Conner from Detroit: Become Human, Aloy from Horizon: Forbidden West, and Fourchenault from Final Fantasy XIV.

Video Games With the Most Immersive Stories

These games don't just tell a story—they make you feel like a part of it.

Written by:
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Carley is a professional JP-EN translator and writer currently based in Des Moines, Iowa. She has written hundreds of articles for popular sites such as Siliconera, Gameranx, and Otaquest, and has been playing games nonstop since 1996.

Reviewed by:
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Reyadh is a writer of fantasy, horror, and science fiction who loves to play video games full of monsters and magic. When he's not scribing unique and unrelenting speculative fiction or slaying demons in virtual worlds, he is writing strategy guides to help others reach their gaming goals.

Key Takeaway

Our picks for the most immersive games on the market include:

  • Disco Elysium
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Prey
  • Persona 5 Royal
  • Bloodborne
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Horizon Forbidden West
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Elden Ring
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

By combining an engaging story and setting with likable characters, the best video games can become an unforgettable escape from reality. Select titles over time have effortlessly engrossed players in detailed fantasy worlds. The medium has proven a novel way to share memorable narratives.

Table Of Contents

    About the List

    The best video games have each been telling a loveable story since the 1980s. Countless titles from the past four decades feature fun and compelling narratives, but attempting to list all of them would be a painfully time-consuming and likely impossible task. Instead, we’ve racked our brains and scoured our game libraries to find the titles that make us feel like more than we are.

    Instead of controlling a character and directing them through a far-removed imaginary world, these games will make you feel as though you are the protagonist engaging with places and characters filled with life and meaning. These are games that aren’t quickly forgotten—they leave something behind. Each lasting impression has the power to alter your perceptions and change how you see the real world.

    Some of these games feature open worlds and branching paths, while others are short and linear. While the journeys included on this list may differ in size and scope, the stories are certain to grip you just the same. We’ve also taken care not to include any major spoilers, so read on without fear.

    Disco Elysium

    Harry talking to the Hanged Man in Disco Elysium—one of the games with some of the best story elements in modern times.

    Plot: 

    After waking up naked in a smashed-up hostel room with the hangover to end all hangovers, Harrier (Harry) Du Bois takes to the streets of Martinaise to solve a murder along with his temporary partner Lieutenant Kim Kitsuragi. Unfortunately, he’s lost his memory and can’t believe he’s a police detective at all.

    The bizarre and dangerous world around him is a complete mystery, and as he explores the wartorn city getting to know its people, he slowly begins to recall what happened before his bender.

    Harry’s memory loss makes him a blank slate, and your interactions with other characters can go from polite and well-mannered to utterly mad and unpredictable depending on how you want the detective to present himself to the world.

    Characters:

    The robust cast of characters found in Disco Elysium are each as peculiar as the world in which it’s set. (One character is known only as Mega Rich Light-Bending Guy—another, Idiot Doom Spiral.) No NPC is wasted, often sending you on side-quests or sharing tidbits of history to help fill in the vast gaps in your memory.

    Harry’s partner, Kim Kitsuragi, quickly became a fan favorite. Although initially stern, quiet, and unemotional, it’s possible to bring the shy detective out of his shell. Of course, every decision you make matters.

    It’s also possible to push him away entirely. Though the main point of the game is to find a killer, finding yourself and making an impact on the people you meet comes in a close second.

    Disco Elysium – The Final Cut has full voice acting (and a narrator with a particularly satisfying tone), making it easier to feel each character’s emotions and feel a part of the story.

    Setting:

    The 6,000-year lore of Disco Elysium is ridiculously deep and rich. The script (one of the best for games in modern times) contains nearly 1 million words of vibrant story details.

    While Revachol at first seems like any other city struggling to repair itself after a civil war, there’s more than meets the eye. Exploring the disgraced former capital of the world leads to more and more disturbing discoveries.

    Elysium’s complex political situation offers plenty for players to study, but some supernatural elements also appear sprinkled throughout the eclectic title.

    For example, the world’s landmasses aren’t separated by normal oceans. Instead, they are divided by something called The Pale: a substance damaging to the human mind that is spreading more each year.

    Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

    Senua, the main character of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, preparing to face off against a skull-headed enemy in a dark forest.

