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An ode to storytelling: Narrative-driven games

Andy Prizeman-Nolan explains the importance of immersive stories within video games.

In an era where Fortnite seems to rule the gaming landscape, it is easy for many to forget the sheer importance of story-driven games. Franchises such as Call of Duty or FIFA have long been some of the year’s most sought-after releases. With this attention on a specific kind of game, players can forget how immersive a narrative can be. Narratives can add a sense of purpose to a game, giving the player incentive to see the story out to its end.

Telltale Games were a staple of this idea for years. Without their story-dedicated approach, we never would have seen games such as The Walking Dead series. An example ripe with emotion throughout, such moments would not be possible, or would simply feel out of place without a strong narrative as its backbone. With Telltale’s recent closing, it seems fitting to investigate the importance of narrative-driven gaming.

Video games have a unique quality about them that other media platforms simply cannot provide; the player is literally the main character of the story.

Video games have a unique quality about them that other media platforms simply cannot provide; the player is literally the main character of the story. With this comes a greater feeling of grief when a companion dies, or a more significant rush of pride after seeing the hero topple adversity. This plunge into the game’s world gives the player a perspective into the actions of the protagonist and their opposition, which, when combined with a game providing an enthralling narrative, results in a story-telling experience that will stand the test of time.

A very well-regarded example is that of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Set in the fictional land of Temeria, a professional monster hunter by the name of Geralt of Rivia pursues the Emperor’s daughter Ciri, who Geralt himself mentored in her younger years, to the point that they had developed a father-daughter-like relationship. However, she is also being pursued by a group of ghoul soldiers named the Wild Hunt, as she possesses the Elder Blood. Essentially, it boils down to a father trying to protect his daughter from an impending force. The manner in which the game introduces the world, plot, and characters leads to arguably some of the greatest storytelling ever presented, game or otherwise. Every twist and turn is met with investment, with every high and low points being felt personally.

Another thing video games offer in the spectrum of storytelling is time. Like books, video games face little adversity in packing its story into a timeslot, unlike movies do. Many games, such as Fallout: New Vegas and Silent Hill 2 have taken up 50+ of hours of many a player’s life with relative ease, due to how easy it can be to lose oneself in the narrative.

A good story-based game can eat up hours of a player’s life, with every weighty decision or twist felt heavier by the player. And even with all of those hours spent on the game, oftentimes the player is left wanting more after experiencing such a story-rich game. To those seeking a more sentimental or personal gaming experience, then story-based games are an excellent medium to get absorbed into.