The best Video Game Stories can pull us into other places, capture our imaginations, and steal our hearts. When they are done well, they can even have an effect that lasts long after the game is over.
Because games are involved, we can really feel like we have a hand in how a journey goes. This means that the best game stories can be just as good as those in books and movies.
Over the years, we’ve seen some really exciting adventures with stories that make us want to play them again and again.
This is why so many of the games on this list are also among the best games to play again and again. A lot of the games on this list also have great casts that bring the story to life and are great to play with.
Story-driven games have been shown to be an important part of gaming as a whole, and that’s never been clearer than in some new games.
You should be able to figure out what game we’ve added to our growing list. (We’ll let you in on a secret. Some people think it has too much story and not enough action.)
If you want to find out which video games have the best stories, keep reading.
- 40. GTA 5
- 39. Hades
- 38. Gone Home
- 37. Final Fantasy 6
- 36. Life is Strange/Life is Strange: Before the Storm
- 35. Psychonauts 2
- 34. Mass Effect 2
- 33. Firewatch
- 32. Undertale
- 31. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction
- 30. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
- 29. Grim Fandango
- 28. Horizon Zero Dawn
- 27. NieR: Automata
- 26. Fallout: New Vegas
- 25. Assassin’s Creed II
- 24. Half-Life 2
- 23. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
- 22. Detroit: Become Human
- 21. Metal Gear Solid
- 20. Shadow of the Colossus
- 19. I Was A Teenage Exocolonist
- 18. Persona 4
- 17. God of War
- 16. Telltale’s The Walking Dead
- 15. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
- 14. That Dragon, Cancer
- 13. What Remains of Edith Finch
- 12. Portal 2
- 11. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
- 10. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- 9. Planescape: Torment
- 8. BioShock
- 7. Disco Elysium
- 6. Her Story
- 5. Red Dead Redemption 2
- 4. Chrono Trigger
- 3. Dragon Age: Origins
- 2. Silent Hill 2
- 1. The Last of Us: Part 1
40. GTA 5
The best GTA story is also the most daring one that Rockstar has ever told. GTA 5 is hard to put in a box. At times, it’s a funny take on Michael Mann’s Heat.
Those top scores are amazing. Most of the time, though, this Los Santos story is hard to pin down, which is a good thing.
Because GTA 5 lets you switch between characters, you can live three very different lives over the course of a single mission.
The voice acting and task structure are so good that you’ll find yourself unconsciously taking on the roles of whoever you think Franklin and his friends should be.
Michael seems sad and sorry, so he’s not the kind of person you want to have a drive-by shooting with. same as Franklin.
When the game puts you in the part of the young carjacker, you want to make sure you do as little damage as possible.
And that’s why Trevor is so smart. Steven Ogg plays a full-fledged psychopath who is the perfect vehicle for GTA’s crazy bloodbaths. He is an unrepentant character who doesn’t care about ludonarrative conflict.
Due to their procedural nature and chaotic way of playing, roguelikes aren’t usually the best games for telling deep, emotional tales.
Supergiant Games used the word “bet” when making Hades, a game whose playthroughs are often very short and tell a story about family and all the secrets and pain that family members can hide from each other.
It is based on Greek mythology, but it does so with understanding and a look into stories that are almost lost. It’s also pretty to look at, even after we’ve killed our hero yet again.
The story is told so well that, like Zagreus, we can’t wait to get back into the fight to find out more about another troubled family connection and the noble futility of a Sisyphean job.
38. Gone Home
The story of Gone Home is surprisingly good for a game in which the only other actors are the things they left behind in the house.
You play as a young girl who has been away for a long time and is now back home. She was hoping to see her parents and sister, but no one is home, and everything has changed since the last time she was at home.
You have to figure out where everyone went by reading letters, notes, and dealing with things in your family home.
Gone Home is a great example of how lovingly made levels can tell more of a story than even the best voice actors.
