6 of the Best Narrative Adventure Games to Play if You Love Great Stories
Gone are the days when games were all about shooting things. These days, there are games that tell incredible stories that sweep you up and take you on a journey. Narrative adventure games prioritise character development and storytelling, often giving you the power to make important choices for your character that can change the ending of the story. There are often minimal gameplay elements in these games, too, making them ideal for new gamers or people who just want to enjoy a good story.
Narrative adventure games are growing in popularity, so there are always new titles being released. From the everyday adventures to the magical, these are the best narrative adventure games you can play on PC, Xbox, Playstation and Switch.
Life is Strange
The first Life is Strange game, released in 2015, helped popularise the genre, and the series has continued to define what a narrative adventure game is with each new release, including this year’s Life is Strange: True Colours. Each game tells its own self-contained story, though, so you can jump in at any point in the series.
The characters you play in Life is Strange games often have some kind of superpower which changes the gameplay and can affect the story depending on how you use it. The exception is Life is Strange 2, where you play as Sean as he helps his younger brother learn to control his superpowers.
The thing Life is Strange games have in common is their mature themes, which deal with things like death, racism, sexuality and family.
The Wolf Among Us
Another of the first narrative adventure games to gain mainstream attention, The Wolf Among Us cleverly subverts fairy tales to tell a gruesome murder mystery.
You play as Bigby Wolf, the detective investigating these mysteries, and you’ll examine crime scenes and collect evidence to solve the case. You’ll also spend a lot of time speaking to other characters, and the things you say to them will affect how much they like you. The clues you find and how you interact with these characters can affect events later in the story, especially if you do something to make someone else angry with you.
The developers, Telltale Games, have also made Walking Dead, Batman and Guardians of the Galaxy narrative adventure games.
In Last Stop, you play out three supernatural stories, each with its own theme and cast of characters that converge in the final act. There’s “Paper Dolls”, a classic body-swap situation between young programmer Jack, middle-aged John and his daughter Molly. In “Domestic Affairs”, you play as Meena, a secret agent dealing with marriage issues and a job promotion, and “Stranger Danger” follows Donna and her friends when they meet a strange man with magical abilities.
Some of the gameplay in Last Stop is a bit messy and your choices don’t matter much until you’re near the end, but each of the three stories is interesting and fast-paced enough to keep you on the hook.
Some people call Firewatch a walking sim because the gameplay revolves around you patrolling a national park to protect it during the fire season. Unlike the other games on this list, you won’t be making decisions as Henry and there’s only one ending, but you’ll still get to choose his dialogue with the only other character in the game, another fire lookout named Delilah.
You can only communicate with Delilah with walkie talkies, and what you say to her will influence your relationship. This relationship is the main feature of the game, and while forming a good relationship won’t unlock the good ending, it will make the middle of the game much more enjoyable and meaningful.
What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is another game that swaps dialogue and player choice for a simple story that’s told beautifully.
The game centres on Edith Finch and her family, who believed they were cursed. As you explore the Finch family home, you uncover the story behind each family member’s untimely death. The game is presented as an anthology, with each story being told in its own dramatic retelling that’s narrated by Edith.
Not all narrative adventure games are cute and emotional. Until Dawn is a horror game starring Rami Malek and Hayden Panettiere that puts you in control of a group of friends who find themselves trapped on a mountain infested with monsters and other mysteries.
It’s more action-oriented than other games on this list but still focuses on exploration and dialogue. It plays out like a Goosebumps book, where any decision you make could doom the characters or save them. It’s also a great co-op game, as each player can take control of their own character and influence the ending.