/ LISTS / Digital Stories / Worlds That Tell Stories
/ Search Database Or Try Advanced Search
Often we think about video game narrative as what characters and narrators tell us. But the worlds in which we play these games are often as dense and rich with story as any other aspect of the experience.Some games, like Alba, A Wildlife Adventure, weave a narrative through the state of the island and its animal inhabitants. Others, like Paradise Marsh and Proteus, invite us into a space that is both grounded and mystical with insects taking to the stars or our presence causing the cosmos to shift. Games like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture or Firewatch create a world of relationships connected to a particular place and time that strongly evoke both memory and story. Or there are games that seem bereft of human presence, like Lushfoil Photography Sim, and tell a story about absence as much as presence. Then there are games like Abzu, Journey and Vane that take you to places you can't normally go. Both the journey to get there and the sense of presence when you arrive tell a narrative that sticks in your brain as much as any story.Some games let you (seem to) push through to parts of the world usually off-limits. Portal, for example, lets you go behind the scenes. Uncharted games let you squeeze between rocks that would usually mark a barrier. Balan Wonderworld lets you jump and trick your way into bits of the level that feel like you've tricked the game.However they do it, game worlds tell stories, unlike other media. They look like our world but are built for us in a way that leads, invites and nudges us through unexpected narratives. This list includes 136 games from the last 38 years, with 2,372 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to find stories in game worlds.
Release Date: 03/03/2017
Out Now: Switch and Wii U
Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World and Weather
The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild departs from the previous Zelda formula with the scale and depth of its world. You walk, fly, ride and climb your way through a landscape that varies in climate, terrain, inhabitants and vegetation. Weather and...
Release Date: 11/12/2020
Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is an adventure game where you play as a young girl who starts a wildlife conservation club. Play involves exploring the island, using the bird song you hear to find and photograph all manner of real-world birds. It stands out...
Release Date: 14/03/2012, updated in 2019
Out Now: PC, PS3, PS4 and iOS
Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World
Journey is an adventure game set in a desert. Exploring the eerie sandscape, you discover a world abandoned by the race that created it. The sense of space and scale evokes feelings of aloneness and being lost. But then the game pairs you with other...
Release Date: 20/09/2016
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One
Components: 3D First-Person, Cartoon and Open World
Firewatch is an explorative adventure where you play a fire lookout in America’s Shoshone National Forest. It has a relational and conspiracy undertone similar to the podcast/radio drama and Netflix show [link to...
Release Date: 02/11/2016, updated in 2018
Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One
Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person
Abzu is an adventure in a lush underwater world. You descend into the heart of the ocean to find ancient secrets and encounter majestic creatures. This combines the beautiful weightlessness of diving with an ancient story of finding meaning and your...
Release Date: 19/06/2020
Out Now: PS4
Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person and Day and Night
The Last of Us Part II is an action-adventure game set five years after The Last of Us. You control two characters in a post-apocalyptic United States. Ellie is out for revenge after suffering a tragedy, and Abby is a...
Release Date: 12/02/2009
Out Now: PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4 and iOS
Components: 3D First-Person, Open World and Weather
Flower is a traversal collecting game where you control the breeze across fields of grass and blow petals into other flowers to make them bloom. Flower is simple and single-purpose in evoking the feeling of the wind. What starts as an awkward struggle...
Release Date: 22/09/2014
Components: 3D First-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Open World
The Long Dark is a thoughtful exploration-survival game where you have crash-landed in the icy Canadian wilderness after a global disaster and must find a way to survive. Through exploring, crafting and fighting you must look after your body...
Release Date: 01/03/2017
Out Now: PC and PS4
Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Open World and Weather
Horizon Zero Dawn is a post-apocalyptic action adventure where you explore an overgrown landscape with now-crumbling remnants of modern life. Play involves exploring the world, learning your new abilities as the story unfolds and using them to defeat...
Release Date: 12/08/2015, updated in 2016
Out Now: Mac, PC and PS4
Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person and Open World
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture lands you in a fictional deserted English village in 1984. As you walk the streets of another era you discover bright human forms who re-enact events like a radio play. Through their eyes, you see a web of fear,...
