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The 10 best PC games with LGBTQ+ characters and narratives

(Image credit: Square Enix)

In recent years, players looking for PC games that explore LGBTQ+ themes or feature queer characters have a plethora of titles to choose from. The rise of Itch.io and Humble Bundle has given small, indie developers access to a wider audience than had ever been possible before. The critical and commercial success of more well-known titles that have queer narratives and characters has paved the way for developers to tell better, more intricate stories that more closely resemble the real-life issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. 

If you've been scrolling through Steam or your console's digital storefront and having trouble knowing which titles are worth your time, we'll be breaking down our top ten picks for the best games with queer characters and themes. So whether you prefer visual novels and dating sims, or are looking for more action-oriented titles, you'll find something worth adding to your library. 

The best Queer PC games at a glance:

  1. Life is Strange
  2. Night in the Woods
  3. A Normal Lost Phone
  4. 2064: Read Only Memories
  5. Butterfly Soup
  6. Dream Daddy
  7. Monster Prom
  8. A Mortician's Tale
  9. Pendula Swing
  10. The Sunless Series

Life is Strange

(Image credit: Square Enix)

1. Life is Strange

The best Queer narrative adventure

Developer: DONTNOD | Publisher: Square Enix | Release Date: January 30, 2015 | Platform: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

The first episode of Life is Strange came out all the way back in 2015, and was developed by French company DONTNOD (which had previously worked on Capcom's Remember Me) and published by Square Enix. The game follows Maxine "Max" Caulfield and her best friend, Chloe Price, as Max discovers she can rewind time. The pair use this newfound power to investigate the disappearance of Chloe's friend, and one-time lover, Rachel Amber. As players continue to manipulate time, branching dialogue and narrative paths open up, giving players the opportunity to test out several outcomes before settling on a decision. 

As the story progresses, players have the choice to rebuild Max's friendship with Chloe, leading to a romantic relationship, or to pursue Warren Graham, a classmate. The companion comics continue after what fans have come to affectionately call the Bae Over Bay ending, confirming that Max and Chloe are canonically a couple. While the dialogue can be cringey at times, Life is Strange is, at its core, a story of two young women coming to terms with themselves and with the harsh realities of the world outside of Blackwell Academy.

Night in the Woods

(Image credit: Finji)

2. Night in the Woods

Best narrative horror

Developer: Infinite Fall | Publisher: Finji | Release Date: December 2013 | Platform: PC, macOS, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Night in the Woods follows Margaret "Mae" Borowski as she returns home from college to find that her small hometown is hiding a terrible secret. Players take on the role of Mae as she splits her time between investigating the strange goings-on and hanging out with her friends. When players are introduced to Mae's friends, it becomes known that two of them, Gregg and Angus, are dating. Their relationship is accepted by the group, and they are prominent characters in the main narrative. Mae herself is confirmed to be pansexual, going so far as to describe her ideal partner as being either "girl or boy" but with specific personality traits she finds attractive. While her sexuality is rarely touched upon, simply because it isn't relative to the plot, to have it stated plainly and accepted readily by her family and friends is a positive aspect. 

Mae also deals with many concepts and themes that are familiar to anyone who identifies on the LGBTQ+ spectrum: feelings of isolation, depression, dissociation from others and herself, and anger issues. While Mae, Gregg, and Angus' queerness aren't central to the main narrative, they are important side tangents. Gregg and Angus frequently talk about how they are high school sweethearts, Angus' past abuse by family, and how there are so few other queer people in the town. With such natural discussions of sexuality and relationships, Night in the Woods provides a refreshing look at queer representation in games.

A Normal Lost Phone

(Image credit: Playdius and Plug In Digital)

3. A Normal Lost Phone

Best interactive fiction

Developer: Accidental Queens | Publisher: Playdius and Plug In Digital | Release Date: January 26, 2017 | Platform: PC, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch

A Normal Lost Phone is an interactive fiction game that has players sifting through a smartphone to piece together information about the owner. Players eventually learn the phone was owned by a woman named Sam, and begin to unravel the events that lead to her losing it. Players will read through emails, text messages, and social media profiles to learn about Sam's sexual and gender identity, and her struggles dealing with them. 

While most of the game deals with themes of self-acceptance in terms of sexuality and gender presentation, players should be warned that it also has graphic mentions of abuse and sexual assault as well as homophobia and transphobia. Even though the narrative is heavy and emotionally charged, it ends on a hopeful note as players finally see the entire picture of Sam's life and relationships.

2064: Read Only Memories

(Image credit: MidBoss)

4. 2064: Read Only Memories

Best mystery

Developer: MidBoss | Publisher: MidBoss | Release Date: October 6, 2015 | Platform: PC, macOS, Linux, Ouya, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch

2064: Read Only Memories has players take on the role of a journalist tracking down their kidnapped friend and robot engineer. Players are joined by Turing, the world's first sentient machine and self-modifying robot. Along the way, players will choose which story leads to follow, resulting in branching narrative paths. They'll also come across a variety of characters that identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. 

MidBoss is associated with the GaymerX convention, and made 2064: Read Only Memories in order to create a game where queer characters are presented on equal terms with cisgendered and heterosexual counterparts. Players can choose their pronouns when they start the game and even enter custom pronouns that will be used by NPCs. The cyberpunk aesthetic and mystery-noir narrative blend together to create a memorable setting. 

Butterfly Soup

(Image credit: Itch.io)

5. Butterfly Soup

Best visual novel

Developer: Brianna Lei | Publisher: Itch.io | Release Date: September 16, 2017 | Platform: PC, macOS

Butterfly Soup is a visual novel written and developed by Brianna Lei. Set in 2008, it follows four Asian-American teenage girls as they start their first year of high school and become members of a baseball club. The narrative focuses on the relationship that forms between the two characters Diya and Min-seo. 

