Games with male leads are a dime a dozen so in this video, we’re showcasing notable titles with strong female characters. From an archaeologist to an empress-turned-assassin, here are the 10 Best Games with Female Leads, arranged by playscore.
10. Emily from Dishonored 2
Emily could've just as well stuck to being the damsel in distress slash moral compass in Corvo Attano's world of assassin vengeance. But, Arkane Studios showed us that they don't take criticism lightly. After being panned for their portrayal of women, or lack thereof, they showed us all, turning their sequel into a showcase of exactly what the former Empress of the Isles could do.
Through it we see Emily Kaldwin grow from the young woman she was in the first game: taking up the throne, training under Corvo Attano, and then putting it all to practice in her fight to take back the throne.
While we ultimately have the choice on how much chaos we bring, her journey still offers a unique perspective--basically growing out of her pretty, privileged background, and opening her eyes to the bigger picture of becoming the Queen her people deserves.
Emily isn't the first playable character in videogame history, but she remains a shining example for the kind of diversity in games. Dishonored 2 gets a playscore of 8.47 on the PC, 8.85 on the PS4, and 8.46 on the Xbox One.
9. Anicia from A Plague Tale: Innocence
Clearly, badassery isn't the only thing that makes a woman.
While there’s a bit of magic in the sad world of plague tale innocence, anicia brings her own brand of luminosity in her role as big sister to the young, powerful, yet also vulnerable character Hugo.
Asobo Studios is known for their adaptation of movies into games and even though this is a new IP, their expertise in cinematic themes continues on, especially in how they handled the two main characters’ complex story.
Anicia isn’t the center of the story. She’s not the one imbued with magical mystery, but it’s exactly her humanity that makes her the hero of the story. Her nurturing and protective instincts drive to her keep forward, attempting to survive the circumstances and motivating us to do the same.
A Plague Tale Innocence gets a playscore of 8.67 on the PS4, 8.64 on the PC, and 8.50 on the Xbox One
8. Clementine from The Walking Dead Collection - The Telltale Series
Pretty much the collective little sister for fans of the Walking Dead series, Telltale brought us indescribable joy with Clementine’s rise from vulnerable child into a whole person in her own right
The Walking Dead Collection spans all four seasons of the popular Telltale adaptation, starting from the first in 2012. And each one is important in telling the tale of Clementine’s journey from the protected under Lee, to the hardy protector to Alvin Jr.
The post-apocalypse is unforgiving for everybody, but with her, we witnessed it take away her innocence bit by bit. Through it all, she remained a shining beacon of hope, veering away from anger and disillusionment, and instead walking the path of growth and maturity.
A young, developed character--who didn’t suffer the pitfalls of sexualization-- Clementine’s was a breakthrough videogame representation and it’s one you can witness yourself on the PS4, with a playscore of 8.62.
7. 2B from NieR: Automata
You don’t look at a character like 2B and think she’s the icon of empowerment.
Yoko Taro pretty much admitted that the way the character looks in-game is because, well, He Just Likes Girls. Female empowerment was not at the heart of 2B’s conception, but, well, she IS technically a girl, albeit a robot one, who just happens to have a sexy butt and a pair of heels.
Looks aside, 2B’s journey is an emotional one. Despite starting out as a cold, unfeeling robot, there’s a heart within her--one that’s continually aching for escape from her cruel programming. Nier is at its core an existentialist adventure, and 2B is front and center: growing out of her cold shell, learning how to communicate, how to be kind, and even how to love.
Sure, she’s still the ultimate fan service, but apart from the combat impracticality, she’s hella strong and she’s definitely working it. 3++. NieR: Automata receives playscores of 8.96 on the Xbox One, 8.94 on the PS4, and 8.20 on the PC.
6. Senua from Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Even while they felt like market demands for female leads were low, Team Ninja still stuck with it--all to bring justice to an idea that Senua plays a central part in. Although she’s based on a Celtic goddess and created to capture the spirit of strong Celtic woman’s spirit, Senua’s power as a female lead comes directly from her vulnerability.
Built into her story are struggles with a necrotic arm, and most especially, psychosis. Living in Senua’s shoes isn’t just a look through a fascinating culture, it’s also a look into life with mental illness--a struggle that she fights through bravely, along with all the dangers that come her way.
Senua’s is an important story to tell, and with Team Ninja’s efforts, it’s also an amazing experience. Appearing on Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, it gets playscores of 8.88 on the PS4, 8.63 on the PC, and 8.57 on the Xbox One
5. Bayonetta from Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2
If there’s one thing you can’t blame a woman for, it’s being sexy af and owning it every step of the way.
Since her first appearance in 2009, Bayonetta has been captivating audiences from one console generation to the next, and she’s even found herself exclusively on Nintendo’s latest platform.
