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Rearrange Your Mental Furniture

We are used to books, films and radio programs challenging our assumptions on subjects. Adam Curtis, Louis Theroux and David Attenborough have powerfully used film to change perspectives and values.

Less well known is how many video games tread a similar furrow. These are games that not only tackle difficult subjects, but get beneath the usual binary perspectives to create new ways of thinking about these themes.

This list includes 40 games from the last 25 years, with 305 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to re-think your assumptions.

DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 18
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Platform, Puzzle, Role-Playing, Shooting, Simulation, Strategy and Turn-Based
Total Likes: 305
 

 

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

Developer: @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...

The Last Of Us Part II

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 19/06/2020

Price: 36% off

Platforms: PS4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative, Role-Playing and Shooting

Accessibility: 48 features

Developer: @Naughty_Dog

Players: This is a single player game

The Last of Us Part II is an action-adventure game set five years after The Last of Us. You control two characters in a post-apocalyptic United States. Ellie is out for revenge after suffering a tragedy, and Abby is a...

Thousand Threads

Content Rating: Not rated by PEGI

Release Date: 30/07/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Open World, Role-Playing and Simulation

Developer: @ThreadsGame

Players: This is a single player game

Thousand Threads is an open world game of consequences. You are free to interact with the world, animals and people however you like, give, take, save, kill, inform, hide, befriend, betray. But how you do this will have ongoing and unavoidable...

Spiritfarer

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 18/08/2020

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

Genres: Action, Adventure, Narrative, Open World, Platform and Simulation

Accessibility: 7 features

Developer: @ThunderLotus

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

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.

There Is No Game

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 06/10/2020

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @ThereIsNoGame

Players: This is a single player game

There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension is a comedic adventure with a strange twist. From the outset the game’s narrator insists that there is no game to play. As you inevitably ignore his instruction you go on a journey through silly and unexpected video...

Portal
PEGI Rating 12 for Portal

Portal (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Release Date: 10/10/2007, updated in 2011

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS3, Web, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Narrative, Platform, Puzzle and Simulation

Accessibility: 27 features

Developer: @ValveSoftware

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

You are in a science laboratory where you seem to be being tested. Watched by the artificial intelligence GLaDOS, you have a gun that can create a pair of magic portals on any surface: one is an entrance and the other is an exit. Through a series of...

The Last Of Us

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 14/06/2013

Platforms: PS3 and PS4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Accessibility: 22 features

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...

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: 30 features

Developer: @BMMLgame

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,...

Sid Meier's Civilization (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 21/10/2016, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

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

Developer: @Sid_Meier

Players: This is a single player game

Civilization is a long running strategy game where you develop a society from hunter gatherer to space travel. There are many ways to approach this challenge; socially, militarily, politically or perhaps building wonders to impress other nations.

Before I Forget

Content Rating: Not rated by PEGI

Release Date: 01/07/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Accessibility: 9 features

Developer: @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...

Photographs - Puzzle Stories

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 03/04/2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @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.

Through the Darkest of Times

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 27/05/2020

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

Genres: Narrative, Role-Playing and Simulation

Accessibility: 15 features

Developer: @Paintbucket_de

Players: This is a single player game

Through the Darkest of Times is a strategy game that conveys the sombre mood of the dark period of history between January 1933 and May 1945. With interactive drama, it tells the story and the struggles of average people living in the 3rd Reich.

Closed Hands

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 05/03/2021

Price: Free

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Narrative

Accessibility: 26 features

Developer: @PassengerGames

Players: This is a single player game

Closed Hands is an 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...

Everything

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

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

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Switch

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Open World and Simulation

Accessibility: 3 features

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.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 08/08/2017, updated in 2018

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting and Narrative

Accessibility: 22 features

Developer: @NinjaTheory

Players: This is a single player game

This is a dark fantasy adventure, drawing on Norse and Celtic mythology, where you play a young female Pict warrior, Senua. You explore and fight your way to Helheim to rescue the soul of her dead lover. As you play, though, you hear multiple voices in...

Detroit: Become Human

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 25/05/2018

Platforms: PS4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Accessibility: 6 features

Developer: @Quantic_Dream

Players: This is a single player game

This is a branching narrative game from Quantic Dream, the studio behind Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. This is the third game in the series and offers a more refined version of the filmic branching experience.

HoloVista

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 11/09/2020

Platforms: iOS

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Accessibility: 14 features

Developer: @AconiteCo

Players: This is a single player game

In Holovista is an adventure game you play by taking and sharing photographs. You play as Carmen an up-and-coming architect tasked to live in and take photographs at mysterious mansion and share your thoughts via in-game social media. Your task is...

Outer Wilds

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 11/12/2018, updated in 2018

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Open World and Simulation

Developer: @Mobius_Games

Players: This is a single player game

Outer Wilds is an exploration space mystery about a solar system trapped in an endless time-loop. After 20 minutes of game time, you must start again – but each time brings a new opportunity to learn how you ended up on the planet and solve the...

Papers, Please

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 08/08/2013, updated in 2017

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS Vita and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle and Turn-Based

Accessibility: 19 features

Developer: @Dukope

Players: This is a single player game

You play the role of a border-crossing immigration officer in the fictional dystopian Eastern Bloc-like country of Arstotzka. You review each immigrant’s and returning citizens’ passports and paperwork according to an increasing list of changing...

Treachery in Beatdown City

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 31/03/2020

Platforms: PC and Switch

Genres: Action, Fighting, Role-Playing and Turn-Based

Developer: @aNuChallenger

Players: This is a single player game

Treachery in Beatdown City is a fighting game with a retro pixilated art style. It combines the popular beat'em up mechanics from games like Double Dragon, where you take on enemy characters with fists, kicks and weapons, with role play elements....