    Plot: 

    On a quest to save the soul of her dead lover Dillion from the goddess Hela, Senua, a warrior, travels to the border of Helheim. Plagued by voices in her head, she fights her way through terrifying beasts and seeks to overcome unique trials while carrying Dillion’s severed head as a vessel for his spirit.

    The frightening voices in her head hold incredible sway, but are they the result of a curse or something else entirely? You decide.

    Characters: 

    The most engaging characters in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice never appear on screen. As you explore the game’s world, the voices in Senua’s mind chatter almost constantly, sometimes even breaking the fourth wall and addressing you personally.

    They can warn of incoming enemy attacks and can give clues during difficult puzzles, but this information is not always accurate. The inclusion of an unreliable narrator ensures that you’re never positive that the path you’re on is the right one.

    Broaching the serious subject of psychosis, the game focuses heavily on the isolation and judgment a person can face when dealing with mental illness. The lack of supporting characters is impactful, and only having the untrustworthy voices in your head to keep you company slowly takes its toll on your confidence. (This is absolutely one of those games whose story you should play through with headphones on to get the best effect).

    Setting:

    Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice has no HUD and offers no tutorials. You’re completely on your own from the moment the game boots up. As such, you must depend entirely on audio cues to make your way through the underworld. The atmosphere is oppressive and the camera remains tightly against you. This is true even during battle, making the experience feel claustrophobic.

    Kept company only by the voices in your head and having no map to follow, Ninja Theory’s first self-published title defines what immersion means in the current gaming arena.

    Baldur’s Gate 3

    The main character and some of her companions preparing for the final battle in Baldur's Gate 3— one of the games with some of the best story elements in the modern era.

    Plot:

    The protagonist of Baldur’s Gate 3 awakens on a mind flayer ship to find that a parasitic tadpole has been implanted into their head. If left unaddressed, the wriggling creature will cause them to transform into an illithid themself.

    After suffering an attack by Githyanki warriors, the ship crashes onto a beach in Faerûn. More survivors appear, all sporting the same affliction and desperate to find a way to purge the parasite for good.

    On their journey together, the group discovers that a cult led by a mysterious being called the “Absolute” has enslaved the minds of creatures throughout the land. Destroying this false God proves to be the key to stopping the mind flayers and regaining their freedom.

    Characters: 

    There are 10 recruitable companions in Baldur’s Gate 3. Each brings their own unique personality and skill set to the table. Getting to know these characters—from the tenderhearted shapeshifting Druid Halsin to Astarion, the internet’s favorite vampire thirst trap—is arguably the best draw compared to many other modern games regarding its story.

    The combat is solid and the lore leaves nothing to be desired. However, isn’t the real adventure the friends you make along the way?

    Perhaps the most intricate and detailed personality in the game is the one you make yourself. The title’s character creator offers a level of detail that will appease even the most discerning RPG fan, not only letting you alter appearance and class but your protagonist’s background as well.

    Your character’s deep lore isn’t only cosmetic, as their life before being kidnapped by mind flayers can impact their proficiencies. On top of that, it can affect your relationships with others.

    Setting:

    The world of Baldur’s Gate 3 is immense. Pulling from the decades-old lore found in the tabletop staple Dungeons & Dragons, the game takes place primarily on the Sword Coast of western Faerûn. During the title’s lengthy main story, characters explore everything from the Emerald Grove to the Shadow-Cursed Lands. Eventually, the party of your choosing reaches the titular city of Baldur’s Gate.

    Though the characters must fight for their freedom, players have no lack of it. Almost every companion can be romanced and almost any NPC can be killed. Quests can be accepted in any order and characters can level more than one class simultaneously to create incredibly powerful builds.

    The narrative can change wildly from playthrough to playthrough. Plus, every single character is fully voice-acted and motion-captured. Larian Studios even approved mod support, ensuring that the game’s possibilities will continue to grow and evolve.

    Prey

    The main character of Prey pointing his gun at a uniform preserved in a glass case.

    Plot:

    Released to massive fanfare in 2017, Prey follows Morgan Yu, a human aboard the space station Talos I. Morgan is part of a team investigating hostel aliens known as the Typhon.

    After one of these otherworldly beings escapes confinement, players soon find themselves unable to trust their environment, as these beings can shapeshift into clones of any inanimate object. Escape won’t be easy.

    With multiple endings to discover (some more sinister than others), this is one of those games that makes its survival story particularly harrowing—in fact, it’s one of the best at this.

