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Best 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 (link 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.

DetailsGenre Details

Era: 1974 - 2023
Total Games: 800
Total Likes: 12,308
 

 

Everything

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

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Switch

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

Components: Open World

Everything 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...

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.

Night in the Woods

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

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

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

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...

Firewatch

Release Date: 20/09/2016

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

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: Open World

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...

Lake

Release Date: 01/09/2021

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Lake is a narrative adventure where you play Meredith Weiss on a career break in 1986 while she returns to her hometown and ends up delivering the mail. As you talk to locals, meet up with old school friends and even fan a few romantic flames from your...

Journey

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

Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4 and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: Open World

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...

Unpacking

Release Date: 02/11/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Unpacking is a meditative puzzle game where you unpack belongings into a series of spaces, each representing a stage in life. You get to know the owner of the objects by their possessions and circumstances. To finish a level you need to work out where...

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...

Florence

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

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Florence 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...

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...

Roki

Release Date: 23/07/2020

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

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Röki is a Scandinavian folklore point-and-click style adventure game where you play Tove on a journey to save her family. As you help her to come to terms with loss, you explore deep into a snowy fairytale landscape with strange locations and creatures.

Sago Mini (Series)

Release Date: 09/06/2017

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 2+ year-olds

Components: Open World

Sago Mini games are designed for 3-5 year old pre-school children. Like Toca Boca games for younger kids, they offer interactive storybook characters with light narratives and open-ended play. Superheroes, space explorers, boat...

Moshi: Sleep and Mindfulnes‪s‬

Release Date: 14/02/2020

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 2+ year-olds

Moshi: Sleep and Mindfulnes‪s‬ is a narrative experience designed to aid sleep. Children can select stories, sounds, meditation or music and calm colours to help them drift off to sleep quickly. Once started the original stories and sounds play with...

Lifeline (Series)

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

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

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.

My Child Lebensborn

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

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

In My Child Lebensborn, 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...

Bird Alone

Release Date: 15/06/2020

Platforms: iOS

Components: Day and Night

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...

Adventures With Anxiety

Release Date: 10/12/2019

Platforms: Web

Adventures With Anxiety is a mini-adventure where you play, as a red dog who is the inner protective voice of a young person. Your role is to guard them against danger, although as you do you cause them anxiety in different ways.

Neo Cab

Release Date: 03/10/2019

Platforms: Apple TV, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

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...

Our Personal Space

Release Date: 14/02/2015

Platforms: Android, Mac and PC

Our Personal Space is a text adventure where, rather than surviving alien attack or harsh environments, it's your marriage that you are fighting for. You play a newly married doctor on a space colony and must decide how she spends her time, responds to...

Tree

Release Date: 13/08/2018

Platforms: PC

Tree is a short 15 minute game that tells the story of a boy who plants a small tree. You control the planting, watering and how the tree grows each season. As you do this the years pass and the boy...

She Dreams Elsewhere

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and Xbox One

She Dreams Elsewhere is a surreal adventure. You explore the dreams and real life of Thalia, an anxiety-ridden, comatose woman on a journey to confront the nightmares preventing her from awakening.

The Stillness of the Wind

Release Date: 07/02/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

In The Stillness of the Wind you play an old woman who looks after a dilapidated farm. Over the course of a few hours, no matter what your efforts, the farm falls apart as you learn about the woman’s family and have the chance to ruminate on her...

Dépanneur Nocturne

Release Date: 26/05/2020

Platforms: PC

Dépanneur Nocturne (which means Nighttime Convenience Store) is a short narrative adventure about the value of conversation and local shops. You explore a store late at night, to find a gift for your partner. What unfolds is a gentle search-and-suggest...

Far From Noise

Release Date: 14/11/2017

Platforms: PC, PS4 and iOS

Far From Noise is a narrative game where you play a car balancing on the edge of a cliff. You meet multiple animals that act as spiritual guides and discuss what it means to balance between life and death. When talking, you get the choice of two phrases...

