- Name: Anna Castellanos
- Game(s): Resonance
- Creator: Vince Twelve (xii games)
Resonance is one of my favorite point-and-click adventure games, hands down. A near-future urban conspiracy thriller, the game puts you in the shoes of four character–a cop, a doctor, a journalist, and a scientist–who are drawn together in search of a dangerous particle weapon.
Anna, the doctor of the group, is one of the most complex characters I’ve come across in gaming. I was originally apprehensive to put her on this list, as I feared her story might be too victimizing. For instance, her portrait on the title screen above shows a sobbing, hyper-emotional woman. Is this the sort of representation of women we want to see? Another character whose victimhood carries forth her entire development, like Samus in Other M or Aya Brea in The Third Birthday?
But the more I thought about it, I realized that’s not true of Anna. There is more to her than overcoming her victimhood.
The main root of my apprehension was her backstory: Unresolved childhood trauma. This aspect of her story arc is told through nightmare sequences in a childlike hyperbole reminiscent of Among the Sleep. I realized that while Anna is definitely a victim of physical and emotional abuse, it isn’t what defines her. Her position in Resonance‘s plot is informed but not overwhelmed by her victimization.
Danielle Riendeau sums up Anna and supports my reconsideration of the character succinctly in her Kill Screen article:
“She is the definition of a positive, complex, likable character—strong, with a difficult past, but the furthest from a “victim” stereotype one can be. She is a woman of color, and a medical doctor—an element reinforced by the gameplay, in which only Anna can access certain parts of a hospital setting, thanks to her credentials. She’s attractive, but by no means over-sexualized, and she holds her own in any number of difficult situations, including a scene where she evades an attacker in her own home. In many ways, she is exactly what feminist critics have been looking for in female characters.”
Vince Twelve does with Anna what many mainstream developers haven’t: He treats her as an equal among the rest of the game’s cast, who are all men. She is neither over-glorified nor over-victimized as a woman. As with every other protagonist, her race, gender, and past are reflected in her personality, but instead of stretching one of these facets and having it comprise the whole they instead develop together to form a well-rounded character.
The fact that she is crying on the title screen isn’t due to the fact that she’s just emotional–there is a deliberate purpose behind it. It isn’t a display. She’s a tragic character, not a tragedy.