Video games have become the next great storytelling method — so much that universities have started to study the entertainment form as such a medium. While Pac-Man will always be beloved, developers are now releasing games that will have you lying awake wondering what happens to your favorite character. And, as a result, video games are now emerging as a legitimate form of literature.
These games communicate to their players through dialogue, speech, and prose. There’s various segments and levels, and the advance in technology even allows different endings to the games depending on the route of the player. Advocates for video games are ardent that these are not the juvenile forms of entertainment but a significant storytelling medium. Here are seven video games that take storytelling to the next level and demonstrate this artistic medium.
1. Life is Strange 2
‘Life is Strange 2’ is sequel to a game of the same name by DONTNOD Entertainment. It’s an incredible narrative game that shows a bond between two brothers who have to leave their Seattle home after a terrible accident. It’s a continuation of the previous stories that have been told in ‘Life is Strange’ and ‘Life is Strange: Before the Storm.’ The game has some supernatural elements like telekinesis, which adds elements to the story. It also tests the bonds of family in the narrative when one of the brothers get sick and the only option is to go to their grandparent’s house.
Parents will love this one. Frictional Games released ‘Soma’ in 2015 for the Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Mac and doesn’t rely on violence to get its main points across. Imagine that?! Rather, the storytelling in this game follows a character, Simone Jarrett, in his journey to find out how he ended up in an underwater research facility. He uses puzzles and stealth to do so, which makes for an interesting story, to say the least. Don’t research this game beforehand. The suspense that is built is related to the plot, and it’s entirely worth not knowing a single thing going in! ‘Soma’ consists of a series of puzzles that connects plot point to plot point. The narrative will keep you on the edge of your seat as you explore the various environments in ‘Soma,’ listen to audio logs, read notes, and discover strange creatures.
‘Florence’ is unlike any other game on this list. It is a powerful bout of romantic storytelling. It was released by Mountains in 2018 for Android and IOS. The design is a little bit different than what you’d expect for a storytelling video game. For one, it’s almost entirely told through gameplay actions, music, and art…not words. The story and emotion present in Florence is incredibly pervasive and will leave you realizing how far this creative word is truly coming.
4. Horizon Zero Dawn
Guerrilla Games released ‘Horizon Zero Dawn’ in 2017. While it’s a PS4 exclusive game, it’s got a heck of a story to tell. You’ll get to see an end of the world scenario that doesn’t end in a zombie apocalypse. The sci-fi storyline also has touches of feminism and will definitely leave you wanting more. The storyline originates from the desire to tell the story of the main character who is strong and curious. What’s neat about this narrative is that the world remains open to your choices as a player. There are side stories that you can get pulled into that connect to a greater arc and that helps build to the climax of the main story.
5. Lone Echo
‘Lone Echo’ was released by Ready at Dawn and focused on challenges that characters face in the Ring Worlds. This video game is a linear VR game that allows players inside the story and permits them to act as they choose. In fact, those who’ve watched demos say it’s rare that any two individuals act that same way at the same prompt. The game tells a story and tests boundaries. The final goal? Get your boots back on the ground, but there are many ways to do that and it’s up to the player to figure out how.
6. The Last of Us
The ‘Last of Us’ is an unusual storyline, even in the video game world, because there are no heroes. The protagonist is named Joel, and you won’t really find yourself rooting for him until he’s been a bit changed by his relationship with Ellie. The game surrounds an apocalyptic scenario but has flashes of human moments as well. The release of this game by Naughty Dog in 2013 for the PS3 really portrays the art of storytelling in video games. The creators allude to the fact that they keep the story going by offering players hope and making them want to protect the characters. This game isn’t about you, it’s about the characters, and that’s why it tells such a powerful story.
7. What Remains of Edith Finch
Just like #2 ‘Soma,’ don’t research ‘What Remains of Edith Finch,’ released by Giant Sparrow in 2017 for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac, before you play it. The magic of this game comes in knowing nothing before the story hits you. In fact, it’s been recommended you set aside enough time to play this game in an entire sitting. The game will walk you through a collection of stories of family members and it demonstrates the art of interactive storytelling. The vignettes that you read about mysterious deaths are stories within themselves and have been called “little windows of magical realism.”
To find more storytelling games outside of the seven that were spotlighted in this blog post, do yourself a favor and check out The 30 Best Video Game Stories Ever- you won’t be sorry!
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