The game is about unspoken sadness that is both there and not there. Even though the actors in this independent film are all great, it’s the haunting, lonely house that does most of the story’s heavy work.
37. Final Fantasy 6
In the 1990s, most role-playing games (RPGs) still used a classic model in which a group of heroes worked together to save the world.
This is how most of Final Fantasy VI starts, though there are some great set pieces and world-building along the way.
But just when you think you’re in for another predictable story (even if it’s incredibly well done), the bad guy wins.
And he wins a lot, which sets off the end of the world. He did it for a number of reasons, but mostly because he knows he can.
The rest of the game is spent exploring the ruins of that world, gathering your troops again, and this time getting ready for the real epic showdown at the end.
Final Fantasy VI is, above all, a game about hope in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Its famous twist shows this point so well that it may still be the best story in the series.
36. Life is Strange/Life is Strange: Before the Storm
It seems almost cruel to put these two great series games in the same category for best game stories, but they’re best when played together.
In the first Life is Strange game, Max Caulfield and her best friend Chloe Price face the dangers of youth, love, and a supernatural storm that will destroy their town.
Over the course of three episodes, you find out a terrible truth about what happened to Rachel Amber, a girl who went missing and who was very important to Chloe.
It’s very focused on how you want to tell the story, and the different ways the story can go mean that you should play it more than once to see how far your actions and words reach.
And when you’re done, go play Before the Storm. The prequel is about Chloe and Rachel’s friendship before the events of Life is Strange.
It’s a strong story about growing up, loss, and feelings. It doesn’t have anything magical, which makes it feel more real and helps the story choices connect and, more importantly, make sense.
And just like the first game, every choice you make changes how the story goes. Play it as much as you want, you’ve earned it.
35. Psychonauts 2
The first Psychonauts game was a great little summer camp adventure with levels and personalities that stuck with you. Fans would have been just fine if the movie had gone over the same ground.
Psychonauts 2 has a lot for fans of the first movie, like even better pictures of different mental health problems. It also has a story about the power of family that is surprisingly touching.
Yes, Psychonauts 2 has a lot of the absurdity and exaggerated art style that Double Fine is known for, but in the end, it tells a more dramatic story than many realistic games that deal with similar themes.
34. Mass Effect 2
The characters in an RPG are what make the story, and the group of misfits you put together in Mass Effect 2 is one of the best in game history.
Each person in the party has an interesting background and brings something new to the group as a whole.
Yes, the sci-fi story as a whole is great, but it’s the individual stories of the party members, which play out in the game’s consistently great “loyalty missions,” that make this game so memorable and fun to play over and over again.
Each character’s storyline—from Jacob’s shocking meeting with his father to Grunt’s rite of passage into the Urdnot clan to Tali’s heartbreaking trial—is incredibly interesting and pulls you deeper and deeper into the game’s worlds until you become obsessed with them.
Walking simulator games that pull at your feelings have become very popular recently, but few have gone as deep as Campo Santo’s Firewatch.
The idea is one reason why the game works so well: Henry, the figure you’re writing about, is working as a ranger in Wyoming this summer.
Even though he took the job to get away from his own thoughts and life, he ends up getting to know his boss better by talking to him on the radio.
This suspenseful story is set in a place where people are alone and tucked away in a nature setting that is both beautiful and dangerous.
The story moves forward with each strange thing Henry finds, until it’s like a landslide that can’t be stopped. Once you start playing, it’s hard to stop until the credits roll at the end.
It’s hard to talk with total certainty about the story of Undertale. That’s partly because the game has a lot of complicated ideas and a long story, but the real reason is that so much of the story depends on how you play it.
This is a game that always raises your hopes, only to break them right away. A summary on Wikipedia doesn’t do it credit, and how you play the game will change how you feel about it.
I can say with complete certainty that Undertale is funny. That may seem like an odd thing to bring up when talking about the best gaming stories, but we don’t get a lot of games that are really funny.
Also, Undertale is one of the few games (if any) that uses fun to make us care about its world, characters, and journey as much as it does.
