbed insults that GLaDOS hurls at her and the apparent hopelessness of her situation, she just keeps on testing in the hopes of somehow finding freedom. This perseverance eventually pays off in what ends up being a thrilling and fast-paced climax.

20 The Walking Dead

Clementine

Clementine in The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead The Game

Platform(s)
Android, iOS, PC, PS3, PS4, Vita, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox 360

Released
April 24, 2012

Developer(s)
Telltale Games

Genre(s)
Adventure, Horror

She doesn’t become the focal point of the Telltale series until the second season, but Clementine is often considered the best part of the games. Even after Telltale closed down, Robert Kirkman helped get a group together to finish the game so fans could find closure for Clementine’s arc.

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In the first season, Lee takes care of Clementine, and then when he passes away, Clementine has to find her own journey and eventually takes care of a younger kid the same way Lee took care of her.

19 Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Evie Frye

Evie Fyre in Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Platform(s)
PS4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia, Amazon Luna

Released
October 23, 2015

Developer(s)
Ubisoft

Genre(s)
Action, Adventure

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate focuses on two protagonists, Evie and Jacob Frye. Evie is the older twin sister of Jacob. She is a British assassin who was active during the Victorian era.

Evie quickly became a fan-favorite character and has remained one of the most popular characters in the series. While she doesn’t have the whole game to herself, she does have a lot of memorable moments and scenes in Syndicate that make playing it worthwhile.

18 Resident Evil 3

Jill Valentine

Resident Evil 3 Screenshot of Jill Valentine

Resident Evil 3 (2020)

Platform(s)
PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S

Released
April 3, 2020

Developer(s)
Capcom

Genre(s)
Horror

A remake of Resident Evil 3 followed in the footsteps of the Resident Evil 2 remake, with Jill Valentine taking the lead role alongside Carlos Oliveira. Like Clare, Jill has always been a very popular character in the series. In the remake, you play as Jill after she is attacked in her apartment by an intelligent bioweapon called Nemesis.

The game is about Jill’s escape from Raccoon City and the pursuit by Nemesis that almost kills her. Some reviewers have called Resident Evil 3 as strong of a remake as Resident Evil 2, but play for yourself and find out which you prefer!

17 Half-Life: Alyx

Alyx Vance

Promo Shot For Half-Life VR Featuring Alyx Vance

Half-Life: Alyx

Platform(s)
PC

Released
March 23, 2020

Developer(s)
Valve

Genre(s)
FPS

Half-Life: Alyx is a VR game in the popular Half-Life series that follows Alyx Vance’s journey. You control Alyx, humanity’s only chance at survival, as she tries to help the resistance take down the Combine once and for all.

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The game is set in between the first Half-Life and the second. Alyx will need to team up with her father, Dr. Eli Vance, and many other allies.

16 Bright Memory

Sheila

Sheila in Bright Memory

Bright Memory

Platform(s)
PC, Android, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S

Released
November 1, 2019

Developer(s)
FYQD

Genre(s)
First-Person Shooter

Bright Memory is a first-person shooter and hack-and-slash game that features a protagonist named Sheila, who works for the Science Research Organization. Her goal is to try and prevent a military organization from reawakening the dead.

It takes place in a riveting and graphically gorgeous location called “Land of Sky,” which is home to many ancient beings. The game received excellent reviews upon its launch.

15 Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst

Faith Connors

Faith Connors in Mirror's Edge Catalyst

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

Platform(s)
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Released
June 7, 2017

Developer(s)
DICE

Genre(s)
Action-Adventure

Faith Connors is the protagonist of the Mirror’s Edge video game series. She appeared in the original game and its reboot, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst.

Her role in the game is that of a “Runner,” which is someone who transports necessary items to groups trying to hide from the controlling government system. She has incredible abilities and complex storylines in the games.

14 Silent Hill 3

Heather Mason

Heather Mason shining a flashlight in Silent Hill 3

Silent Hill 3

Platform(s)
PlayStation 2, Windows

Released
August 5, 2003

Developer(s)
Konami

Genre(s)
Survival Horror

Silent Hill is a beloved survival horror series with some of the most disturbing imagery in the genre. Silent Hill 3 is a direct sequel to the first game, although it is the third overall.