Being provocative may be ingrained into her DNA, but even with seductive charm and on the nose moves like the Umbral climax, Bayonetta is never trashy. She’s just one classy witch who’s just out to eviscerate every single angel in her way.
She knows what she’s got and flaunting it. And that’s what makes her such a strong candidate for powerful female leads. While she might be present in the fantasies of some men, what she could be for women is on another level.
Unlike the meek, docile characters that some people feel women should be, she becomes THE power fantasy to aspire to--whipping out her moves, and working out her intimidating aura on anyone--whether man, woman, or monster.
Being in Bayonetta’s heels will definitely feel good, and you can experience it yourself, with Bayonetta on the PC with a playscore of 8.85, and the Switch Collection Bayonetta + Bayonetta 2 with a playscore 8.81
4. Madeline from Celeste
Our fledgling mountain climber looks young but she’s definitely all woman.
Surrounded by a candy-colored palette and delivered with exquisite pixel detail, you wouldn’t expect much emotion from Madeline’s trek to the top of Mount Celeste. If we learned anything from Ori and the Blind Forest though, it’s that simple, sidescrolling platformers could deliver just as much heartbreak as any other game.
Crafted from the fabric as Hellblade, Madeline’s journey is one that teaches us a lot about the struggles of a troubled mind. We may not always be grappling through snowy cliffs and mossy mountain edges, but her grapples with anxiety and depression could easily strike a chord with the many who’ve been through the same.
We learn to overcome them--punishing platforming, disturbing thoughts, and all that-- together.But if there’s one thing she tells us, it’s that whatever we’re going through, we’re not alone.
Celeste receives a playscore of 9.19 on the PC, 8.91 on the PS4, 8.69 on the Switch, and 8.56 on the Xbox One
3. Lara Croft from Rise of the Tomb Raider
Who could forget? As one of the first female characters to be at the helm of her own franchise, she’s regarded as one of the great pioneers of our time. Lara Croft is a smart, agile, and gorgeous woman who could do action as well as the next man. We’ve known her since her pointy polygon days, but the changes really came with the reboot series.
Apart from shedding off the blocky look for a more realistic model, the character itself also evolved. She moves away from being a poster girl for unrealistic standards and into something a little more relatable.
Her origin story shows her pampered archeologist days to her accidental stumble into survivor mode. Adventure became her obsession, and we often see her difficulty with decisions. She’s more emotional, a lot less sure, and definitely a lot less sassy. But what’s clear is, Lara continues to be an icon to this day, and there’s more to her story yet.
Rise of the Tomb Raider gets the highest marks with playscores of 8.9 on the PS4, 8.86 on the PC, and 8.78 on the Xbox One.
2. Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn
As delicious as it is to roam around in half futuristic half-primitive world of Guerrilla Games’ creation, at the heart of what makes it all great, is Aloy--a skilled hunter from a tribe with a cynical outlook on technology. She makes the game, simply because of her refusal to live by the limiting perspective of the people around her, thus opening us up to the impressive beauty of her world.
A rebel spirit, she doesn’t always get along with everybody. But as a character, that only adds to her charm. Aside from the fact that everybody wants to play the renegade with a biting wit, we also get to bear witness to her growth and maturity.
It takes a while but eventually she breaks down her walls, tries hard to get better, and eventually learns to empathize with other outcasts like herself. Before it releases on the PC, Horizon Zero Dawn gets a playscore of 9.11 on the PS4.
1. Claire from Resident Evil 2
Diving into the infected streets of Raccoon City, Claire’s is a tale that may be already familiar to the fans of the Resident Evil franchise, and, more importantly, only serves as one half of the whole narrative. Despite that, she still comes on strong. Throughout the game she shows off her strong willed-ness AND strength. As a relatively small 19 year old, she doesn’t have a problem slumming it with the bad guys, carrying her own in firefights and kicking zombie heads.
Other than that she also has her compassion and her smarts, teaming up with the young Sherry and infiltrating the Umbrella Corporation. Claire may be an underdog compared to the arguably more iconic Jill, but she deserves the spotlight, at least for now.
Resident Evil 2 is currently the highest rated Resident Evil title with playscores of 9.28 on the PS4, 9.20 on the PC. and 9.02 on the Xbox One.
- Chloe and Nadine from Uncharted: Lost Legacy, A standalone expansion that shows us the series is in good hands despite Nathan Drake's retirement.
- Kassandra from Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, The spartan equivalent in the AC's Greek expedition, capable of swinging swords and swinging both ways.
- Kat from Gravity Rush, She defies gravity in the most stylish way in Bluepoint games' action adventure series
- Max from Life is Strange >, High School's a lot harder in this episodic adventure, but Max makes it through with her own ways
- Aurora from Child of Light, She may live in a storybook fantasy, her fight against the darkness has never been easy
To discover more titles worth playing, visit the following all-time rankings: