As Mother’s Day approaches each year, it’s a custom for writers to celebrate moms in games. We’re always happy to see these articles because they remind us that Mother’s Day is coming up and we need to get shopping (so consider this your reminder). Motherhood was actually kind of a theme last year and a lot of games either incorporated being a mom as a plot point or featured a mom as a major character. So here are four games that demonstrate that 2015 was kind of a big year for moms in games. So here’s our list of the Best Moms in Video Games (2016 Edition). Beware of mild spoilers.
The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 had it all. There are monsters, magicians, treasure, and a really interesting card game. Underneath all of the plots and storylines, however, there is the theme of family that runs through the whole story. In the game, Geralt is chasing Ciri, his protege who he treats like an adopted daughter (though her actual father is the emperor). Yennefer of Vengerberg acts as Ciri’s adopted mother (Triss is sort of like a fun aunt), teaching her about magic and fretting over Ciri’s life choices (I love this scene where Geralt and Yennefer tentatively let Ciri start acting independently). Sure, the story’s really about seeing how Geralt’s life history led him to fatherhood and how his parenting leads Ciri to her destiny, but Yennefer is as strong a mom as Geralt is a dad and watching the two of them parent together is magic.
Her Story is a game with a brilliantly simple premise. You play a character who is investigating a cold case through a series of video clips of several depositions of a murder suspect. It’s not clear exactly what the crime was or who the victim was, but during the course of the investigation you uncover a complicated story involving motherhood and family. To be clear, Her Story is a tragic story, and the game isn’t a celebration of family as much as a complicated story of complex personalities and motivations. The game actually conceals your own role until the end as well, but the the punchline is pretty cool, namely that you’re investigating why your mother killed your father. Her Story was easily one of the best games we played last year – and if you haven’t played it yet it’s an easy one to recommend.
Undertale was is a beautiful indie RPG that brilliantly subverts many of the conventions of traditional games. You play as a boy trapped in a magical kingdom in which humans are hunted, but you can befriend your enemies and avoid violent confrontation against virtually all of your enemies. In fact, playing as a pacifist is the most interesting way to play through the game. The first time you truly have your commitment to nonviolence tested, however, is against the game’s first “boss” Toriel. Toriel is a motherly figure who guides you through the opening stage of Undertale but will fight you if you decide to leave the safety of the first stage. You can fight her if you want, but the better ending lies in simply standing your ground and enduring her attacks. Once she realizes she can’t keep you, she’ll sadly let you go (don’t worry though, you’ll see her again). Toriel’s genuine concern and actual power make her one of the best mom’s we’ve seen (and one of the few we’ve fought) in any game.
Life is Strange
Life is Strange is one heartbreaking game. In this time-traveling adventure, you play as Max, a high school student using her time travel abilities to find her friend Chloe’s missing girlfriend. Max and Chloe were best friends as kids and while reconnecting with Chloe you also visit Chloe’s mom Joyce at the diner where she waitress. She is such a perfect mom; she effortlessly takes up caring for you when you return to her daughter’s life. You eventual travel back through time to see Joyce and Chloe’s perfect life with Chloe’s dad William before he’s killed in a car accident and Joyce remarried the seemingly terrible David. You save William, but inadvertently create a future that is even more heartbreaking for Joyce in that Chloe is now disabled and suicidal. Over and over, the game teaches you that your efforts to spare Joyce pain just cause her more and more pain, leading up to the game’s heartbreaking finale. Through it all the alternative timelines, however, Joyce stays upbeat, positive, and a warm and welcoming presence. No matter which timeline you’re in, she’s always a perfect mom.