Best video game storyline?

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Reid Wildenhaus's picture
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after watching a lets play for deadly premonition, i was surprised at how great of a storyline it had, albeit a very bizzare game. These are the kinds of things i look for most in a game. I can manage to look past the bad gameplay if there is a good story behind it.

What other games can you guys recommend to me that have really good storylines?

RPGeesus's picture
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If you're into downloadable games, look into the back catalogues and you can find some pretty amazing storylines. I've heard Comic Jumper by Twisted Pixel has some incredible story beats and FMV, even though the gameplay is still kind of mediocre. Also, Braid doesn't have an amazing story, but the twist at the very end is unbelievable. There are plenty more out there, I'm sure.

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One of the best story line games I've ever played was Mass Effect 1 and 2

Langis's picture
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Knights of the Old Republic 2. If you talk to all the NPCs and listen to everything they have to say, it's actually very deep and a lot more intelligent than the first one.

 

The only problem is LucasArts rushed Obsidian and they didn't have time to finish it, although there is a mod that fixes this now.

Hawkeye's picture
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Yakuza series. Yakuza 3 was the best individual storyline if I have to pick just one game.

Captain_Morgan's picture
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Okami or Max Payne by far. Two of my favorite games as well.

GUNxSPECTRE's picture
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The best storyline by far is from the Metal Gear Solid series.

Seriously, a story that stretches from the Cold War to the near futures (as of now).  The characters are likable and original.

And anyone who says that they don't get the story must have be illiterate or have an IQ of 25.

And if you must really have Sparknotes for the story, just watch the Retrospective series on Gametrailers (very good BTW).

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KotOR.

Even though someone spoilered the Twist it was still the most awesome Storyline ever.

Deus Ex (my alltime Favorite game) has a great Storyline as well even though there weren't too many surprises. But a nice conspiracy :)

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The Elder Scrolls. I've heard people say it has as much depth as the Tolkein series, and I don't completely agree with that but it comes really close. It's impossible to remember everything from any of the Elder Scrolls games without playing through it again.

Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga also had a really good story I thought, the best from a Nintendo game.

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I am disappointed at the lack of Ace Combat 5.

Jenne's picture
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I'm kind of surprised no one has mentioned Silent Hill 2.

Henke911's picture
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Heavy Rain er nr. 1 on my list.
The game is all about story. You walk with the R2 button, so don't expect the best gameplay.
The story is very emotional and i think every single person out there would love it if they gave it a try, because i was 'BLOWN AWAY'

Hawkeye's picture
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Forgot about Silent Hill 2 (despite it being one of my favourite games).

Okami deserves a mention too.

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got to be a straight fight between Bioshock, Shadow of the Colossus and KOTOR. All present how each of the most popular genres could intergrate an amazing story

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politely I disagree, Mass Effect 1 and 2 have the best "story telling" ever in the history of games but the stories themselves are just exceptional science fiction. They're great stories but they aren't innovative like KOTOR was

Reid Wildenhaus's picture
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I'm surprised nobody said KH2 yet. I picked it up the other day and was very impressed.

I don't know much (or anything, for that matter) of Final Fantasy, and the game does seem somewhat childish, but something about the story makes me feel like I want to know more about it.

Whoever knew that a mix of FF and Disney characters would work :P

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The thing with Kingdom Hearts, especially KH2 is that it makes the storyline really convoluted and stupid when you actually look at stuff like why Organisation 13 do what they do (when there is a clear contradiction that appears later on in the game) and why you have to go to these different worlds for no real reason.

I mean some stuff sorta makes sense in the context of the universe, but the game is largely just mindless fan wank and crap just happens out of nowhere that's clearly there just to look cool. Oh and Square Enix have actually spent the past 3 or so games going progressively further into the backstory of very minor characters and from what I've heard there is very, very little that happens which actually affects the game's universe all that much.

 

Anyway, I'd have to say the best storyline I've seen in a game so far has to be Persona 4, it might be an RPG that is deeply, deeply steeped in Japanese culture and mannerisms, but goddamn does it poke some seriously dark questions about the human psyche and the effect that modern culture and expectations have on young people (90% of the cast are 17-19 years old and it has high school life as one of the main gameplay mechanics). the characters genuinely feel like humans and you can sympathize them since they are written like how human beings would act towards real life events and social interaction.

Plus the entire story is centred around a series of murders in a small country town that involve an alternate reality inside TVs which the main characters have to solve after some of their classmates fall victim to the murder plot.

I highly recommend that you watch at least some of Giant Bomb's endurance run of the entire game (the entire run clocks in at over 100 hours so you can be forgiven for not watching the entire thing), since its massively entertaining especially during the more boring early stages and simply because it is a magnificent piece of storytelling.

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Agreed, Razzler, Persona 4 perhaps is the best video game storyline. I only watched the Endurance Run that you mentioned (very very good, I recommend it to anyone) but even that was enough to make me feel invested in the characters, so much so that I felt almost a sense of loss when it was over. It went through a range of emotions, from humour when watching Chie kick tanks and eat steaks, to the literal saddest thing I've ever seen in a video game with Nanako. This game made me very excited to play Catherine.

