Videogames have delivered countless stories, told in many different ways, in many different genres. If anything, they have provided scenarios that even blockbuster movies would be jealous of.
In the following list, we picked what we consider the best storylines throughout gaming history. Picking only ten of them will definitely leave out a lot, so this list is our own personal opinion. I mean we couldn’t have played all the games in the world, right? Read without worries, it’s spoiler-free!
Last but not least, the following games are not listed from best to worst but rather just our top 14. Let’s begin:
14. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
CD Projekt Red’s masterpiece, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, is one of the most critically acclaimed games of recent years.
Like its predecessors, we assume the role of Geralt of Rivia, a witcher, in search of his adopted daughter. At this point, we would like to tell you that the game has 36 (!) possible endings, depending on every choice you make.
The amazing AI makes for an interactive experience that we don’t see so often and there has been some amazing work done in-character writing.
Gameplay-wise, the game is a Third-Person RPG. Geralt can utilize weapons, such as swords and bows, as well as mutagens which grant him supernatural powers. There is so much detail in the game that you will soon find yourself captivated and unable to stop playing. There’s a reason for all those awards you know!
Of course, the game is based on “The Witcher” novel series by Andrzej Sapkowski, with an upcoming Netflix adaptation arriving in December, although we strongly doubt that it will ever reach the majestic atmosphere of the games.
Time eats away at memories, distorts them. Sometimes we only remember the good… sometimes only the bad.
13. Mass Effect Trilogy
Release Date: ME1: 20 November 2007 | ME2: 26 January 2010 | ME3: 6 March 2012
Publishers: Microsoft Game Studios | Electronic Arts
Platforms: Microsoft Windows | PS3 | Xbox 360 | Wii U (Mass Effect 3 only)
Genre: Action RPG
Before Anthem, which was a massive disappointment, BioWare developed a game series that struck hard in the hearts of those who played it. Of course, we are referring to the Mass Effect trilogy and of course, we are leaving out Mass Effect: Andromeda for obvious reasons.
Our story begins in the year 2183 and we assume the role of Commander Shepard. All life of the Milky Way galaxy is threatened by a mechanical race known as “Reapers”. Commander Shepard is on a quest to prevent complete annihilation and uncover the truth behind the motives and origin of the Reapers.
Gameplay-wise the game is an RPG Third-Person Shooter, with the player able to make multiple decisions regarding the story, meaning of course that there are multiple endings.
There is immense lore to discover by even talking to NPCs and we strongly recommend doing just that, because Mass Effect offers a great story of romance, bromance, betrayals, and survival.
Nothing more to say really. We consider the original Mass Effect trilogy a masterpiece in storytelling and every gamer needs to have a taste!
Is submission not preferable to extinction?
12. Silent Hill 2
Release Date: 24 September 2001
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo
Platforms: Microsoft Windows | PS2 | Xbox
Genre: Psychological Survival Horror
Remember when Konami used to make masterpieces? Silent Hill 2 was released way back in 2001 and it was the first Silent Hill game to be released in the sixth generation of consoles.
The game follows the story of James Sunderland, who supposedly received a letter from his wife, Mary. Thing is, his wife passed 3 years prior due to illness. During his search, James encounters other people as well, all with troubled past and with a reason to be in such a town.
It is known to everyone that has spent time with the franchise, that the town of Silent Hill serves as a kind of purgatory to the people who visit it. The town changes for each character. Each one of them is there to serve a purpose. What that is, you probably should find it yourself. This is a spoiler-free article after all!
Still probably our favorite Silent Hill to date, even so, many years after its release, SH2 remains one of the best psychological horror games. The horror of the game comes from its intense atmosphere and captivating story and doesn’t rely on cheap jumpscares. That makes the whole time you spend in the town truly a horrifying one.
The game’s icing on the cake? Of course, its soundtrack, composed by legendary composer Akira Yamaoka. We guarantee you will feel so many chills down your spine during the game’s cutscenes while the soul-absorbing soundtracks play in the background.