While the general tone of the game is lighthearted and fun, it does discuss heavy and triggering topics such as child abuse and homophobia, so players who could be affected by this should be careful. There are dialogue choices that players can make throughout the game, but they don't have any effect on the outcome. Brianna Lei based the game on her own experiences growing up. Butterfly Soup was part of an exhibition at GDC in 2018, and Lei has talked about her plans for a direct sequel.

Dream Daddy

(Image credit: Game Grumps)

6. Dream Daddy

Best dating sim

Developer: Game Grumps | Publisher: Game Grumps | Release Date: July 20, 2017 | Platform: PC, macOS, Linux, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Dream Daddy is a dating sim and visual novel that was developed and published by Game Grumps. It was originally thought to be an elaborate prank, but soon proved that it was a fun and engaging dating sim. The game gives players the ability to customize the appearance of their character, including options for cisgendered male and trans masculine bodies. The narrative involves players meeting and romancing seven different men as they move into a new home and settle into the neighborhood.

Dream Daddy garnered plenty of praise for its writing and balance between serious moments and humor. It has also been praised for not resorting to stereotypes of queer men, but rather had male characters with a wide variety of personalities and motivations who just happened to be queer. So if you dream of hitting the gym with an old college roommate turned lover or discussing Romantic literature with a hot goth dad, Dream Daddy lets you date to your heart's content.

Monster Prom

(Image credit: Those Awesome Guys)

7. Monster Prom

Runner-up best dating sim

Developer: Beautiful Glitch | Publisher: Those Awesome Guys | Release Date: April 27, 2018 | Platform: PC, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch

Monster Prom is a dating sim with RPG elements. Players take on the role of a student at Spooky High and romance one of the six datable characters in the three weeks leading up to prom. Player characters can be any gender and choose their own pronouns, allowing for straight and queer relationships. Each day at Spooky High lets players visit multiple areas of the map in order to boost stats that their date of choice finds attractive. 

Different stats and story choices determine a player's relationship with other characters, trigger special events, and determine which ending will be seen. There is an expansion, Second Term, which includes two new datable characters and new endings. Monster Prom has been praised for its use of humor, its multiplayer mode, and its branching narrative. It was nominated for the Cultural Innovation Award at the 2019 SWSX Gaming Awards.

A Mortician's Tale

(Image credit: Laundry Bear Games)

8. A Mortician's Tale

Best management game

Developer: Laundry Bear Games | Publisher: Laundry Bear Games | Release Date: October 18, 2017 | Platform: PC, macOS, iOS

The resource and task management game, A Mortician's Tale, has players assume the role of Charlie, a new mortician at a funeral home. Throughout the game, players come across stories about the dead from loved ones and letters, and even newsletters from mortician union groups on how to treat trans and queer bodies with respect during the embalming process and funeral or cremation. 

The game takes a hard, honest look at the attitudes and culture surrounding death in Western cultures, and how difficult it can be for morticians and funeral directors to honor the wishes of the dead in the face of pressure from family. The game's co-creator, Gabby DaRienzo, confirmed that the development team was predominantly queer women, and that had a profound impact on the game's discussions on LGBTQ+ rights after death.  

Pendula Swing: The Complete Journey

(Image credit: Valiant Game Studio)

9. Pendula Swing: The Complete Journey

Best point-and-click adventure

Developer: Valiant Game Studio | Publisher: Valiant Game Studio | Release Date: March 8, 2020 | Platform: PC, macOS

This point-and-click action RPG features dating sim elements and a rich, fantasy setting modeled after the American Roaring 20s. Players assume the role of Brialynne Donu Tenúm, a celebrated Dwarven hero who saved the world. Each decision made, character met, and quest accepted tells pieces of the story of how the world evolved after Brialynne saved it from disaster.

Along the way, players can meet and romance hundreds of NPCs, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation; some NPCs also exhibit physical disabilities, filling a long-ignored gap in disability representation. With over 160 quests scattered over seven hours of gameplay, players can visit settings like speakeasy bars, fancy cinemas, and even department stores. Players can even adopt just about any cute critter they come across, building an army of fuzzy babies to pet and snuggle. 

The Sunless Sea

(Image credit: FailBetter Games)

10. The Sunless Sea

Best RPG

Developer: Failbetter Games | Publisher: Failbetter Games | Release Date: February 6, 2015 | Platform: PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Failbetter Games, makers of Fallen London, released Sunless Sea in February of 2015. The game takes place in the same universe as Fallen London, featuring many of the same Victorian-era inspired aesthetics and mechanics. In lieu of asking your gender, Sunless Sea instead asks how you would prefer to be addressed in formal conversation as you're building your character. These addresses can be used regardless of gender presentation or sexual identity, allowing players to play as a character that closely resembles their real-world identity.

This system was inspired by the experiences of Failbetter's founder, Alexis Kenney, as his name was often mistaken as feminine when he was registering for conferences and game developer events. The address system also circumvents any dialogue or gendered pronouns that may be misconstrued as offensive or, at the very least, uncomfortable for trans and non-binary players. Regardless of address, players are free to romance NPCs and build families as they make their way across the Unterzee.

TechRadar’s PC Gaming Week 2020 is celebrating the most powerful gaming platform on Earth with articles, interviews and essential buying guides that showcase how diverse, imaginative, and remarkable PC games – and gamers – can be. Visit our PC Gaming Week 2020 page to see all our coverage in one place.