Far too often characters in video games are completely one dimensional: the helpless female white mage or the burly male protagonist with a huge sword. When breaking from tropes, simply making a healer be a male character or a warrior be a female does not fix these simple depictions. Some of the best characters are the ones with deeper story lines and motivations. In the Square Enix’s The Last Remnant there is a family of women that break through simple stereotypes and emerge as great characters.
Note: The following contains spoilers regarding the Honeywell family from The Last Remnant.
The game’s main character is a walking cliche. An 18 year old male gets pulled into an epic war in Athlum after trying to rescue his kidnapped younger sister. While he has no prior battle experience he ends up joining with a king and his 4 generals on the battlefield. This young character of Rush Sykes is mostly uninspiring. The generals, however, are an interesting set of characters. Emma Honeywell is an older women and she is one of the 4 great generals of Athlum. She is an extremely powerful damage dealer. Her outfit is completely appropriate attire for battle rather than the chain mail bikini often seen on female warriors in video games. Her back story makes Emma more than just a walking sword. She is a compassionate person and shows quite a bit of kindness and affection toward the young King, acting as a parent or caregiver to him. Later in the game you find out that she cared for a beautiful royal garden that she planted as a sign of hope after another character had burned it to the ground. In a striking scene between Emma and the main antagonist of the game, the character proves her resolve and steadfastness. She knows that she is outmatched, but she fights to her death to protect the city. The battle scene is moving because Emma never gives up. Even after being struck down, she stands again and continues to defend what she holds dear. Video of the battle between the Conqueror and Emma Her strength is not simply winning in battles, but is based on standing up as a protector even when the odds are against her. After that amazing scene, you meet another member in the Honeywell family. Earlier in the game Emma waits in various towns for an unnamed character. This mysterious character is Emmy Honeywell, Emma’s biological daughter. She has been on a pilgrimage and her mother had been awaiting Emmy’s return. Like her mother she is an exceptionally strong warrior. She dual wields with large swords and has a devastating special attack. The attack is called Hundred Flowers and when it is used it reminds me of her mother’s garden and the symbolism behind its existence.
These women are great warriors but their impact is more than that of just a strong fighter. They motivate, care for, and support the characters around them. I feel that their kindness and empathy are as important in the story as their battle skills, and that is rare in games.