In my restless dreams, I see that town… Silent Hill. You promised you’d take me there again some day… but you never did.
11. Alan Wake
Probably the entry that will win the “We Want A Sequel” Award, Alan Wake was released back in 2010 and is one of the most critically acclaimed games of its generation. Why? Because it’s an amazing story, that’s why!
We follow the game’s namesake, Alan Wake, who is a best-selling thriller novelist in search of his wife who apparently disappeared during vacations in a small town. All cool so far with that Silent Hill 2 feeling, but this is where the game gets interesting! Events from Alan’s latest novel, which he doesn’t remember writing, come to life!
The story is divided into 6 episodes plus 2 more as DLC. People have been dying for a sequel ever since they played this hell-of-a-game. And who can blame them? You witness twist after twist as you are guaranteed to stay at the edge of your seat during your whole playthrough.
Amazing atmosphere, captivating story, smooth gameplay. What else do you need?
Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations; they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear
10. BioShock Trilogy
Release Dates: BioShock: 21 August 2007 | BioShock 2: 9 February 2010 | BioShock Infinite: 26 March 2013
Developer: 2K Boston | 2K Australia | 2K Marin | Irrational Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: Microsoft Windows | PS3 / PS4 | Xbox 360 | Xbox One | MAC OS X | iOS
Genre: First-Person Shooter
I was fortunate enough to own the whole BioShock series when I started playing the first one, so I watched the whole story unfold without being interrupted.
The intrigue was high enough from the beginning of the game and the first glance of Rapture, the under-water city where the game takes place. A city built without political, social or moral constraints.
As the story unfolds, you learn the painful secrets of this otherwise beautiful city and its founder’s dreams. Told in an amazing narrative.
The counterpart in BioShock Infinite was Columbia city. A city in the clouds rather than the bottom of the ocean. A story that will make every single player think about the existence and possibilities of every decision we make.
A bonus for those of you that played the DLC of BioShock Infinite was how Rapture connected to Columbia.
Overall the story of the BioShock series is breathtaking and gives a lot of food for thought. We personally recommend the series to everyone that’s looking to go on a journey and not just play a videogame.
A man chooses. A slave obeys.
9. Metal Gear Saga
Release Date: Various
Developers: Mainly: Kojima Productions | Various
Genre: Action-Adventure | Stealth
“Kept you waiting, huh?”
Metal Gear is “THE” game when referring to the espionage genre. A franchise that has spanned more than 30 years, since its launch in 1987. To this day they remain some of the most recognized and critically acclaimed video games.
What makes an espionage tale so special though? It’s a unique story and perfectly developed characters.
Witness how the world is run in the shadows and where it all began. How warfare hides a whole economy. A tale of loyalty, betrayal, and sacrifice. All told in the narrative only a master could deliver: Hideo Kojima.
If you think this is another spy game or has a storyline equal to Call of Duty you are completely wrong. The story spans many decades and will instantly captivate you. Well, how could it now with our protagonists being two badass soldiers, Big Boss and Solid Snake.
To grasp the full experience, it is recommended to play the games in chronological release order and have full attention. Every cinematic has something to say, there is no trivial stuff in the Metal Gear saga.
Those of you who have played the games, I think you will agree. To those that have not, well what are you waiting for? Even if Hideo Kojima is not with Konami anymore and therefore away from the Metal Gear franchise, his legacy must be honored. And you are in for a treat anyway, so a win-win situation.
A legend is nothing but fiction. Someone tells it, someone else remembers, everybody passes it on.
8. The Last Of Us
Be honest. When you clicked on this article you were expecting to see The Last Of Us. And we would be committing a crime not to include it.
We can all agree that Naughty Dog has always been delivering good games, even from the times of Crash Bandicoot. The Uncharted series was also a massive hit. But no one can recover from the shock and awe of playing The Last Of Us.
