Video games can enthral in ways that no other medium can. They can transport you to far-flung worlds, give you joystick-waggling action and movie-quality storytelling.
Half-Life’s ‘kill all aliens’ sci-fi pulp may be dated, but it revolutionised console shooters, and installed Master Chief as a gaming icon. It also introduced stealth as a core gameplay mechanic.
Gameplay is one of the most important qualities that a great video game must have. The best games offer excellent gameplay that is easy to learn and hard to master. For example, Tetris has mesmerized players for decades with its unique game mechanics. The best video games also have well-designed levels that add to the overall experience and provide a challenge for players to continue playing. For example, the classic N64 game Banjo-Kazooie offered a wide variety of levels that progressively became more challenging and exciting to play.
Great gameplay is what most gamers want when they buy a game. However, what defines great gameplay is subjective to the individual and what may be considered a good game for one person may not be a good game for another.
Games have long been used to explore different worlds, but they’re also an incredible storytelling medium. Whether it’s the powerful deconstruction of war in Spec Ops: The Line or Naughty Dog’s emotional family drama The Last of Us, many of the best video games have great stories to offer. Often, these are intertwined with the gameplay itself, making for an experience that’s truly unique and memorable.
The story in Life is Strange may be less well-known than its acclaimed graphics or gameplay, but it’s one of the most affecting video game stories ever told. Taking you through the perils of adolescence, love, and an impending supernatural town-destroying storm, this episodic adventure is a masterful tale that’s arguably just as powerful as any prestige TV or movie drama out there.
Some games are better at telling a story than others, but the best ones manage to make it an integral part of the experience. This is especially true of RPGs or those that allow players to shape a narrative’s outcome with their own decisions. For example, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was inspired by real-life experiences of mental illness, and it enthralled viewers through its evocative storytelling and deeply sympathetic lead character.
While it might be a bit of a cheat to bundle two games together, there’s no denying that Life is Strange and The Last of Us are among the best game stories ever created. Both have the kind of branching narratives that encourage multiple playthroughs, and the impact of each decision can have a lasting effect. The Last of Us deals with guilt like no other game and features an incredibly relatable protagonist in April Ryan.
Some of the best games have a brilliant story to go along with their great gameplay, such as the sci-fi classic BioShock. This series offers a gripping tale about Booker and Elizabeth while setting it against a universe-huge backdrop that would require a quantum physicist to understand.