    You must use your psychoscope to acquire the aliens’ abilities yourself. Fans of the 1994 PC game System Shock will find some similarities, as this title was made by Arkane as a spiritual successor.

    Gameplay:

    Set in an open-world environment, Prey is a first-person shooter that adds numerous stealth and role-playing elements into the mix. The entirety of the Talos I is at your disposal as you search for a way to escape from the aliens, and every choice you make impacts the game’s story in a big way.

    Not everything in the game can be handled with bullets. Borrowing some gameplay elements from Dishonored, you’ll need to think quickly and creatively to overcome certain obstacles on your adventure.

    Though not technically categorized as a horror game, you’ll jump out of your chair more than once during your adventure. After all, the aliens can be anywhere, disguising themselves as everything from chairs to coffee mugs.

    Setting:

    Prey is set in an alternate timeline in which the Space Race occurred much earlier. Many humans now choose to live in space, though it isn’t the uninhabited utopia many people believe it to be.

    The Soviet Union was the first to discover the dangerous Typhon, and working with the United States, they worked to capture and fight them off without alerting the general public.

    In 1980, scientists aboard the Kletka space station—used as a prison for captured Typhon—are killed by the aliens. 45 years later, the satellite was acquired and refitted as Talos 1. Unfortunately, you could meet the same fate if you’re not careful.

    Persona 5 Royal

    The protagonist of Persona 5 Royal (one of the games with the best story in modern times) inside his high school classroom.

    Plot:

    The long-awaited sequel to 2008’s Persona 4 takes place in Tokyo. After being falsely accused of assault, the protagonist moves from a small town to the big city during his probation. He is eager to prove himself as a model citizen over the length of a school year.

    However, he and some of his classmates soon awaken to special powers allowing them to steal evil intent from the hearts of adults.

    Using manifestations of their psyche called Personas, the group, known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, tries to right the many injustices found in modern-day Japan.

    Characters: 

    Rather than relying entirely on leveling up via combat to become stronger, Persona 5 factors in the power of friendship. The more time you spend with your friends and classmates, the more powerful Personas you can fuse.

    Leveling up each Confidant also unlocks specific skills for your friends in battle, like automatically healing status ailments or performing follow-up attacks.

    There are 23 characters you can befriend in the game’s definitive edition, Persona 5 Royal. Regardless of what kind of RPG games you like, you’ll find a character with a story to whom you can best relate.

    From bullying and imposter syndrome to lofty parental expectations and crippling loneliness—think of it like a trauma rainbow. As with previous entries to the series, the characters are Persona 5‘s beating heart.

    Setting:

    Although you can travel to many different parts of Tokyo’s capital, Persona 5 Royal is incredibly linear. Following a day-night cycle, some days are entirely scripted, while others can be spent however you choose. Whether that be studying, working a part-time job, fighting enemies in the Metaverse, or hanging with your pals.

    Newcomers to the franchise sometimes criticize the amount of cutscenes and dialogue sprinkled throughout the title, but these glimpses into the world and its personalities grant incredible depth.

    This isn’t a game you’re compelled to pick up for the dungeon crawling alone—you pick it up to see your buddies again. The characters in Persona 5 Royal may not be real, but they sure feel like it after 100 hours together.

    Bloodborne

    The Hunter in Bloodborne preparing to engage an enemy.

    Plot:

    Much of the enigmatic story of Bloodborne is best left up to player interpretation—one of the few games to do this right. Gamers step into the shoes of a Hunter who awakens in Yharham, a dark and decrepit city overcome by a plague transforming its citizens into beasts.

    As you navigate the winding streets of the Victorian-style metropolis trying to find a way to stop this sickness, you begin to learn the truth of what really happened to trigger this terrifying transformation. In the end, only you can bring the nightmare to an end. Or awake from it.

    Gameplay: 

    With countless similarities to FromSoftware’s Dark Souls series, Bloodborne is not a title for the faint of heart. Its high level of difficulty has become infamous. It demands that players have near-perfect timing during battles to survive.

    You’ll fight beasts and bosses as you make your way through each area of Yharnam. What’s more, you’ll also meet NPCs that help to expand the title’s momentous amount of history and lore. The protagonist is entirely customizable, including their backstory and religion to further immerse you in the story being told.

