Storytelling in Video Games: Which Titles Do It Best?

What makes a video game stand apart from its peers? The answer to that question depends on the gamer giving the answer. Do they prefer hard-boiled strategy games? Or would they prefer a sandbox title that lets them explore a world at their own pace? After all, video games are incredibly diverse, which means they scratch a new itch with every player.

More specifically, they challenge gamers in different ways. Let’s cover a few examples. Though considered a card game more than a video game, blackjack today is played in virtual and digital formats—and some platforms even allow console play. The game is preferred by players who want to challenge their minds in a more statistical and logical way.

Blackjack players want to push their mental capacities to the limit to hit that perfect 21 without busting. But not all gamers are so focused on hard numbers and mathematics. Blackjack may be one of the most popular games in the world, but casual mobile titles are also ubiquitous worldwide. They include games like Candy Crush, Wordle, and Subway Surfers.

The gamers who focus on casual mobile titles like Candy Crush are in it for a totally different reason to a blackjack player or a fan of FPS titles like CS GO and Call of Duty. They want to relax and pass the time—the emphasis is on recreation, not competition.

But one of the most popular themes and topics that video gamers want to see is a storyline. Though virtually absent from blackjack, Candy Crush, or CS GO, they’re a huge part of other major franchises. In fact, some of the most popular games in the world have inventive and unforgettable storylines to thank for their success, which worked in tandem with amazing gameplay.

The Last of Us (2013)

What looks on the outside like just another zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic snapshot of life in the US is actually one of the most acclaimed video game storylines of all time. Players must navigate an eroding world where they’re responsible for their own survival, as Joel, and their companion, Ellie.

As they navigate the wasteland that was once the US, they search for a cure to the zombie apocalypse. But themes of love, justice, and survival uplift the narrative. Throw in a twist ending that tore at players’ heartstrings, and there’s little question why The Last of Us is held as the paragon of in-game storytelling.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2016)

Originally a fantasy book series penned by Andrzej Sapkowski, the entire Witcher franchise benefits from a creative and expansive foundation—straight from the mind of a fantasy genius. However, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt took things to a new level in almost every aspect of its storytelling. Even the game’s score is cinematic and memorable, while the game’s invented card game (Gwent) has become so popular that it has a digital title of its own.

In addition to a stellar story, which involves plenty of mythology, the game has an open world—and that extends to the game’s endings. Depending on the path that a player chooses, they will head down one of 36 different roads to separate conclusions.

Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)

The Red Dead franchise already has all the trappings of a winning open-world video game: a Wild West theme, an interactive and highly varied series of side quests, and a narrative that touches on a dramatic historical period. Then, there’s the plot twist ending that some players aren’t over—and never will be over.

Similar to The Witcher 3, the decisions a player makes will directly affect the game’s ending. Much of these decisions revolve around whether a player wants to be ‘honorable’ or ‘dishonorable’, which have different (and equal) affects in the game. But in one final twist, developers chose to make Red Dead Redemption 2 a prequel to its original release. This means that players are helping set a foundation for what is likely another one of their favorite titles.


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