The game hits you hard without mercy from the prologue. If you have played it, you can understand. The storytelling is fantastic, creating a perfect post-apocalyptic atmosphere.
You get so attached to the characters, that every development hits you like you are actually them. Somewhere around here, we should give huge props to Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who incarnate Joel and Ellie respectively.
The whole story is a “feels” journey. One you should take. We are here, patiently waiting for the sequel that has been announced and see how deep the story evolves.
You know, as bad as those things are at least they’re predictable. It’s the normal people that scare me.
How far can an honest man go when he is wrongly accused of crimes he didn’t commit?
Dishonored delivers an excellent narrative that explores betrayal and loyalty, as well as the thin line between good and evil.
It is up to the players’ choices that determine the ending of the story, with a good and a bad ending available. Should you take the road of revenge or the high road, it’s entirely up to you.
The character of Corvo Attano is well written, there are no plot holes in the story whatsoever. Soundtracks are one the best out there.
Set in a steampunk Victorian setting and gameplay much similar to the BioShock series, Dishonored managed to blend already-seen elements into a unique story that will instantly captivate the player.
Strange how there’s always a little more innocence left to lose.
6. Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 1
Release Date: 24 April 2012 – 20 November 2012
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Tellatale Games
Platforms: Microsoft Windows | PS4 | PSVita | Xbox 360 | Xbox One | Nintendo Switch | Android | iOS | Ouya | Linux | OS X | Kindle Fire HDX
Genre: Graphic Adventure | Interactive Drama
Buy from the official platforms above, or get it from our friends at G2A.
Based on the critically acclaimed comic, Telltale’s The Walking Dead debuted back in 2012 and since we are fans, we instantly played it. We can’t say enough how much the story impacted us at the time.
The series main protagonist is a young girl named Clementine, who is found alone by Lee Everett, another survivor. While the game introduces many characters along the way, the only ones that really stick out are the two aforementioned ones.
The storyline is affected by your choices, which are not gonna be easy since you are holding the lives of characters on your hands.
So hop on this journey into the post-apocalyptic world we already know from the comic books and the television series. Explore a side of survivors told in a great narrative and get prepared to get your feelings all mixed up and let your emotions out.
Because if anything, the game will take you on a roller-coaster of feelings.
Unfortunately as of now, Telltale filed for bankruptcy and had to let go of all but 25 of their staff members. The game’s final season is currently being launched, with the last two episodes being overseen by Skybound Entertainment, Robert Kirkman’s (The Walking Dead creator) company.
-You are strong Clem, you can do anything
-But I am little
-That don’t mean anything
5. Red Dead Redemption
The first Red Dead Redemption was launched back in 2010, and at first glance, it was like Grand Theft Auto in the Wild West. That was to be expected since Rockstar was the production company. But what differs RDR and GTA is the story.
Set in the Wild West of 1911, the game follows the story of John Marston, an ex-outlaw that is sent by the feds to find and hunt down his former gang members. In return, he would be granted amnesty and be able to return to his family.
As with all great stories, not everything goes as planned. The Wild West was famous for the many ways you could die back then.
The story is well-written, something to be expected from one of the most expensive video games of all time. Your choices do not affect the outcome of the story, so sit back and enjoy one of the greatest pieces of storylines the gaming industry has offered to this day.
If you ever find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
Are you sure that you in you is really you? Confused? Well a playthrough of SOMA is food for thought if nothing else.
Released in 2015, SOMA (Greek word for “body”) is a science fiction survival horror videogame that deals with a much confusing aspect of the human race: consciousness.
The game follows the story of Simon Jarrett, who is visiting a doctor for a brain scan after a traumatic car crash. Things go south soon, as after the brain scan Simon wakes up in a facility, seemingly abandoned.
As the story unfolds and circumstances are being shown to the player, you are presented with a question that is a pain for the scientist for a long time: how much of you is really you?
Wanna see what I mean? Play the game. Although it’s not very long in terms of playtime, it sure delivers a very good story, tied with a great atmosphere of the underwater facility of PATHOS-II.