But that's enough of me gushing about Persona 4. A really good story I got recently was in the free game Digital: A Love Story. But I've already made a forum topic about that, so I'll just say it's pretty fucking cool.

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I don't know about Mass Effect, I think Metal Gear has a beter STORY but what drags me into Mass Effect are characters and atmosphere. So Metal Gear for me. Haven't played Persona 4 so can't say.

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Wing Commander 4.

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I would say Bioshock but Bioshock 2 fucked that up and I assume the third will even more so. I'm going to go with Mass Effect.

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"What story is the best" is a pretty broad question, but for each aspect of the matter i definately have a list for bests.

In terms of the story itself on an intellectual level, It's a tie between Shadow of the Colossus for the PS2, and Final Fantasy Adventure on the old school gameboy (I pretty sure they remade it as  Secret of Mana)

Final Fantasy Adventure had the aspects you'd see in a reg turn based game, but made it into zelda. All weapons, stat building, armor, spells you leveled up were for your guy to use real time, almost exactly like old-school zelda, but with so many more options, and no cut-and-paste dungeon formula we all know(map+compass>mini boss> new weapon> boss that you must  always use new weapon against to weaken, then take down with sword; none of that shit here). Close people died, Robot chocobos were rode, airships were blown up, villages were enslaved. Just another day in the pure badass world of the game. ROM that shit.

Shadow of Colossus is my favorite in terms of story telling, is very well-paced and unique in that it tells such it's story of a warrior named Wander searching for these giant beasts through a giant overworld. While searching no music was played, and no enemies were fought. You simply held your sword up high and used the light to guide you. It really made the fights were THEN shit got serious. Epic music starts blasting, and your trying to stab the shit out of a giant eagle in mid-flight. All to revive a princess sacrifice his body in the process (he gets corrupted by demons every time you kill a colossi)

I love all BioWare games, because they always excel in getting you attached to your characters. Thing is with all BioWare games: once you've played one, you've played them all in terms of story formula. It always seems to be: Make dude>become special somehow> get teammates, do missions> game changer mission> more missions for your teammates> random mission for the DLC you bought, like a dumbass > crazy epic mission at the end. The world is saved, and you had to choose whether the the top officials or the regular people blew up in the end. Typical BioWare game.

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I can't believe no one's mentioned the Halo series. I know it doesn't make any sense, but if you look into the background of the whole story arch, it makes sense and it's really interesting when you understand what's really happening in the Halo universe.

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I'm not so sure, while I love the gameplay of Halo, it doesn't really give much in the department of story. Not only is the "one man must save the earth and possibly the universe from aliens" over used, there's nothing that really seperates it. The characters in the game aren't particularly deep, no twists are thrown in the story that aren't easy to see coming, and there is no real moral ambiguity. 

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One of my favorite stories is Knights of the Old Republic. It was really deep and complex, and I really got attached to the characters and companions. The fact that it took place in the Star Wars universe helped a lot too.

Moreover, although the overall story was not that great, I loved the choices in Dragon age 2. For the first time in a game, there were a few parts where I was not sure what choices to make because there was no obvious "Good" and "Bad" option.

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I have to narrow it down off the top of my head right now as MGS, KH, and Half-Life.

MGS does has its plot twists, no doubt, but the're quite healthy and make you think in that Kojima way.

KH employs the drama and visual appeal of FF with the love of Disney

Half-Life just has everyone hooked with the G-Man and who he is and who he represents. And I think gamers are dying to hear the Free-Man actually talk.

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@Inzo

Yeah, the "moralsystem" in the Dragon Ages is pretty interesting....even though KotOR2 actually came up with it.

Teammate-Reputation + Dark/Light Side. If your rep with your awesome nice Jedi Companion was high enough you could even force him over to the Dark Side  :)

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I love all BioWare games, because they always excel in getting you attached to your characters. Thing is with all BioWare games: once you've played one, you've played them all in terms of story formula. It always seems to be: Make dude>become special somehow> get teammates, do missions> game changer mission> more missions for your teammates> random mission for the DLC you bought, like a dumbass > crazy epic mission at the end. The world is saved, and you had to choose whether the the top officials or the regular people blew up in the end. Typical BioWare game.

 

This sums up my feelings on the Mass Effect series. Good characters, very formulaic story. Bioware excel at creating memorable characters and the gameplay is usually good, but their stories rely a lot on suspension of disbelief and they tend to create a lot of plot holes as a result.

E.g. Why is Shepard the only man/woman in the galaxy that can fight the reapers? Why is it just him and his crew that do all the highly dangerous missions and not have assistance from the alliance/council/cerberus?

Also, is it just me or does the actor for male Shepard sound really bored/fails to inject as much emotion as his female counterpart most of the time?