    What sets Bloodborne apart from other action RPGs is its ambiguity. You’re never quite sure what you’re fighting for, and although you’re likely to die hundreds of times, something about the riddle-filled world keeps you coming back for more.

    Battles may be brutal—especially for players unfamiliar with FromSoftware’s approach to conflict. However, finding the will to overcome fear for the sake of knowing more is an addiction like no other. With that said, be wary of gaining too much insight…

    “We want players to enjoy groping their way through the game and exploring,” said the game’s director Hidetaka Miyazaki in a 2014 interview with Japanese outlet 4Gamer. “We want the players to feel scared of the enemies and for the combat to feel deadly. When they finally emerge victorious, there’s bound to be a very strong sense of joy and relief.”

    Setting:

    Bloodborne draws heavily from Bram Stoker’s works, as well as the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. An Eldritch horror can await around any street corner and the oppressive atmosphere never lets up. Reminding you that the city can chew you up and spit you up at any moment.

    Horror fans looking for a more substantial title immediately sang the game’s praises, as well as action RPG lovers looking for a darker experience without a simple narrative structure.

    As colossal cathedrals loom overhead and bloodthirsty beasts lurk unbidden, it’s up to you to venture forth and piece together the gaps in Miyazaki’s epic tale. Atmosphere isn’t the only reason why Bloodborne has been ranked in the top ten video games of all time.

    Horizon Zero Dawn & Horizon Forbidden West

    Aloy, the protagonist of Horizon Forbidden West (one of the games with the best story in modern times), looking over a desert valley with a Tallneck in the distance.

    Plot:

    The Horizon series of video games follows Aloy, a young huntress in a post-apocalyptic story inhabited by a world full of increasingly aggressive machines that Aloy must best in combat to survive. Cast out by the Nora tribe at birth, she’s raised by another outcast in the wilds.

    After stumbling into some ancient ruins, Aloy finds an AR device. This strange bit of technology allows her to see the world as it was a thousand years ago. It also makes it much easier to fight back against the metal beasts roaming the land.

    When a strange cult attacks, Aloy learns of her true origins and the reason for her exile. She decides to embark on a quest to discover where she really came from, and why the machines are going mad. As it turns out, the world is under threat of total annihilation. Aloy must find a way to stop it despite the nigh impossibility.

    In Horizon Forbidden West, Aloy continues to travel to the once-California coast to find a way to stop the plague sweeping the world. Though it was once thought that humanity had been wiped out a thousand years prior, that may not be the case. After all, there’s always the stars.

    Characters: 

    Aloy chooses to embark on her adventure alone, but that doesn’t mean she lacks support. While the cast of characters in both Horizon titles is relatively small compared to many others on this list, the game’s writing is stunning and its commentary on technology and connection hits hard. When a character has something to say, you instinctively know it will be important. Listen well!

    The game’s personalities are made even more intriguing by their tribe affiliations. The Nora, for example, are matriarchal and pride themselves on their ability to hunt. The Oseram are salvagers and builders capable of making advanced weaponry. Then, there’s the Carja, who are Sun worshippers with a great desert kingdom. There’s no telling what an NPC will value or how they will treat you as an outsider, making exploration feel a bit more daunting.

    Setting:

    The Horizon series is set in the United States after a post-apocalyptic event. The map covers Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and California. Outside of its fast-paced combat including bows, traps, and explosives, the best part of exploration comes you when you stumble upon a decaying streetlight or school bus from a thousand years ago. Only then do you feel the incredible scope of the title’s lore.

    The terrain varies from forests and jungles to snow-covered mountains and desolate deserts. Thankfully, Aloy is a master of parkour. As such, getting around tougher terrain isn’t too hard for her.

    Over time, machines can be hacked and used as mounts or as additional aids in battle. It’s nearly impossible not to feel compelled to uncover every inch of the map. The world’s history isn’t immediately explained in black and white either. It’s up to you to find out the nitty-gritty of what caused the Earth to nearly die a millennia ago.

    Divinity: Original Sin 2

    The battle screen in Divinity: Original Sin 2 (one of the games with the best story elements in the modern era), which is an overhead view of all characters, enemies, and terrain.

    Plot:

    The world of Rivellon is plagued by monstrous creatures called Voidwoken. Those able to harness the magical power of the Source are dubbed threats to the peace, as doing so attracts the attention of these terrifying beasts.