What SOMA lacks in innovative gameplay, makes up it for in the story. So don’t let the occasional bugs and frame drop stop you from experiencing a great science fiction storyline.
P.S For full experience I suggest exploring and paying full attention in the, let’s say… “audio files” you come across.
If we could rebuild even a small part of ourselves, why wouldn’t we do that?
3. God Of War (2018)
Release Date: 20 April 2018
Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
God of War has been one of the most successful franchises in the gaming industry. Undoubtedly has some of the best game of the previous generation, yet what it lucked was a great story.
Don’t get us wrong, we love all the entries of the series, but the 2018 sequel (and kind of reboot) had us with jaws open.
The Norse setting captivated an amazing atmosphere and coupled with the much-improved storyline, it gave us the Game Of The Year.
We see a much calmer and wiser Kratos, accompanied by his son. Issues between the two constantly arise and the development of the characters is smooth and interesting.
The climax of the story will leave players in awe and in high anticipation for the sequel.
Unfortunately, God of War is exclusive to the PlayStation 4, so not everyone has access to it, but it is undoubtedly one of the best games we’ve ever played and one of the best stories we’ve seen.
Do not mistake my silence for lack of grief.
2. Beyond: Two Souls
Release Date: 8 October 2013 | 22 July 2019 (Windows)
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: PS3 | PS4 | Microsoft Windows
Genre: Action Adventure | Interactive Drama
We couldn’t have made this list and not include a game that is entirely story-driven. Beyond: Two Souls is one of those games.
Developed by Quantic Dream and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, it has the same pattern as its “predecessor”, Heavy Rain.
With gameplay as simple as this, the player has the chance to follow the story uninterrupted, given two options: follow the game chronologically or the way it’s meant to be played. We played it with the second option.
Beyond: Two Souls follows the story of Jodie (Ellen Page) who has an invisible entity she calls Aiden, following her and protecting her. Guided by Dr. Nathan Hawkins (Willem Dafoe) she starts a journey that only she and Aiden can complete.
As the story unfolds, more and more information on the entity is revealed, up to the climax of the story. It should be noted that while playing, we got a “Stranger Things” feeling all the time.
The game has multiple endings that are affected by people you save (or… don’t) during the story, and from choices, you make at the end, all contributing to one of the best story experiences in gaming.
Page and Dafoe are excellent in their captures, successfully delivering the feelings and personalities of the two protagonists.
Quantic Dream does an excellent job providing interactive story-driven games, and we can’t wait to get our hands on Detroit: Become Human
I was born with a strange gift, the ability to see what know human being has ever seen before. It’s all mixed up in my head. The images, the sound, the smell. I need to remember, put things in order right up to this moment. Remember who I am.
1. Life is Strange
Release Date: 30 January 2015 – 20 October 2015
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix | Feral Interactive | Black Wing Foundation
Platforms: Microsoft Windows | Linux | OS X | iOS | Android | PS3 / PS4 | Xbox 360 | Xbox One
Genre: Graphic Adventure
I’m so overwhelmed and enthusiastic every time I speak about this game, that I really struggle to keep it straight and simple.
Life is Strange is an episodic adventure game, with beautiful hand-painted visuals, and an even more beautiful – yet intense – storyline, driven by your choices and their consequences.
The story revolves around Max Caulfield, a senior photographer that’s doing her studies at Arcadia Bay’s Blackwell Academy. Max will soon discover that has some unique powers, and she discovers when she finds again her childhood buddy, Chloe Price, and with her, they will go through crazy adventures to discover the limits of Max’s unique powers.
The game is all about the choices you make, and every choice has a consequence. So, don’t let the beautiful music and graphics fool you. The story is way darker than you think!
You might not get this taste by the first hours of game-play, but trust me, this game can be devastating and mind-blowing beyond expectation.
I wish I could stay in this moment forever. I guess I actually can now, but then it wouldn’t be a moment.