Storytelling in video games has come a long, long way. This generation and last have taken stories from a basic framework to house gameplay, to effective and powerful tools that make games great. Developers like Naughty Dog champion the narrative and it shows in works like Uncharted and The Last of Us.
Last year saw the debut of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and later this month will see the launch of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Naughty Dog is at the forefront of making great stories. Other studios like Telltale, Dontnod and CD Projekt RED also do a fine job of creating compelling narratives.
The value of a good story is rising in the gaming industry, and it has been for years. In most cases, it is no longer a mailed in part of an experience, and when it is, gamers notice. Powerful stories stick with us for years, and so do their characters. Long-time developer Warren Spector spoke about games that have influenced him over the years.
“I think Telltale with The Walking Dead series [is noteworthy], and Heavy Rain forced me to think about a lot of stuff. I think it’s a lot easier in the sort of interactive movie genre, like The Last of Us and Uncharted, to convey messages and tell interesting traditional stories in that format. But we’re certainly seeing more depth in game storytelling now than we used to, and even more depth in terms of player agency,” Spector told GI.
Crafting great stories isn’t easy for any developer. If it was, those games would be everywhere. That said, 2016 saw some incredible stories told by developers. Games like Uncharted 4, Oxenfree, That Dragon, Cancer and others showcased amazing stories with compelling characters. Spector went onto discuss the current landscape of narratives in the gaming industry.
“When you look around the world of games you see lots of cinematic stuff that’s pretty linear and straightforward, but you also see games that require incredible creativity. Even something like Minecraft or the Arkane games, Dishonored and Prey. Or Fallout and the Bioware stuff. You’re seeing lots of games now that empower players to tell their own stories, which I’ve been waiting decades for,” Spector said.
RPGs tend to craft stories that are driven by the player. Games like the Mass Effect series, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Witcher and so many others do this. 2017 is full of great games still to come and here’s watching which ones will captivate us next. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on video games.