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Interpret Deeper Meaning

Video games aren't high on the list of most people's spiritual spaces. However, many games offer experiences that invite you to explore buildings, worlds, cities and the countryside full of potential for spiritual reflection.

Games offer a unique way to encounter what is beyond us: other people, the world and possibly even the divine. They include themes of hope, loss and love. They invite us to reconsider how we see the outsider and the marginalised. They offer a chance for response and emotion to grow.

The games in this list have been the subject of a series of articles I have written about video games and faith. Firstly, from 2013-2015 for ThirdWay magazine, and more recently for Youth and Children's Work (YCW) magazine.

These are two publications for Christian audiences, that have invited me to shed light on what a range of video games might mean for those communities. I aim to make connections with faith, the bible and the experience of these video games. This is one way to interpret them which of course invites further and possibly counter interpretations from other perspectives.

YCW articles:
Firewatch | Everything | Bury Me My Love | Abzu | Wilmot's Warehouse

Thirdway Articles:
Proteus | Joust | Uncharted 3 | Alan Wake | This War of Mine | Journey | Limbo | Spaceteam | A Dark Room | Altos Adventure | A Year Walk | Bioshock Infinite | The Last of Us | Disney Infinity | Everybody's Gone to the Rapture | That Dragon Cancer | Spec Ops The Line | Papo and Yo

This list includes 38 games from the last 15 years, with 978 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to muse on deep topics.

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, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Physically Active, Platform, Point-and-Click, Puzzle, Race, Rhythm, Role-Play, Shooting, Simulation, Sports, Stealth and Strategy
Total Likes: 978
 

 

Wilmot's Warehouse

Release Date: 29/08/2019

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

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

This is a game for people who like to organise things. You are in charge of a warehouse and must manage 100s of items of stock. These identical square boxes are labelled with rudimentary icons. On your own or with another player, you must decipher what...

Proteus

Release Date: 30/01/2013

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS Vita and PS3

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

This game takes you to a pixelated island. As you explore you discover that your presence changes the seasons and time of day. Delving deeper, there are rudimentary interactions with the creatures that inhabit the land, and rain clouds that blow in from...

Journey

Release Date: 14/03/2012, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4 and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Journey is an adventure game set in a desert. Exploring the eerie sand-scape, you discover a world abandoned by the race that created it. The sense of space and scale evokes feelings of aloneness and being lost. But then the game pairs you with other...

That Dragon, Cancer

Release Date: 12/01/2016, updated in 2016

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

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...

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

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

Platforms: Mac, PC and PS4

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,...

Alto's Odyssey (Series)

Release Date: 19/02/2015, updated in 2018

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

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

Descend beautiful mountains, dunes and canyons on a snowboarding journey full of serenity and secrets. All you have to worry about is tapping to jump to avoid chasms, rockfall and other hazards. It’s simple and moreish due to the stunning landscapes...

Everything

Release Date: 21/03/2017, updated in 2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Switch

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

This is an unusual game that simulates a world where you can become any object. It sounds strange and not much fun, but the enjoyment is in discovering how small or how big a thing you can become. From tiny atoms to whole planets and everything in between.

Abzu

Release Date: 02/11/2016, updated in 2018

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Abzu is an adventure in a lush underwater world. You descend into the heart of the ocean to find ancient secrets and encounter majestic creatures. This combines the beautiful weightlessness of diving with an ancient story of meaning and place in the world.

This War Of Mine

Release Date: 14/11/2014, updated in 2016

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and iOS

Inspired by the 1992–96 Siege of Sarajevo, this is a war game where you play the civilian trying to survive during the fighting. You face tough decisions on how to spend time and resources each day to maintain health, hunger and mood levels until a...

The Forgotten City

Release Date: 28/07/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

The Forgotten City is a mystery adventure. You explore and relive the final days of a cursed Roman city, where if one person sins, everyone dies. It starts as a bewildering array of characters, locations and information but over multiple goes your...

Before Your Eyes

Release Date: 08/04/2021, updated in 2022

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

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...

Firewatch

Release Date: 20/09/2016

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

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

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...

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Release Date: 19/11/2016, updated in 2017

Platforms: PS3 and PS4

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is an action-adventure game set several years after the events of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. You play Nathan Drake, a happily married former treasure hunter coaxed out of retirement by his brother. This leads into...

The Last Of Us

Release Date: 14/06/2013

Platforms: PS3 and PS4

Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds

You play a father, Joel, whose daughter was killed during the early stages of a deadly fungal outbreak. It’s now 20 years later, and he has clearly suffered from the loss. When Joel is given charge of a girl, Ellie, about the same age his daughter...

The Last Of Us Left Behind

Release Date: 14/02/2014

Platforms: PS3 and PS4

Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds

The Last of Us is a survival adventure game where you play Joel, a father figure, looking to protect a girl in his care, Ellie. The game creates a fimlic and emotional experience that extends beyond the usual zombie shooting to offer an interactive...

Bioshock

Release Date: 21/08/2007, updated in 2016

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Bioshock is a first-person shooting game set in a fantastical underwater city. A dark story unfolds about the misuse of surgery and gene therapy, and what happens when a society develops with a power mad genius in control. It's an unusual combination of...

Alan Wake

Release Date: 14/05/2010

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Bright Falls is the sleepy Midwest setting for this Twilight Zone-style horror game. The action focuses on surviving attacks from possessed ‘Taken’ locals. You use flashlights to burn away the possession before dispatching them with firearms. It’s...

