As the curtains are closing on the 8th generation of consoles and the bigger, more powerful consoles are eagerly awaiting to take centre stage, I believe it’s time to reflect on the generation. As a film fanatic, I adore cinematic games. In my opinion, the medium can explore narratives in a fascinating way. Not only can games tell stories through characters, but they can also intertwine gameplay and the environment in order to build a world around the core narrative.
So, not including re-releases (sorry Last of us) and focusing solely on games that were released on the PS4, Xbox One and Wii U (Yes, it’s an 8th Generation console), let’s look at the Top 10 Narrative Games of the Generation.
God of War
God of War is a cinematic masterpiece. The execution of the single-camera is exemplary ⁹and the best that I have seen in a video game. Due to this, the audience creates a bond with the characters, immersing themselves with the journey of the protagonists. The game also tells the narrative through the gameplay; often the characters communicate as you explore the incredible environment which helps to build the world that the narrative is in.
Walking Dead: New Frontier
This may be a surprise to some but this game really hit home. The game follows Javier, a man who is forced into a position where he has to look after his sister-in-law’s family. However, it’s his relationship with his brother which is the core of the narrative and this is what developed my emotional attachment to the game. This amazingly told, tear jerker is often overlooked but definitely worth experiencing.
The developers of Stories Untold are clearly experts in narrative construction. The game’s anthology approach is unique and intriguing but it’s how the story culminates that cements its place on the list. The methodical pacing and persistent atmosphere makes it a game that will leave an everlasting mark.
Telling a narrative through the environment is a difficult task. There is a certain amount of subtlety required when approaching a game with this in mind, however, Fullbright does this better than any game I have played. The house feels lived in and this is due to the placement of props that roots the game in an era that oozes nostalgia for the gamer.
Tales from the Borderlands
Okay, right off the back, let me tell you this. I hate Borderlands. I don’t like what I have played and had zero affiliation with the series. However, I have always loved Telltale Games and tried out anything they released but could they make me give a sh*t about a franchise I didn’t care about? Fortunately I was greeted with an amazing 80s influenced action-comedy. The game’s comedic timing and band of eccentric characters had me chuckling from start to finish.
The Invisible Hours
“A PSVR game? Are you mad?” I hear you scream, but those are the cries of people who haven’t played The Invisible Hours. Upon arriving at an island for a private party, you discover that the host has been murdered! With each guest having their own motive, you act as the director, being able to follow the narrative from a different character’s perspective to find out who the killer is. It takes the classic ‘whodunit?’ genre and introduces innovative mechanics that allows the gamer to have an omnipresence in the story.
Rime tells the narrative in a unique, explorative manner. Each chapter acts as a visual metaphor which is revealed as the game progresses. This element of discovery and piecing together the narrative is achieved in a beautiful way, allowing the gamer to reflect on what they’ve experienced and understood how what they were doing links to the overarching storyline.
Firewatch explores the idea of escapism in a method that is mature, sensitive and compelling. We are introduced to a range of characters who link to this theme but in the end, the harsh reality of life catches up with them. The game is a visual treat and the thoughtful character development ensures that the gamer feels attached to the characters.
What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is a heartbreaking tale of a family who has experienced a tragic life. You explore the amazing puzzle-like environment of the Finch family residence. Each of the family member’s bedrooms tells a story of their life. You are transported to a world from their perspective, where you experience unique and harrowing stories. The game is a masterclass in design and narrative. If you haven’t played this, then go play it now!
Although the gameplay split fans and critics, the storyline in the game cannot be refuted. The game sets an awe-inspiring scene through its lush, Icelandic inspired environments. The music, by the fantastic Low Roar, helps to build the atmosphere of an isolated world that has been ravaged by the Death Stranding. The brilliance of Kojima is evident through the pacing and reveal of the narrative. Throughout the game I was admittedly confused, trying to piece together the fragments of the story; however, as the game progresses, you are fed more and more of the plot. This leads to one of the most satisfying endings that I have experienced in video games.
Well, that’s my Top 10 Narrative Games of the Generation. Feel free to comment underneath with yours!
This article was written by Jaz Sagoo