10 best story-driven video games worth revisiting in 2022

The story and narrative of a video game are some of its most crucial components. Audiences prefer to play a game that tells a satisfying tale, which can take them on a journey that ends with a sense of self-discovery or reflection.

Thus, a well-written narrative is a requirement for any good video game, one that has been met by many titles released in the last three decades.

Video games are slowly being recognized as entertainment media, and several examples exist within the industry that further solidifies this fact. These examples are certain video games that have excelled in their narrative structure and story delivery while also receiving praise for the same.

Story-driven video games are some of the best that the video game industry has to offer, with a central focus on their narrative while also including interesting and fun gameplay.


The narrative richness is a unique selling point of these games

1) The Last of Us Part 2

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Naughty Dog is well known for its story-driven games, of which The Last of Us Part II is possibly the best. Released on June 19, 2020, this title served as the sequel to The Last of Us, a game that was a phenomenal narrative experience on its merit.

Part II focuses the story on Ellie, who has an emotional journey ahead of her, similar to Joel in the first game. The story is an emotionally rocky journey for the young girl and the players, which sees Ellie having to make many tough decisions, some of which might not even be morally condemnable.

Unlike the first game, the sequel does not pull its punches and takes the narrative to some dark places. This shift in tone might have been a change that was hard to digest for many players, but it is utterly in keeping with the game’s theme set from the very beginning.


2) Firewatch

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Developed by indie studio Campo Santo, Firewatch is an adventure video game released in February 2016. The game is essentially a walking simulator that is a masterclass in storytelling with such great pacing that players will have difficulty putting down the controller (or keyboard and mouse) once they start this adventure.

The player assumes the role of Henry, a fire lookout working in the Shoshone National Forest who has recently taken up the job. The events of the game take place after the Yellowstone fires of 1988, and Henry’s job is to keep an eye out for unusual occurrences in the area.

As the game starts slowly, strange events conspire around Henry and his supervisor Deliah, as players will start to make discoveries in their surroundings. As the story picks up momentum, it also pulls at the player’s heartstrings and will decidedly leave them in an emotional state by the time the credits roll.


3) Red Dead Redemption 2

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Red Dead Redemption 2 stands as an iconic title amidst AAA games that managed to deliver a fantastic story along with spectacular gameplay. Released on October 26, 2018, this action-adventure video game by developer Rockstar Games broke several records and was the second-biggest in entertainment history.

While Rockstar’s popularity had a large part to play in its success, the game can stand on its own with its heartfelt story, interesting characters, engaging gameplay, and expansive open world. While the protagonist was Arthur Morgan, the story revolved around the entire Van der Linde gang of outlaws, almost all of whom were given a proper send-off by the end.

Arthur Morgan’s tale can end one of two ways, depending on how players decide to role-play the character. Regardless of the endings, audiences will be reduced to tears one way or another before the epilogue begins.


4) Shadow of the Colossus

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Shadow of the Colossus is an action-adventure video game developed by Japan Studio and Team Ico. It was originally released in 2005 and was later remade by Bluepoint Games in 2018. The title is often regarded as a great example of video games as a form of art, and it has also received universal acclaim from critics.

As an example of how visual storytelling can sometimes surpass its peers, Shadow of the Colossus relies on its enticing musical score and bewitching visuals to provide much of the narrative. The climax of this masterpiece comes at the end of the game, yet the story is so well driven that audiences hardly question the slow plot.

Players take on the role of Wander, a young man trying to resurrect a girl named Mono, who is implied to have been their lover. This leads Wander on a quest to destroy 13 giant creatures, Colossi, who are peaceful entities roaming the land. Even if players feel no remorse while hunting down these gigantic animals, the ending will surely be a surprise for many.


5) Life is Strange: True Colors

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Deck Nine was the developer of Life is Stange: Before the Storm, a prequel to the original Life is Strange video game returned for the latest entry into the series. Life is Strange: True Colors, released on September 10, 2021, was a full game release, as opposed to the episodic format followed by previous games.

True Colors follows the life of Alex Chen, an orphan who has headed out to meet her brother Gabe in the town of Haven Springs. However, as is LIS tradition, nothing is ever simple, and Alex soon gets embroiled in a conspiracy as she tries to get to the bottom of a murder mystery.