Limbo

Release Date: 05/06/2013, updated in 2015

Platforms: Android, PS Vita, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One and iOS

Control a small boy as he runs, jumps and climbs through a dark, silhouetted forest that clanks and hums with foreboding. As the age-rating suggests, he is killed in all manner of gruesome ways. But this is not without reason. Rather than violent...

A Dark Room

Release Date: 10/06/2013, updated in 2019

Platforms: Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

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...

Papo and Yo

Release Date: 14/08/2012

Platforms: Mac, PC and PS3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Papo & Yo pits you as a young boy, Quico, exploring a Brazilian city slum. As you solve puzzles and perform well-timed jumps to progress through the city, you must also deal with a monster – both real and metaphorically representing your alcoholic...

Journey of the Broken Circle

Release Date: 18/09/2020

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Journey of the Broken Circle is a rolling and jumping game about looking for a life partner. You play as a simple circle with a piece missing. As you progress by making jumps and solving puzzles, you meet partners who slot in specific abilities and...

Lifeslide

Release Date: 19/09/2019

Platforms: Apple TV, PC, iOS and iPhone, iPad

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Lifeslide is an adventure where you fly a paper plane through an ever-changing landscape. It's a metaphorical journey through the stages of life as you learn to use eddies and up-drafts to soar higher and further.

Rusty Lake: Roots

Release Date: 20/10/2016

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Rusty Lake: Roots is an unusual point-and-click puzzle-horror game that has you piecing together your family tree. With a wide range unusual puzzles and game mechanics, like growing a literal family tree, it tells a story of a broken family and dark...

The Magnificent Trufflepigs

Release Date: 03/06/2021

Platforms: PC and Switch

The Magnificent Trufflepigs is a narrative game where you use a metal detector to explore an old farm. As you do you retread old relationships in the English countryside. You'll find and dig up treasures to share with your friend Beth over a...

Fate of Kai

Release Date: 19/03/2021

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Fate of Kai is a narrative puzzle game where you control the story rather than the characters. You discover Kai's story by walking through the panels of a comic book. It's a tale about a boy who wakes in a strange land handcuffed to a mysterious chest....

Paradise Marsh

Release Date: 03/02/2022

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and Xbox One

Paradise Marsh is an open-world collecting and exploring game where the emphasis is on relaxation and contemplation rather than performance. You wander an endless wetland and collect creatures, skim stones and more as you find a way to put the stars...

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Release Date: 27/04/2011, updated in 2018

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is an adventure game in miniature. You explore a myth-rich world and use your sword to do battle and evoke spells to solve musical puzzles. It's a world that changes with the moon as you guide your wandering warrior monk.

Joust Mania

Release Date: 11/06/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS3 and PS4

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Joust is a movement-sensitive game of tag is played in the real world, holding PlayStation Move motion controllers. First appearing as one of the games in the Sportsfriends pack, and then evolving as Joust Mania with more modes and up to 16 players,...

Selfloss

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC

Selfloss is a narrative adventure game about a kind old man in a myth-filled world. You explore the land using the light of your staff to defeat mythical creatures and help those you meet. It's unusual because of its basis in ancient Russian and...

Spaceteam (Series)

Release Date: 01/12/2012

Platforms: Android and iOS

Players pilot a spaceship, each with their own control panel on their smartphone or tablet screen. The switches, dials, sliders and levers are labelled with randomly-generated peculiar names: ‘Astral Synth’, ‘Gripvent’, ‘Starmesh’,...

The Talos Principle

Release Date: 11/12/2014, updated in 2019

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

The Talos Principle is a narrative driven puzzle game, praised for its cerebral and philosophical nature, where you play an android with a human conscience. You explore environments to complete complex brain-teasing puzzles to collect "sigils".

The Wreck

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

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...

Spec Ops: The Line

Release Date: 29/06/2012

Platforms: PC and Xbox 360

Spec Ops: The Line is shooting game played in third-person where you with an emphasis on squad-based tactics, and calling in support technology and firepower. Unusually, the player needs to make moral decisions at certain points during the game that...

The Beginner's Guide

Release Date: 01/10/2015

Platforms: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

The Beginner's Guide is a narrative game where you explore a series virtual environments while the game's creator tells a story about the person who made each space. This introspection presents a raw and at times heartbreaking look into the mind of the...

Golf Club: Wasteland

Release Date: 16/06/2021, updated in 2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Golf Club: Wasteland is a golf game in an unusual setting. You play on an earth decimated by an environmental catastrophe. Through beautiful visuals and eerie audio, you piece together what has happened to the planet to cause such devastation. It's an...

Karawan

Release Date: 04/10/2021

Platforms: Mac and PC

Karawan is a meditative puzzle game where you journey to escape a desolate, crumbling world. It requires significant route-planning strategy, as you work to find optimum path to gather resources without running out of food. The novelty is extended by...

Neo: The World Ends with You (The World Ends With You)

Release Date: 27/07/2007, updated in 2021

Platforms: Android, DS, PC, PS4, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

The World Ends with You is a role-playing game set in the modern-day Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo. The place is a ghost town where the dead are forced to battle to try and gain their lives back. With stylized art and a fantasy story it stands out...

Unmaze

Release Date: 21/06/2021

Platforms: Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Unmaze is a mix of puzzle game and graphic novel. Inspired by the myth of the Minotaur, you help Asterion and Theseus to guide them out of the maze. However, you can only help one at a time. Using the phone's camera the game lets you help Asterion when...

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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