Cart Life

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 25/04/2019

Price: Free

Platforms: PC

Genres: Narrative, Role-Playing and Simulation

Developer: @RichardHofmeier

Players: This is a single player game

Cart Life is a simulation game where you play one of three street vendors. You attempt to run their shop whilst looking after their health, interests, and families. It has simple visuals, but depicts the realities of the thin-end of life.

Headliner: NoviNews

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 05/10/2019

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

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Simulation

Accessibility: 18 features

Developer: @UnboundCreation

Players: This is a single player game

Headliner: NoviNews is a narrative-driven simulation game where you play as the person in charge of the headlines and stories that are released to the public. Each article you approve from your office has a direct impact of the world outside. Which news...

Suzerain

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 04/12/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Role-Playing, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @TorporGames

Players: This is a single player game

Suzerain is a role-play strategy game where you are the president of the fictional country, Sordland. By choosing conversations and life path you use your skills of persuasion and political values to reform your country after the downfall of a dictator.

Heaven's Vault

Content Rating: PEGI 7

Release Date: 16/04/2019

Platforms: PC, PS4 and Switch

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Accessibility: 20 features

Developer: @InkleStudios

Players: This is a single player game

In Heaven’s Vault you play an archaeologist translating an ancient alien language whose decrypting weaves through an unfolding drama. While doing real linguistic work you interact with companions and locals. Your choices can open or close vast swathes...

Her Story

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 24/06/2015

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @MrSamBarlow

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Persona

Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: 20/09/1996, updated in 2017

Price: 60% off

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4 and PS5

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Role-Playing and Turn-Based

Developer: @Atlus_jp

Players: This is a single player game

Persona 5 (also known as Shin Megami Tensei: Persona) is the latest game in a series of role-playing games that focus on a group of students. You explore the world and take on enemies like other role play games. Here though, you manage relationships...

South of the Circle

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 20/10/2020

Platforms: iPhone, iPad

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Accessibility: 19 features

Developer: @State_of_Play

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Psychonauts 2 (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 25/08/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS2, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Genres: Adventure, Platform and Puzzle

Accessibility: 24 features

Developer: @DoubleFine

Players: This is a single player game

Psychonauts 2 is a running and jumping game where you play Raz who has psychic abilities that let him delve into the minds of others. In the game, you control Raz as he enters their mental worlds and use other Psi-Powers (telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and...

Twelve Minutes

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 19/08/2021

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

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle and Role-Playing

Developer: @FacaElectrica

Players: This is a single player game

Twelve Minutes is an adventure thriller game about a single apartment building. You view things from above and can interact with a simple click and drag interface. What starts as a romantic evening with your wife turns into a nightmare when a police...

Unpacking

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 3

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @WitchBeamGames

Players: This is a single player game

Unpacking is a mediative puzzle game where you unpack your belongings into a series of either spaces, each representing a stage in life.

Where the Heart Leads

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 13/07/2021

Platforms: PS4

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Simulation

Developer: @ArmatureStudio

Players: This is a single player game

Where the Heart Leads is an adventure game where you make life-choices and then see their impact. You play Whit Anderson, as he revisits and alters his past, present, and future. It's a game that creates a surreal dream-like narrative, but one that is...

A Mortician's Tale

Content Rating: Not rated by PEGI

Release Date: 18/10/2017

Platforms: PC and iOS

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Developer: @Laundry_Bear

Players: This is a single player game

A Mortician's Tale is a management game where you play as a mortician, Charlie, working in a funeral home. As you play, you handle bodies of the deceased, including cleaning and beautifying them, as well as dealing with embalming and cremation. The dead...

Disco Elysium

Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: 15/10/2019, updated in 2020

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

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle and Role-Playing

Accessibility: 14 features

Developer: @StudioZAUM

Players: This is a single player game

Disco Elysium The Final Cut is a role-playing game set in the fictional city of Revachol where you play Harrier "Harry" Du Bois who must solve a complex murder. Unusually, your choices and actions not only determine how the story unfolds but affect...

Hindsight

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @McDJoel

Players: This is a single player game

Hindsight is a narrative puzzle game where you memories combine with objects to transport you into the past. Rather than a fantastical adventure, this is a gentle game that asks you to slow down and pay attention to the little things left behind. Piece...

Inscryption

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 16

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle and Turn-Based

Developer: @DMullinsGames

Players: This is a single player game

Inscryption starts as a card-based adventure where you build a deck of cards to take on adventures and battles. To this, it adds escape-room style puzzles, both in the card game and in the room in which you are playing. The result is a psychological...

Genesis Noir

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 26/03/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @FellowTravellr

Players: This is a single player game

Genesis Noir is a narrative-driven puzzle game. It's a time travelling mystery to save your lover, by intervening through the history of the world to ultimately stop the expansion of the universe. Although it sounds bizarre, existential and confusing,...

Orwell

Content Rating: PEGI 12

Release Date: 27/10/2016

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Puzzle and Role-Playing

Developer: @OsmoticStudios

Players: This is a single player game

Orwell is narrative game where you play a fictional research using a surveillance program called Orwell. Through a series of episodes you are tasked with using Orwell to help solve mysteries like the bombing of a public plaza. To do this you trawl...

Sunset

Content Rating: Not rated by PEGI

Release Date: 21/05/2015

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Role-Playing

Developer: @TaleofTales

Players: This is a single player game

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...

The Beginner's Guide

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7

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...

Immortality

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 18

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @MrSamBarlow

Players: This is a single player game

Immortality is a mystery horror game where you investigate the lost movies of Marissa Marcel to unravel the mystery of her disappearance. As you paw through the footage, you uncover a story that spans three decades in unnerving and horrific ways.


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