Release Date: 19/11/2016, updated in 2017
Out Now: PS3 and PS4
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is an action-adventure game set several years after the events of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. You play Nathan Drake, a happily married former treasure hunter coaxed out of retirement by his brother. This leads into another...
Release Date: 30/01/2013
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS Vita and PS3
Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night, Open World and Weather
Proteus is a narrative adventure game which takes you to a pixelated island. As you explore you discover that your presence changes the seasons and time of day. Delving deeper, there are rudimentary interactions with the creatures that inhabit the land,...
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person and Hand-Made
Balan Wonderworld is a running, jumping and exploration game. It draws on classic 3D platform games but with simpler controls and a more laid-back challenge. Like Mario Odyssey, much of the gameplay revolves around getting temporary abilities (here it...
Release Date: 18/02/2022
Out Now: PS4 and PS5
Horizon Forbidden West is a post-apocalyptic action-adventure where you explore an overgrown landscape with now-crumbling remnants of modern life. The story of Aloy continues as she sets out to investigate a plague terminating from an arcane frontier...
Release Date: 28/03/2023
Out Now: Mac, PC and iOS
Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Open World
Terra Nil is a strategy game where you use clean technology to bring back life to a barren world. It's a city-building game where you aren't building a city at all, but a clean thriving ecology. It raises interesting themes of how humanity plays an...
Release Date: Coming soon
Coming Soon: PC, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds
To A T is a lighthearted narrative adventure game about a teenager with a unique posture that makes parts of their life in a small coastal town challenging. With your arms permanently stretched out, you explore the beautiful town with your dog and...
Release Date: 03/02/2022, updated in 2023
Out Now: Mac, PC, Switch and Xbox One
Components: 3D First-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night, Hand-Made, Open World and Weather
Paradise Marsh is an open-world collecting game where you explore a varied marsh to find insects to put their stars back in the night sky. You wander an endless wetland and collect creatures, skim stones and eat mushrooms as the weather and seasons...
Coming Soon: PC
Components: 2D Overhead
Tiny Glade is a simulation game that gets you doodling picturesque castles. More of a toy than a game, you play by placing and moving different elements of your construction. As you do the game magically connects everything together to create beautiful...
Release Date: 15/01/2019, updated in 2019
Vane is an ethereal adventure in a ruined desert where strange golden dust transforms a free-spirited bird into a determined young child. The premise is not all that uncommon, but Vane stands out for how you soar over the desert and climb your way...
Release Date: 30/06/2023
Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch
Components: 2D Overhead, Cartoon and Hand-Made
Crime O'Clock is a point-and-click crime-solving game where you explore a detailed map to piece together timelines that prove whodunnit. You zoom in and study the detailed map to find time markers and work out the culprit of hacking, murder and theft.
Release Date: 30/03/2023
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Weather
Dredge is a fishing adventure set in a remote archipelago called ‘The Marrows’ with a dark past. You explore the surrounding waters to fish for hundreds of different sea creatures and other resources. It stands out for the clever rhythm-based...
Release Date: 05/09/2023
Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds
Chants of Sennaar is a traversal and translation puzzle where you play a traveller called to reunite the Peoples of the Tower who are unable to communicate with each other. Play involves exploring the cell-shaded world to decipher the glyph-based...
Release Date: 08/10/2021
Out Now: Switch
Components: 2D Side-On
Metroid Dread, the latest Metroid game, is a running, jumping, exploring and fighting game where you progress through levels, fight challenging bosses and uncover secrets. It returns the franchise to the 2D side-scrolling style of...
Isopod is an action-adventure where you play Winston the Woodlouse. Play involves exploring the out-sized world as a diminutive Pill-bug by rolling, zipping, and slamming your way to your destination. It stands out for bringing insect-style motion to...
Coming Soon: PC and PS5
Sword of the Sea is a traversal game where you are a Wraith resurrected to restore life to a desolate world. Play involves exploring submerged ruins to discover the cultures that built them. It stands out for the flowing movement and beautiful vistas...
