Some would say they’re not looking for a story in a game, since the gameplay should do the whole trick. And some would even quote the famous saying of John D. Carmack or use Tetris or Solitaire as an example, as they get along just fine without any plot. Well, it’s useless to argue with such determination, but isn’t the gameplay and story tandem what makes games a true art and not just another entertainment media? There’s a whole bunch of story-driven games that are deeply etched in our minds: Firewatch, What Remains of Edith Finch, Stanley Parable, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and so on, to infinity. These titles speak for themselves and further demonstrate that the story is the key, or indeed our world is actually made of stories. Gladly, 2020 is promising to be a big year and with it comes a slew of upcoming narrative games that would be available for current generation consoles and for the next generation as well.
After finishing quarantine, we need a breath of fresh air and who better to do that than unusual and catchy stories to get your head into? So, especially for you, I’m going to showcase my most anticipated upcoming narrative games to release this year.
10. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous | Good Old D&D
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous ranks 10th in my top of upcoming narrative games of 2020. If you’re feeling nostalgic for old-school RPG in the spirit of Baldur’s Gate, then Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous might be a good choice.
Owlcat based their second game on Wrath of the Righteous – the thirteenth in the row adventure trail in the vast universe of Pathfinder. Unlike Kingmaker, which centred on politics and relatively paced management of the State, the new title will tell us about a century-old fight between mere mortals and endless hordes of terrible monsters.
The scene takes place in a wasteland named Worldwound, where a portal to Abyss opened many years ago. An army of demons, led by the great and terrible Deskari, flooded Golarion and threaten watering the land with a rain of blood. Only through joined efforts humans delayed the enemies on the lost realm of Sarkoris. However, they have not been able to completely stop the invaders. And consequently, the main character and his squad are going to lead the Fifth Crusade right into the heart of darkness. Let’s see if they actually could turn the tide of the war and stop this nightmare once and for all.
It is a familiar story and we’ve seen that before in a variety of films, books and games. The developers are well aware that it is a worn-out theme and want to make their own contribution in the great tradition of CRPG genre. And that means unusual conflicts, grave dilemmas and dealing with far-reaching consequences. Simply put, the game will not be limited to a rampage.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous release date: 2020 for PC.
9. 12 Minutes | Merry-Go-Round
12 minutes ranks 9th in my top of upcoming narrative games of 2020. I have my fingers crossed it will be another successful title from the well-known publisher Annapurna Interactive, along with What Remains of Edith Finch, Telling Lies and Kentucky Route Zero.
12 minutes is an interactive thriller by the artist Luis Antonio, a former Rockstar employee, who worked previously on The Witness. In a word, the game is a mixture of point’n’click quest and roguelike, where the main hero is trapped in a time loop which is just 12 minutes long. A promising romantic evening with his wife has resulted in a total nightmare. A police officer broke into their house, accused his wife of murder and made justice alone killing them both. But then somehow we’ve gone back in time and all we have to do now is to perform the same thing over and over again. Clock is ticking since we have only twelve minutes on our hands. It is worth taking note that the solution is hard to find: according to the developers, you can complete the game in 6-8 hours.
12 minutes release date: 2020 for PC and Xbox One.
8. Everwild | A Pops Of Color
Everwild ranks 8th in my top of upcoming narrative games of 2020. Everwild is the next game from the British studio Rare, best known for Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie and Sea of Thieves. Unfortunately, the developers have provided little detail on their new IP, but the trailer inspires confidence.
The story takes place in a vivacious fantasy world thoroughly supplemented with a rich colour palette. I’m encouraged by the fact that there is no place for violence, which is so uncommon these days. We can also see huggy animals like bunnies, deers or some splendid birds. It’s evoking a kind of nostalgic sense of wonder and I certainly want to understand more of this.
