In spite of EA’s call that the death of plot-based single-player is near, make no mistake that a good plotline is still a benchmark of quality for a lot of gamers. Including myself. Video games, unlike novels and movies, allow you to directly participate in the actions and immerse yourself into the game’s world and its characters. Your decisions and actions actually matter and that’s the reason why story-telling has picked up so well in video games.
In recent years, it has become a game design trend in the industry to have a non-linear plotline. In such a game, the plotline is designed like an upside-down tree, each branch representing a decision or an action you do in-game. By the end of the game, you will receive a different ending based on the things you have done or chosen in your play-through.
How cool is that, really?
Although many games today are still quite linear in the way their stories are told, many of them are still impactful with great characters, beautiful places, and memorable twists.
The age of the PlayStation 3 has long since been over with the arrival of the PlayStation 4 all those years ago. We are also only a few months away from the PlayStation 5. But if you still have your old PS3 laying around, it’s worth revisiting these 10 games with what we think have amazing stories you’d love.
Mass Effect 2
If you ask gamers about Mass Effect 2, most of them will consider it a must-play. The entire game - from the gameplay mechanics to the plot - are all excellently done. Back in the day when Bioware was still an independent studio, story-telling is its selling factor. All of the characters that Commander Shepherd interacts with through their time voyaging the warring galaxy are memorable and impressive. Even the villains are hard to forget, as well.
If you’re a fan of sci-fi, this game definitely has been tailored made for you. All of the alien races encountered in the game are surprisingly well-written, with interesting cultures and beliefs. It’s no surprise that the game has had some comics and books written for it.
Telltale’s Walking Dead
Telltale’s Walking Dead is pure story and decisions. Although Telltale has also got several excellent games under its portfolio, Walking Dead is definitely the studio’s magnum opus. The game is considerably more faithful to the comic series than the popular TV shows. So even if you might see some TV characters here and there like Glenn and Jesus, the game has its own cast of original characters for you to get used to.
The first season of the game focuses on a man named Lee who found a little girl amidst the zombie apocalypse named Clementine. It would be his greatest calling to protect her, and without spoiling it for you if you hadn’t played it yet, do prepare to cry along the way. In the spirit of The Walking Dead, the writers and developers spared no quarter to the life of the characters.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot
Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear series is as legendary to hardcore gamers like Mario and PacMan to the wider public. Though the plot-line of the franchise itself is quite difficult to really understand in details, there’s something to it that makes you quite obsess. Branding itself as a ‘Tactical Espionage Shooter’, there somehow are vampires, cyborgs, clones, and such sci-fi ridiculousness all over the place that added up to the initial confusion.
But when the confusion wore off, you would join the massive community of fans in love with the storyline. Many a time even veterans have got no idea what’s going on in the game, but for the easily relatable characters, you can sympathize with their causes and battles to ruck on. The love and efforts of the developers are palpable in Guns of the Patriot and the game is chock full of beautifully written dialogues, battles, and scenes.
Before Nier: Automata took the gaming community by storm … there’s Nier. Just Nier. In this old PS3 predecessor to Automata, you took the role of a grief-stricken father going on a search for the cure for his daughter’s mystical illness. In the Japanese edition of the game, you play as her brother, for some reasons.
Just like Automata, the storyline is quite convoluted full of twists and turns as well as numerous misfortunes for the main character. Aside from having a unique cast of characters, if you like the sequel Automata, it might incentivize you to take the game since Emil’s backstory is here in this older game.
Life Is Strange
Life Is Strange got gameplay that’s pretty similar to Telltale’s Walking Dead with its dialogue-based, point-and-click, puzzle-solving generic. Still, the atmosphere and the plot line are great enough it has gathered itself its own army of followers.
