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Gaming 101: Narrative Games

In this series, we are learning how different aspects of video games work by playing games that offer an easy introduction to this one concept. This is designed for people new to gaming, and aims to identify games with the least barriers. In this entry we are looking at Narrative games.

Narrative video games focus on telling a story about characters, worlds and themes. Learning from the power of books and films, these games string together interactions not for excitement or competition but for storytelling beats. The best examples intertwine gameplay and storytelling, rather than interspersing short films ("Cut Scenes) between levels.

Games can use Adventure, Action and Role-Playing to communicate elements of story to players. Less obviously, games can also communicate narrative through how they Simulate the world, what needs solving in Puzzles or even the Strategies players need to employ.

The narrative of video games is not usually told (like in books) or shown (like in films) but overheard. Half caught sentences from passing characters. The architecture of the buildings. The way that levers and buttons interact. How other characters (and the world itself sometimes) reacts to your presence. What is broken in the space the game creates, and how/if it can be fixed.

This list includes 16 games from the last 12 years, with 454 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to play your first strategy game.

DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 18
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Australian Ratings: G to MA 15+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Open World, Point-and-Click, Puzzle, Role-Playing, Simulation and Turn-Based
Total Likes: 454
 

 

Florence

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 14/02/2018, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, Switch and iOS

Genres: Narrative

Developer: Mountains Games (@MountainsGames)

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 12/08/2015, updated in 2016

Price: 50% off

Platforms: Mac, PC and PS4

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World

Accessibility: 16 features

Developer: Chinese Room (@ChineseRoom)

Players: This is a single player game

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture lands you in a fictional deserted English village in 1984. As you walk the streets of another era you discover bright human forms who re-enact events like a radio play. Through their eyes, you see a web of fear,...

Night in the Woods

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 10/01/2017, updated in 2017

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Accessibility: 23 features

Developer: Night In The Woods (@NightInTheWoods)

Players: This is a single player game

Night in the Woods follows college dropout Mae Borowski returning home to the crumbling former mining town of Possum Springs. But the place is different now her friends have grown and changed. There’s something suspicious happening in the nearby...

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 5-10 year-olds

Release Date: 11/12/2020

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iPhone, iPad

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Simulation

Accessibility: 30 features

Developer: Us Two (@UsTwo)

Players: This is a single player game

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is an adventure game where you play as a young girl who starts a wildlife conservation club. When Alba visits her grandparents on a Mediterranean island, she is excited for a summer of exploring with her friend Ines. But when...

Firewatch

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds

Release Date: 20/09/2016

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World

Accessibility: 23 features

Developer: Camposanto (@Camposanto)

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Lifeline (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 16/04/2015, updated in 2016

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Accessibility: 16 features

Developer: 3 Minute Games (@3MinuteGames)

Players: This is a single player game

Lifeline is a narrative adventure where you interact with an astronaut, Taylor via text messages. You help him return home after crashing his aircraft on a foreign planet.

Before I Forget

Release Date: 01/07/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Accessibility: 9 features

Developer: 3 Fold Games (@3FoldGames)

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Bury Me My Love

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 26/10/2017, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Turn-Based

Accessibility: 29 features

Developer: The Pixel Hunt (@ThePixelHunt)

Players: This is a single player game

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,...

Heavy Rain

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 06/10/2010, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS3 and PS4

Genres: Action, Adventure and Narrative

Accessibility: 24 features

Developer: Quantic Dream (@Quantic_Dream)

Players: This is a single player game

Heavy Rain is from the same Quantic Dream studio who made Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human. It preceded these games but shared the same branching narrative and photo-realistic aspirations.

Oxenfree

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 14/01/2016, updated in 2016

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Accessibility: 15 features

Developer: Night Schoolers (@NightSchoolers)

Players: This is a single player game

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...

My Child Lebensborn

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 08/05/2018, updated in 2021

Platforms: Android, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Point-and-Click, Puzzle and Role-Playing

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: Sareptastudio (@Sareptastudio)

Players: This is a single player game

You nurture a Lebensborn child in Norway after World War II who faces a hostile community because they’ve been born to parents of both occupied and occupying forces. With meagre resources yourself, you must feed, clothe and bathe the child, but more...

What Remains of Edith Finch

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Release Date: 18/04/2017, updated in 2017

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: Giant Sparrow (@GiantSparrow)

Players: This is a single player game

Edith Finch is the surviving member of the Finch family, who seem to have died from a curse. In first-person perspective, you return to the family’s coastal home to learn about each relative’s final hours by exploring their rooms in turn.

Gone Home

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Skill Rating: 15+ year-olds

Release Date: 15/08/2013, updated in 2016

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: Fullbright Games (@FullbrightGames)

Players: This is a single player game

Gone Home places you in the role of Katie, returning from overseas to her family home. But the house is deserted and by exploring the rooms you piece together what happened to her sister, Sam. It’s a mystery to solve, but a common one of family...

Photographs - Puzzle Stories

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 03/04/2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: Luca Redwood (@LucaRedwood)

Players: This is a single player game

"Have you ever made a mistake, or hurt people you care about?" Asks the Photographs trailer. It's a puzzle game that aims much higher than to distract you while on the way to work.

Leaving Lyndow

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 08/02/2017

Platforms: Mac, PC and PS4

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: Eastshade (@Eastshade)

Players: This is a single player game

Leaving Lyndow is a narrative adventure set a couple of generations before Eastshade. Sharing the same anthropomorphized animal society, although here at an earlier stage, it's a game about the memories we make in the places we...

The Wreck

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC

Genres: Narrative

Developer: The Pixel Hunt (@ThePixelHunt)

Players: This is a single player game

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...

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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