Spilled is a traversal game where you explore the waterways of a polluted land to collect and clean up the waste. Play involves steering your little tug to collect the spilt oil and then deliver it to earn coins and upgrade your boat. It stands out for...
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Open World
Baby Steps is a tongue-in-cheek traversal game where you play Nate, an unemployed failing son who sets out on a journey of putting one foot in front of the other. The twist is that you must control and place each foot individually while ensuring you...
Release Date: 13/03/2023
Out Now: PC
Barotrauma is a cooperative space-submarine adventure set after humanity has fled to Jupiter's moon. You work with other players to steer your submarine, work the ageing machinery, fight monsters and fix the endless leaks. It's a game that revels in not...
Coming Soon: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World
Ghost Bike is a racing adventure where you play the last of the magical couriers taking packages between the living and the dead. You explore the stylised world to compete in races, find bike parts and get your ghost bike in working order.
Release Date: 24/05/2023
Out Now: PC and Switch
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cards and Cartoon
Sunshine Shuffle is a narrative game where you play poker with talking animals who each have a criminal past. It's based around the group's regular Texas Hold 'Em poker game. It stands out for the endearing Robin Hood story and the unusual blend of...
Coming Soon: PC, PS4, PS5 and Switch
Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon
Thank Goodness You're Here! is a slapstick adventure set in Northern England in the style of classic Beano comics. Play involves exploring the cartoon world to take on quests and special challenges. It stands out for the visual style, but also a...
Release Date: 26/09/2022
Out Now: Web
Components: 2D Overhead, Open World and Pixels
Kinsplant is an adventure about searching for a fabled artefact buried somewhere in one of the four realms. Play is like a retro adventure game where you move around, fight enemies and hunt for an ancient artefact. However, the twist is that it has been...
Release Date: 03/10/2023
Out Now: PC and Xbox X|S
Components: 2D Overhead, Cartoon and Grid
The Lamplighters League is a tactical strategy game where a team of cartoony misfits use their unique abilities to outwit enemies. Play mixes real-time infiltration and turn-based tactical combat where every character matters if you are going to come...
Release Date: 18/10/2005
Out Now: PS2, PS3 and PS4
Shadow Of The Colossus is an action-adventure game where you play a young man who enters a forbidden land to defeat sixteen massive beings to restore the life of a girl he cares about. It sounds like any other video game, although in fact, Shadow of the...
Release Date: 18/04/2017, updated in 2022
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS
Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person
What Remains of Edith Finch is a narrative puzzle game about the surviving member of the Finch family, who seems to have died from a curse. From a first-person perspective, you return to the family’s coastal home to learn about each relative’s final...
Release Date: 15/10/2019, updated in 2021
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch and Xbox One
Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made
Disco Elysium The Final Cut is a role-playing game set in the fictional city of Revachol where you play Harrier "Harry" Du Bois who must solve a complex murder. Unusually, your choices and actions not only determine how the story unfolds but affect...
Release Date: 07/01/2013, updated in 2023
Kentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game in five acts. This means that you explore a deep and rich world backed by haunting electronic music and hymns to unfold a story of unpayable debts, abandoned futures, and the human drive to find...
Release Date: 20/10/2023
Out Now: PS5
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is the action-adventure sequel to Marvel's Spider-Man and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales where you shoot webs to swing around New York and defeat...
Release Date: 27/10/2023
Out Now: PC, PS5 and Xbox X|S
Components: 3D Third-Person and Filmed
Alan Wake II is a survival-horror shooting game where you play two intertwining lives in a dark psychedelic story. Across two worlds, one real and one nightmarish, you use your flashlight to stun hideous monsters, then kill them with your limited...
Release Date: 20/02/2023
Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S
Atomic Heart is a shooting adventure game set in an alternative history where the Soviet Union wins World War 2 and you are a special agent fighting back against rogue robots. Play involves traversing the utopian world and using the environment and...