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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 26 games from the last 14 years, with 120 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.

Game image

DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3+ to PEGI 18+
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Physically Active, Platform, Puzzle, Racing, Role-Playing, Shooting, Simulation, Strategy and Turn-Based
Total Likes: 120
 

 

Firewatch

Rating:

Release Date: 20/09/2016

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World

Developer: @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...

The Last Of Us Left Behind

Rating:

Release Date: 14/02/2014

Platforms: PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Developer: @Naughty_Dog

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Journey

Rating:

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

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and iOS

Genres: Adventure

Developer: @ThatGameCompany

Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 2 players online

This is an adventure 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 players, one...

The Last Of Us

Rating:

Release Date: 14/06/2013

Platforms: PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Developer: @Naughty_Dog

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Rating:

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

Platforms: PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Developer: @Naughty_Dog

Players: You can play this with 10 players online

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...

Game image Abzu

Abzu

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Abzu

Rating:

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

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure

Developer: @GiantSquidology

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Everything

Rating:

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

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation 4

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Open World and Simulation

Developer: @DavidOreilly

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Alan Wake

Rating:

Release Date: 14/05/2010

Platforms: PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative and Shooting

Developer: @RemedyGames

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Wilmot's Warehouse

Rating:

Release Date: 29/08/2019

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Puzzle

Developer: @FinjiCo

Players: You can play with 2 players in the same room

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...

Joust Mania

Rating:

Release Date: 11/06/2019

Price: Free

Platforms: Mac, PC, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4

Genres: Action, Fighting and Physically Active

Developer: @AdAngert

Players: You can play with 16 players in the same room

This 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, it’s an...

Limbo

Rating:

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

Platforms: Android, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Platform and Puzzle

Developer: @Playdead

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Spaceteam (Series)

Rating:

Release Date: 01/12/2012

Price: Free

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Action, Physically Active, Puzzle and Strategy

Developer: @Hengineer

Players: You can play with 8 players in the same room

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’,...

Alto’s Adventure (Series)

Rating:

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

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Platform and Racing

Developer: @BuiltBySnowman

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Bioshock (Series)

Rating:

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

Platforms: Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Developer: @GhostStoryGames

Players: This is a single player game

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. Players must make a decision about whether to save the children they find or harvest their energy for the...

That Dragon, Cancer

Rating:

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

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Developer: @Numinous_Games

Players: This is a single player game

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 challenge. It’s a unique...

The Talos Principle

Rating:

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

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @Croteam

Players: This is a single player game

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".

Journey of the Broken Circle

Rating:

Release Date: 18/09/2020

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Platform and Puzzle

Developer: @NakanaGames

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Before Your Eyes

Expected Rating:

Release Date: 08/04/2021

Platforms: PC

Genres: Narrative

Developer: @Goodbye__World_

Players: This is a single player game

Before Your Eyes is a narrative game you play with a webcam. It detects each time you blink and advances the story. In this way you work through different scenes from your life, looking around with the mouse and choosing interactions by blinking. It...

A Dark Room

Rating:

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

Platforms: Nintendo Switch and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Open World, Strategy and Turn-Based

Developer: @Continuities

Players: This is a single player game

A Dark Room is an adventure where you try and survive in the wild. It has a similarly simple start – a single option to stoke a fire – but also evolves into an incrementally complex system of resource management as a larger story unfolds.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Rating:

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

Platforms: Mac, PC and PlayStation 4

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World

Developer: @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,...

This War Of Mine

Rating:

Release Date: 14/11/2014

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Role-Playing, Shooting, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @11BitStudios

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Papo and Yo

Rating:

Release Date: 14/08/2012

Platforms: Mac, PC and PlayStation 3

Genres: Narrative, Platform and Puzzle

Developer: @We_are_minority

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Proteus

Rating:

Release Date: 30/01/2013

Platforms: Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita

Genres: Open World and Simulation

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Spec Ops: The Line

Rating:

Release Date: 29/06/2012

Platforms: PC and Xbox 360

Genres: Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Developer: @YAGERdev

Players: This is a single player game

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

Expected Rating:

Release Date: 01/10/2015

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Developer: @HelloCakeBread

Players: This is a single player game

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 heart breaking look into the mind of the...

The Magnificent Trufflepigs

Expected Rating:

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Nintendo Switch and PC

Genres: Narrative and Simulation

Developer: @ThunkdGames

Players: This is a single player game

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...


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