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Come for the Narrative, Stay for the Story

We often talk about video games not only being entertainment because they are a new way to tell stories. However, some games use narrative as the way you interact with the game. Whether you are exploring a living breathing world, making choices that impact the story or even just deciding how things are said, narrative is the thing you are working with.

We've worked with The Narrative Outlook newsletter (subscribe here) to create a list of games that focus first on the narrative genre. Their monthly newsletter is a great way to stay up to date about all things narrative gaming.

We are including games that would elsewhere be called Walking Simulators, although for us these are narratives told through exploration. We also include games that other sites might lump in with Adventures, although for us these game are more about what is said and revealed on the way that the journey itself.

We aren't including games with strong narrative if the main way you interact with the game is through Puzzles, Role-Playing, Adventuring or the other common genres. For instance The Last of Us isn't here because it is primarily a Shooting Adventure game. Celeste isn't here because it's firstly a Platform game. My Child Lebensborn isn't here because the main interaction is Puzzle tamagotchi-like. I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, not because it isn't a strong narrative, but because there is a lot of collecting and deck building front and centre too.

This list includes 37 games from the last 11 years, with 861 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to play with a story. We break them down into the following areas:

DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 18
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Australian Ratings: G to R 18+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Brain Game, Communication, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Platform, Point-and-Click, Puzzle, Role-Play, Simulation, Strategy and Traversal
Total Likes: 861
 

 

Flynt Buckler Wakes the Sleepy Castle

Flynt Buckler Wakes the Sleepy Castle is an adventure about a cursed storybook and grim versions of classic characters. You are Flynt Buckler and must explore the world, collect items and defeat enemies to save your growing band of fairytale friends.

The Forest Quartet

The Forest Quartet is a puzzle adventure about the band's lead singer who passed away in an ancient forest. You play her spirit travelling through the forest to create three final acts unique to the members of her band for a final concert. It's an...

Experience A Story

Florence

This is a little puzzle game that tells the story of a relationship, following the usual stages of loneliness, meeting, dating, falling for and moving in with another person. At first, the puzzle interactions seem trivial and the game doesn’t change...

Old Man's Journey

Old Man’s Journey is a game about memory and old age. You help a grandfather-figure traverse the countryside by raising and lowering the landscape. Along the way he visits places that evoke the story of his life: a wife, a child and a love of the sea.

To The Moon

To the Moon is a story-adventure following two doctors trying to fulfil a dying man's last wish to go to the moon. With only a few ways to interact with the game, you control the doctors, exploring and solving puzzles to reconstruct the dying man's...

If Found

If Found is an interactive narrative game about searching for connection. You touch the screen to rub out and erase text and drawings. Set on December 31st 1993 in the crumbling ruins of a mansion on Achill Island, you play Kasio as she destroys her diary.

That Dragon, Cancer

That Dragon, Cancer is a game about a family with a young son who has terminal brain cancer. It sounds off-putting and morbid but this living biography invites you to join the family and find hope, faith and love in the face of an insurmountable...

Hindsight

Hindsight is a narrative point-and-click game where you revisit the past by finding objects that trigger memories. Play involves exploring each scene, locating objects and listening to the story as you move the camera to look within what you've found...

Gerda: A Flame in Winter

Gerda: A Flame in Winter is a narrative adventure game set in the small Danish village. Gerda's quiet life is turned upside down during the World War 2 occupation of her home. You choose where to go, how to act, and who to trust. It stands out for the...

The Wreck

The Wreck is a narrative game where you play Junon, a mother at a crossroads. She's 36 but her career has stalled, she's emotionally numb, and her personal life is falling apart. It's not unfamiliar territory for a video game these days, but The Wreck...

Influence Unfolding

Firewatch

Firewatch is an explorative adventure where you play a fire lookout in America’s Shoshone National Forest. It has a relational and conspiracy undertone similar to the podcast/radio drama and Netflix show [link to...

Penrose

Penrose is a text adventure, where you don't only read the story and choose its next step, but can go back into the text to change it in all sorts of mind-bending ways. As the develop describes it, "Penrose is a non-linear narrative adventure game about...

Coffee Talk

Coffee Talk is an interactive story about a barista working in a coffee shop in Seattle. You listen to customer's concerns about life and love, in a retro pixilated world backed with lo-fi chilled hip-hop music.

Oxenfree

Oxenfree is an adventure game where a teenagers’ beach party spirals into a supernatural story. You guide the outcome with your choices as the well-written dialogue reveals characters coming to terms with family breakdown, death of a sibling, blame...

Bury Me My Love

Don’t be put off by the name and theme of this intriguing game, an adventure played by choosing responses in what looks like a messaging app. You take the role of the husband of a Syrian migrant travelling to Europe. As the game unfolds in real time,...

