10 of the best game stories (as proven with data)

Best game stories

The internet is full of opinions about everything under the sun, and gaming is no exception. This article on the best game stories, in particular, has been written many times before with each author putting forward their own personal opinions and preferences. Inevitably, readers are quick to comment that the list is stupid, biased or missing their personal favourites. The whole process, whilst tiresome, is incredibly predictable as everyone has their own view on what the best game stories are.

So why have we written this list? Put simply; we have better data. BoredOfGaming.com has mined over thirty million game reviews on Steam, and run them through a proprietary comment coding engine which allows us to quantify what aspects of the game the review was commenting on. In this example, we’ve picked the 10 games whose reviews most frequently mention story and narrative elements.

This data is incredibly powerful as it helps gamers find a game that’s right for them. It also helps us produce a list of games based on the opinions of millions of gamers, not just the few who write ‘top X’ articles. Ultimately, this is the closest thing to an objective ‘best of’ list that you’re going to get.

Before we begin, it’s worth pointing out that these are all games on Steam, so you won’t see console exclusives or games only found on other PC stores (although many of the below are multi-platform). Regardleess, we’re confident that this will still help those who want to experience the best game stories around. And don’t worry – we won’t be spoiling anything.

10 – The Wolf Among us (2013)

Developer: Telltale
Positive reviews: 98%
Steam link: here

For many, The Wolf Among Us is Telltale’s best work. Released at the height of their powers in 2013, it is an interactive version of the Fables comic book series. You play the role of Bigby, the town sheriff, as he attempts to solve a grisly murder. You can expect the usual Telltale twists and turns, branching narrative and hard-hitting choices, but the dialogue is a step above what they have been able to produce before or since. Often shocking, always provocative, and a generally faithful depiction of its source material, The Wolf Among Us is a must-play for fans of Telltale type games.

9 – Spec Ops: The Line (2012)

Developer: YAGER
Positive reviews: 92%
Steam link: here

All of these games are best experienced unspoiled, but this is doubly true for Spec Ops: The Line. It’s a harrowing tale of the stresses and trauma of war, and the ways in which its participants process the horrors they have to face, with several moments that will stay with you for a long time after the credits roll. It’s multiple endings genuinely add to the game which benefits greatly from multiple playthroughs. Leave your expectations firmly at the door – this game is not what you might think it is.

8 – Brothers – A Tale Of Two Sons (2013)

Developer: Starbreeze Studios AB
Positive reviews: 94%
Steam link: here

Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons, has a stupid name and there’s no getting away from that fact. It’s also very linear, mechanically basic and lacks any real challenge. But it’s also a game that is very easy to recommend due to two things. The first is the skill at which it builds its characters without relying on dialogue (it uses a made-up language). Their emotes and body language is expressive and amusing, and tells the story as well as words ever could. Secondly, I love it for a very late game ‘puzzle’ which cements its core theme far more effectively and innovatively than I would ever have thought possible.

7 – Alan Wake (2012)

Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Positive reviews: 90%
Steam link: here

Remedy Entertainment has long been a studio that has revelled in exploration of the psyche – starting with Max Payne, later with Control, and passing through Alan Wake on the way. The game’s start point isn’t anything particularly novel – a man searching for a missing wife – but its twists and turns and constant feeling of dread make it a compelling play. The gameplay often divides opinion, but persevere and you’ll be rewarded with one of the best game stories available.

6 – SOMA (2015)

Developer: Frictional Games
Positive reviews: 96%
Steam link: here

Full disclosure; I’ve not played SOMA because I’m a big baby who doesn’t find any enjoyment in being constantly terrified. Which is a shame because others have told me that it’s less jump-scare heavy than other games I have managed to complete, and that it actually revels in atmosphere and unease rather than being overtly frightening. The game also poses some big questions that forces the player to consider the nature of free will and consciousness, without ever spoonfeeding the answers or the developers’ own points of view.

5 – To The Moon (2011)

Developer: Freebird Games
Positive reviews: 96%
Steam link: here

To The Moon is one of the most emotive games ever released, and one that hits you in the feels harder than a YouTube compilation of returning military personnel being reunited with their dogs. Made with RPG Maker, the game follows two doctors looking to fulfil a dying man’s boyhood dream (no prizes for guessing what it is). The gameplay is incredibly simplistic, putting all the onus on the story and character development – so with a 96% positive rating you know it must be good. The soundtrack is absolutely beautiful too.

4 – What Remains Of Edith Finch (2017)

Developer: Giant Sparrow
Positive reviews: 94%
Steam link: here

What Remains of Edith Finch lasts just 2 hours, and uses every minute of that time to the fullest. Its premise is that every member of the Finch family eventually succumbs to the ‘Finch curse’ – a (usually) early and often unpleasant death which the game plays out a series of mini gameplay sections. Between these, the player explores the house uncovering untold mysteries about the family in hope of better understanding what is going on. Each of these short stories will impact different players in different ways, which I’ve found can change over time (the game’s length makes it a perfect candidate to be replayed). Ultimately, I love it for one of the most perfect 10 minutes of any game I’ve ever played which doubles as one of the best game stories ever told.

3 – Firewatch (2016)

Developer: Campo Santo
Positive reviews: 87%
Steam link: here

I played Firewatch a couple of years ago now, and must confess I can’t remember a lot of the plot. What I do remember is the incredibly natural and well voice-acted dialogue between the player character (a fire lookout called Henry) and his supervisor, Delilah. Over the course of the game their relationship develops to the point that you, as the player, feel the same sense of connection with Delilah as Henry does, and the same pain and loneliness when she’s not in your ear. Ultimately, it’s a game that places you firmly into another person’s shoes, immersing you in the world and elevating the stakes until they feel almost real.

2 – A Plague Tale: Innocence (2019)

Developer: Asobo Studio
Positive reviews: 93%
Steam link: here

I was initially surprised to see A Plague Tale: Innocence so high up in the data, because I really don’t think the main story is all that interesting. The big bad isn’t all that compelling, nor are their motivations for said big baddery, and the ending left me pulling my hair out in frustration. However, looking beyond the main plot and viewing this as the story of a sister and brother having to quickly mature in a bleak, hostile world, and suddenly the data makes a lot more sense. You feel their highs, share their lows, and get to witness the evolution of their relationship first-hand. I’m very excited for the sequel.

1 – Gone Home (2013)

Developer: Fullbright
Positive reviews: 77%
Steam link: here

One of the original ‘walking simulator’ games, Gone Home was a pioneer for visual storytelling done right. The initial question you’re looking to have answered is ‘where has everyone gone‘ as you return to your childhood home to find it suspiciously empty. As you explore the house and dig deep (snoop) into the lives of people you haven’t shared a space with for many years, more questions come to the fore and you find yourself solving many mysteries simultaneously. It’s a game where every item you pick up feels like it has purpose and helps you better understand the characters, a feat that many games try, and fail, to achieve. The ending won’t be for everyone, but the journey to that point is worth the price of admission – Gone Home truly is one of the best game stories you can experience today.

And there it is, our list of 10 of the best game stories. If this list has helped you at all, please share it with others and tell us all about it on Twitter. You can also read more about the process we went through to find these games or go straight to the data itself.

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