Story-based video games have always been the pinnacle of gaming. They offer the most immersive and enjoyable experiences with their creative and comprehensive storylines. These titles allow players to escape the monotony of everyday life by escaping into the rich and diverse worlds they offer.
As multiplayer titles and live-service based video games have grown in popularity over the past few years, many developers have developed the idea that story-driven single-player video titles are on the way out. However, these story-rich games continue to deliver great gaming experiences for fans around the world.
Note: This article is subjective and reflects the opinions of the author only.
Red Dead Redemption 2, Ghost of Tsushima and 8 other great narrative video games that have earned their place among the greatest of all time
1) The Last of Us
Developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment in 2013, The Last of Us is widely regarded as one of the best video games of all time.
Despite its outdated gameplay mechanics and linear plot progression, the game set the standard for other single-player video games with its flawless storytelling and compelling character arcs.
The Last of Us follows Joel Miller as he traverses a dystopian post-apocalyptic world riddled with infected creatures to escort a child named Ellie to a group called the Fireflies. Their dynamic and budding interactive father-daughter relationship forms the heart of the experience and takes players on an emotional journey.
2) God of War (2018)
The God of War series has provided fans with some of the best PlayStation-exclusive video games over the years. With its soft reboot in 2018, the series made a glorious return to modern consoles with a Game of the Year winning effort.
Despite continuing the tradition of previous games, God of War (2018) brought bold and ambitious changes that totally revitalized the feel of the series. The transition from Greek mythology to Norse mythology is only the beginning. The game also features an over-the-shoulder perspective rather than the fixed camera angle approach of previous titles.
Kratos, the protagonist, appears to be a completely different individual. He is no longer the raging personification of ruthless vengeance. Instead, he’s a rather wise and stoic father, guiding his son Atreus on a perilous journey to fulfill his wife’s dying wish.
With God of War Ragnarok releasing in November 2022, now is the perfect time for players to revisit this masterpiece.
3) Red Dead Redemption 2
As the sequel to 2010’s Game of the Year, Red Dead Redemption 2 got a lot of hype ahead of its release. Rockstar Games delivered on all fronts and blasted all expectations with the most immersive and polished open-world experience.
The game follows the adventures of Arthur Morgan, a rebel bandit and bounty hunter. He struggles to find his place in an unknown civilized world while supporting his loved ones and fighting the law.
The vast world is full of brilliant side quests, activities, and interactions with NPCs. It earns its reputation as one of the best video games of all time, thanks to a gripping narrative that brings players to tears as it reaches its conclusion.
4) Marvel’s Spider-Man
The genre of superhero-themed video games has often been plagued by mediocrity. Other than the Arkham series, most titles fail to provide an accurate representation of the source material or provide a disappointing gameplay experience in general. However, Marvel’s Spider-Man defies both of these standards by giving fans the ultimate Spidey experience.
A lot can be said about the depth of the game’s combat and slinging mechanics, as well as its superb graphics and cinematic events. However, its real merit lies in the cleverly crafted narrative that allows players to become invested in the story.
Marvel’s Spider-Man really encapsulates all the aspects that make Spider-Man such a brilliant and relatable character. It offers a harrowing story to complement the enjoyable action sequences.
5) Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar Games is truly the master of creating masterful story-driven video games. The company has proven itself over the years with games like Red Dead Redemption and Bully, as well as the popular GTA series.
GTA V, released in 2013, is one of the most commercially successful games of all time. The game launched on three different console generations and continues to entertain fans to this day.
GTA V is unique among its peers because it allows players to seamlessly switch between three different character perspectives, completing missions with each to advance the plot.
The vast open world, side quests, entertaining characters and NPCs, and wide variety of activities complement the enjoyable storyline to create the ultimate gaming experience.
6) The Living Dead
Developed and published by Telltale Games in 2012, The Walking Dead is an interactive choice-based adventure game set in a zombie-ridden post-apocalyptic world.
The game follows the story of Lee Everett, college professor and convicted felon, who saves and encourages a young girl named Clementine. Their relationship forms the centerpiece of the game’s narrative, which depicts a beautiful and moving journey.
Choice-based plot progression adds even greater depth to the immersion offered by the game. Players quickly establish a connection with the characters, making their story even more empathetic and heartbreaking. It deserves its place on this list as one of the best story-based video games of all time.
7) Ghost of Tsushima
Released in 2020 by Sony Interactive Entertainment, Ghost of Tsushima is the epitome of what the PlayStation 4 console has to offer in terms of graphics capabilities. Not only is it one of the most visually impressive video games of all time, but it also features an engaging storyline that makes players truly feel like a samurai warrior.
The game tells the adventures of Jin Sakai, a samurai trying to protect his homeland during the Mongol invasion. The game’s combat system includes a mixture of sword fighting as well as stealth-based assassination mechanics.
As one of the last AAA video games to be released ahead of the PlayStation 5’s release, Ghost of Tsushima is a fitting farewell to the previous generation of consoles.
8) Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The Metal Gear series is one of the most recognizable names in the stealth action video game genre. Since its inception in 1987, the franchise has continued to innovate and bring fans many iconic titles.
The Phantom Pain was released in 2015 by Konami. It’s the perfect culmination of decades of creativity from Kojima Productions. It encapsulates everything fans love about MGS video games and presents them with a visually stunning open-world experience.
The game follows the story of Venom Snake as he embarks on a vengeful journey to exact revenge on the people who murdered his forces. The classic stealth mechanics and close combat of the Metal Gear franchise are at their peak in this title. Players have more freedom than ever when it comes to how they approach the game.
9) Batman: Arkham Knight
With their Arkham series, Rocksteady Studios managed to defy the norm and finally do justice to the genre of superhero-themed video games. The series sets the standard for future titles with its flawless storytelling, immersive environments, innovative combat mechanics, and faithful representation of the source material.
As the concluding title in the series, Arkham Knight offers a fitting end to the Caped Crusader’s journey with a storytelling experience that respects the original lore.
Batman’s struggles with his own demons and the pervasive theme of good versus evil combine to create a narrative that truly immerses players in the world of Gotham City.
10) NieR: Automata
Released in 2017 by Square Enix, NieR: Automata is an action RPG that stands out from other video games in the genre for the diversity of its scenarios. Despite being an incredibly action-focused title, the game is anything but linear, as players can achieve up to 26 endings with multiple playthroughs.
The game is set in a dystopian depiction of Earth, as humanity has abandoned the planet, leaving behind androids to fight an alien invasion. The hack-and-slash combat system is incredibly entertaining, offering a masterful mix of melee and projectile attacks. The open world adds another dimension of freedom for players and gives the game more replay value.
NieR: Automata is an outlier in its genre and is definitely one of the most unique video games of all time, earning its place on this list.