In the game, you’re fitted into the sneakers of one photography student, Max, who somehow found herself having the ability to time travel. She will use this strange power of her to tackle various challenges, from the small things like remembering someone’s name to saving the life of her best friend. The interesting gameplay mechanic is just one part of the equation that has made Life Is Strange such a great game, there are also the well-designed and lively characters, choices, and the overall story itself.
You’re not expected to do great, epic things for the vast majority of the game. There are moments when you just sit on a bench listening to the young protagonist’s monologue about life. But that doesn’t mean the plot lacks excitement. As you progress deeper and deeper, the plot becomes darker until quite a revelation is unearthed much to the horror of players.
Okami isn’t a game that’s originally built for the PS3. It is, in fact, a remaster of the game’s first appearance on the PS2 and Wii system. But that doesn’t diminish its worthiness to be put on this list at all. If you love Japan and its culture as well as having an interest in Shinto mythology, you will like this one. While we can go on and on about the great things of the game, let us focus on the story.
In the game, you play the role of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, whose form is actually of a white wolf. A terrible evil is wreaking havoc across Japan and it is your job to travel from one place to another to cast it out. As you visit towns, villages, and forests, you will get the chance to help people and animals alike from blood thirsting devils.
In fact, you don’t even need to have a PS3. The game is so loved to the point that they remastered it to PS4.
Dragon Age: Origins
If the far future has Mass Effect, the olden days got Dragon Age. The series is definitely one of the most solid fantasy franchise in the gaming community. Though it is not a complete sandbox like The Elder Scrolls, it made up for the semi-linear gameplay with a story and character-centric approach. Just like Mass Effect, the cultures of different races within the game are highly entertaining to learn about. But one thing that distinguishes it from its sci-fi cousin is that you are given a choice from the very beginning of which race you want to be and build your own story as such.
The story of the game is fantastic and everything is well-crafted from the dialogues to the background chatters between companions. You’ll also love the fantastical atmosphere.
The Wolf Among Us
Next, to Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us is one of Telltale’s greatest works. Just like the majority of its games, the series was based upon a comic. But don’t worry, even if you hadn’t read the adapted comic Fables, you wouldn’t have any troubles fitting right into the game with the way the story is seamlessly told. It’s easier to understand when most of the characters are derived directly from fairy tales.
Best of all, your protagonist is a straight-up bad-arse. You’re Bigby (Big Bad Wolf) who’s a sheriff with the job of looking into crime cases related to fable.
There aren’t a lot of games that managed to make the impact that BioShock Infinite had on me. It’s not just my personal case, the game is almost universally loved by everyone who picked it up.
BioShock Infinite is characterized by a plotline filled with delicious twists that would leave you awe-struck, the settings are eye-popping beautiful, and the characters - depend on their alignments - can make you feel sympathy for them or pure animosity. Even the staunchest of game critics have complimented the game on its ‘masterful’ storytelling.
In the game, you are Booker DeWitt who ascends to the floating city of Columbia to retrieve a woman named Elizabeth. The game storyline is relatively open-ended so there are plenty of rooms for you to make hypotheses and make your own conclusions. The DLC (Burial At Sea) even adds more substance to the story and is highly recommended if you want to delve deeper into the meat of the story.
Dishonored is that kind of game where you don’t need to add extra details into the world to tell a good story. But the developers went the extra miles to brush up the bleak, rodent-infested city of Dunwall. A semi-Lovecraftian mix between steampunk, vintage techs, and strange magic makes up the bulk of the interesting factor of the world that Dishonored took place in.
You are Corvo, the personal bodyguard of an empress. At the start of the game, some people murdered your empress and blamed it all on you (Hence the name Dishonored). You turn from a mere bodyguard to an assassin as you took to the street and exact vengeance upon all those who did you wrong and those who had ended the empress’ life.
There are many ways for you to find vengeance and the way you do it can have great impact upon future missions down to the ending of the game. Critics have praised the game for the freedom and also the great replayability.
Interested in more of our Top 10 lists? Check out this list for the best villains in videogames history.