The humans who inhabit this world are deeply connected with these creatures, but we cannot identify it yet. Apparently, the game tells the story of an early civilisation, as people try to know more about the mysterious creatures who inhabit the same land. Maybe there will be a multiplayer feature that will enable a collective animal “hunting”.
Everwild release date: 2020 for PC and Xbox One.
7. Someday You’ll Return | The Horrors Of Czech Woods
Someday You’ll Return ranks 7th in my top of upcoming narrative games of 2020. The Czech independent game studio CBE Software, known for adventures J.U.L.I.A. Among the Stars and Ghost in the Sheet, promises us an unforgettable psychological horror experience with elements of family drama. And on the Steam game’s page there are “gore” and “violence” tags right next to the “adventure” one. I hope it’s for a reason.
The story brings up Resident Evil and Outlast series – the release trailer suggests that it’ll be extremely unpleasant hanging out in the forests of Moravia. You know, not for nothing we have an expression “out of the woods”. The main hero Daniel had sworn to never enter this spooky forest again, but now is obliged to break his promise in order to find out what happened to his daughter Stella.
Memories and bystanders will help Daniel to follow the history of his relationship with his daughter and finally understand what she is always running from. But the journey is not that easy, since the woods are somewhat similar to the Blair Witch ones – they keep some macabre mysteries for sure. Even more terrible are the subconscious monsters, so it’s crucial to stay sane.
Crafts, stealth, herbs and a smartphone are the key to main hero’s survival. His actions and decisions will have a huge impact on the ending, thanks to a special karma system.
Someday You’ll Return release date: 5 May of 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
6. Spiritfarer | Death Smiles At All Us
Spiritfarer ranks 6th in my top of upcoming narrative games of 2020. Spiritfarer is a game about death, but it’s not scary. However, in spite of the fairy-tale motif, it’s an adult story. Thunder Lotos describe their new title as “a cozy management game about dying”. The story follows Stella, a young psychopomp, who helps the dead travel to the underworld. A local Charon early in his career, roughly speaking.
The dark story goes hand in hand with cartoon graphics and vivid colors: that alone is already worth our attention. The dead, in turn, appear as hearthwarming animals, that immediately evokes Night In The Woods. You can even start you own free-hug campaign: the characters are extremely smiley and huggable. Stella’s ship looks more like a huge houseboat than the regular ascetic boat from the Greek mythology.
Among other things, the main heroine fishes, catches lightings in a storm, opens up new islands, and builds homes. Moreover, she’ll also need to grow vegetables and buy from local merchants.
Spiritfarer release date: 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch.
5. Tell Me Why | “Life Is Strange 3”
Tell we Why ranks 5th in my top of upcoming narrative games of 2020. It seems that DONTNOD Entertainment doesn’t want to get outside their comfort zone, which are interactive melodramas for grown-ups. So, please welcome another one and enjoy the trailer.
The events unfold in Alaska. In the center of the story are twins Alyson and Tyler Ronan, who use their special bond with each other to sort out the memories of their troubled childhood. Intuitively, it sounds kind of supernatural and I hope I’m right. Our task is to explore their memories of key events and choose who to believe. This, of course, will determine the future of twins.
Separately worth noting, that Tyler is a transgender. The developers has worked closely with Microsoft and the LGBT organisation GLAAD in order to make the character authentic.
Tell Me Why release date: 2020 for PC and Xbox One.
4. Twin Mirror | Madness Is The Key
Twin Mirror ranks 4th in my top of upcoming narrative games of 2020. Before we understand it, DONTNOD are back on board. As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, the French indie studio doesn’t tend to create something fundamentally new, but choose to “steal like an artist”. Of course they can’t be blamed for that, as such approach produced unusual results, and I really hope that is the case with Twin Mirror.
The game’s protagonist, 33 years old (symbolic, isn’t it?) Sam, is coming to a one-horse town for the funeral of his best friend. He recently parted ways with a lover, being all depressive. But the thing is, it seems we’ve seen this character before, in Heavy Rain for example.