The love that went into making this game is second only to the love that its players have for it.
31. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction
All of the Splinter Cell games have had interesting stories, but adding quick-time events to this one was a risky, surprising, and perfect addition to Sam Fisher’s story.
As expected, a terrorist coup was a big part of the plan.
What made this game so great was that it didn’t go as planned. The main character’s life takes center stage as players finally get to learn a lot about America’s best spy.
It’s a treat for people who have watched the series from the beginning.
30. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 2 may be the best example of what Uncharted is all about, but Nathan Drake’s last part, Uncharted 4: Among Thieves, has the best story.
Naughty Dog gives us a more thoughtful take on Nate. It builds on the emotional beats it learned as a storyteller while making The Last of Us.
Nate is full of Indiana Jones-style thrills, but there are also moments of quiet character pathos.
This is the game where Drake finally starts to wonder if he will live forever and, more importantly, accepts that he needs to toughen up and grow up.
29. Grim Fandango
Tim Schaefer was a genius when he came up with the idea for Grim Fandango.
This Maltese Falcon-style noir set in the Aztec idea of the afterlife is full of charismatic characters who go beyond the genre archetypes they fit into thanks to sharp, witty writing and voice acting, as well as famous character designs that still look great today.
The four-year journey that Manny Calavera and Glottis take to save the good-hearted Meche is full of lies and tricks, just like any good thriller.
But the game’s funny content, four-act structure, and creative twists on noir and Day of the Dead images make it stand out as one of the most original and loved adventure game stories ever.
28. Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn’s brilliance isn’t just in how different and beautiful its world is and how well it looks.
Gamers who play Horizon Zero Dawn with their eyes and hearts open will see that it’s not just one great story, but two.
The main character, Aloy, is confused and interested about her past from the start, and as the game goes on, she learns more about it.
But the things around her are just as important. Aloy has strong ties to both the world before and after the end of the world.
The characters are all different, and each one has their own unique goals and points of view that make sense.
27. NieR: Automata
It’s not often that a piece of media has 26 possible ends, most of which can be seen in a single playthrough.
But NieR: Automata is able to do just that. Your adventures with 2B don’t end when the credits roll for the first time.
When you die in a video game, it’s no longer just “Game Over” or “Respawn.” Instead, it’s changing the way video game ends, deaths, and rebirths have been done since the beginning of gaming.
NieR: Automata is one of the best game stories ever because of its ideas about robots, the way it breaks the fourth wall, and the way it plays with the story.
26. Fallout: New Vegas
RPGs go to great lengths to tell you that you are usually the most important character. There are many genre tropes, like “chosen ones” and “prophecies,” that tell you why you are special.
Well, New Vegas doesn’t follow that pattern at all. It goes out of its way to make you feel like you’re not that important or special. In a world that doesn’t care about chaos, what you do is up to you.
But New Vegas uses that idea to make you feel so much more important than you do in other RPGs. Since you can only choose your own fate, every choice you make matters (at least to you) in some way.
After being shot in the head and left for dead, you create your character and start navigating a complex web of effects where every action can have amazing and surprising results.
All of these choices are not only done well, but they always feel like the only story that counts. This is a credit to the writing in New Vegas.
25. Assassin’s Creed II
The Assassin’s Creed games have grown too big and have boring plots that are made up. That’s too bad, because the writing and story in Assassin’s Creed II were so much better than in the first game.
Even though Ezio had a great fighting style, it was his story and personality that made him stand out in gaming history.
Ezio is not like the other preachy killers of his time who wore a mask. His sad past and ability to get better set him apart from other dark, shady archetype figures.
He cares about everyone, even his enemies, and wants to spread the knowledge of freedom to a world that needs it very much.
24. Half-Life 2
Even though we still don’t know how Half-Life 2’s story ends nearly 20 years later, that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the best sci-fi stories ever.
