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Games with good stories


Dwarf Fortress, Crusader Kings, and RimWorld seem to be mentioned a lot in the category of emergent narrative games, as opposed to the many authored narrative games also mentioned in this thread. Of the three, I’ve only played CK2. I think its strength is that it creates a huge, plausible world filled with intrigue and succession disputes and affairs and wars both near and far from the player. The player is then able to interact with this believable, living world to pursue whatever goal they set for themselves.

Another thing that sets it apart from the other Paradox strategy games is that instead of playing a country, you are playing a particular person leading a dynasty, which makes the game more personal as you roleplay a character and tend to your family tree.


This brings up a good point, which is whether a “good” story needs to be carefully written, or whether it can just appear organically from the interplay of various systems. I’d argue that either is valid but for completely separate reasons, yet there’s definitely a stronger urge to share the stories that emerge from systems because if you don’t pass them on they’re gone forever, which isn’t the case for a written story. The fact that the events are unique to you makes them special as well, just be careful that in passing them on you don’t slip into “Nobody Cares About Your Dreams” territory…


Good examples folks. Personally, my favorite set-piece story would have to be the one in Mass Effect. By Mass Effect I mean the first one, mind you. Not ME2 (which was actually rather good, but took a weird sidetrack), nor ME3 (which wasn’t as terrible as it was made out to be, but ended badly), nor The Other One That Shall Not Be Named (which just made my “face tired” from laughing at how awful its story actually is). I really enjoyed ME1, and will even play it periodically to this day. Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s story is basically a modified version of that in my all-time favorite video game Star Control II (picture the Reapers, but they never leave the galaxy and have two warring factions: one that wants to kill everything versus one that wants to imprison everything; plus a MUCH bigger catalog of star systems and races). But ME1 has it all over SC2 by looking much better, being much more polished, and by being way more accessible. Plus it doesn’t require the same time investment in order to wring every last drop of story out of it.

As for games that caused me to make up my own story in my head as it went along, my favorite was and still is the original Panzer General by SSi. Yet another game I have waxed poetic about previously, the hex & counter simplicity of its presentation demands a bit of imagination to “flesh it out” in one’s mind. The installments presented by the game were mostly predetermined by our actual historical timeline, but the actions within each contest were made up by me (and quite vividly too) in the “old noggin”.


I read a thing a while back about the production of Mass Effect Andromeda (sorry for calling it by it’s name). The gist of the article was that they spent years of pre production trying to get procedural produced planets working. I was reading this and thinking to myself, “how did mis understand their audience this much?”

I’m going to take a leap here and say you probably like Star Trek right? Or at least have a passing interest in Science Fiction stories?
It’s so weird to me that their was so much back lash to ending of Mass Effect 3 and their highest priority wasn’t “Okay we really need to nail the story this time around.”


OOH! Just thought of another one!

Tales of the Borderlands is a legitimate masterpiece!


I do like science fiction, but no…I do not like Star Trek all that much. It’s too much the socialist pipe dream for me. As for ME3, in my opinion the ending was utter pigswill: contradictory to the established physics of the game universe, all your agonized choices boil down to what color explosion you want, and “fixing” it with what’s basically a slideshow was stupid. That being so, the first Mass Effect is still superb in my view. I enjoy it even more than KOTOR and Jade Empire (my other favorite Bioware games).


I never managed to get anywhere in Mass Effect or Jade Empire, because of the way random people asked me to help with personal problems for no other reason than I walked by. Perhaps the overarching stories are well written, but I never got far enough to experience them, because the nuts and bolts of simple interactions with strangers just made me go - oh, not this shit again - and I gave up.

The Witcher RPGs have their flaws, but especially in 2 and 3 the world-building and basic interactions were good enough to immerse me in the game worlds, and the story arcs weren’t bad either.


The writing in Sunless Seas is some of the best I’ve accounted in any game, especially in terms of brevity to immediate emotional impact. Their writers have made me feel more powerful emotions in a handful of paragraphs than most games can struggle through with reams of codices.


I actually didnt hate ME3 as much as many. I think it was because I played it a bit later (after all the hate and the update to ‘fix’ it), and my expectations were so low, I felt it was fine. I think I would have felt it was fine anyway. It was anti-climatic, but whatever. Still one of my favorite game series ever. I miss my Coomander Sheppard…he was a jerk/badass to everyone but his crew, who he would walk through fire for; I was always full Renegade, but my crew loved me.

Other high notes would be Witcher 3, which knocked Chrono Trigger down from its perch as my favorite game of all time (after 15 years or so).

God of War is fantastic as well. I loved all the characters, and the story between Kratos and Atreus(so?) so much.

I never finished Gone Home. I get bored in games like that, and never go back…


If you like the Uncharted series I recommend the new Tomb Raider games. There’s always the Telltale Games if they are still available, Life is Strange, The Last of Us, and Until Dawn. I thought Horizon Zero Dawn had an awesome story as well.