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You take on the role of Heather Mason, the daughter of Harry Mason, the protagonist of the first game. As Heather tries to find her father, the world around her begins to shift into something much darker and more sinister, and the reality around her begins to fracture.

13 Resident Evil 2

Claire Redfield

Resident Evil 2 Remake Screenshot Of Claire Standing Next To Locker

Resident Evil 2 (2019)

Platform(s)
PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PC

Released
January 25, 2019

Developer(s)
Capcom

Genre(s)
Horror

Resident Evil 2 received rave reviews when it launched and it even won multiple Game of the Year awards. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering how well-made the game was. It has two protagonists in Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield.

Claire has long been considered an iconic video game character, especially in the Resident Evil series. She’s a renowned badass who people can’t help but love. In this game, you get to help her escape Raccoon City from the plague of infected.

12 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Kassandra

Kassandra in Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Platform(s)
PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Stadia

Released
October 15, 2018

Developer(s)
Ubisoft Quebec

Genre(s)
Action RPG, Open-World

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is one of the few games in the series that lets you choose to play as a woman for the entirety of the game. Kassandra is easily the most popular option, too.

While you can choose between her or Alexios, it seems like most players strongly prefer Kassandra. In terms of her character design and the voice acting, she is a very strong choice. Another plus for the game is that it introduces romance options and you can choose to make your character a member of the LGBTQ+ community if you want.

11 The Last Of Us Part 2

Ellie Williams

Ellie holding a shotgun and Abby screaming

The Last of Us Part 2

Platform(s)
PS4, PS5, PC

Released
June 19, 2020

Developer(s)
Naughty Dog

Genre(s)
Action, Adventure

Where the first The Last of Us game was, for all intents and purposes, a story about Joel as he came to terms with the loss of his daughter and learned to love again, the sequel instead focuses on Ellie’s struggles to accept the brutal reality of the new world. She’s not the only strong female protagonist in the game though, as you also spend quite a bit of time in the shoes of the game’s main antagonist, Abbie.

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Some of the events in the game didn’t sit well with everyone, nor was Abbie a particularly popular character. Even so, her inclusion allowed the developers to tell a very different type of story than the one found in the first game, with viewers encouraged to reexamine their thoughts about Joel and Ellie. Perspective can sometimes be incredibly important, and that’s definitely the case when looking at events through Abbie’s eyes.

10 Tales Of Berseria

Velvet Crowe

A screenshot showing the main characters in Tales of Berseria

Tales of Berseria

Platform(s)
PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC

Released
January 24, 2017

Developer(s)
Bandai Namco Studios

Genre(s)
RPG

The first game in the Tales series to feature a female protagonist is also the best Tales game in years. Tales of Berseria tells the story of Velvet Crowe, who grows up in a quiet village that is soon ravaged by daemons brought on by an event known as Daemonblight.

This event causes Velvet to be possessed and mutate into a sort of daemon-eating daemon who hunts daemons. But what allows Velvet to stand out is the fact that she’s your unconventional female JRPG character, taking on the archetypically male role of an aggressive, bloodthirsty, revenge-driven monster slayer.

9 Tomb Raider

Lara Croft

Lara Croft scrapes at the edge of a cliff in Tomb Raider Underworld

Tomb Raider (2013)

Platform(s)
PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC

Released
March 5, 2013

Developer(s)
Crystal Dynamics

Genre(s)
Action-Adventure

While the original Tomb Raider games did feature a tough female protagonist, she was also skimpily-clad and busty. The newest incarnation of Lara Croft is a well-proportioned, slightly more suitably-dressed young woman who goes beyond simply being the ‘strong female protagonist’ and moves into the realm of being a fully realized character who is flawed, makes mistakes, takes risks, makes judgment calls, learns, grows, changes, and becomes a better version of herself. She is incredibly human.

The game certainly struggles with a lot of narrative dissonance as Lara gets teary-eyed over killing a dear in a cutscene only to then silently mow down several human beings with an automatic rifle 30 minutes later, but that’s a mechanical oversight rather than bad writing. Lara is still excellent.

