What games will you be playing this World Storytelling Day? Video games are a fantastic medium for telling stories, and that’s why we’ve been taking a good look back at some of our favourite video game narratives.
From the most difficult moral decisions we’ve ever had to make, to narrative twists and turns that we still haven’t quite got over, here are some of our favourites so far…
Beware of possible spoilers ahead!
1. The Last Of Us
The Last Of Us is a zombie apocalypse story that packs some serious emotional punch. You play as an embittered and bereaved survivor tasked with protecting a sullen teenager who could be the saviour of humanity. Despite a rocky start, the two can’t help but bond, and the story concludes with an emotional, morally questionable gut-punch that we still haven’t recovered from.
This dreamy yet slightly unsettling game is set in the Shoshone National Forest, one year after the catastrophic Yellowstone fires of 1988. Playing as Henry, a man who sees his new role as fire lookout as a means of escaping the pressures of the outside world, you gradually uncover an old conspiracy on your quiet solo hikes through the breathtaking environment. Your journey is punctuated by sporadic walkie-talkie conversations with your supervisor Delilah, which you can respond to or ignore as you see fit.
3. The Witcher 3
If you’re looking for a beautiful, sprawling landscape which tells as much of a story as the game’s driving narrative, and a seemingly endless list of side quests that constantly build on your knowledge of the world, then The Witcher 3 has you covered. Playing as Geralt of Rivia, whose job it is to hunt down fearsome monsters, you’ll be drawn into a complex tapestry of political intrigue, ancient magic, and wild adventure.
The dystopian world of Inside is swathed in shadows and patches of bright light, and the only splash of colour comes from the clothes of the main character. Despite being an entirely wordless game, the harsh, unsettling world of Inside raises as many questions as it answers, and the driving force behind the boy’s relentless quest forwards becomes a mind-bending plot point in its own right.
Ever wondered what it would be like to be a lab rat? In Portal, you’ll solve physics-based challenges, avoid deadly traps, and try to outwit your ever-so-slightly sadistic AI monitor GLaDOS. Armed with a portal gun, it’s up to you to complete a series of lab tests in the sprawling Aperture Science Laboratories – and try to find out why you’re there in the first place.
6. What Remains of Edith Finch
This fascinating and slightly spooky indie game is a glorious blend of art styles and narrative curveballs. The now-abandoned, rambling Finch family home acts as a shrine to the Finch family and its mysterious curse, with the journey through each family member’s bedroom unlocking a new tale of misfortune in a brand new art style.
7. Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season One
The world is collapsing due to a zombie outbreak, and it’s not just the undead that you’ve got to contend with. The living are just as dangerous, and when you’ve got yourself and a young orphan to protect it’s a serious challenge to retain your humanity. Try to maintain your moral compass in a hellish world, because every decision you make will twist the course of the future.
8. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
The Jedi are scattered, with half pledging allegiance to Sith Lord Darth Malak and the other half either dead or in hiding. Starting on a Republic spaceship, you embark on an epic journey across the galaxy, gathering allies as you go and making moral decisions that will influence how you interact with the Force as you train to become a Jedi in your own right. Before you know it, your choices will start to determine not only your future, but that of the whole galaxy.
9. Mass Effect 2
It’s not often that a video game begins with the main character’s death, but that still shouldn’t stop you from embarking on a seemingly hopeless mission into the darkest depths of space in order to save humanity. Don’t lose heart, though – keep your allies by your side and do what you can to help them, because when everything changes far beyond your expectations, you’re going to need all the help you can get in return.
10. Silent Hill 2
After apparently receiving a letter from your dead wife, you head into a dark and incredibly dangerous world in which nothing is really as it seems. Avoid the supernatural monsters if you can, but it quickly becomes clear that the real monsters are those that look the most human. With heart-stopping story twists and six possible endings to achieve, Silent Hill 2 is an unnerving but spectacular survival horror experience.
11. Life Is Strange
If you’re looking for a game which asks you to make incredibly small decisions that add up to increasingly gigantic consequences, Life Is Strange is definitely the answer. Expect to have input on everything, from the main character’s outfit and breakfast choices right through to the fate of her classmates and a final catastrophic choice at the story’s end. It’s both emotional and beautiful, but it’s certainly not an easy ride.