In Half-Life 2, which takes place years after the first game, Gordon Freeman and his trusty crowbar team up with Eli and Alyx Vance to fight the Combine, a multidimensional kingdom with better technology that took over Earth in just seven hours.
But unlike the original game, you have no idea what has happened or what will happen next. This makes the story more powerful because you’re in the same position as Gordon.
Half-Life 2 stands out as a first-person shooter that was way ahead of its time because it lets players trust it. It also has a story that keeps you confused but always interested.
23. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
“I think, so therefore I am.” I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is based on a short story by Harlan Ellison.
The short story is a highly interesting sci-fi dystopian epic that looks at trauma and the strength of the human spirit in the most horrifying, demented ways.
But the developers at Cyberdreams and The Dreamers Guild took the story to a whole new level by making players feel like they were in the characters’ painful situations and leading them through their trials, which were all given by the sadistic supercomputer AM.
This adventure game is almost 30 years old, but it’s still a great example of how video games can elevate and improve stories in ways that other forms just can’t.
22. Detroit: Become Human
After being only for PlayStation 4 for a while, Detroit: Become Human came out for PC in 2019.
As one of the best games to come out in 2018, it was a huge addition to the list of games with deep stories that the player could change by making certain decisions.
The game is set in the not-too-distant future, where androids serve everyone’s needs.
Under the surface, however, robots are rising up to fight for their rights and against their masters. The player decides what happens to the androids by controlling each key character.
21. Metal Gear Solid
Hideo Kojima’s first real attempt to make a story like one from Hollywood is still his best. The game that pretty much started the 3D sneaking genre also has a great story.
In David Hayter’s Solid Snake, you have the closest thing to John McClane from Die Hard that we’ll ever have in a video game: a strong, wisecracking main character who gives every line he says a sense of life experience.
Before Kojima fell in love with his own over-the-top plots, Metal Gear Solid was the game where action and (relatively) tight plotting were perfectly balanced.
20. Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus has a few cutscenes that show the bare bones of a story. A young man asks a locked-up god to save a dead girl, and a mystic takes a group of warriors after him to stop the ritual.
Even though Shadow of the Colossus doesn’t have any overt story elements, it uses natural storytelling to make something bigger than life.
There are many ruins in the Forbidden Lands that point to a lost society. Dormin’s calls to kill the colossi raise a lot of questions that don’t have clear answers.
When our storyteller gives us dire warnings, we have to decide if he’s really the hero here. The only thing that makes it stand out is that it has wordless links to the game before it, ICO.
In the end, each person has their own idea about what happened. It’s magic how quiet it is.
19. I Was A Teenage Exocolonist
I Was a Teenage Exocolonist fits into so many different types of books that it’s hard to keep track. It’s a card battler, an RPG, a life simulator, and more.
Everything revolves around a story that players can change. The independent game is a lot stronger than it looks and knows that big money doesn’t make great game stories, players do.
As players build relationships and make decisions, they’ll learn how much their choices count. As players get older, what they did when they were kids will change the way things are as teens and adults.
Each playthrough shows more about each character’s problems, goals, and maybe even what their future might be like.
18. Persona 4
The best thing about Persona 4 is how it moves. In the quiet town of Inaba, the main character’s life is shown one day at a time over the course of a whole year.
You dig deep into a murder story while also going to high school, working part-time jobs, and (most importantly) getting to know your new friends.
You may go into a dark world full of dungeons and monsters, but you become so close to your new friends that a small moment in the park with one of them is more memorable than the most intense boss fight.
Persona 4’s story takes more than 80 hours to finish, but it never feels too long because every day is a chance to get closer to your friends.
Scenes that switch easily between comedy and drama help define characters like Teddy, Kanji, and Chie, and the many conversation options let you show how you feel about each of them in your own way.
When the story’s happy ending comes, you feel like you and your best friends have been through something that changed your life.
When the game is over, it’s hard not to cry because of all the things you’re leaving behind.
17. God of War
In the past, the fighting parts of the God of War games have always been better known than the stories.