    Shackled with anti-magic collars and shipped to an island called Fort Joy, magic-users live a life of servitude and sadness. Many are executed upon arrival.

    Tired of being held against your will, you must find a way to escape Fort Joy and stop the Divine Order from slaying innocent people. However, on your journey, you discover that you hold more power than you ever thought possible.

    Characters: 

    Those familiar with Larian’s recent mega-hit Baldur’s Gate 3 can predict how wonderfully rich the origin characters of Divinity: Original Sin 2 can be. Three party members can join you at any one time, and their class and abilities can be altered. This gives you plenty of wiggle room in how you approach combat.

    Whether you choose to travel with Fanen, a talking skeleton and the last of an immortal species, or Lohse, a woman playing host to a demonic creature, there’s plenty to learn about your newfound friends as you embark on a very lengthy quest.

    Your relationships can quickly become messy and complicated, and that’s something that makes the game shine. This chaotic quirk makes this one of those games with the best story twists and turns in the modern era.

    Even the character you play begins as a completely blank slate. You can choose to be benevolent or downright cruel to everyone you meet. Each decision and dialogue option has lasting repercussions. Every line of dialogue is voiced—including narration—making it feel as though you’re taking part in a very detailed D&D campaign.

    Setting:

    Fort Joy holds plenty of secrets. Battles can begin with no warning, treasure hides in every nook and cranny, and tidbits of lore sound out as you pick up tomes and approach landmarks. To some, it may feel too dense. To fans of worldbuilding and storytelling, the fun found in the medieval fantasy world of Rivellon can be neverending.

    Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a big game. Players wanting to uncover everything can expect to dedicate over 300 hours of their lives to this expansive RPG. With that said, this has less to do with the map and more to do with the sheer amount of sidequests and backtracking to be done.

    When a fight doesn’t turn out as planned, you have an untold number of options to retry the battle. Endlessly replayable, we’ve dubbed it Baldur’s Gate 3‘s less-polished younger sibling.

    Dragon Age: Inquisition

    The Inquisitor, a Dalish Elf, standing at the balcony of her room overlooking snowy mountains in Dragon Age: Inquisition—one of the games with the best story components in the last few decades.

    Plot:

    After an explosion interrupts a vital conference held to find peace between Mages and Templars, a hole is torn in the boundary between the physical world and the Fade. You play as the only survivor of the blast, emerging from this breach with a magical mark on your hand. It grants you the capability to mend tears in the Veil that have popped up around the world.

    Your newfound powers instantly make you a hero to the people. As such, you soon find yourself as the figurehead of the Inquisition: an organization created to defend the people of Thedas. It’s up to you and your companions to travel the lands, closing breaches and defeating evil as you go. The hole in the sky isn’t the only thing threatening the world…

    Characters: 

    The visually stunning open world of Dragon Age: Inquisition serves as a major draw for RPG fans. However, the title’s real strength comes from its characters. Some of these personalities—like Cassandra, Varric, Leliana, and Cullen—appeared in earlier titles. They have become much more fleshed out and detailed in this more modern release.

    Each of your companions will come to you in a time of need, eager to request your help as their Inquisitor and friend. By completing these quests, you grow closer to your inner circle, and by the end, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve gained a new family. These strong ties to each character’s story result in one of the best impressions that RPG games can make on players.

    These issues can be relatable. The mage Dorian, for example, must cope with both unrest in his homeland and a painful shunning by his family on account of his sexuality. Cullen is coping with addiction, while Vivienne deals with the loss of her one true love. There’s power in the familiar, and Inquisition‘s characters are both whimsical and painfully down-to-earth.

    Setting:

    Dragon Age: Inquisition takes place after the explosion of the Kirkwall Chantry in Dragon Age II. The Circle of Magi has gone rogue and the once devout Templar Order has seceded from the Chantry to fight back against the Mage rebellion. Meanwhile, the neighboring country of Orlais is facing a full civil war.

    The world that Bioware created is absolutely huge in scale. Therefore, finding every collectible and side quest can easily take over 100 hours. Three large DLCs greatly boost this number, with the final release, Trespasser, revealing the game’s true ending.

    Playing the first two games in the series is recommended, but not explicitly required. Still, finishing Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II can help fill in some of the gaps in the game’s complex worldbuilding.

