Back before video games got complex, you just wanted something simple. It's why Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., and Pong were such big hits. You had fun playing it and that was that. As video games have evolved, we've come to expect more. That means better graphics, engaging gameplay, and a compelling story.
This current generation of systems has produced some stellar stories. From action games with nonstop twists to unique tales from adventure games to frightening survival horror and more, you'll find captivating plots on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. We've looked over these systems to find the 10 best stories.
10 The Last Of Us
As a story, The Last of Us would normally rank higher. It is one of the greatest stories crafted in video game history. However, we can't place it higher on this list because it was originally released for the previous generation of systems. A remastered version arrived on the PlayStation 4 a year later.
That remastered version was well received by pretty much anyone who reviewed it. The story in The Last of Us centers around Joel and teenage Ellie as they navigate a terrifying world overpopulated by mutants. The bond that forms between the two main characters is like something you'd only find in a movie. The same goes for the emotional opening scene involving Joel's daughter.
9 God Of War
Being the eighth installment of a franchise usually means it'll be underwhelming. By the time something has been done so many times, it loses its luster and is kind of tired. But 2018's God of War was a different case. It managed to revitalize the series by bringing in the best world design, graphics, gameplay, and featuring an outstanding story.
The narrative picked up several years after Kratos bested the Olympian Gods. This game put the focus on a personal, emotional journey as Kratos dealt with the passing of his second wife. He traveled with his young son Atreus throughout the game, giving the story some emotional impact. You can't play this and not get invested.
8 Rise Of The Tomb Raider
In 2013, the Tomb Raider franchise was rebooted with a game that completely changed the way we played that series. Lara Croft was transformed into more of a survivor with a vengeance than a hunter who was more of a sex symbol than anything else. That successful entry spawned two sequels and the middle leg of the trilogy was Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Released in 2015, Rise of the Tomb Raider took the gameplay elements that shook things up and added a masterful storyline to it. You got the straightforward tome raiding stuff that we love but there were also deeper concepts. Lara dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder, her father's suicide was brought up, and the post-credits scene left us begging for more.
7 Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Many view the Uncharted series as being similar to Tomb Raider. However, this franchise has always nailed the cinematic features better. Their stories are consistently strong and watching the events unfold feel like something out of a blockbuster film. That was once again the case with Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.
Protagonist Nathan Drake was living a seemingly happy retired life with his wife Elena. But as soon as the opportunity came for him to get back into his old life, he jumped at it. This installment introduced Nathan's estranged brother and featured a narrative that switched back and forth between the past and present.
6 Marvel's Spider-Man
It is widely the opinion that Marvel's Spider-Man is the best video game to ever feature the popular wall-crawler. It was true to the comics, featured smooth gameplay, had plenty of side missions to keep you playing for a long time, and had great voice acting. But the best aspect of all was probably the plot.
The thread of Mr. Negative looking to take control of New York's criminal underworld was fine on its own. But when you add in the turn of Otto Octavius from Peter's mentor to Doc Ock, you get the kind of plot that grips you emotionally. Throw in some unexpected twists, interesting side characters, and a devastating death near the end to really give gamers something special.
5 The Walking Dead
Since 2003, The Walking Dead has been producing quality storytelling across several entertainment mediums. It started as a graphic novel that ran for over a decade before becoming one of the most-watched television shows in the world. When it became a video game, they continued to take storytelling to the next level.
Developed by Telltale Games, The Walking Dead was told in an episodic format. Each episode continued the story with players making decisions for the character, including dialogue choices. It featured completely original characters and told the story of a convicted criminal and former professor who takes care of a young girl during the zombie apocalypse. Many believe this was the best tale told within this universe.
4 What Remains Of Edith Finch
In terms of popularity and sales, this game would rank last when put alongside the rest of these entries. But What Remains of Edith Finch would be near the top in terms of how well the game was received. This unique adventure game centered around Edith Finch, the final member left of a family that is cursed where each generation sees all but one member die in unusual ways.
After her mother dies, Edith returned to her family home to learn about her past relative. As she entered each of their rooms, the game took you to the story of how each of them died. It is a creative concept for a video game that gave players something different to get caught up in.
3 Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 was the highly anticipated sequel to one of the most popular series in all of video games. It sold over 25 million copies during its opening weekend and was met with widespread acclaim from fans and critics alike. Set in 1899, this western continued the tale of outlaw Arthur Morgan.
Arthur was a member of the Van der Linde gang and their attempt at a final bank robbery went awry. Many of the members are killed or captured. Gang leader Dutch plotted another final heist and it put Arthur at a crossroads between his morals and his loyalty to the gang. This is a story where you never quite know where it is headed and that ride is great.
2 Persona 5
The Persona series is a consistent place to find great storytelling. 2016's Persona 5 fits right in with the rest of the installments. Once again, it took place primarily in a high school in Tokyo as the protagonist, codename Joker, dealt with being on probation after being falsely accused of assault.
Joker and several other students awaken with special powers, leading them to form a vigilante group known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. There's an evil conspiracy, emotional connections between characters, a supernatural realm to explore and more. This game had a little bit of everything in its story and it is clear why it won multiple awards for the writing staff.
1 Life Is Strange
Another episodic adventure game where you make every decision for the protagonist tops our list. Life is Strange was released throughout 2015 and enchanted anyone who played it. The plot focused on shy photography student Max Caulfield, who can rewind time. It means that each choice she makes has a butterfly effect that she can see the outcome of.
Max spotted a terrible storm coming to destroy her hometown and worked towards stopping it. Her relationship with her childhood friend Chloe Price is a driving force of the narrative and one of the most compelling bonds in gaming history. There's also a few shocking twists to keep you guessing and some tense moments late that really hammer home how intricate the tale is. Life is Strange racked up. multiple storytelling awards.