Senua (Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice)
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice does something that very few games does. It makes you, the player vulnerable. In Senua, developer Ninja Theory creates a character whose mind is unravelling, but it's up to you to take her on a journey of self-discovery and redemption. Her story is harrowing and introspective, but by exploring such issues NInja Theory creates one of the most subsersive narrative-driven action games. Senua is a window into living with a mental illness, and for that, among many reasons, she's incredibly powerful as a female character in games.
Haruka (Yakuza series)
Given the often goofy nature of the Yakuza series (and a general trend for Japanese games to feature weaker women), it seems an odd place to find a compelling female character. However, while Kazuma Kiryu--series lead, and total badass--is the star of each game, he owes his life and humanity to his adopted daughter figure, Haruka.
While Kaz is away knocking 7 shades of shit out of his enemies, Haruka essentially runs the Sunshine Orphanage in Okinawa. She cares for kids who are barely younger than her, and the resulting mature outlook on life she gets from this allows her to offer Kazuma valuable advice throughout the Yakuza series. Sure, she sometimes plays the damsel in distress, but these moments of fragility only arise from her relationship with Kaz and her youth, not the strength of her character.
Samantha (Gone Home)
Samantha is the only character on this list who doesnt actually appear in a game at all. Players discover her story while exploring the family house as her sister in Gone Home. However, you actually learn more about Sam than your own character during the game, which probably makes her the real star.
And everything you discover points towards a strong female character, struggling against the rather old-fashioned attitudes of her family. No spoilers here (as the game isnt yet a year old and it has just been confirmed for console), but the way Samantha kicks back against society and the will of her parents is something to be admired.
Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn)
Paving the way for more strong, independent heroines in video games is Aloy. Starting out life as an outcast from her own post-post-apocalyptic society, she uses the mistreatment she suffers to fuel her curiosity about her origins, her mother and the world around her. She has a desperate desire to find out why everything that has happened, happened. And when she does, she doesn't rub her findings in the Nora tribe's face, or define herself by her new-found understanding, because she's got pragmatism at the forefront of her mind. She's a compelling heroine, and proof that you don't have to have a love interest to be interesting or inspirational.
Aya (Assassin's Creed Origins)
You might play the majority of Assassin's Creed Origins as Bayek, but it's his wife that's actually the more interesting character, but the reasons why contain some major story spoilers, so look away now if you want to remain clueless. With that out of the way, not only is Aya bucking all trends by choosing to leave her one true love Bayek to start the Order of Assassin's, but she also paves the way for their way of killing, making sure that they only kill those who deserve it, rather than wanton death. She's incredibly strong, beautiful and determined, and might just be the best character the series has ever seen. Sorry Ezio.
Want more amazing ladies in your life? Well, not sure how much we can help with that, but you can sure read about them! Check out 100 greatest female characters in movies and 10 lies games tell us about women.