Gerda: A Flame in Winter

Release Date: 01/09/2022

Platforms: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

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...

Sunset

Release Date: 21/05/2015

Platforms: Mac and PC

Sunset tasks you with cleaning a large apartment in a fictional 1970s South American city. But outside the apartment, there is unrest and rioting. The chaos of the country and the repetitive daily chores grate against one another to create a meditative...

Frog's Princess

Release Date: 09/12/2020

Platforms: Android, Mac and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Frog's Princess is a narrative game about a kingdom surrounded by evil. You play a young princess who must save her kingdom. Along the way, you encounter a frog prince on a quest to rescue his bodyguard and find your plans overturned.

MoonLite

Release Date: 01/01/2017

Platforms: Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 2+ year-olds

Moonlite is a narrative experience for small children. It combines traditional storybooks with your smartphone light to create projected pictures with sounds and interactions.

The War to End All Wars (Dreams)

Release Date: 14/02/2021

Platforms: PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

The War to End All Wars is a point-and-click game set in a World War One battlefield visitor centre. However, as you interact with the exhibits you get taken back in time to live the experience through the eyes of a soldier. Unusually, it uses...

We Are OFK

Release Date: 18/08/2022

Platforms: PC and Switch

We Are OFK is a narrative game about the indie band OFK. Reminiscent of Gorillaz's virtual personas, it's part video game drama and part music video. You play four friends, who are releasing their debut EP. You make choices about their relationships and...

Pitch Black: A Detective's Demise

Release Date: 26/10/2020

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: Open World

Pitch Black: A Detective's Demise is an adventure game set in a technological noir-detective world. You play using sound alone which offers voice acting and environmental sound effects to enable you to navigate.

A Memoir Blue

Release Date: 24/03/2022

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

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

A Memoir Blue is a narrative game about an athlete's relationship with her mother. It's a story told through a dream, which you move along by interacting with everyday objects. It stands out for the metaphorical use of visual styles and the poignant...

Toca Life: World (Series)

Release Date: 01/01/2019

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 2+ year-olds

Components: Open World

The Toca Boca, Toca Life, series of games comprise what are essentially toys in electronic form. They build on the Sago Mini games for 6-10-year-old children. Recreating interactive everyday settings like shopping, hospital,...

Assemble With Care

Release Date: 19/11/2019

Platforms: Apple TV, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

From the makers of Monument Valley, this puzzle game is a unique way to consider how physical objects become meaningful and hold our memories. You play a restorer who repairs people's favourite possessions: from family heirlooms to broken statues to...

Venba

Release Date: 28/11/2021

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Venba is a narrative-cooking game about an Indian mother who immigrated to Canada in the 1980s. You cook various traditional Indian dishes and restore the lost recipes which were damaged in the move to Canada. As you talk to your mother's family you...

A Little To The Left

Release Date: 01/08/2022

Platforms: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

A Little To The Left is a puzzle game where you are tidying a house into meticulous order. Each puzzle presents everyday objects and some evidence of how they should be organised. The challenge is you have to deal with the mischievous cat who likes to...

Penrose

Release Date: 01/09/2020

Platforms: Android, Web and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

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...

Call of the Sea

Release Date: 12/08/2020, updated in 2020

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

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Call of the Sea is a narrative adventure set in the 1930s. As Nora, you explore an island in the Southern Pacific to find your missing husband. As you do you discover that he went hunting for a cure for your mystery illness, but what happened after that...

Spiritfarer

Release Date: 18/08/2020

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

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: Day and Night and Open World

Spiritfarer is a boat building exploration game. Unusually though, you play Stella, ferry master to the deceased and the boat you manage takes them to the next life.

I Am Dead

Release Date: 07/10/2020, updated in 2021

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

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

I Am Dead is a puzzle game from the creators of Wilmot's Warehouse. You play a recently-deceased museum curator trying to avert a disaster from his home town of Shelmerston.

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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