I haven’t really talked about video games before on this blog, which I consider to be a huge oversight. Story-driven video games can be a great way to get inspired to write either through creative gameplay or the story. I’m going to focus on video games with great stories today. If you’ve never really played video games before and you’re looking for a video game that’s going to really engage you, this is a great place to start!
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is one of the greatest story-driven video games ever made. The plot revolves around Mae who has just dropped out of college and gone home to her small town. You go through each day with her starting with her arrival, and you watch her navigate her relationships with her parents, her friends, and the people in the town. You can choose who you talk to and who you hang out with. You do get to choose from dialogue options, but Mae also has her own distinct personality. Mae is struggling with a lot of issues, and you slowly discover what those issues are and how they affect her relationships.
This indie game is a lot of fun, but also has a lot of feeling. It captures what it’s like growing up in a small town really well. It’s about friendship, disillusionment, growing up, and dealing with anxiety. Fair warning: it has some weird twists, but the game still feels authentic. This is a video game I always go back to when I’m struggling to feel inspired.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Odds are, you’ve heard of this game unless you truly don’t know a lot about video games. Horizon Zero Dawn is an open-world RPG that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. In this world, robot animals are the norm, and they’re quickly getting more aggressive. The main character, Aloy, goes on an adventure to find out why the animals are getting more dangerous. Along the way, she learns about different types of cultures, fights a lot of people, and learns some secrets from the past.
The great thing about HZD is that it has multiple difficulty options. You can even pick a story-driven option where the combat is easy, so you can just focus on the story. This makes HZD really accessible if you’re new to playing video games. You can also decide how thorough you want your playthrough to be. There are tons of side missions and collectibles you can either finish or ignore. If you want to just go through the main story, you totally can. HZD really lets you customize your gameplay.
Often seen as “Dark Souls but with bugs,” Hollow Knight is another indie game that’s absolutely amazing. It’s also extremely popular for being an indie game. For a game made by only three people, it’s massive with a truly staggering amount of content. It’s a Metroidvania game with a convoluted story about a city that’s rife with a mysterious infection that causes the bugs to go insane. You sort of have to piece together the story by yourself through hints, clues, and character descriptions. (Or you can just watch mossbag.) But it’s definitely worth the effort.
It’s worth mentioning that this game has a fairly high difficulty level, especially if you’re not used to Metroidvanias. Both the combat and platforming can get really hard. Personally, I’m terrible at this game, though I’ve made it farther than I ever thought I would. If you don’t want to play the game yourself, I would encourage you to watch someone play it on YouTube. PlayFrame is a great option.
What Remains of Edith Finch
This is another super accessible video game if you’re not used to video games. Similar to Night in the Woods, What Remains of Edith Finch is entirely story. It’s also a short game, clocking in at about two hours. It’s about a young girl who returns to her childhood home to try and make sense of her family. You just walk through the home, examining the different rooms, which are actually shrines to all the family members who have died.
It’s a pretty basic game, but the story is absolutely incredible. There’s so much detail in the world, and there’s so much for you to find. There are also a few mysteries for you to piece together yourself. If you’re just looking for a game that has a great story but less gameplay, What Remains of Edith Finch is for you.
SOMA is technically a horror game, though depending on your personality and affinity to horror, you might not find it scary. It’s about a dying man who gets a brain scan for a new study that might save his life. After the brain scan, he wakes up in a post-apocalyptic underwater world. Everything is locked up, and the crew members of this underwater facility are gone. He’s forced to try and figure out what happened to him and to them. There’s no combat in this game. You have to just avoid the monsters while you walk around and interact with the world.
The horror of this game is generally well-done. This might be the weakest story on this list, but it’s still good. It’s still interesting to piece the mystery of everything together. If you enjoy horror, this is definitely a game to check out.
Video games can be the perfect way to get inspired to write if you’re feeling stuck. Not only does it give you something to focus on mentally and physically, but there are some games out there with amazing stories. These are just some of my favorites, but there are tons of popular story-driven games out there like Until Dawn and Undertale. If you haven’t considered video games yet, I would encourage you to start!
Are you a gamer? What’s your favorite story-driven video game?