A Dark Room

A Dark Room is an adventure where you try and survive in the wild. The world is depicted with just text but leads you into a dense narrative with intriguing visitors and a steadily expanding world. It has a simple start – a single option to stoke a...

Bird Alone

Bird Alone is a narrative game where you befriend a bird. Your feathered companion encourages the conversation in the direction of real life worries while you make music, draw pictures and write poetry. It’s a slow game that unfolds in real time with...

Wayward Strand

Wayward Strand is a narrative game about Casey Beaumaris, intrepid teenage journalist. You visit an airborne hospital, uncover the airship's mysteries, and explore the lives of its inhabitants. It's a Tintin-style point-and-click adventure with a...

Beacon Pines

Beacon Pines is a storybook adventure game where you play as a small fawn named Luka trying to solve a mystery in a creepy town full of intrigue. You play by collecting words that change the story, so you can go back through the book to play out...

Inua - A Story in Ice and Time

Inua A Story in Ice and Time is a narrative-driven role-playing game where you switch between 3 different time periods, alter people's memories and thoughts, and change both the past and the future. In the far Canadian north, you meet three groups of...

Albert Wilde: Quantum P.I.

Albert Wilde: Quantum P.I. is a mystery adventure where you play a detective cat in a fictional 1930's New York. It combines point-and click adventuring with e first person perspective. Solve murders, flirt badly, maybe discover a wormhole to another...

Monorail Stories

Monorail Stories is a narrative adventure where two people's lives are entwined by the journeys they take on the same monorail. You make choices for each character that can impact not only people on your commute but those on the other journey. It's...

Overhear Clockwork Stories

Overboard

Overboard is a murder mystery narrative game played in reverse. You murder your husband at the start of the game and then try and get away with it. It's played on a ship where the characters are affected by your choices and change their actions...

Neo Cab

This is a narrative adventure from behind the wheel of a cab. You play as Lina, the last human driver-for-hire on the streets of Los Ojos. Your friend and only lifeline has gone missing; with no money and nowhere to stay, your only leads are the...

Closed Hands

Closed Hands is a text adventure game set in the lead-up and aftermath of a terror attack in a fictional UK city. You follow five core characters brought together by the same event. It's a branching story that you discover and influence as you read and...

South of the Circle

South of the Circle is a narrative adventure game about, Peter, a Cambridge academic who finds himself fighting for survival in Antarctica during the 1960’s Cold War. You must cross desolate terrain to reach British, Norwegian and Soviet Antarctic...

Ord

Ord is an unusual text adventure, rather than one grand story, you embark on a series of distinct quests. Whether it's defeating an evil warlock or creating your own world as a god, Ord tells stories through simple series of words and word associations...

We Should Talk

We Should Talk is a short narrative game about working the night shift in a bar dealing with romantic advances and your disgruntled partner. Like other narrative games you choose conversation responses that have consequences. Unlike other narrative...

Solve A Mystery

Before Your Eyes

Before Your Eyes is a narrative game about an 11-year-old boy revisiting his life before "crossing over" to the other side. You play by exploring scenes that represent snapshots of his life. Unusually, you make choices and interact with the game by...

Storyteller

Storyteller is a puzzle game about building stories. You use a set of icons to matching what is happening in each frame of the story. It's a simple challenge that gets the mind-stretching as you construct some of history’s greatest stories using...

Before I Forget

Before I Forget is an exploration adventure, where you play Sunita, a woman alone in a house with early-onset dementia. As you wander from room to room, you discover mysterious objects, each holding a fleeting, fragmented memory. Examine faded...

Her Story

Solve the 1994 mystery of a murdered man by searching an old police computer archive of interview videos of his wife. The game presents a retro computer interface but the interviews themselves are short films with real actors. Although there are only...

Telling Lies

Telling Lies is from the same developer as Her Story. It's named as an investigative thriller game with non-linear storytelling by the developer.

Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus?

Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? is a murder mystery game with footage of real actors. Your family meets to play a board game on zoom, but before you start you discover someone has poisoned Uncle Marcus. You have to both play the quiz and glean...

Ghost on the Shore

Ghost on the Shore is a narrative adventure about emotional and community ties that last after people pass away. You encounter a headstrong ghost who urges you to investigate an island with a tragic secret. Choices in dialogue shape the bond between the...

The Case of the Golden Idol

The Case of the Golden Idol is a point-and-click adventure set in the 18th century, where you attempt to solve 12 gruesome deaths. You play by investigating each scene to gather information in the form of words that you piece together to make statements...

The Red Strings Club

The Red Strings Club is a futuristic narrative game where you prescribe implants and drinks to people who visit your bar. You talk to patrons, prepare them drinks and coax information out of them to advance the espionage story. It's a unique game that...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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