It used to be that the only thing games could offer us was two little blips flying around with no rhyme or reason for it. As games evolved, so did our expectations. Games were now introducing us to stories with voiced characters and cutscenes that showed us how and why we were doing what we were throughout the game. Today, a good storyline is pretty much expected for most if not all games that come out.
There have been many games with engaging stories; so today I wanna take a look at 10 games that I feel have some of the best stories that gaming has to offer. Please keep in mind that this is NOT a "Top 10" list. This is just 10 games, in no particular order, that have fantastic stories. Without further ado, let's take a look at some fantastic tales.
Spec Ops: The Line
The third person shooter genre has become somewhat stale as of late; same with military shooters. You pretty know what to expect whenever you play one of these types of games: an action-packed experience with very little substance. Well Spec Ops: The Line defies those expectations in every way. Based on the classic novel Heart of Darkness (the same novel that brought us the excellent film Apocalypse Now), this game does away with the generic action fare and instead gives the player a very dark, personal story of how war affects everybody involved in it.
There are many twists and turns that mess with the player's head throughout the tale. These twists make the player feel as if war is messing with their head just as much as the mind of the main character. Say what you will about the game from a gameplay perspective (it sort of is a generic third person shooter in that regard), but no one can deny that the story of Spec Ops: The Line was shockingly great.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations
Any game in the Ace Attorney series is worthy of being on a list like this, but for me and many other fans, Trials and Tribulations is the Citizen Kane of the franchise. This game concludes the original trilogy on the Nintendo DS and arguably has the best cases in the whole series. The overall plot revolving around the mysterious prosecutor Godot, as well as Phoenix's past, bring everything to an explosive and satisfying end. You'll probably have to play the first two Ace Attorney titles in order to fully appreciate this one, but it is damn worth it.
The most recently released game on this list, Inside tells an incredibly smart and deep story. Developed by Playdead, the same people who made the cult hit Limbo, Inside takes the formula from Limbo and perfected it. Sure, it may be a "run right simulator", but the deep tale it weaves and messages it presents without a single piece of dialogue is really incredible.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Ocarina of Time is like The Odyssey of video games: an epic poem that tells of a heroic tale full of adventure, darkness, love, evil, and bravery. It is not the most original plot you'll ever experience, but playing Ocarina of Time today feels like you're experiencing a classic piece of literature that would inspire the making of thousands of other games in the future.
Your experience of Dark Souls' story will depend on how interested you are in the world and characters. Should you want to know more about the many characters and locations of the world, you'll be reading item descriptions and talking to every NPC to piece together the wonderfully dark story that lies within.
Some may disagree with my inclusion of Dark Souls in a list like this, as the story on the surface is rather simple, while everything else is considered lore and not really a part of the main story. That may be somewhat true, but the tales that From Software have crafted underneath the surface of Dark Souls are all equally engaging, interesting, and tragic.
While the fan base has sort of given this game a bad reputation, Undertale still remains as an extremely clever and charming game with a funny and tear jerking story. Created by only one guy, Undertale's story and characters are given great care and depth. It really is incredible what Toby Fox was able to create with just RPG Maker and a love of video games.
The Walking Dead – Season 1
Most of Telltale's games are the same in terms of gameplay and mechanics, but none of them come close to the emotional impact that The Walking Dead – Season 1 had on gamers. As the game that made Telltale a household name, this first attempt at bringing a good game to The Walking Dead license was a huge success thanks to a very touching story about the platonic love between the characters of Lee and Clementine. To this day the only Telltale games I love are The Wolf Among Us and this thanks to the well written and heart-wrenching story.
Final Fantasy VII
It was really difficult to choose between FF VII and FF VI for this list, but at the end of the day, I enjoy VII's story better. This is the game that introduced a whole generation to the Final Fantasy franchise and kept their attention by delivering some of the best character development in gaming. Each character has a history and a purpose; thoughts and feelings. At the time, it was almost unheard of for a game of this caliber to take the time to flesh out its plot and characters so well. But FF VII did it.
The Last Of Us
It's pretty much a fact that anything with Naughty Dog's name on it turns to gold. Case and point: The Last Of Us. This is the game that got me to purchase a PS4, as I just had to know what all the fuss was about. Similar to The Walking Dead – Season 1, this game focuses on the platonic love between the two main characters Joel and Elle during a zombie apocalypse. The bond that is formed between these two is powerful and showcases how fleshed out they are as characters.
Joel, in particular, is one of my favorite characters in all of gaming (from a writing perspective) because of how expertly crafted his emotions and ambitions are. Elle is also a fantastic, lovable character. With The Last Of Us: Part 2 in development, here's hoping that Naughty Dog can recapture the brilliance of the first game. Smart money says they will.
Often regarded as the game that made video game stories brilliant, Bioshock showcases everything I love about storytelling in video games. The game immediately grabs your attention from the opening cutscene and keeps you engaged with the interesting characters; such as Atlas, your Irish helper, and Andrew Ryan, the creator of the twisted and fallen city of Rapture.
Bioshock has such interesting backstories within it that you experience through audio logs; showing you the side of characters you wouldn't otherwise see, or even just introducing you to characters you'd never know about. And of course, the game's major twist is so great that people are still talking about it. Bioshock Infinite may have had a great story as well, but it doesn't come close to the original.
So that's our list of 10 games with fantastic stories. What games do you think have outstanding tales? Leave a comment with your thoughts below.