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Better with A Notebook

Many games present a substantial challenge. This is often about quick reflexes or your ability to deal with multiple systems at the same time. There are a specific set of games that focus on the challenge of a layered, complex conundrum you need to decipher to succeed.

This complexity might be about the game world you are playing in. It might be about the obtuse clues you find along the way. Or maybe it focuses on piecing together evidence to solve a crime. However it works, these types of games are much better, as Clayton Ashley says in his video for Polygon, when you play them with a notebook at your side.

"We use notebooks to give form to the intangible," says Paul Walker-Emig about video game notebooks, "jotting down half-formed ideas and strategies with the aim of corralling them into coherence. We record and reflect on events in our lives, a ritual that narrativises our experiences and makes them comprehensible." Running with this though we group our notebook-enhanced video games into two areas:

  • Notetake: These are games that are better when you take notes about them in a real physical notebook while you play.
  • Keepsake: These are experiences that encourage you to create your own hand-crafted in-game virtual notebook while you play.

This list includes 29 games from the last 40 years, with 593 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to take notes while you play. We break them down into the following areas:

Play YouTube video

DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 18
Australian Ratings: G to R 18+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Brain Game, Collecting, Communication, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Platform, Point-and-Click, Puzzle, Role-Play, Sequencing, Shooting, Simulation, Stealth, Strategy and Traversal
Total Likes: 593


The Last Of Us Part II

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...

Season: A Letter to the Future

Season: A Letter to the Future is a narrative adventure about a young woman sent out from her secluded community to explore the world for the first time. She is tasked with documenting life in a local valley before a mysterious cataclysm washes...

Life Is Strange (Series)

Life Is Strange is a click/tap-to-move adventure where you play a student at a high school in a sleepy American town. Despite the idyllic setting, you have a foreboding premonition of a disastrous storm. Along with this prophetic vision, you discover...

Paradise Marsh

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...

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is an action adventure where you play the Guardians heroes as they explore diverse worlds, shoot enemies and learn to live with each other (while also attempting to get out of debt and save the galaxy). Unlike similar...

L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire is a narrative adventure where you play a police detective in 1947 Los Angeles. You explore the open world and solve crimes to advance through the ranks. As you interview suspects you need to not only pay attention to what they say but their...



Overboard is a murder mystery narrative game played in reverse. You murder your husband at the start of the game and then try and get away with it. It's played on a ship where the characters are affected by your choices and changes their actions...

Outer Wilds

Outer Wilds is an exploration space mystery about a solar system trapped in an endless time-loop. After 20 minutes of game time, you must start again – but each time brings a new opportunity to learn how you ended up on the planet and solve the...

Paradise Killer

Paradise Killer is a detective game set in the open world of Paradise Island. It's a strange place with quirky characters and an alien obsessed, demon worshiping world. You are an exiled investigator brought back to solve the mass murder of the island's...

Return of the Obra Dinn

Return of the Obra Dinn is a narrative puzzle game where you play a shipping company agent assessing what happened on board a fictional East India Company ship where all the passengers have mysteriously died. Exploring the ship, you can revisit the...


Tunic is an action adventure game where you play a small small fox who wakes with no memory of where he is. You push through trees, pick up weapons and learn new moves to discover an expanse of forests, caves and landscapes. You can do anything from the...

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an adventure game with a wild west theme and a prequel to Red Dead Redemption. As you explore a vast and varied open world, you partake in shootouts, heists, and elaborate chases across the...

Her Story

Her Story is a narrative puzzle game where you attempt to solve the 1994 mystery of a murdered man by searching an old police computer archive of interview videos of his wife. The game presents a retro computer interface but the interviews themselves...

The Witness

The Witness combines maze puzzles in an abandoned world with its own mythology, secrets, themes and story. It’s a game with puzzles at the core, but the real mystery is solving what has happened in the world you find yourself in.

Heaven's Vault

Heaven's Vault is a communication adventure game you play an archaeologist translating an ancient alien language whose decrypting weaves through an unfolding drama. While doing real linguistic work you interact with companions and locals. Your choices...


Myst is a classic video game graphic adventure. Published in 1983, and selling over six million copies, it pre-dates many modern adventure games and created a new genre for gaming. Exploring by clicking in the world to move, you use a special book to...

In Other Waters

In Other Waters is an underwater exploration game where you play an Artificial Intelligence assistant to a stranded xenobiologist in a mysterious alien ocean. The world is not seen except through the instrumentation available to you. This creates a...


Immortality is a mystery horror game where you investigate the lost movies of Marissa Marcel to unravel the mystery of her disappearance. As you paw through the footage, you uncover a story that spans three decades in unnerving and horrific ways. It's...

Shadows of Doubt

Shadows of Doubt is an open-world detective game set in a fully simulated city of crime and corruption. You explore the city to discover criminality, find clues, solve crimes and earn money to fund bringing a serial killer to justice. It stands out for...


Fez is a dimension based puzzle game where you, as a small character called Gomez, can rotate between four 2D views of the 3D world (as four sides around a cube-like space). This sounds confusing but actually develops into a mind-stretching and...

The Case of the Golden Idol

The Case of the Golden Idol is a point-and-click adventure set in the 18th century, where you attempt to solve 12 gruesome deaths. You play by investigating each scene to gather information in the form of words that you piece together to make statements...

Frog Detective (Series)

Frog Detective is a comedy adventure game where you play a character, named (unsurprisingly) "Frog Detective". In the first mystery, The Haunted Island, you get a call about a ghost on the island. You set about solving the mystery by collecting the...

The Sexy Brutale

The Sexy Brutale is a time-loop adventure puzzle where you play an elderly priest who wakes up in a mansion on the day of a masquerade party. As you explore you realise its inhabitants are being killed off one by one. It stands out for the murder...

Isle of Eras (Dreams)

Isle of Eras is a horror adventure where you explore your childhood island in search of your missing brother. You explore the world to find clues and take on quests to find items. As you do things become supernatural and take you back and forth between...

Lorelei And The Laser Eyes

Lorelei And The Laser Eyes is a narrative brain game where you are stuck in a mysterious maze unsure of whether to trust your senses or the people you meet. Play involves using the clues you find to solve puzzles and traverse the maze to safety. It...

Minecraft: Story Mode

Minecraft: Story Mode is a point-and-click narrative adventure set in the Minecraft universe where Jessie, an inexperienced adventurer, sets out on a grand quest with their friends. As you watch their story unfold, you make...


Videoverse is a narrative game about a fictional gaming network and the friendships that were forged there. You play by guiding conversations and visiting the gaming bulletin board each day. It stands out for bottling the play and interactions that make...


Blasphemous is a running, jumping and fighting game set in a horrific world of corrupted catholicism and unnerving contorted characters. You explore, upgrade your abilities, and execute the hordes of enemies that stand between you and your quest to...

Blasphemous II

Blasphemous II is a running, jumping and fighting game set in the same horrific world as the first game. The follow-up focuses on quality over quirkiness which makes the exploration and combat smoother but a little more derivative. There's more...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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