By Claire Graman
Coming-of-age stories capture what is perhaps the most difficult part of life, the hard transition from childhood to adulthood. In this genre, hero(ine)s discover their identity, test relationships, and navigate an often cruel and nonsensical world. Video games make this journey more immediate, as you guide your protagonist on their quest.
In these coming-of-age video games starring strong girls and women, players are active heroines, shaping their destinies on epic adventures.
This action adventure game takes place in a distant future where humans live in tribal societies while robotic beasts roam the land. You play as Aloy, a young woman raised as an outcast, as she uncovers her mysterious past, hunts robots, and saves the world. Available for PlayStation 4 and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 13+.
In this narrative-driven game, you play as Max, a high school girl in a coastal Oregon town who finds she has the power to control time. Max is a fully developed character with relationships, a past, and hobbies. An added bonus is the central theme of female friendship. Available for PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 260 and One, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 16+.
In this fairy tale role-playing game, the princess takes up a sword and controls her own destiny after being transported to a fantastical world. With unique characters, a watercolor world, and an outstanding soundtrack by Béatrice Martin, this game will leave lasting impression. Available for Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and One, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 10+.
In this widely-acclaimed game, you play as a young woman climbing a mountain. This simple premise provides a powerful parallel for the heroine’s own battle with depression and anxiety. Available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 10+.
This ground-breaking narrative game has simple controls, but complex themes, as it explores teen identity and sexuality. Available for Linux, Mac, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 15+.
In this virtual reality game, you play as a young woman fighting a colonial power with the help of her falcon. With themes of cultural identity, freedom, and friendship, this game is a hidden gem. Available PlayStation 4 and Virtual Reality. Common Sense Media rates this 13+.
Named after the children’s game, Oxenfree follows a group of teenagers on one last camping trip before college. Unfortunately, they are coping with the recent death of a friend. Even more unfortunately, the abandoned island they’re camping on seems to be very haunted. Available for Mac, Windows, and Xbox One. Common Sense Media rates this 14+.
In this interactive story inspired by magical realism, you play as the titular Edith Finch, a young woman exploring the history of a family curse and how it impacts her own life. Available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 13+.
In this fighting, fantasy game, you play as Ajna, a teenage girl trying to avenge the death of her father. With charming animation and a story steeped in Southeast Asian culture and mythology, Indivisible showcases what indie games can offer. Available for Linux, Mac, Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Common Sense Media rates this 13+.
Broken Age tells the stories of two teenagers “seeking to break the tradition in their lives.” Vella is a young woman fated to be sacrificed to a monster, while Shay is a young man adrift on a mysterious spaceship. With a clever story, top voice-acting talent, and engaging puzzles, Broken Age is well worth exploring. Available for Linux, Mac, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 13+.