Upcoming Games Starring Protagonists Of Color
As a black man with a lifelong obsession with games, I’ve either heard or been asked this question many times in my life: What games let you play as black characters? My answer is usually pretty short. Anyone paid attention knows that games have predominantly featured white protagonists for decades. There are plenty of great-looking games on the horizon, but finding titles starring heroes that resemble the people in marginalized communities can be like finding a needle in a haystack. That’s unfortunate because no matter the shape or size of a game, it’s always a powerful feeling to see a character that looks like you.
So, I’d like to prepare an answer for people who are regularly asked the same question and for those who ask it themselves. I’ve compiled this list of upcoming games featuring protagonists who are black, brown, or just non-white in general. To that end, this list excludes games with user-created protagonists. Character creators are great and all, but they also put the responsibility of diversity onto the players, rather than developers taking the initiative themselves. Now, let’s take a look at the coolest-looking games starring protagonists of color.
Far Cry 6
Release Date: 2021
The Far Cry series isn’t always stellar about handling its cultural themes beyond simple stereotypes, but here’s hoping that changes with Far Cry 6. Set in the Cuba-inspired island of Yara, players control Dani Rojos (who can be male or female), a local that gets swept up in a revolution against the country’s brutal dictator, Antón Castillo (played by Giancarlo Esposito of The Mandalorian and Breaking Bad fame). We don’t know much about the plot, but the debut trailer revealed a fascinating relationship between Castillo and his young son, Diego, who he wants to mold in his image. How Dani fits into this father/son story isn’t clear, but it’s safe to expect the high-octane gameplay Far Cry is known for.
Unknown 9: Awakening
Release Date: TBA
This mysterious sci-fi title centers on Haroona, a young girl from Kolkata, India who discovers she’s imbued with a mysterious power that allows her to access a secret dimension known as The Fold. Haroona eventually encounters a mentor who teaches her how to hone this power to uncover the secrets behind this dimension as well as her abilities. We still know little about the game other than it’s a third-person action/adventure title set in the Unknown 9 universe, which is a multimedia sci-fi franchise spanning multiple books, comics, and podcasts. Though I’m not familiar with the broader series, I am intrigued to see what lies ahead for Haroona in the game.
Developer: Red Thread Games
Release Date: TBA
Dustborn is a story-focused action/adventure game about a band of misfits on a dangerous road trip. Steering the narrative is Pax, a con artist and ex-convict who recruits a motley crew of allies to help her transport a mysterious package across the America Republic, a fractured version of the former USA. Your crew (or “Fam”) sport their own unique abilities as well as colorful personalities and backstories, which you learn more about through a deep dialogue system. The comic-inspired art direction gives the game a loud personality, especially the use of onomatopoeias. With both the government and fanatical puritans in hot pursuit of our not-heroes, Dustborn looks to be a wild and exciting road trip.
Developer: Thunderful/Image & Form Games
Release Date: 2021
The team behind the beloved SteamWorld franchise tackles something totally new in The Gunk. This Xbox exclusive stars two astronauts who happen upon a planet teeming with life and valuable resources. Only one problem: The world is being overtaken by a corruptive, parasitic goo. Exploration requires using the protagonist’s power glove to suck up the gunk to clear paths and uncover valuable artifacts. You also need it to combat slime-corrupted monsters. Ridding zones of the malevolent substance opens larger areas containing more clues of the planet’s past. What is the gunk? Where did it come from? We’ll have to wait until sometime later this year to find out.
Developer: Leap Game Studios
Release Date: 2021
I’m a sucker for a good beat ‘em up, and Tunche taps into the innate fun of punching bad guys in the face while its roguelite structure keeps players on their toes. The map and enemies change with each playthrough, meaning you and up to four friends never know what to expect with each go-around. A tight, fast-paced combat system allows players to decimate monster hordes with juggling air combos while evading with an air-dash, among other abilities. Tunche is also easy on the eyes thanks to its hand-drawn cartoon art that breathes life into the game’s Amazon rainforest setting. Don’t take my word for it, though. Download the game’s free demo on Steam and see for yourself.
We Are The Caretakers
Developer: Heart Shaped Games
Release Date: Q1 2021
Described as an “afrofuturist squad management RPG,” We Are the Caretakers is all about defending endangered alien animals from extinction. Using systems inspired by games such as Ogre Battle, Darkest Dungeon, and XCOM, players assemble an arcane team of anti-poaching protectors to engage in tactical battles in procedurally generated campaigns. The game sports a full job system as well as a reputation mechanic where your actions affect how the world views your team. That includes managing international relationships by meeting with world leaders and balancing their demands. We Are the Caretakers sounds like a fun and robust game with a good conversationalist message in the middle of it all.
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