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Interpret Deeper
Meaning
 

Video games aren't high on the list of most people's spiritual spaces. However, many games offer experiences that invite you to explore buildings, worlds, cities and the countryside full of potential for spiritual reflection.

Games offer a unique way to encounter what is beyond us: other people, the world and possibly even the divine. They include themes of hope, loss and love. They invite us to reconsider how we see the outsider and the marginalised. They offer a chance for response and emotion to grow.

The games in this list have been the subject of a series of articles I have written about video games and faith. Firstly, from 2013-2015 for ThirdWay magazine, and more recently for Youth and Children's Work (YCW) magazine.

These are two publications for Christian audiences, that have invited me to shed light on what a range of video games might mean for those communities. I aim to make connections with faith, the bible and the experience of these video games. This is one way to interpret them which of course invites further and possibly counter interpretations from other perspectives.

YCW articles:
Firewatch | Everything | Bury Me My Love | Abzu | Wilmot's Warehouse

Thirdway Articles:
Proteus | Joust | Uncharted 3 | Alan Wake | This War of Mine | Journey | Limbo | Spaceteam | A Dark Room | Altos Adventure | A Year Walk | Bioshock Infinite | The Last of Us | Disney Infinity | Everybody's Gone to the Rapture | That Dragon Cancer | Spec Ops The Line | Papo and Yo
 
This list includes 43 games from the last 17 years, with 1,372 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to muse on deep topics.

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Before Your Eyes

Release Date: 08/04/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Cartoon

Before Your Eyes is a narrative game about an 11-year-old boy revisiting his life before "crossing over" to the other side. You play by exploring scenes that represent snapshots of his life. Unusually, you make choices and interact with the game by...

Journey

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...

Firewatch

Release Date: 20/09/2016

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

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...

Everything

Release Date: 21/03/2017, updated in 2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4 and Switch

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Everything is an unusual game that simulates a world where you can become any object. It sounds strange and not much fun, but the enjoyment is in discovering how small or how big a thing you can become. From tiny atoms to whole planets and everything in...

Abzu

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...

The Alto Collection

Release Date: 19/02/2015, updated in 2018

Out Now: Android, Apple TV, Mac, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Day and Night and Weather

The Alto Collection is a series of games including Alto's Odyssey and Alto's Adventure. Both are action traversal games where you explore beautiful mountains, dunes and canyons on a snowboarding journey full of serenity and secrets. All you have to...

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

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,...

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Release Date: 19/11/2016, updated in 2017

Out Now: PS3 and PS4

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

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...

Proteus

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,...

The Last Of Us Left Behind

Release Date: 14/02/2014

Out Now: PS3 and PS4

Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

The Last Of Us Left Behind is a survival adventure game where you play Joel, a father figure, looking to protect a girl in his care, Ellie. The game creates a filmic and emotional experience that extends beyond the usual zombie shooting to offer an...

Wilmot's Warehouse

Release Date: 29/08/2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Wilmot's Warehouse is a game for people who like to organise things. You are in charge of a warehouse and must manage 100s of items of stock. Identical square boxes are labelled with rudimentary icons. On your own or with another player, you must...

That Dragon, Cancer

Release Date: 12/01/2016, updated in 2016

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

That Dragon, Cancer is a game about a family with a young son who has terminal brain cancer. It sounds off-putting and morbid but this living biography invites you to join the family and find hope, faith and love in the face of an insurmountable...

The Last Of Us

Release Date: 14/06/2013

Out Now: PS3 and PS4

Skill Rating: 16+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Weather

The Last Of Us is an action-adventure where You play a father, Joel, whose daughter was killed during the early stages of a deadly fungal outbreak. It’s now 20 years later, and he has clearly suffered from the loss. When Joel is given charge of a...

Limbo

Release Date: 05/06/2013, updated in 2015

Out Now: Android, PS Vita, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Limbo is a narrative traversal game where you control a small boy as he runs, jumps and climbs through a dark, silhouetted forest that clanks and hums with foreboding. As the age rating suggests, he is killed in all manner of gruesome ways. But this is...

The Forgotten City

Release Date: 28/07/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Open World

The Forgotten City is a mystery adventure. You explore and relive the final days of a cursed Roman city, where if one person sins, everyone dies. It starts as a bewildering array of characters, locations and information but over multiple goes your...

This War Of Mine

Release Date: 14/11/2014, updated in 2016

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Day and Night

This War Of Mine is a narrative strategy game inspired by the 1992–96 Siege of Sarajevo, this is a war game where you play the civilian trying to survive during the fighting. You face tough decisions on how to spend time and resources each day to...

The Wreck

Release Date: 15/03/2023

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

The Wreck is a narrative game where you play Junon, a mother at a crossroads. She's 36 but her career has stalled, she's emotionally numb, and her personal life is falling apart. It's not unfamiliar territory for a video game these days, but The Wreck...

The Talos Principle

Release Date: 11/12/2014, updated in 2019

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Components: 3D First-Person and Day and Night

The Talos Principle is a narrative driven puzzle game, praised for its cerebral and philosophical nature, where you play an android with a human conscience. You explore environments to complete complex brain-teasing puzzles to collect "sigils".

A Dark Room

Release Date: 10/06/2013, updated in 2019

Out Now: Switch, Web and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: Open World and Text

A Dark Room is an adventure where you try and survive in the wild. The world is depicted with just text but leads you into a dense narrative with intriguing visitors and a steadily expanding world. It has a simple start – a single option to stoke a...

Alan Wake

Release Date: 14/05/2010

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Alan Wake is a shooting game with a horror tone where you must survive the darkness and the terrors that dwell within it. You use your torch to weaken the monsters that hunt you, then switch over to conventional weapons to dispatch them. It stands out...

