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10 Video Game Narratives That Every Developer Should Study
Narrative is a big deal. For many players, a game with a remarkable story provides entertainment and sentimental value. If you are making an RPG or an adventure game for instance, storytelling is an essential aspect that developers should incorporate.
June 8, 2017
6 Min Read
Narrative is a big deal in the gaming world. For many players, a game with a remarkable story provides entertainment and sentimental value. There are also games that do not focus on storytelling yet they were able to captivate many players like Minecraft. But if you are making an RPG or an adventure game for instance, storytelling is an essential aspect that developers should incorporate.
Here is a list of video games that exhibit interesting narratives that budding and established developers can take inspiration from.
The Last of Us
As one of the most iconic titles for the PlayStation 3, The Last of Us has a unique narrative and elements. It doesn’t have the typical one-dimensional characters, heroic adventures, and satisfying resolutions found in many games. What it has instead are real characters who are broken inside and are trying to stay alive in a broken world. This along with touching interactions between Joel and Ellie make you care and become emotionally attached to the characters. The story is very grounded that people could easily relate to it.
This psychological action thriller by Remedy Entertainment; it’s one of the gripping titles for the Xbox 360. The narrative begins as the thriller novelist, Alan Wake, tries to lift the veil of mystery off her wife’s disappearance. Along the way, he experiences the events that unfolded in his novel which is reminiscent of an episode of the Twilight Zone. It’s not the type of game that is full of jump scares just like with many horror movies these days. The way it injects horror is similar to the way how classic horror writers did it like Lovecraft. Truly, Alan Wake is a one-of-a-kind survival horror game.
Oxenfree comes with many elements that you would not expect for a horror game. The plot unfolds as you lead Alex to an abandoned island for a beach hangout with friends. As Alex explores the game’s world, she will be interacting with other characters through a dialogue system. You have three seconds to choose what Alex will say next. With that, the conversations between characters feel very real and flow spontaneously. This unique approach to the game’s narrative makes Oxenfree one of the titles developers should take inspiration from.
As a sequel to the massive success that is Limbo. Playdead developed Inside which is another monochromatic sidescroller, released in 2016. Just like Limbo, the game doesn’t rely on dialogue but instead it is presented through dark visuals, ambient sounds, and puzzles. From these elements, you have to infer the plot and message of the game. Since there’s no dialogue, the narrative may baffle some gamers, especially those who haven’t played Limbo. This subtlety of the story is what makes the game interesting. It proves that you can make an interesting game narrative even without words or dialogue.
Silent Hill 2
This follow-up to the classic that is Silent Hill is a stroke of genius in terms of storytelling. The plot revolves around James Sunderland and his search for the truth about his wife’s death. The further the game progresses, the darker and more complex the narrative becomes. Another element that makes the game interesting is the use of symbolism. The vile creatures in the game are physical manifestations of James’ corrupt psyche. These gruesome representations of James’ transgressions and guilt make you lose empathy for him. By the end, players discover that they’re not controlling a protagonist, but instead a monster that started the nightmare.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Released in 2015, The Witcher 3’s narrative centers around the protagonist Geralt of Rivia and his search for his adopted daughter. Aside from the riveting narrative, what makes the game engaging is the relatable and realistic characters and their spontaneous interactions. The conversations are well-written which are not the regular script you see in similar titles. Moreover, the game comes with a number of different endings which are determined by the choices you make for Geralt during certain scenes in the game.
This game exemplifies the masterful storytelling of old-school RPGs. The story centers on the immortal known as The Nameless One and his quest to regain his forgotten memories. Along the way, he comes across interesting characters that help him find the answers to his identity and origin. The plot thickens as you make dialogue choices for the protagonist which branch out to a succession of dialogue and consequences. Although Planescape may be outdated in today’s game standards, but story-wise – it crushes some current video game titles.
The time travel concept is not all the time an effective narrative tool for games. But there are titles that execute it with finesse, one of which is Chrono Trigger. Just like most RPGs, the protagonist Crono encounters new friends along the way as the plot progresses. One of the things you will discover as Crono time travels to different eras is that people’s capacity for evil and love never changes regardless of the time.
This tale centers on the fire lookout officer named Henry and his search for clues regarding the mysterious events that took place in the Wyoming forest. The players are provided choices as to how Henry responds to the occurrences in his life. Keep in mind that every decision you make for Henry is never perfect which adds realism to the game. Also, Henry’s supervisor, Delilah, is more than just his potential romantic interest. Just like Henry, Delilah has her own faults and strengths. All these complexities and personal woes of the characters, along with a riveting plot and stunning visuals, have earned Firewatch many accolades. One of which is Best Narrative at the Game Developers Choice Awards.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Aside from the impressive graphics, Uncharted 4 also boasts an interesting and a more personal narrative compared to its previous installments. This final chapter to Nate Drake’s story offers an emotional roller-coaster ride as he goes back to adventuring to save his brother Sam. In the end, Nate was able to free Sam, making it a satisfying ending for Uncharted’ concluding chapter.
All the mentioned examples attest to the importance of narrative in video games. Developers should not be satisfied with a generic and simple plot but instead exceed the expectations of players. That way, players will always have something to look forward to as they progress, making them more engaged and immersed in the game, which will result in satisfied players leading to the success of the game.
This post was written by Reymart Sarigumba from iPrice Group.
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