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Video games have became a story telling medium on par with movies and television. In some cases the story experiences can be even more visceral because of the added emotional investment, created by taking control of a character. Is this a complete list of every great video game story? No. These are modern games which have been breakthrough story-telling successes, forever pushing the medium forward.
The original Halo isn’t particularly original or complex from a story perspective. But it was broad and interesting enough to spin off an entire universe of comics, novels and of course, other video games. Creating a universe is no easy feat, and for that, you’ve got to give up to Halo. The original title also features every proper video game story telling convention, such as “being forced to carry out the will of others”, “expectation gaps” and “betrayal.”
The Walking Dead: Season 1
Telltale are of course, masters of character driven story telling. However, The Walking Dead: Season 1 proved to be one of the most emotional experiences ever in gaming
Good story telling shouldn’t require any dialogue at all, and Limbo is a prime example of what you can accomplish when you let the audience connect the dots.
It’s difficult to tell a story that’s been segmented by different times and perspectives. At least, it’s difficult to do well, but Braid succeeds completely. A look at coping with the loss of love, Braid gave us a whole new perspective, not only on video games in general, but also onto ourselves. Deep, man.
Red Dead Redemption
It’s really difficult to create interesting character reveals, especially reveals about a character who you’re currently playing. Not only is Red Dead Redemption a masterclass study in character, but also story structure, with an epilogue which complete a perfect story circle.
This game made a faceless, speechless protagonist interesting, but it also made us experience an entire story through his shoes. Never breaking for cut scenes is part of what makes Half Life remain a visceral experience.
Final Fantasy VII
We knew this one had to be on the list. Set ups, pay offs, character building, twists and a sheer lack of fear to kill off characters make this one of the all time greats, especially for its time.
The Last of Us
It’s hard to think of another video game that gives players such a cathartic and emotional experience. But The Last of Us perhaps succeeds the most by its application of narrative themes, as well as its construction of character relationships. The ending decision also leaves players to ponder a deeply philosophical question, that will have you searching your soul long after the game has ended.
Mass Effect Trilogy
Mass Effect kind of did it all. Not only does the game feature this rich universe, it creates characters we care about, that we feel we have a connection to, and then it makes us responsible for them. It had character choices carry on and matter in the grand scheme of story telling. Players were always a very active protagonist. Arguably the best ever marriage of gameplay and story telling.