12 best LGBTQ inclusive games in 2023
Night in the Woods
An oldie but a goldie, Night In The Woods still holds up nearly a decade after its original release. A 2D adventure game where you'll explore the town of Possum Springs, Night In The Woods also has plenty of LGBTQ characters that are portrayed in a subtler manner than most games.
On the surface, it's easy to miss the LGBTQ+ themes in Night In The Woods, but delve a little deeper, and you uncover complex backstories that evoke feelings that many of us can relate to. It's an exceptional game that no one should miss.
Arcade Spirits is technically a dating sim, but it could be better described as a relationship sim, as you can stick with platonic relationships throughout the story. However, in this alternate universe where arcade gaming is still king, you'll find that the game does not restrict your dating preferences in any form.
The freedom of Arcade Spirits makes this one of the best LGBTQ+ dating sims. No matter how you customize your character, you can engage with people however you want. Pair this with the retro setting, and you've got one of the best LGBTQ+ friendly games around
While romance options are present in nearly every RPG or simulation game, few do it as comfortably as Stardew Valley. It lets you date, marry, and bear children with one of 12 townspeople. If you marry someone of the same sex, you can adopt a child instead. But what makes Stardew Valley truly special in this regard is the genuine emotion put into each character. You're guaranteed a heartwarming relationship no matter who you set your sights on.
Hades is a brilliantly fun hack-and-slash roguelike with almost as many awards as characters. You'll come for the gameplay but stay for the story. In Hades, you play as Zagreus, the son of the titular god. Deciding he's had enough of the stuffy underworld, Zagreus embarks on a journey to escape to the surface. Along the way, you'll meet a host of characters from Greek mythology who help you in your quest. You can romance three characters, each of differing sexualities. We won't spoil who they are, but we can guarantee you'll be thinking about them for days.
Gone Home was released in 2013 and remains one of the best walking simulators. At the time, it was one of few games to have a lesbian lead character, and it was celebrated for its sensitivity and thoughtful approach to its subject matter. With a playtime of 2-4 hours, you can quickly finish it in an afternoon, so there are few reasons to avoid this gem of a game. However, Gone Home's portrayal of LGBTQ issues is slightly dated, but it's still a must-play.
Life Is Strange
Life is Strange is an episodic story-driven game. The first episode was released in 2015, and since then, it's been fleshed out with the follow-up games Life is Strange 2, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, and Life is Strange: True Colors. The Life is Strange series features multiple queer protagonists across its many stories. The same-sex relationship in the first game isn't explored much initially, but later games in the series dive deeper into it. The first episode is free, so you've really got no reason not to try it out.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator
Dream Daddy is one of the best dating simulators out there, as it pokes fun at the genre while providing a genuinely brilliant experience. In Dream Daddy, you'll design and play as a dad out to romance seven other dads, each with a distinct personality. In the character designer, you can pick from a range of gender identities and sexualities alongside the expected options for facial hair, clothes, and body type. While fun, the game manages to avoid stereotypes to create characters that feel authentic and unique.
Tell Me Why
Tell Me Why is another narrative-driven adventure game from the developers of Life is Strange. Released in 2020, it's an original story featuring a transgender protagonist. The game was developed with several trans consultants, who provided the game with influences from their own experiences. If you loved Life is Strange, but want a story with a new cast of characters and setting, Tell Me Why should be your first stop.
Unlike the style portrayed by visual novels like Gone Home or Life is Strange, If Found... has a unique, minimalist art style that keeps you focused on the story. While If Found... is built around relationships, the game's purpose is to help players connect to the characters' emotions. Part of the story follows a young transgender woman exploring how she handles relationships with family and friends. It's a touching, unique story that offers something different from the traditional visual novel.
Unpacking is a zen puzzle game that is about unpacking. A refreshingly literal title aside, Unpacking tasks you with removing items from boxes and arranging them in rooms. It sounds basic, but the longer you play, the more you'll be drawn in by the unspoken story. You follow the life of a woman unpacking items at different stages in her life, and you'll see how each item tells a different story. This visual method of storytelling is an excellent way of helping you understand her life experiences, from discovering her bisexuality to handling an unpleasant boyfriend.
Celeste's protagonist, Madeline, is trans, but it's not clearly stated in the game. In a post on Medium, the developer discusses how they were unaware that they or Madeline were trans during development. They explain how this struggle is reflected in the game, so while it may not have served as a pinnacle of trans representation at its release, we can now see and understand it far better. It's worth reading their Medium piece before you play, as it will help you to understand the beautiful platformer that is Celeste.
The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories is a puzzle platformer with a clear message. The protagonist, J.J., is struck by lightning, which gives her immortality. Unable to die, she performs multiple instances of self-harm to solve the game's puzzles. While this game might be hard to stomach for some, the uncompromising portrayal of self-harm and LGBTQ+ issues creates an unsettling, beautiful story.
Source: by Jon Gilbert at Android Police