5 modern games with underappreciated LGBTQ+ representation
As the world strives towards a more accepting future for minorities and humanity in general, video games too are evolving in that regard. We've seen major outings that celebrate s*xuality and being true to one's self. These range from renowned long-running franchises like Dragon Age and Fallout to new faces like Tell Me Why and Hades.
Even Guilty Gear Strive's upcoming DLC character Tempest has been unveiled to be non-binary. But what about those whose applaudable representation of LGBTQ+ characters flies under the radar? Here are 5 games, that may or may not be popular, but don't get enough credit for including people of different s*xualities. The list is in no partcular order. It should also go without saying that there will be spoilers for each game, so readers should be warned.
5 titles that portray a fairrepresentation of the LGBTQ+ community and are great games to boot
Supergiant Games' 2019 Greek-mythos-based roguelite Hades is easily one of the most popular and best offerings in the genre. It's also renowned for an unforgettable cast of characters, each with varying personalities and well-written s*xual identities that flow naturally into the overarching plot. Yet it wasn't the first game from the San Francisco-based studio to feature LGBTQ+ characters.
Their 2014 sci-fi action-RPG has subtle references to some of the NPCs' s*xualities that players can learn about as the story progresses. Three in particular: Sybil Reisz, Grant Kendral and Asher Kendrall.
The former is the first major boss of the game, and she is also in love with the female protagonist Red. The latter two can be mistaken for brothers, but gets revealed that they're a couple.
As members of the Camareta, they're sufficiently developed characters who spice up the already gripping plot of Transistor - even though their influence is only felt in the background.
Transistor is on PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
For something that looks like it's aimed at children, this 2020 PS5 launch title is surprisingly deceptive. This charming first-person adventure game takes players to Snaktooth Island - which is teeming with 'food insects.'
Players can explore the open-ended locales of the island, catch and complete the collection of 100 or so critters, like a burger-beetle or a pizza-butterfly. Yet these are secondary to the main attraction of the island: the people, known as Grumpuses.
Yes, Bugsnax is a narrative-driven game that, in stark contrast to its adorable exterior, covers some thoughtful topics like mental health and protecting the environment. These NPCs include non-binary Floofty Fizzlebean and pansexual Wiggle Wigglebottom. Or the aloof Chandlo Funkbun and his nerdy boyfriend Snorpy Fizzlebean.
What's great is that none of them feel shoehorned in - they're normal Grumpuses going about their daily lives. Much like Eggabell Batternugget's low self-esteem cutting into her relationship with her girlfriend Lizbert Megafig - that's very down to earth for a game about walking food.
Bugsnax from developer Young Horses is on PC and PS4.
3) Catherine: Full Body
Atlus hasn't been a stranger to portraying LGBTQ+ characters in their games and Catherine: Full Body might just be their best attempt. Released in 2019 for PS4 and PS Vita (with a Japan-only release for the latter), it is a remaster of the 2011 supernatural puzzler with social sim elements.
After coming in contact with two women, Catherine and Katherine, the protagonist Vincent gets bombarded with nightmares that transport him to a nightmare world
Full Body adds a third route with a new character, Rin. Initially, the game was controversial for transphobic content, which was rectified in a later update. Regardless, Rin gets confirmed as a cross-dressing male by the end of the game.
As someone who was pressured into acting as a woman due to his feminine looks, voice and attire, he eventually finds a soul partner in Vincent, should the player choose to go down that path. He is also a pure heart who wholeheartedly believes in the phrase 'love is love.'
Interestingly, his true identity is debated by many to be beyond that of a human even. Catherine: Full Body is available on Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, PC players only have access to the original version of Catherine, called Catherine Classic.
4) Psychonauts 2
It's still hard to believe Psychonauts 2 is a thing. After the original flopped commercially in 2006, there wasn't much hope for a new entry. Even though the game has transformed into a cult classic since then, even fans dismissed the idea of ever seeing a succesor - that is up until the 2015 announcement.
Fast forward six years later, and Raz's second outing dropped last year. This Unreal Engine 4-driven 3D platformer was everything fans had hoped for, maintaining the classic artstyle, gameplay and even humor.
Developer Double Fine didn't just refine the mechanics and level design, but also the characters whose psyches you'll jump and fight across. Akin to the original, Psychonauts 2 once again sheds light on various important NPCs' inner demons - from insecurity and fear, to anxiety and regret.
One of the more interesting locales to be explored is the Bob's Bottles level - a series of islands, each leading to separate areas that deal with different people that were close to the character Bob Zanatto.
One of these illusions is his husband Helmut Fullbear, who was taken down by the evil Maligula in the Battle of Grulovia. This loss struck at him hard, leading him down a spiral of alcoholism and shutting himself off from others more than he already had.
As is the norm, Raz helps the old man come to grips with reality and puts him in a better mental state. For how dark Psychonauts 2 can get, it does have its cheery moments.
5) Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium is an RPG like no other. For a 2019 RPG released among the modern gaming scene, it sure is a kind of experience that will appeal to very few.
The text-heavy adventure borrows table-top elements with dice rolls and perks. New information is unveiled via Thoughts, which first have to be reflected upon by the player for a specific amount of time before coming to a conclusion/answer to that Thought.
Players will encounter many NPCs, scenarios and paths that can be approached as they wish, according to their personality and temperament - in fact, chosen stats and skills can alter dialog choices.
The point here is that Disco Elysium is about a lot of things: ideas, topics, philosophies and debates. It handles all of it with care and confidence, and this is evident from the writing and set pieces, to the characters and pacing. Speaking of the latter, cue Kim Kitsuragi, your partner-in-investigation from a different police precinct.
He follows the protagonist Harry around, chiming in with his thoughts and being a pretty chill guy in general. He also happens to be gay, an optional fact tucked away deep among Disco Elysium's dense jungle of weird mechanics involving dialog checks and skills.
What this implies is that there are bigger things at hand to worry about than who's in a relationship with whom, and the Solution to the related Thought (called HOMO-Sexual Underground) addresses that fact precisely. Kim is one of the best written queer characters ever in a video game, though he's not the only representative in Disco Elysium's Revachol either. Harry himself comes to a s*xual awakening after Kim's little revelation.
The fact that his (and others') s*xual orientation is an optional aspect to discover, and one that is addressed so maturely and subtly, adheres to the normalcy of the fact. Kudos to developer ZA/UM for that.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut is available on PC, PS4, XB1, Switch, PS5, XSX|S and Stadia.
Abu Amjad Khan