Games with good stories

Okay, maybe we said we did, but would we have ever lent him money, or left him unattended near another huge laser weapon if he’d survived?

Skies of Arcadia had a relatively ordinary story that it made up for with amazing characters and setting.

And Anachronox needs a sequel, dammit.

Yes, I felt like the real story was just getting started when the game ends. Pretty humongous/hilarious character twist with no follow up either. :(

The only correct answer…Bad Dudes.

What a superb game that was. Spinning kicks, bizarre bosses and running on top of trucks. I loved that game.

I would also submit Double Dragon as a true story of one man’s development. When he first sets out he can barely ask his assailants nicely if they would mind awfully not hitting him anymore. By the end, he is a killing machine that can do a flying kick and a random back elbow.

Thanks for the burgers, President Ronnie. Ha! ha! ha! ha!

Ultima 7 had a great story. The world is very large, and it’s always a pleasure to discover its intrecacies. To bad the actual gameplay has aged rather badly (even with Exult), because to this day, I can’t think of any game that comes close.

The Last Express was rather good too. The characters were really well written, and the historical setting was perfectly rendered.

Games with good story are rather rare. But a lot of games have good narrative moments… Maybe because games are too long to sustain a good narrative. For exemple FF 6 (3 US) main story is rather clumsy and cliched, but there are very good sub-stories, like the ghost-train… I guess it’s the same with almost all FFs though… FF X has some very good elements in its plot (Yuna is an interesting character for exemple), but as a whole the plot is too convoluted for its own good: as the scenario has to keep going for hours, it juste dilutes itself in bad twists.

Dragon Quest VIII is quite interesting. The scenario involves clichés, but those are intended, because the game intends to be traditional in its narrative. The characters are well developed, and the fairy tale atmosphere of each sub-plot (like when the king wants to see his beloved queen one more time) is great.

As far as JRPG are concerned, the main plot is often incoherent, but there are moments of greatness, which are enough to make their narrative interesting.

Good comic narratives are something else, as the plot don’t have to be so tight to entertain us, but I won’t go further, as my post is long enough already !

If JRPGs are OK, I submit Earthbound for its whackiness.

  • PS:T for sure.
  • All the Blizzard RTS games have had an interesting (or at least well executed) story
  • I really liked the story of Soul Reaver II with its twists and time traveling paradoxes

I couldn’t disagree more. In my opinion the backstory for Warcraft is utter tripe. Fantasy schlock of the “everything and the kitchen sink” school of world generation. There’s little internal logic and no sense of a world where people actually live and go about their business.

That said, the stories told in the setting can and have been well executed generally speaking, but the setting itself turned me off WoW for the longest time.

Myst, dammit.

Warcraft lore at the macro scale is crap. There are tiny bits of humour making
it entertaining, particularly in WoW. Starcraft was much better executed,

I always liked Bad Mojo. The acting sucked and the plot was a Kafka rehash, but I liked the way bits and pieces of the man’s life were slowly revealed as you crawled around the apartment was great.

I agree with most of these. I’ll echo Starship Titanic since it’s not a well-known game. The gameplay itself isn’t good, but the Douglas Adams-written story is a lot of fun.

[li]Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II - Kyle Katarn, the badass from Dark Forces, returns in this story only to find out he’s part of the Jedi heritage. He (you) starts as the all-around bounty hunter type and slowly progresses throughout the game into a Jedi. The story wasn’t GREAT, but I thought they pulled off the immersion really well.[/li][li]Star Control II - Nobody’s going to disagree with me here. Freewheeling space opera at your fingertips. Throughout your mission to fight off the Ur-Quan Conquerors, you’re also unraveling a myriad of scenarioes: the secrets of the Precursors, the mystery of the Arilou and the Orz, the origins of the Ur-Quan themselves, helping a warlike tribe of space-people find a new direction, learning the fate of the old Alliance, and the ominous purpose of virally-spreading space probes… to name some. All while you’re forging alliances and gaining power. The dialogue in this game is as great as the plot, too, bouncing between hilarious and (to repeat a word) ominous.[/li][li]Guild Wars/Factions - The story here isn’t great as far as all RPG’s go, but I think it definitely stands out among MMO’s, particularly since there’s actually a plot for you to follow. A lot of people get really annoyed at the cutscenes, but I enjoyed most of them quite a bit. It’s a fairly standard fantasy story involving politics and corrupt kingdoms and such, with a little bit of divine champion thrown in. Like I said, I wouldn’t say this is among the best-written plots, but it deserves mentioning because it makes the game less of a grind.[/li][/ul]

It’s worth going back to play it, if you liked Dreamfall. Do it with a walkthrough near at hand, if you have a low tolerance for obscure adventure game puzzles, but definitely play it. The story is just as good, and sets up a lot of the characters and events in Dreamfall.

Other great stories in games? Thief. Arcanum. Fallout. Myst. KotOR. Amber: Journeys Beyond. Myth gets major points for being the only “play a mission, listen to a piece of the story, play next mission” strategy game in which I have ever looked forward to hearing the next piece of the story. Usually that sort of exposition in a game just makes my eyes glaze over.

Bad Mojo is a favorite, as is NOIR: A Shadowy Thriller and Titanic: Adventure Out of Time.

Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising. Warren Ellis wrote the script and Tom Baker narrated it. It was fantastic, but only 10 people in the world played it I think.

I’m beginning to think I’m damaged somehow. I’m halfway through Planescape: Torment (I think - just hit the Clerk’s Ward) and already I’m losing interest in the story. Maybe some of it had to do with all the repetative wandering around to refind items I needed later on which I’d dropped earlier. Maybe some of it was getting spoiled early on with a heavy diluge of interesting characters and concepts. But mid-game’s a yawn fest. “Yay, I helped the chatty girl get a date.” and “Yay, I rescued the lady from slavery by shaking down a thug.” And this is in any way taking unique advantage of the, admittedly, very cool setting?

Maybe they focused on the beginning and the end for narrative goodness. I dunno. But if PS:T’s story is as good as it gets in gaming I think the “Alpha Centauri” approach Tom mentions (Or the Romance of The Three Kingdoms or King of Dragon Pass or Crusader Kings) is probably much more my speed. Let the gameplay be the narrative just give me some juicy, willful, characters to get a handle on and a memorable setting to interact with.

Thanks for the tip. I really loved the second game but put off looking the first one because of what I heard of how arbitrary or archaic some of the puzzles were, but I guess it could be worth going through if the story of the original is as good as the sequel.

Morrowind had a decent backstory and real flavor to it’s settings and characters. Oblivion not as much, though it still is worth mentioning.

Another Bethesda product, Redguard, had a great story. It was like a pirate movie meets Prince of Persia with a very likeable protagonist. Really wish they’d make a sequel.

Freelancer had an interesting and cohesive plot that tied in well to the free-form gameplay. I liked that you could leave the main plot for a bit and just trade, explore and bounty hunt, then come back and pick things up again. While we’re on the subject, pretty much all the Wing Commander games had decent backstory, and the universe was well thought out and consistant from game to game.

I also agree that, as far as MMOG’s go, Guild Wars tops the list in story content. All three games provide a lengthy main story, complete with multiple in-mission cutscenes that incorporate your characters. It feels like you’re playing the story instead of just experiencing static content.