Sam awakens in a hotel room and finds a shirt covered in blood in his sink. However, our hero doesn’t remember anything, once again, in David Cage’s best tradition. And if we’re honest, we can conclude that the game’s opening looks a lot like the Farenheit one. I wish I knew whether that is good or bad.
Upon awakening, Sam is trying hard to build a time line for the last night. To that end, he moves to his mind palace, which sounds like Sherlock‘s one. However, it should be said that there will be nothing supernatural in it. He wanders thought this strange place and eventually finds a closed door, opens it and ends up in the same hotel room, only without walls and other important details.
We need to find those same details in the real world, and then go back again and again in the world in Sam’s head, and only then try to interact with them. Ultimately, we need to find all evidences and restore Sam’s actions in a correct order. And I almost forgot about the developers’ trademark cause-effect relationship, which hasn’t gone anywhere.
Twin Mirrors release date: 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4 and XBO.
3. The Wolf Among Us 2 | Fables Comeback
The Wolf Amons Us 2 ranks 3rd in my top of upcoming narrative games of 2020. The new Telltale out of the ashes seeks to create a true sequel by keeping recognisable features of the original game. Which means that the game’s fans could take a collective deep breath: the second season would retain the original game’s appearance.
The story begins twenty years prior to the events of the original comics, following the story of the first season. There’ll be sure Fabletown among the locations and the developers are intended to centre on characters such as Bigby and Snow White.
Also, some interesting gameplay elements and overall improvements are planned for the reason of changing for a new technology platform. Wolf Among Us 2 will consist of five episodes.
The Wolf Among Us 2 release date: TBA for PC.
2. Ghostwire: Tokyo | Paranormal Activity
Ghostwire: Tokyo ranks 2nd in my top of upcoming narrative games of 2020. If you’ve been waiting for Evil Within 3, then you’ll have to wait a little longer: the famous game designer Shinji Mikami announced a brand new IP – Ghostwire: Tokyo.
The next game by Tango Gameworks is an action adventure, in which you must fight bad guys in a town filled by supernatural oddities. Ex-creative director Ikumi Nakamura called it scary, but not in the way you would expect. I hope that means they said no to clichés, clumsy dialogues and predictable screamers.
It’s not hard to guess that the events are unfolding in modern Tokyo. People are disappearing and the unnamed main hero, hiding behind a mask, must to find out why this is happening. Well, it looks like we won’t make it without paranormal phenomena and occultism, but the catch is to distinguish reality and fantasy.
Ghostwire: Tokyo release date and platforms: TBA.
1. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 | Vampire Diaries In A Very Adult Way
Drumroll, please… And first place in my top of upcoming narrative games of 2020 goes to Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. This title is one of the most anticipated role-playing game, along with Cyberpunk 2077. The original game, released in 2004, was slightly underdone but still was remembered for its careful world building, good dialogues and truly non-linear plot.
The beginning of the sequel recalls the first game: the protagonist is get turned into a vampire against his will and ends up in Seattle, where he will have to survive in the company of his own kind. However this time Hardsuit Labs paid attention not only to the protagonist, but also to a whole load of bystanders, which haven’t even figured out what happened to them. In the eyes of the rest of bloodsuckers, which hid their identities for centuries, this incident is a real terrorist attack.
Besides, the character creation has changed a little bit. At first, you have to choose his past, whether he was a cop, bartender or whatever. The one thing is that you are going to have to wait to choose the clan, as you can do it only during the game. The clans list has changed too.
The developers have also worked really hard to refine the combat system and empower the role-playing mechanic. For instance, there’s a mechanic called Blood Resonance from which not only the blood itself is important, but also its type.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 release date: 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
[Bonus] Cyberpunk 2077 | Absolute Beyond Comparison
That goes without saying. So let’s just enjoy the trailers.
Cyberpunk 2077 release date: 17 September of 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.