Bioshock

Release Date: 21/08/2007, updated in 2016

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

Bioshock is a first-person shooting game set in a fantastical underwater city. A dark story unfolds about the misuse of surgery and gene therapy, and what happens when a society develops with a power mad genius in control. It's an unusual combination of...

Journey of the Broken Circle

Release Date: 18/09/2020

Out Now: Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Journey of the Broken Circle is a rolling and jumping game about looking for a life partner. You play as a simple circle with a piece missing. As you progress by making jumps and solving puzzles, you meet partners who slot in specific abilities and...

Fate of Kai

Release Date: 19/03/2021

Out Now: Android, PC and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Fate of Kai is a narrative puzzle game where you control the story rather than the characters. You discover Kai's story by walking through the panels of a comic book. It's a tale about a boy who wakes in a strange land handcuffed to a mysterious chest...

Papo and Yo

Release Date: 14/08/2012

Out Now: Mac, PC and PS3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Papo and Yo is an adventure narrative game where you play as a young boy, Quico, exploring a Brazilian city slum. As you solve puzzles and perform well-timed jumps to progress through the city, you must also deal with a monster – both real and...

Rusty Lake: Roots

Release Date: 20/10/2016

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Rusty Lake: Roots is an unusual point-and-click puzzle-horror game that has you piecing together your family tree. With a wide range unusual puzzles and game mechanics, like growing a literal family tree, it tells a story of a broken family and dark...

Lifeslide

Release Date: 19/09/2019

Out Now: Apple TV, PC, iOS and iPhone, iPad

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Hand-Made and Open World

Lifeslide is an adventure where you fly a paper plane through an ever-changing landscape. It's a metaphorical journey through the stages of life as you learn to use eddies and up-drafts to soar higher and further.

Spaceteam (Series)

Release Date: 01/12/2012

Out Now: Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Text

Spaceteam is a puzzle communication game where players pilot a spaceship, each with their own control panel on their smartphone or tablet screen. The switches, dials, sliders and levers are labelled with randomly-generated peculiar names: ‘Astral...

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Release Date: 27/04/2011, updated in 2018

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is an adventure game in miniature. You explore a myth-rich world and use your sword to do battle and evoke spells to solve musical puzzles. It's a world that changes with the moon as you guide your wandering warrior monk.

The Magnificent Trufflepigs

Release Date: 03/06/2021

Out Now: PC and Switch

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

The Magnificent Trufflepigs is a narrative game where you use a metal detector to explore an old farm. As you do you retread old relationships in the English countryside. You'll find and dig up treasures to share with your friend Beth over a...

Selfloss

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Selfloss is a narrative adventure game about a kind old man in a myth-filled world. You explore the land using the light of your staff to defeat mythical creatures and help those you meet. It's unusual because of its basis in ancient Russian and...

Spec Ops: The Line

Release Date: 29/06/2012

Out Now: PC and Xbox 360

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Spec Ops: The Line is shooting game played in third-person where you with an emphasis on squad-based tactics, and calling in support technology and firepower. Unusually, the player needs to make moral decisions at certain points during the game that...

Under the Waves

Release Date: 29/08/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Under the Waves is a narrative adventure where you survey the ocean depths to find leaking pipes and make repairs. As you do you also discover a story of a grieving man retreating into himself. It creates a universally familiar story by mirroring the...

Karawan

Release Date: 04/10/2021

Out Now: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Karawan is a meditative puzzle game where you journey to escape a desolate, crumbling world. It requires significant route-planning strategy, as you work to find optimum path to gather resources without running out of food. The novelty is extended by...

Neo: The World Ends with You (Series)

Release Date: 27/07/2007, updated in 2021

Out Now: Android, DS, PC, PS4, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead

Neo: The World Ends with You is a role-playing game set in the modern-day Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo. The place is a ghost town where the dead are forced to battle to try and gain their lives back. With stylized art and a fantasy story, it...

Golf Club: Wasteland

Release Date: 16/06/2021, updated in 2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Golf Club: Wasteland is a golf game in an unusual setting. You play on an earth decimated by an environmental catastrophe. Through beautiful visuals and eerie audio, you piece together what has happened to the planet to cause such devastation. It's an...

Joust Mania

Release Date: 11/06/2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS3 and PS4

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Joust Mania is a movement-sensitive game of tag that is played in the real world, holding PlayStation Move motion controllers. First appearing as one of the games in the Sportsfriends pack, and then evolving as Joust Mania with more modes and up to 16...

Unmaze

Release Date: 21/06/2021

Out Now: Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Day and Night

Unmaze is a mix of puzzle game and graphic novel. Inspired by the myth of the Minotaur, you help Asterion and Theseus to guide them out of the maze. However, you can only help one at a time. Using the phone's camera the game lets you help Asterion when...

Selini

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Selini is a running, jumping, and fighting game where you explore a desolate world and defeat monsters. With no dialogue or visual distractions, it's up to you to decipher the story that skirts the topics of environmental and social responsibility. It's...

The Beginner's Guide

Release Date: 01/10/2015

Out Now: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

The Beginner's Guide is a narrative game where you explore a series virtual environments while the game's creator tells a story about the person who made each space. This introspection presents a raw and at times heartbreaking look into the mind of the...

Firebird

Release Date: 02/08/2023, updated in 2023

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cartoon and Hand-Made

Firebird is a narrative game about taking on a dangerous road trip to make money in the hostile Great North. Play involves talking with characters, managing your resources, and making story-changing decisions. It's unique because it explores Slavic...

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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