Long gone are the days when games used to be enjoyed purely for their mechanics and the simple pleasure of guiding a generic avatar from point A to point B. Sure, a thriving indie scene has ensured that those games continue to flourish today, but the medium itself has proven to be as adept as any at telling one hell of a story. In most cases, the best game stories don’t simply try to mimic cinema, but use the unique tools at their disposal to engage the player through all sorts of unique interactions along the way. Cutscenes and well-written dialogue play their part, but it’s often those little details in the environment or gameplay that help build a story for the player; the hacked computer terminals or secret diaries revealing a character’s true intentions, or the difficult moral dilemmas you have to make snap-decisions in, for example. Yes, video games are capable of telling stories in truly unique ways, and over the years weve been treated to profound, powerful and memorable stories that stand tall among all storytelling forms (which absolutely does not mean that they should actually be made into films, by the way).
12. The Last Of Us
Since the turn of the millennium, both films and video games have been swarmed with zombie-apocalypse stories. The fact that The Last of Us stands out from the horde then, is a testament to what a special case it really is. Following the bereaved father/surrogate daughter pairing of Joel and Ellie, who must traverse a post-apocalyptic America to deliver a possible cure for a fungal virus that has ruined the nation, the intense survival bond between them means that the player – like Joel – is prepared to do anything to protect Ellie. You start to perceive everyone else as ultimately expendable; and that’s a twisted outlook that builds up to one of the best endings of all time. As well as being well written and visually stunning, the pacing in The Last of Us is incredible, sometimes slowing down for extended periods to let the player explore, before rewarding that notion with some immensely touching storiesthat cleverly give more context on the tragic world the characters inhabit. Naughty Dog’s latest is the benchmark for both cinematic and environmental storytelling in video games. Simply as. Buy The Last of Us
11. Bioshock Infinite
The mind-bending, time-travelling story of Bioshock Infinite took a sharp turn away from the themes of the legendary first game, sweeping players up in more ways than one into a majestic world of wormholes, multiverses and religious zealotry. As in the previous entry, the plot is driven by another father/surrogate daughter pairing of Booker and Elizabeth. While the player, as Booker, is determined to complete their seemingly straightforward goal of saving ‘the girl’, it soon becomes clear that things are way, way more complicated than they appear, and that there are forces far beyond your control that you end up being swept up along with, rather than in control of. By the end of the game, when things get seriously inter-dimensional, you’re forced to sombrely accept that you are simply a crucial gear in the machine of destiny, unable to escape the demons of your past. You go from being a high-flying hero who ‘saves the girl’ to a passive being who’s left with no choice but to accept whatever fate must occur, thanks to some massively consequential cogs you first set in motion. Buy BioShock Infinite