Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: The best video game story
GameCentral readers discusses their favourite video game stories, from NieR:Automata to God Of War.
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Cranston and inspired by the release of The Last Of Us Part 2, although readers were free to discuss any game from any era.
The work of Naughty Dog did certainly get plenty of mentions but so too did Life Is Strange, Mass Effect, The Witcher 3, and many other classics.
One or the other
I love the Persona games and I had a real difficult time choosing between Persona 4 and 5, especially as I’ve only just finished Persona 5 Royal which is probably colouring my feelings right now. So I’ll say that’s the best one but really they’re all good (well, the most recent three anyway) and I love the way they manage to mix a realistic modern day setting with out there Japanese weirdness and traditional role-playing tropes.
The games are long but that helps you to get to know the characters and understand them, through the gameplay and the story. That’s the important thing to me. I hate games where the only story is in the cut scenes and it’s as if it’s completely separate to whatever the action is.
I’d much rather have minimal/no storytelling, like the Zelda games, than some game that’s trying to be a movie one minute and a shooter the next. But most of all I prefer Persona, which manages to have its cake and eat and has provided me with hundreds of hours of entertainment over the years.
I don’t want to say the obvious but seeing as I’ve just finished it and people often leave out the obvious choice because they think everyone else will say it, but The Last Of Us Part 2 has the best story I’ve ever seen in a game. And I mean that, really.
It’s a dark and often depressing story but at least it has moments of hope, unlike I got from reading through people’s complaints about the game which basically amounted to it being too inclusive and portraying Ellie as the messed up person she would undoubtedly be if she went through what she did.
These are the sort of people that bleat about realism and then hate it when it happens because it didn’t let what they wanted to happen play out. I found the game very emotional and honest about how people fixate on just one thing and will not see the other point of view, and the inevitable consequences of that (although they’re not normally so violent obviously). An amazing game and an even better story.
I’m a bit stuck here, as I would’ve usually said The Walking Dead up until a few years ago, but that series saw such a slow, sad decline it’s hard to feel very enthusiastic about it now. When the first season came out though it blew me away with atmosphere and the decisions and the way characters would constantly die.
I’d never seen anything like it and started to get really attached to Lee and Clementine, so obviously was gutted when the ending happened. That Telltale style of gameplay was all new to me and I also enjoyed Wolf Among Us and Tales From The Borderlands.
The best story-based games always seem to be cheap indie ones and it’s obvious all of these games were done on a shoestring but I appreciate that would much rather have that than just another save the world nonsense that no one really pays attention to. I mean what is happening in Destiny?
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It’s a game not many people know about but I’ve seen it mentioned on the Inbox a few times so I know I’m in good company here. But my vote goes to Spec Ops: The Line. On the face of it it’s just a straightforward third person, squad based shooter (the gameplay is okay but nothing more) but the further you get into it the more you realise it’s saying something pretty serious about warfare and even gaming.
You are not the good guy and the way the game uses elements of Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now is really clever. Especially as it still carries on being a decent shooter as it goes. If there was remake that improved the gameplay I genuinely think it would be regarded as an all-time classic, although I think there’s little chance of that happening.
The four main Uncharted games have the best story for me, because as well as being brilliant action adventure games they’re also a love story.
I can’t think of another game series that has allowed its main character to be in a long term, loving relationship without reducing the love interest into a catalyst for the main character’s actions.
Sure, Nate and Elena’s relationship is far from perfect, but for me this enhances the story and makes things far more relatable.
Nate may be a heroic rogue, a globe-trotting treasure hunter, but he’s also someone who’s emotionally a mess and struggles with commitment.
The excellent writing coupled with brilliant performances by the cast really make the series so special and I’ve enjoyed watching Nate and Elena’s relationship develop over the four games and was so happy that Naughty Dog gave them a happy ending at the end of four.
I enjoy a lot of games just for the gameplay, but games like Uncharted-with a strong script and such loveable characters-are games that I truly adore!
Worth a try
It’ll always be The Witcher 3 for me. I’ve never been a big fan of Tolkien style fantasy, orcs and goblins and all that, so I took quite a bit of convincing from fans before I would give it a go (that and it being on cheap at the time).
I’m glad I did though because the writing and characters are the best I’ve ever experienced and exploring the world, doing all the side quests it just feels real. Especially when your choices make a difference and not just the combat. The two DLC expansions were excellent too.
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As Speedy Gonzales once said: ‘Undertale, Undertale, Undertale!’ Well, okay. That is a tad misleading. But, to me, this is the best storytelling yet seen in video games. I won’t rag on anything else, here – that would simply be a waste of time and type.
Undertale is the best plotted. Somewhat conventional, but I don’t view that as a weakness when done right. Kid falls down a hole in a mountain, stumbles across a strange world filled with even stranger characters and must find their way home. Simple. But extremely effective, especially given the context and the people involved.
You can have the most sophisticated and labyrinthine plot with more twists that a Celtic knot – but if the characters are neither compelling or likeable, then it’s all for nothing. Characters can be jerks, sure. Monsters, even. But they do need to develop and grow. And they still need to have aspects of them that you personally enjoy. Trevor Philips, of Grand Theft Auto 5 infamy, is an awful psychopath. In real life, you would swim the Atlantic to get away from him. But he can be funny. He has a disturbing sort of charisma. He grows over the course of the game in his dealings with Michael.
In the same vein, we see all the principal characters of Undertale – even King Asgore in the short amount of screen time that he has – develop over their own arcs. The humour is very important too. But it also knows when to cut the gags and get serious. Sans is a goof right up until he threatens to kill you. And again, when he judges your character towards the end.
The antagonist might well be the greatest in video game history, the darkest hour trope is used to amazing effect, the relationship between Undyne and Alphys was adorable and it could be incredibly powerful and moving. And all in the space of a few hours. The happy ending, which is now my all-time favourite, was well and truly earned and can most definitely teach a few bloated, mega budget carcasses a thing or two about how to write a damn good story. Wink!
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