For some, a game’s story will be the most significant selling point as we spend more and more time looking for cinematic experiences in video games than just a gameplay hook in-line with Tetris. And this year, there was a grand platter of narratives in video games, from the big cinematic epics of a God to the exploration of a forgotten actress and her unreleased films and the adventures of a cat lost in a world not their own.
Here are our picks for the Top 5 Best Narratives in 2022 Video Games.
– Dylan Blight
BlueTwelve Studio, Steven Lerner
Building such deep lore into a game where you play as a cat is remarkable. Stray puts you in control as the titular stray as they fall into an underground city of cyberpunk-inspired neon lights and robots of good and bad-natured personalities. Although the cats’ mission is easy to grasp — escape back to the surface — it’s the slow uncovering of the history of the world: who are these robots? What happened to the humans? Diving deeper into the world, there’s only more to discover as you meet rebels, scientists, and robots wishing for more than what the cruel world has delivered them.
– Dylan Blight
4.) Horizon Forbidden West
Santa Monica Studio, Benjamin McCaw
Horizon: Forbidden West is the second game in the Horizon series and is a great tale of a heroine fighting to save the world that cast her out. Horizon is also a tale of budding friendship and gaining trust in a world filled with robot dinosaurs and sinister plots that would have most confused or running scared. Not Aloy, although she had been shunned as a child, she has overcome much and, throughout this title, has overcome more. Allowing her friends into her life and plan to assist her in saving the world most spectacularly. Between fighting rogue A.I. and futuristic villains, Aloy continually discovers more about Elisabet Sobeck and her friends while deepening connections within Aloy’s’ new family of friends. The constant development of these characters and connections keeps the narrative progressing further; the player has the option to explore these narrative threads deeper when presented with side and standalone missions. These developments allow the characters to conquer the status quo, strive on their own, or follow their destiny. These characters fill out more with each interaction, which also allowed me as a player to develop strong emotional bonds with my team members, feel the full weight of their success or demise, and feel fully invested in their futures. The team at Guerrilla have always been great writers, and the latest instalment from the team is no detour from this, bold characters, good scripts, and a world to feel invested in. I cannot wait to see what they produce next and what they do with the upcoming DLC they recently announced.
– Jacob Hegarty
3.) Marvel’s Midnight Suns
Firaxis, Jake Solomon
Marvel has had quite a bit of recent success with Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, games with a heavy narrative focus. With Midnight Sun’s coming from the people behind XCOM, a series not known for its storytelling, I didn’t expect to be impressed by the game’s story. I was very wrong. Midnight Suns impressively manages to juggle its main questline narrative with numerous sub-plots, while giving players the option to get develop deep friendships with everyone staying in the Abbey.
Characters like Blade or Magik who I had not cared for much previously I now have deep knowledge and appreciation for. Firaxis have also been able to make Hunter, the new character created for the game, feel every bit as valued as any of the established Marvel characters. I was surprised by how my Hunter’s story hit me emotionally. Midnight Suns is an incredibly rewarding experience, especially for anyone willing to take their time and experience all that it has to offer.
– Ashley Hobley
Half Mermaid Productions, Sam Barlow, Amelia Gray, Allan Scott, Barry Gifford
It feels redundant even to attempt to explain the narrative of Immoratloy in a paragraph. This game combines narrative exploration in a game like non-other before. And Sam Barlow didn’t hold back on themes when building Immorality. This game rips apart its core characters, the movie industry and the human psyche to dig deep into their souls. Working through each scene in Immortality gives off a voyeuristic feeling as you search through the life of Marissa Marcel between the scenes of her unreleased films and the behind-the-scenes moments from table reads to the after-parties. Everything and everyone in Immortality feels real, thanks to the incredible performances, but as you peel away at this onion, more layers are revealed. You can’t guess the directions that Immortality will go in, and it’s a once-of-a-year experience because of it.
– Dylan Blight
1.) God of War Ragnarök
Santa Monica Studio, Matt Sophos, Richard Zangrade Gaubert
The story and characters of 2018’s God of War had everyone most surprised. Reworking the combat, cool — reworking the character? That’s special. God of War Ragnarok builds upon everything set up in the first game to deliver a much more rewarding and deeper narrative filled with heartfelt moments, surprising twists and epic clashes between Gods. You know what the story is going to be coming into this game. You know Thor and Kratos are set for a showdown. The title of the game tells you what’s on the horizon, it’s Ragnarok. But how each moment you think you know everything about comes together and how the narrative leaves you speechless in the final hour is so special. What God of War Ragnarok achieves in the narrative is beyond exceptional and only proves that Santa Monica Studio has completed something spectacular with this double feature.
– Dylan Blight