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Best story ever told in video games

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What is the best story that has ever been told with video games? Has there ever been a story that originated somewhere else, but was adapted to a video game that you think made the story better?

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While Fallout: New Vegas and Half Life 1 (and Opposing Force) come to mind, I think an inherent problem with many such stories is the grand scale removes you from some of the impact of it. While impressive, these stories often read more like histories. I find that the best stories often impact the player more than just the choices they make in game. For me, of games I've played, A Story About My Uncle has to be the best story I've experienced. The game does a masterful job in telling a story without simply saying it. By the time you reach the end, the entire story line snaps together in a sudden clarity that has not been paralleled by any game I've played since. The entire time you swing around floating islands you don't expect the game to have much meaning to it, but when you reach the very end it all becomes much more clear.

It is a success on so many fronts. Firstly, the story isn't good because of the gameplay. I think many people will give shoddy story a pass when the gameplay is good enough because it acts like a kind of cushion. "Yeah, the reason you're shooting bad guys in the arctic might be surface-level, but the act of shooting bad guys is fun, so it all levels out." A Story About My Uncle doesn't have that kind of cushion to sell the story. It works entirely unaided. Secondly, the story is hidden from you the entire game, but is still present the entire game. The amount of genius it takes to achieve a story that is told from the beginning but only perceived at the end is absolutely astounding (especially when coming from the people who made Goat Simulator, for goodness sake). Finally, the story completely transcended the game. In Fallout, the stories and quests often affect my actions in game. I think back to quests like "Cold, Cold Heart" where Caesar's Legion just burned Nipton to the ground and recall how I didn't let a single Legion soldier escape. That story was brief, high quality, and impacted my actions: all around a good story, then. But A Story About My Uncle made me step away from my computer in shock. I didn't do anything but stare blankly for a few minutes after completing it. A story that touching told so delicately and completely unreliant on gameplay (yet still experienced and understood in part through the gameplay) has got to be the best I've experienced and one of the greatest ever told. I would add a spoiler flair and tell what the story is really about, but the game itself is so good giving a synopsis is seriously insulting to the masterful story telling on the part of the devs.

A Story About My Uncle. Final answer. Locking it in.

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I have to say that so far the best story I've played is in GTA V. I haven't completely finished it so I can't confirm that it doesn't get bad at the end, but so far I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to play as Michael, Franklin, and Trevor. I didn't know how much I was going to enjoy playing 3 "different" storylines (I know they intersect a lot, but it's still 3 different characters with different goals and personalities) but so far I really have loved how it keeps things moving.  I love how I can shred in a gang shootout at the recycling plant with Franklin and then immediately change pace and go to the psychologist with Michael. If I get bored of that, I can then switch to Trevor and try to grow his meth business. 

I also really like the traits and qualities of the characters. For example, Michael is a guy who has done a lot of bad things but overall seems like a decent guy at heart. On the other hand, Trevor is a piece of crap and deserves everything that comes his way. As far as I can tell, he doesn't deserve a redeeming character ark and I honestly hope he doesn't get one in the end. 

To sum up my poorly and quickly written post, I think GTA V tells a great, movie-like story through the different characters which manages to keep it interesting throughout the many, many hours of gameplay. 

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23 minutes ago, chiggin said:

I have to say that so far the best story I've played is in GTA V. I haven't completely finished it so I can't confirm that it doesn't get bad at the end, but so far I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to play as Michael, Franklin, and Trevor. I didn't know how much I was going to enjoy playing 3 "different" storylines (I know they intersect a lot, but it's still 3 different characters with different goals and personalities) but so far I really have loved how it keeps things moving.  I love how I can shred in a gang shootout at the recycling plant with Franklin and then immediately change pace and go to the psychologist with Michael. If I get bored of that, I can then switch to Trevor and try to grow his meth business. 

I also really like the traits and qualities of the characters. For example, Michael is a guy who has done a lot of bad things but overall seems like a decent guy at heart. On the other hand, Trevor is a piece of crap and deserves everything that comes his way. As far as I can tell, he doesn't deserve a redeeming character ark and I honestly hope he doesn't get one in the end. 