    The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

    Geralt and Triss in a dungeon in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

    Plot:

    Fans of fantasy novels will already be familiar with the works of Andrzej Sapkowski brought to life. As will players of the previous two Witcher game titles. In The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, players control the monster hunter Geralt of Rivia as he searches for his adopted daughter, Ciri.

    The girl, blessed with the Elder Blood, has incredibly powerful magical gifts, including the ability to warp between worlds. Because of this, the fearsome Wild Hunt is on her tail, desperate to use her abilities for evil means.

    As the world is torn apart by war and the Hunt threatens to destroy the realm with a calamity called the White Frost, you’ll traverse a vast open world to find solutions before it’s too late.

    And as serious as all of this sounds, fear not—much like Triple Triad in Final Fantasy VIII and Caravan in Fallout New Vegas, The Witcher III also introduces a very addictive card game called Gwent. Many NPCs are up for a game. It quickly becomes impossible to give up the temptation of one more round.

    Characters: 

    The relationships found in The Witcher 3 are complex, with most characters returning from previous installments. As a protagonist, Geralt is a box of contradictions, known by many to be emotionless yet going above and beyond for those close to him.

    His lover, the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg, and his ex Triss Merigold feature heavily. Such hints of drama are seen most frequently in romance novels, yet are handled much more delicately here.

    Each NPC found in the game is voiced, and many seek the help of monster slayers such as yourself. It’s up to you whether you’d like to barter for more coin when taking on jobs. After all, cutting down Griffins and murdering Werewolves is a dangerous business.

    But you’ll find that acting more human and replying to snide comments with humility will serve you well in the long run. Your interactions throughout this—one of the best adventure games of all time—dictate whether Ciri survives, who becomes your romantic interest, and how much land the Nilfgaard Empire stands to gain in this epic story.

    Setting:

    Simply called the Continent, the world of The Witcher is inhabited by every fantasy race under the sun. Humans, dwarves, elves, and countless monsters call this land home. Many non-human races suffer through prejudice and persecution at the hands of those residing in the north.

    A war is underway between Nilfgaard and Redania. Therefore, Geralt has a stunningly massive area to cover on his quest. It’s easy to spend over 200 hours exploring. As a result, completionists can see even more playtime.

    Dirty and dilapidated, the game feels lived-in in a way that many fantasy RPGs do not. Oftentimes, its small hamlets and dirt roads are reminiscent of the medieval era.

    On top of that, its people are beautifully imperfect and torn by the war pulling their families apart. There’s no doubt that you’re a hero in the game’s story, but to some, you represent all that goes bump in the night.

    Detroit: Become Human

    Hank, a cop, and Conner, an android, sitting in a police car in Detroit: Become Human.

    Plot:

    In the year 2038, androids are commonplace. They work as housekeepers, shopkeepers, construction workers, childcare attendants, and everything in between. Humans have grown accustomed to using these machines to make their lives easier. In fact, many treat them like objects or second-class citizens.

    However, would their attitudes change if androids became truly sentient? If they had emotions and could choose their own path, would androids choose violence or peace against those who have enslaved them?

    Characters: 

    Detroit: Become Human takes place over many chapters. This is one of those games that doesn’t feature a traditional story, combat system, or exploration mechanics—in the best way possible.

    Instead, it’s all about dialogue choices and quick-time events. Even subtle differences can alter the game’s narrative in huge ways. Furthermore, it’s possible for one, or all, of the game’s characters to die if you’re not careful.

    Each of the three main characters brings their own perspective to what’s happening in Detroit in 2038. Connor is a prototype android on loan to the police with incredible strength, speed, and cognition. Kara, once a housekeeping android, develops an attachment to the child in her care, who must contend with an abusive father. Markus, also a prototype, finds himself unceremoniously thrown into the dump after an altercation. Upon awakening, he devotes himself to freeing other machines from slavery.

    A feat of graphical design, the game’s characters were entirely motion-captured. This took developers almost an entire year to shoot. With over 35,000 camera shots and 74,000 unique animations throughout, it feels more like an interactive film than a game at times.

    However, this does nothing to take away from the almost instant connection players have to this game’s characters. These androids understand what it means to be alive for the very first time, which connects deeply with the audience.

    Setting:

    In a world not so distant from our own, humans are largely out of work because machines have been built to replace them. Downtown Detroit is pristine; cared for, and run by androids. Conversely, other neighborhoods fall into disarray and homeless human encampments can be found everywhere. You’ll see plenty of the chaos wrought by automation through cutscenes and interactions.