That doesn’t mean the stories were bad, just that they were never as good as the games. That changed after the soft start.
In God of War, Kratos follows through on a dying wish to spread his wife’s ashes from the top of the greatest mountain.
The trip is harder because Atreus is there, and the emotional gap between father and son is even more clear.
The story quickly turns into an exciting road trip where Kratos has to connect with Atreus and deal with his past and the fact that he won’t be there to help Atreus in the future.
God of War is a good story on its own, but people who have played other God of War games will get more out of it because they know Kratos’ past.
It’s a fantastic reimagining of the franchise’s mythology that feels both like a part of the whole and the clear winner.
16. Telltale’s The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead by Telltale was our game of the year in 2012 because its story kept us on the edge of our seats until the very end.
Lee Everett, a man on his way to jail, plays the unlikely hero who saves Clementine, a young girl whose parents were on vacation in another city when the zombie apocalypse happened.
Their unexpected journey takes them to Savannah, where her parents should be. Along the way, you meet a cast of characters that you either grow to love or hate with a burning desire.
It’s okay though, because sometimes the choices you make affect whether or not they stay in your group.
The dialogue and character development are the best parts of the game, and whenever Clementine sees or experiences something terrible, it’s difficult not to feel sad, guilty, or angry.
When the dead start walking, it’s clear that there will be gory scenes, but The Walking Dead stood out because of the way each scene was set up and how it was done.
15. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a great Star Wars story for a lot of reasons. The characters, like Bastila Shan and Jolee Bindo, are rough around the edges and easy to relate to.
Traveling the world on the Ebon Hawk makes the game feel very true to the Star Wars universe.
It’s the most amazing Star Wars story we could ask for, based on how we usually look at and rate Star Wars stories.
There are all the famous Star Wars parts, but let’s be honest. This space opera stands out from the rest because of its earth-shattering plot twist, which changes the whole story.
It’s not just one of the best twists in Star Wars history; it’s also one of the best in gaming history, and it’s the major reason why fans still hold BioWare’s modern classic in high regard.
14. That Dragon, Cancer
Players didn’t have high hopes for That Dragon, Cancer. They knew it was made by a small team with almost no money and would be about two parents whose 4-year-old son Joel died of cancer.
Few people can really go through this kind of sadness.
Even fewer people are able to write, talk, and make art about such a difficult situation. The parents of Joel, Ryan, and Amy Green, who made the game, break every expectation, especially about the story.
The way they use symbols and make events participatory is at an expert level. Numinous Games is well aware that words can’t describe this kind of sadness.
Because of this, the game has scenes that help players understand the highs and lows of fighting a disease and a dragon that can’t be killed.
13. What Remains of Edith Finch
It’s hard to explain why this independent movie’s story is so great without giving away the whole thing, but that’s part of what makes it so great.
The less you know about this game with a lot of different kinds of electricity, the better. Set aside a Sunday afternoon to play it all the way through, and we promise you won’t be sorry.
We can tell you that it is a gathering of strange stories about what happened to members of one family.
Each story is told in a different way, and the ways in which they are told are just as creative as the stories themselves. This is the best kind of participatory story.
What Remains of Edith Finch can be as odd as it wants because it doesn’t have to follow a big-budget plot. You’ll play as a shark that eats seals one minute and a factory worker who kills fish the next.
And just when you think you know how the story will go, Edith will surprise you with an amazing tribute to Michael Myers’ Halloweeen. This is the best kind of independent story-telling.
12. Portal 2
Portal 2 is a great example of how even the simplest ideas can be used to tell a complicated story.
At the end of the first Portal, the rogue AI GLaDOS was already a well-known character, but turning her into an odd partner (in the form of a potato) made her even better in the second game, while Wheatley’s incompetence made him an even scarier bad guy.
And who could forget how perfectly J.K. Simmons sang the part of Aperture CEO Cave Johnson?