To sum up my poorly and quickly written post, I think GTA V tells a great, movie-like story through the different characters which manages to keep it interesting throughout the many, many hours of gameplay. 

* arc not ark. It's been a long day. 

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I think it's really hard to say what is "The Best Story", because every game has a different experience with a different intention to get across. Some settle for a smaller parable in order to push for a more engaging experience that allows you to make more of the important decisions, others push for a grander narrative that make your smaller choices carry less of an immediate impact, but make each one part of a more important trail.

If I had to pick what game I enjoyed the story of the most, I would probably say Jade Empire by BioWare. It was one of their earlier titles, but the scope of the story and the decisions therein made you feel like every decision you made mattered. It was one of the first titles that really shaped the idea of having a karma based story-line, which would come to play a much larger role in their later titles and many other games across the industry.

If I had to pick which story engrossed me the most, I'd actually say it was probably Warframe. While there's not a whole lot of deep and engaging story moments that leave you hanging off the edge of your seat, DE has still done an astounding job setting up their atmosphere and pulling you into the world they've created. They provide you a vision of the future that is dark and foreboding, and leave you with question after question about how things came to be the way they are, which you slowly find out the more you engross yourself in the lore. 

The difference between the former and the latter is arguably the scope and focus of where the story is told. BioWare focuses on character based stories that pull you in and get you invested in the people you're travelling with and how the choices you make affect them and yourself throughout the course of the game. DE focuses on the worlds you travel to, the environments you traverse, and the things that must have happened to leave things in the state that they're in, with less focus on your individual input.

Both are viable methods of storytelling. Both are interesting approaches to the problem of "How do you tell the story of X" and I like the fact that we have an industry that can support that kind of diversity of storytelling. I don't know that I can rightfully claim one is better than the other because both interest me in very different ways, but I will say that they are both, in my experience, the epitome of their respective storytelling genres for that reason.

 

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Its been tough because there are so many good ones, but only some are still fresh in my memory, so I'm going to take the easy way out and go with my personal latest BEST OF story...

Let's be honest, the best story is the latest God of War. Not that it has the absolute best writing, but definitely the scop and sale of the story are literally on godly levels. A father and son story about a God who has to raise a boy not to just become a man, but a friggin' GOD. And raise him to be a good God even though Kratos has been perhaps the blood lustiest, angry, and hateful, god of them all.

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I would say that the best story I've ever had in a video game was Halo Reach. The setting: a planet in deep space similar to earth that humans have colonized. You are a member of Noble Team, a group of spartans trained in combat and wearing MJOLNIR armor for protection. Suddenly, a group of aliens known as the Covenant attack. Throughout the game it is a constant firefight between you and the Covenant, running from fight to fight scavenging the corpses of those who fought against you and alongside you for guns and ammo to continue the fight. One by one, four of the six members of Noble Team fall, with deaths ranging from a single shot to the head to staying behind to manually detonate a bomb that literally twists space itself. Eventually, you watch as Noble 3, the only other living member of Noble Team, flies off with orders to protect some VIPs, one of which is Master Chief aka the most important member of the Halo universe, while you stay behind to provide cover fire for their transports. The final mission of the game is an endless onslaught of the Covenant rushing upon you as you just fight to last as long as possible before you finally succumb to their sheer numbers and are brutally killed. In the end, the planet Reach is glassed (blasted with lasers until the planets surface resembles glass) which renders the planet void of all life.

What I like about the story of Reach is the impact it has on the rest of the game. This is the game that explains where the AI Cortana comes from, as along with Chief Cortana is also rescued from the planet as well. This is the origin story of the spartan that eventually would become known to the Covenant as the Demon. His story began with the destruction of a planet and the deaths of thousands, but in the end he would get revenge for all of them. This includes your character, who we never see the body of but instead see a helmet with a cracked visor lying in the middle of a destroyed planet. Even better, there is also a book which does go into the details of the destruction of Reach. The best part, the book came out before the video game. This game tells the story of how Reach fell, and gives even more details to a book that was published nine years before the game came out. What more story can you ask for from a game?

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