8 Celeste

Madeline

Celeste - Madeline Looking Over A Cliff During A Sunset

Celeste

Platform(s)
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Released
January 25, 2018

Developer
Maddy Makes Games, Extremely OK Games, Ltd.

Genre
Platformer

Celeste is a game about anxiety, overcoming personal fears, and moving through an existential crisis. It’s a beautifully written game with outstanding platforming mechanics and, best of all, a complex and believable female protagonist (named Madeline, not Celeste — Celeste is the mountain).

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Madeline’s journey up the mountain is a physical manifestation of the hero’s journey, as they grow and learn and fall and fail and change along their way. She is a young girl trying to achieve something great for nobody’s sake but for her own. She wants something to be proud of, and this is what she’s chosen. It’s your job to help her get there.

7 Super Metroid

Samus Aran

The Box Art for Super Metroid

Super Metroid

Platform(s)
SNES

Released
April 18, 1994

Developer(s)
Nintendo R&D1

Genre(s)
Action-Adventure

The big reveal at the end of the original Metroid — that Samus Aran is in fact a woman — is decades old now, but it’s always worth remembering that this badass space bounty hunter who fights pirates and traverses hostile terrain is also a woman. While Samus may not be an outstanding character in terms of her writing, character development, dialogue, and interactions, she is an excellent character when judged on her actions.

From game to game, Samus visits myriad planets, each with their own dangers to survive and mysteries to uncover. Using her wits and her physical strength, Samus must survive and succeed in her mission, and ensure that you have fun while she’s doing it. Her suit and ship designs also remain some of the coolest in gaming history, untainted by time and nostalgia.

6 Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Chloe Frazer

A screenshot showing Chloe and Nadine in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

The Uncharted series is all about Nathan Drake and his bromance with Victor ‘goddamn’ Sullivan. In each of the four mainline games, white man Drake teams up with older white man Sully to fight off hordes of their fellow men. While Drake is not overly masculine, he can still become tired as a character, and so the launch of Lost Legacy, which allows you to finally embody fan-favorite supporting character Chloe, was a welcome one.

Paired up with the sort-of villain of Uncharted 4, the South African mercenary leader Nadine, Chloe embarks on her own Uncharted journey, allowing youthe opportunity to enjoy all the witty banter and teamwork that we’ve come to enjoy from Uncharted games, but with two tough ladies instead. A real refreshing experience.

5 Bayonetta

Bayonetta

Bayonetta pointing her two guns

Bayonetta

Platform(s)
PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Switch, Wii U, PC

Released
October 29, 2009

Developer(s)
Platinum Games

Genre(s)
Action

While she might be all skimpy clothes, suggestive comments, and the occasional streak, Bayonetta is undeniably a tough woman. Unafraid of everything she comes up against – that includes God – Bayonetta doesn’t cower in the face of danger. In fact, she laughs in it, kicks it, and grinds it into the dirt with high heels, which are also guns and sometimes swords. Bayonetta has fun in every moment of combat, and you have fun right along with her.

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Her posh English accent and her librarian glasses wonderfully juxtapose her frantically murderous actions. Her obsession with style melds perfectly with the obsession of the game itself with substance, making for a perfectly balanced action game.

4 Alien: Isolation

Amanda Ripley

Alien Isolation Promo Art

Alien: Isolation

Platform(s)
PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Switch, PC, Android, iOS

Released
October 7, 2014

Developer(s)
Creative Assembly

Genre(s)
Survival Horror

Ah, Ellen Ripley. One of cinema’s most beloved badass women, and one of the coolest sci-fi and horror movie heroes of the 20th century. In the incredible homage to the original Alien film, Alien: Isolation, you play as Ripley’s daughter, Amanda.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Amanda finds herself in a similar, though arguably far more dangerous situation than her mother as she traverses the mostly abandoned Sevastopol space station. Amanda is tasked with using her wits to outsmart her pursuers, one of which is the deadly hunter xenomorph, as she hides, crafts, weapons, and learns her environment in order to survive. She is every bit the woman her mother was.

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