Gaming Narrative

Books aren’t the only place to find deep, meaningful story arcs. Depending on the video game, you might just find something intensely moving and well written in the interactive realm as well. There are a number of fantastic examples of gaming narratives that delivered stories which are just as good if not better than your average novel.

Games where the player does not make their own character might seem like obvious fits in this list. Games like Assassin’s Creed, Alan Wake, and Tomb Raider all provide a solid story arc for their protagonists. Players can dive into a lush world with plenty of beats to pull at the heart strings. 

This doesn’t even touch on the Tell Tale Games, where they take narrative fiction to a new place. They updated adventure gaming to the modern day, offering episodic content that builds a rich story with interesting characters and some great events.

Then there are the stories where the player has some say over how the character looks. Those can offer even more investment in the story since the player had a hand in building the protagonist. Cyberpunk 2077, Skyrim, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age Inquisition all offer some solid examples of this.

I’ve played through a ton of video games in my day. Some are just brain candy fun. Others are thought provoking and sometimes devastating. Cyberpunk 2077 floored me with the different endings. Each one hit like an emotional freight train, and I still think about them today.

Baldur’s Gate 3 has been pulling out all the stops when it comes to feels. Their character arcs and relationships are fantastic, offering the players plenty of ways to interact in meaningful ways. By the end, you’ll know the characters you cared about well. Their backgrounds, their struggles, you can share them. And that’s pretty great.

Mass Effect provided you with a far reaching story three games long, each one with a detailed story that carried consequences from one to the next. While the ending may have been controversial, there’s no denying the emotional impact it had on players and even people who watched others playing it. 

The key to this comes from great writing. Offering the player some choices so they become invested in those stories in ways novels and TV never could match. As far as craftsmanship is concerned, its hard to sneer at video games when it comes to the good ones. Those that stick their claws in and never let go.

This topic could go on for thousands of words. There are so many great titles I didn’t even touch on such as the latest Grand Theft Auto games, Red Dead Redemption, Detroit: Become Human, Beyond: Two Souls and many, many others. If you’re in the market for big story, someone’s got you covered.

What developers do you trust to create strong narrative content? What game hit you in the feels? Are there any game titles you felt were as good if not better than your average TV show or book? Let us know!

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