It’s Black History Month, and while I’m a week late to the party, I wanted to do something special to celebrate and what better way to do that than to flood your timelines and readers with Melanin Friendly games?! Diversity in games has certainly gotten better over the years, and as a Black woman and a gamer, I really appreciate seeing more and more developers including narratives that focus on characters that look like me. I’ve written about representation in games before, focusing mostly on indie games and visual novels, since they tend to have more inclusive casts of characters and narratives. I wrote a post last year spotlighting a list of visual novels and otome games that featured Black and Brown characters in prominent roles and I want to kind of expand on that. Every day I’ll write mini reviews of games that I’ve found that have characters of color at the forefront.
First up is the fantasy romance visual novel, Nusantara – Legend of the Winged Ones from indie developer, Sweet Chiel. The game follows Tamara, a young woman who is transported from the present day into the past—a world of myths and legends. Embark on a journey into the unknown, as you are thrust into the ongoing conflict between the Sakma, a race of winged people and their enemies, the ruthless Komodo.
It has all the usual isekai tropes, with Tamara having to adapt to life among the winged people of Loma Village—learning the language and customs through day to day interactions with the various people she encounters. We, learn alongside Tamara, gaining a deeper understanding about not just the world of the game, but Indonesian culture and lore. Nusantara borrows heavily from Indonesian myths and legends, a culture that you don’t see featured often in most Western media. I’m not too familiar with Indonesia culture, so, Nusantara is worth playing for the cultural experiences alone, but what initially drew me to the game was the fact that all of the love interests have darker skin tones.
This was the first “otome” game that I played where the characters coloring similar to my own and as a Black woman, that was a huge deal! Mainstream Japanese otome games don’t really have much in the way of diversity, and while indie games do have more inclusive casts of characters, there’s usually only one or two characters with a bit of melanin in them… we’re lucky to get one love interest of color. Nusantara has three— Mitra, Rama, and Reksa—with each route touching on a different aspect of the fantasy world of the game.
Sweet Chiel is currently working on a second game set within the same universe, but with a different cast of characters and I am so excited to see how they expand on the story in the “sequel”. But, for me, I have fond memories of Nusantara – Legend of the Winged Ones, because it proves that you can make an amazing game with characters of color at the forefront. So, if you are looking for a melanin friendly fantasy, I highly recommend giving Nusantara – Legend of the Winged Ones a play. If not for the immersive world building and well developed characters, do it for the absolutely stunning storytelling.
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