    Detroit: Become Human is a game that asks a lot of big questions. If a machine could truly feel emotion, would humanity ever truly accept that as fact and bring them into the fold as equals? This brief title from Quantic Dream may not be for everyone. With that said, it will have a large portion of players contemplating the future that may not be too far away.

    Final Fantasy XIV

    An Au'ra character standing in the colorful world of Il Mheg in Final Fantasy XIV.

    Plot and Gameplay: 

    Summarizing over 10 years of continuously evolving story content in one of the Final Fantasy games is a tall order—one best handled by a long-time fan (and it is).

    The story of Final Fantasy XIV begins with A Realm Reborn, released in 2013. This was followed by four massive expansions: Heavensward, Stormblood, Shadowbringers, and Endwalker. These expansions didn’t have their own insular stories. Instead, they furthered the story already in motion.

    With the conclusion of 2021’s Endwalker, the decade-long tale has finally found its conclusion. Afterward, a new overarching story is set to begin in the Dawntrail expansion coming in summer of 2024.

    The game introduces your character as they arrive in one of Eorzea’s three main cities searching for a new adventure. After defeating a man clad in a black robe and experiencing strange visions of a massive, glowing crystal, you earn the attention of the Scions—a group dedicated to keeping the realm safe from evil. To start, various beast tribes have begun summoning their deities. In doing so they are threatening the lives of all who call Eorzea home—including all the cute mounts!

    Throw in dangerous summons, an ongoing war between men and dragons, journeys to parallel dimensions, and stopping the literal apocalypse, and you have this award-winning MMO in a nutshell.

    (Did we mention there’s a free trial with no cap on playtime?)

    The variety of gameplay found in the title will keep you busy for thousands of hours, so beware. From dungeons and raids to crafting, gambling, and a personal island to cultivate, you’ll never run out of things to do. You’re also free to change your class at any time, so why not get them all to max level? While you’re at it, make sure you dress to impress!

    Characters: 

    As expected from a game in the Final Fantasy universe, the characters you befriend in XIV are instantly memorable. Each sports complex stories that evolve over hundreds of hours of story content.

    Though new characters are introduced in each expansion, a tight group remains consistent throughout. Therefore, they feel as though they’ve grown along with you over the years. It’s particularly poignant when a beloved character you haven’t seen in years reappears after a patch. It’s like seeing a member of the family turn up unannounced.

    However, Final Fantasy XIV shines because of its 24 million players.  You can join your pals to adventure through mazelike dungeons and fight ancient gods together. Or you can meet new people as you play, often cementing real-life friendships in the process.

    The community is well-known for its inclusiveness and welcoming nature towards newcomers. Anyone wary of trying an MMO should consider FFXIV a good place to start. The game also has a robust roleplaying scene for players who want to truly step into their character’s shoes each time they log on.

    Elden Ring

    The main character of Elden Ring gazing up at the Erdtree.

    Plot:

    One of the best and most awarded games in history, Elden Ring‘s worldbuilding and major story elements were famously penned by A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin.

    Players awaken in the Lands Between, a land ruled by corrupted demigods. Long ago, the immortal Queen Marika oversaw the lands and acted as the keeper of the Elden Ring, an artifact maintaining order. After the ring was shattered, the demigods took the shards, tainting them.

    As you traverse the torn Lands Between, you must find a way to repair the Elden Ring, defeat the demigods, and become the Elden Lord. Or forsake this destiny altogether…

    Gameplay: 

    While not quite as difficult to master as Bloodborne or the Dark Souls games, Elden Ring is undeniably a FromSoftware product. Enemies telegraph their attacks and give you plenty of time to react, but it still takes time to get the timing just right.

    It rewards those with focus and patience, so don’t boot it up thinking that button mashing is an option. Of course, stealth is a helpful choice if you’re looking to avoid conflict in the first place. Or do both. Try a sneak attack!

    As you explore the six main areas of the Lands Between, you’ll come across plenty of caves and dungeons hiding helpful items. Your weapons can be enhanced and upgraded. Additionally, you can craft plenty of consumables and arms by using recipes you find around the world. You can also use co-op mode to call on backup when facing particularly tough foes or boot up PvP to duel other players.