His speech about lemons is one of the best ever written for a video game. It tells a lot about what happened before the events of Portal.
This is a rare game that will have you laughing out loud until the very end. However, it’s the hints of a bigger mythos and the shocking emotional beats that will stay with you long after the laughs have passed.
11. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
If this list was about how well characters are made and grow, this item would be at the top, with second place a good distance behind.
Putting aside the characters, the story itself is an amazing feat. It’s a quest to save the whole world that never loses sight of the big picture.
Each of the three games in the trilogy would be a top ten contender on its own, but when BioWare put them all together and launched them as one game, it was a gift to other good story-driven games.
The story is so good that sometimes players will choose not to put together the best team so they can hear the friends they’ve made a family with say memorable lines as they save the whole galaxy.
10. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Nilfgaardians, watch out! Geralt is back in town. In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, our hero, who has a gravelly voice, goes on a hunt for his young charge, Ciri, who has caught the bad attention of the Hunt.
The whole setting of this game is based on Eastern Europe, which makes it different from most fantasy RPGs.
But The Witcher 3 goes above and beyond what fans of the series expect. The characters are well-developed and easy to relate to, and the way they talk to each other is complex.
The writing is far better than what most scripts have. The game systems are well made and help move the story along.
And while most games only have black-and-white rules about what is right and wrong, this title has always been most at home exploring the gray areas.
Wild Hunt’s main game was a great example of how to tell a story, but adding the Blood & Wine DLC made the story even better.
9. Planescape: Torment
There are morality systems in a lot of games, but they generally only affect the game’s surface (like a character’s skills or who they might be able to work with).
Planescape: Torment uses more than just a morals system, though. It circles around one to ask the main question of the story, “What can change a man?”
Planescape: Torment is about a man with no memory who wakes up in a funeral home. He has no idea who he was or why he was taken for a dead body.
Even though a main character with no memory is a common trope, it is part of the Nameless One’s identity.
He is a clean slate that players can shape however they want. He is surrounded by funny and charming characters who also change as he does.
Planescape: Torment is all about one big secret. Who did the Person Without a Name used to be? Can you believe the people who are close to him?
How much can you trust the Nameless One? Every new plot twist answers some questions but raises others, and some of them even make you wonder if you can trust what you’ve already learned.
Planescape: Torment’s story is only made better by how big and detailed the world is. As a result, players will want more and question every choice they make.
Would you please… acknowledge that Irrational Games’ BioShock is still going strong?
Ken Levine’s genre-defining shooter shows that he is a master of background story in more ways than just the perfect ending twist.
In Rapture, you play in one of the best video game settings: a city that is underwater and surprises you at every twist and turn.
At one point, you’ll be able to watch a huge squid swim by the center of a long-sunken city. What’s next?
You could easily use lightning hands like Palpatine on a monster deep-sea diver whose only job is to guard a little girl so evil that she makes the kid from The Ring look like Mary Poppins Jr.
7. Disco Elysium
Come to Revachol for help with mental illness and drinking that is hurting you. Stay for its Rorschach-style method of self-reflection, where every choice you make as the player may end up saying more about you than the drunk detective you’re controlling.
Disco Elysium is slyly aware of the real world we live in, so it gives its made-up world strange quirks to distract us from its sharp commentary. That is, until we understand how much we love the story.
Our main character is a police officer, which is a funny choice for a story about one man’s actions in a world full of people with different ideas.
No matter what we think of him as a person, he has a job to do, and it’s about a lot more than a killing behind a union bar.
When we talk with capitalist buddies and opportunistic friends, we get a lot to think about.
Even though the story goes in a straight line, there are many different ways to move forward, making it a story we’ll be happy to tell again and again.
6. Her Story
From the start, it’s clear that Her Story is about finding a murderer. But as you watch more clips of the main suspect’s testimony, you understand there’s more going on than just murder.
Her Story was the best-loved independent game of 2015, and the praise and awards are well-deserved.
