Making decisions in games can be agonisingly hard, especially when the fates of beloved characters are at stake, or you’re on a timer and you have a sneaking suspicion that whatever choice you make the outcome is going to be bad. But that’s also what makes choice based games so fun to play: knowing that your decisions will have a genuine impact on the story and ending, and that the next time you start over, your experience could be completely and utterly different.
So with that in mind, here’s a selection of amazing games in which your choices can and will change everything, even the tiny decisions which you thought didn’t really matter.
1. Detroit: Become Human
As well as being a stunningly photorealistic game, Detroit: Become Human is all about decision making, to the point that you get an actual flow chart at the end of each segment where you can see how your decisions have closed off some opportunities and opened up new ones. Your choices, sometimes with a time limit of mere seconds as the tension ramps up to the max, have such a major impact on the storyline that you can quite feasibly kill off all the main characters completely by accident. At that point, even the main menu is going to start judging you.
2. Until Dawn
Ever wondered why the people in horror movies are so utterly stupid? Until Dawn puts you in a series of terrifying horror movie scenarios (in all seriousness though, this is not a game for the squeamish) and reminds you that you can be just as stupid as horror movie teens when the pressure gets intense. Even your tiniest, most unimportant decisions can have a massive impact later. Heck, you moving a small and insignificant object from point A to point B could actually save your life, but would you guess that at the time? No way.
3. Life is Strange
The first Life is Strange gives you time travelling abilities in order to show you the true meaning of the butterfly effect, in which one tiny change made in the past can ramp up to devastating consequences in the future. Incidentally, at the end of every chapter you can see the proportion of other players who made the same decisions as you, so if you’re feeling emotionally destroyed over making the wrong choice, at least you’ll know you aren’t alone.
4. Telltale’s The Walking Dead
All of Telltale’s games are brilliant for taking your flippant decisions and twisting them into brutal why-did-I-do-thats later on, but we’ve gone with The Walking Dead because it’s so gosh darn emotional. You’ll get deeply attached to the characters, which is dangerous, because you’re also in charge of keeping them alive.
5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The world isn’t really as simple as good versus evil, and The Witcher games have that theme down to perfection. Slaughtering a monster that’s terrorising a village is one thing, but what happens when humans start to behave worse than the monsters? Should you attack them too? What about when a casual chat with a passer-by makes you realise that the people you thought were good are actually the most dastardly fiends imaginable? Sometimes, a Witcher just has to make a decision, even if it’s not the right one…