    Your experience with Elden Ring is largely customizable, letting you choose your path. You’re the one who decides which tools you’ll need to accomplish your goal. It encourages you to explore and try new things instead of placing you in a neatly wrapped box. It’s no wonder so many major game outlets gave it a perfect score.

    We have our own take on this legendary game as well. Check it out if you want a different opinion than the big-name game journalists provide.

    Red Dead Redemption 2

    Arthur from Red Dead Redemption 2 walking towards a large waterfall in a forest.

    Plot:

    In 1899, cowboys and gangs still ran wild across the American landscape. Arthur Morgan, an outlaw and high-ranking member of the Van der Linde gang, is faced with the grim reality that the Wild West is disappearing. Rival gangs and government forces are hot on his trail after a botched heist. What’s more, that’s not all Arthur needs to worry about.

    Shootouts, robberies, bounty hunters…the West is a beautiful place, but it’s certainly not safe.

    Characters: 

    Much of Red Dead Redemption 2’s story focuses on Arthur’s relationship with members of his gang—his best friends—including the protagonist of the first title John Marston, which is a strong tie between the two games. Interconnectivity like this is refreshing.

    The diversity of these characters is of particular note, making it easy to find bits of yourself in them all. By the end, you’ve gained a fictional family that you’ll want to return to time and again. Your enemies are easy to hate but charismatic in a way that’s tough to shake. This is true to the point that running into them is a cause for excitement.

    Thanks to a ridiculous amount of motion capture, they feel more real than they rightfully should. 1,200 actors appear in the game, with 700 characters sharing 500,000 lines of dialogue. No wonder it can take over 100 hours to complete.

    Setting:

    Set in a fictional version of past America, the game takes place across five states: New Hanover, Ambarino, Lemoyne, New Austin, and West Elizabeth. You’ll encounter bandits, wildlife, and other gang members. As you make your way across different terrain, you’ll occasionally stumble upon settlements filled with NPCs ready to dole out sidequests.

    Sick of riding your horse? Use a train or hop in a stagecoach. Tired of the grind? Search for collectibles or play some poker. This is a world made for getting lost in, and the unpredictable nature of the Wild West lends itself well to an immersive gaming experience. You never know what’s over the next ridge.

    Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

    A character in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora flying on a mount high above a lush landscape.

    Plot:

    Eight years before the events of the 2009 film Avatar, the Resources Development Administration (RDA) started the Ambassador program. The aim is to train five young Na’vi children to be Na’vi-human ambassadors. The children remember being kidnapped from their clans. However, during an attempt to escape, one is shot and killed. This persuades the others to surrender.

    Following the events of the first film, the RDA is forced to evacuate Pandora after they are defeated by Jake Sully’s army. The children are placed into suspended animation, only awakening 16 years later. Surrounded by danger, they must come together to fight back against those eager to exploit their home.

    Characters: 

    After creating your character and starting your trek across Pandora, you come into contact with Na’vi from different clans. All are desperate to bring the fight to the humans. As a member of the missing Sarentu Clann, it’s up to you to reunite the clans. You must present a united front against those who wish you harm.

    While some characters seem somewhat one-dimensional, there are examples of multifaceted individuals. Alma Cortez, a former member of the RDA and an instructor for the Ambassador Program, loves her home but was made complicit in terrible acts during her time working for humans. She hopes to atone, and it’s tough not to wish her well.

    Setting:

    The world of Pandora instantly captured the audience’s imagination when the original film was released 15 years ago. Being able to explore the planet on the back of your ikran without restrictions is the stuff of dreams. Furthermore, each of the three major regions has unique inhabitants and biomes to discover.

    The Na’vi care deeply for the environment. This becomes apparent as you gather items from the world. However, this isn’t done simply with the click of a button. Instead, it’s done through careful mouse movements and key presses. It’s as if the game is giving proper respect to the pieces of nature you’re taking.

    Small details like this make games like Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora memorable, and even if you weren’t a fan of the film’s story, this title is best to pick up if you want to try something new and immersive.


    You need a break from the daily grind once in a while. The best story games above are capable of plucking us out of our gaming chairs and setting us down in worlds of fantasy in which we’re the hero.

    The level of immersion a video games offer can make or break your experience. No, feeling as though you’ve set foot in another world isn’t a must-have, but for games with tomes full of lore or enormous maps to explore, it can make your experience all the more impactful.

    They aren’t quite real, but the people you meet in games can feel like real friends if done right.

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