It’s another game where the story is told by the choices the player makes, but these choices are more than just words on a wheel.
The plot of Her Story is told entirely through short videos that you find by looking for keywords in a database of police evidence.
This means that the story will be different for everyone who plays it. Depending on what questions you ask, you may be able to find different flaws in the suspect’s excuse.
That tells you where to look next, so each player plans their own way to find the truth.
When you watch the clips in order (thanks, YouTube! ), the story is pretty interesting, but the way Her Story leads you through it makes it one of the best examples of how a game can tell a story.
5. Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 lets you play in a made-up Wild West world. Now that it’s also available on PC, there’s no better time to praise its great story.
Even though the main part of the game is action-packed, the beautiful world and all of its rich details make for great stories that won’t leave anyone cold.
Players take on the role of Arthur Morgan, who works with John Marston for the Van der Linde gang. His life is made up of many tasks, which often put him up against other people or groups.
Again, the player has a lot of say in what Arthur does, which is what makes the story of this game so beautiful.
4. Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger is, at its heart, a pretty simple story about traveling through time and saving the world. However, it’s told so well that it has a special place in game history.
Part of the magic of the game is that you can go to different times, from the ancient and medieval to the far future and, in the end, the end of the world.
Through it all, we get to know and love the amazing personalities in Chrono Trigger. Frog is such a sad hero, and the Magus redemption arc is totally up to the player.
The story ends with one of 13 possible endings, which was a big deal at the time and hasn’t lost much of its power over the years. No matter which finish you get, it feels like the story has come to a satisfying end.
It’s rare for a game to have so much extra content that you don’t have to do, and for all of it to be written so well and fit together so well.
And that’s really what makes Chrono Trigger so smart. Even though the story tries to do a lot, it moves very quickly and stays on track, making it a classic that will stand the test of time.
3. Dragon Age: Origins
When it comes to story, no one can beat what Dragon Age: Origins did. Back in 2009, the game changed everything about RPGs, and since then, it has set the gold standard for player choice.
One might be tempted to write off yet another Tolkein-style copy, but it’s clear from the first few minutes of playing that BioWare remade these old themes with more creativity than anyone else.
There are hundreds of ways to change the story in a useful way, and even the worst of these stories would be at the top of this list.
2. Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 has a darkly clever way of telling its story. It starts out as a strange love story: James Sunderland is looking for his wife after getting a letter from her a year after she died. It becomes something much darker and more complicated in the end.
The story of Silent Hill 2 is complicated and told on many different levels. Even though the way James Sunderland talks makes it clear what kind of person he is, how you play and connect with the world also has an effect.
Spend the whole game with James’ health at half or less, for example, and you’ll get a different ending because the game will think that you don’t care about his health and that you think James is going to kill himself.
A big part is also played by symbols. Every disgusting creature in the game is a physical symbol of something wrong with James’ mind, like his sexual hang-ups or guilt.
By the end of the game, you won’t care about the main character at all. How often do you get to play a horror game all the way through before you find out you’re the real monster?
1. The Last of Us: Part 1
The best scenes from the mega-hit HBO TV show based on The Last of Us were taken straight from the game, shot for shot and word for word.
This shows how good the story is. It’s amazing that a video game story from 2013 has been proven to be just as good as, if not better than, any major drama you’ll find on TV or the big screen ten years after it came out.
Neil Druckmann and the team at Naughty Dog are responsible for all of the franchise’s success. They made a timeless story about a lone wolf and his cub that explores the most grotesque yet familiar parts of human nature in the most poetic way.
Joel and Ellie are the most layered, psychologically complicated, and fully realized main characters ever made for a video game.
As their relationship grows during their journey toward “the light,” we get to know them and their darkest fears so well that when the game’s tragic ending comes, we’re shocked, but we also know exactly where they’re both coming from.
It will be hard for any game to top The Last of Us’ story, but what’s exciting is that it has raised the bar for the medium and will continue to influence and inspire how games tell stories for years to come.