As emotional as any LIS game gets, True Color takes a slightly more relaxed route, offering up extended moments of peace between unfolding an intense narrative. It is assured to bring players to tears while giving them genuine instances of pure joy and happiness.


6) Undertale

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While it might be difficult to believe that a game created by a single person can be such a critical success, this is exactly the story behind Undertale. The 2D role-playing video game was created by indie developer Toby Fox and released on September 15, 2015, to a warm reception and critical acclaim.

The 2D art style might look aged, but the game’s themes and story are anything but. At the heart of the game is its emotional core that rears its head at many points during the narrative, even when the player is unwilling to. Thus, even on a genocide run, they will be subjected to some of the most emotional lines of dialogue the video game offers.

Despite its indie nature, Undertale delivers spectacularly on its promise of role-playing, allowing players to influence many aspects of the game that lead to various endings. Each of these will pack an emotional punch, making this game unsuitable for those not prepared to shed a few tears.


7) God of War

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In 2018, the God of War series saw a soft reboot, as developer Santa Monica Studios decided to take protagonist Kratos in a different direction. Thus, when the new video game was released, titled God of War, it saw a very different Kratos in an entirely new world, away from the lands of ancient Greece.

The game served to develop Kratos into a more likable character by making him a father, as the game featured Atreus, his son, as a companion character. Krato’s biggest struggle in this game comes not from gods or titans but from the weight of fatherhood, a burden he was seemingly unprepared to carry alone.

Yet, the game’s story is so wholesome and well-rounded that many would not be able to connect this title to the hack and slash games of the past. Kratos, his son, and other minor characters have proper arcs in the game, leading to one great cohesive story never seen before in a God of War title.


8) What Remains of Edith Finch

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From developer Giant Sparrow and well-known indie publisher, Annapurna Interactive comes this immensely ingenious iteration of a video game story titled What Remains of Edith Finch. First released on April 25, 2017, the game received high praise for its story and presentation and is another title that is considered an example of video games as an art form.

The less known about the game going into it, the better the experience will be for the player, as the unfolding of the narrative and how it takes place is such an integral part of the story. It is fast-paced, includes enough twists and turns for the player to keep them guessing, and delivers an ending that will hit them hard in the feels.

This is a story-driven video game through and through. While the gameplay is nothing to be laughed at (it is also excellent), the game’s main strength is the concise narrative, which takes just about two to three hours to finish. The small length of the campaign and heartfelt story makes this an excellent game to sit down with on a lazy weekend afternoon.


9) Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

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Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is developer Ninja Theory’s crowning achievement in storytelling compared to the rest of the games in their catalog. Released on August 8, 2017, for Windows and PS4, the game received high praise for its originality and choice of theme. A sequel has since been announced for the game: Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

In a dark and dreary environment, players take on the role of the eponymous character, Senua, as she travels to the land of Helheim. She aims to resurrect her lover from death by bargaining with Hela, the goddess of death herself. Senua is also afflicted with a curse, which results in her hearing voices in her head.

This approach to depicting psychosis in a video game medium earned Hellblade such praise, as it was presented authentically. The developers worked with mental health professionals, neuroscientists, and people suffering from similar conditions to depict the psychosis as genuinely as possible.


10) Disco Elysium

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Developed by ZA/UM, Disco Elysium is a role-playing video game released on October 15, 2019. The game was well received and even got a re-release featuring full voice acting and new content in 2021, subtitled The Final Cut. It was praised for its story, art style, and unique gameplay mechanics.

While most RPGs portray the hero as a righteous figure trying to do good, Disco Elysium takes a more grounded route. The protagonist is a morally gray character, and his alignment is entirely in the hands of the player. Other characters, such as the protagonist’s partner and villains, share similarly gray characteristics.

Its unique oil-painting-like art style lends to the game’s world as a morally ambiguous backdrop to the narrative. Steeped in intrigue and mystery, the game’s story will start simple but take players on a rollercoaster ride around the detailed world created by ZA/UM.


Note: This article reflects the writer’s opinion.


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