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@Razzler I'm pretty sure that there's a couple of situations for both Shepards where they sound disinterested, I've noticed it in both of my different playthroughs. It may be because you're playing as a paragon Shepard, where Shepard (have to keep this unbiased towards gender) doesn't have the passion that renegade Shepard would. Or it could be the other way round, where renegade Shepard just lazily shoots people, which paragon Shepard does not. Either way, I reckon the voice actors are both top-notch.

And yes, being all alone against impossible odds requires much suspension of disbelief. But imagine this: you're heading towards the final battle with the Reapers, where you have the mystical weapon that kills them in 1 or 2 shots, and then you get a call from Admiral Hackett saying that all the armies of the galaxy banded together and kicked ass, and that Joe Blow and John Random are getting awards and everyone was wondering where you were, because it was so awesome, you should have seen it, but that'll never happen again, one in a million it was. No, in my games, I prefer glory by myself to this anonymity of numbers. Are you going to beaten to the punch by John Random?

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I know it's being done for dramatic effect, my point is mainly aimed at those who believe that Bioware are godlike when it comes to storytelling. I mean they create believeable and fantastic universes (the races in ME are all well designed with a different set of values, traditions and cultures for each), but it always seems to be the very 'Gamey' storyline that drags them down a fair bit. 

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@Razzler

I'd love a BiowareRPG in the Style of a TES Game. A free World, millions of Sidequests, no need to follow a "gamey" storyline etc.

Eg. The Mass Effect Universe would be great for this...because like you said all the cultures/races are pretty well designed. Many of the Infos about those races aren't even "touched" in the Series so far, why not expand the Universe :)

 

EDIT:

On the other hand....I would starve to death in front of my PC :-|

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The main weakness of that idea though is what happened with Fallout 3 and New Vegas, where the main storyline is stretched very thinly and sidequests take up the majority of playtime. I mean I loved FO3, but the middle section of the main storyline wasn't exactly strong.

Linearity is very beneficial for a game where story is one of it's selling points, such as the SNES to PS1 era Final Fantasy games (although, the extreme linearity of FF13 actually harmed the game). However, it doesn't help that much if your story and characters are a pile of shit! *cough*Homefront/FF13*cough*

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Some great story lines from  this gen...

The Darkness had a great storyline that really connected me to the characters and was very interesting to see how the darkness controlled Jackie like during the scene where Paulie shoots Jackies girlfriend.

Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 were great story lines connecting the depth of dark final fantasy characters with silly Disney characters.  Along with all the side plots of heartless/nobodies, organization XIII and the friendship struggles between Riku and Sora brought one of my favorite series mostly due to the story.

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I always feel that strong chracters can really drive a good story. Here are some that don't get mentioned everyday:

Skies of Arcadia: It was a long, involved JRPG that included betrayal, love, and combat. There was some humor and a plethora of vibrant characters to recruit. Oh yeah, and they were all AIR PIRATES!

Harvest Moon 64: Sure, the plot of "Dead Grandpa. Have a farm" isn't exciting; but the town that the people lived in changed dynamically based on your choices of who to woo/marry/or reject. I was always majorly invested in the story behind this quaint little town.

Shadow Hearts: Covenant: Once again, great characters drive this plot forward. Its been a while, but there is war/Demons/and European Hortory. Plus two flamboyant dress makers. Awesome. 

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@Razzler

Yeah obviously Story trumps Freedom any day, but some freedom should always be there.

e.g. The Gothic Series (which propably noone knows since it's a german Game-series that wasn't that big abroad), you had an engaging story, an atmosphere unmatched and the freedom to mostly do whatever the fuck you want :)

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hey guys hope im not too late for this...

I think the Grand Theft Auto series have the best storylines. GTA IV, of course, has the best out of the series.

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My personal favorite would be Alan Wake. Although it's very short and the DLC's were a little short it was a very good story. It dove into the mind of a horror writer and to me it showed a whole new world of gaming.

 Another personal favorite would be dead space. When you really look into the game and even watch the movies or even read the books about dead space there is a lot of material into it. It's not your typical zombie apocolypse story.

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Knights of the Old repulic games. Hands down in my opinion. They told a fantastic story and really made me want to play them. I would honestly recomend BUYING an original xbox if you had to have one to play them. Or through other means. DO IT. :D

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Mass Effect has a good storyline but nothing exceptional. Metal Gear Solid storyline is good... but too many plot twists made the plot too convoluted though...

I'd have to say the best storylines in my opinion were:

-Planescape Torment

-World In Conflict = Although the story in itself isn't really original, it's very compelling

-Odin Sphere

-Grim Fandango

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The top ones are definitely Shadow of the Colossus, Uncharted 1, and.....Darksiders I think.

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Since I'm an RPG-phile, I'm gonna have to go with KoTOR because the twist at the "end" is one of the best I've ever seen. I also enjoyed the narrative and story progression in FFTA 2: Grimoire of the Rift.

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For the GameCube, I love Nintendo please don't hate, "Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem."  Seriously, the story and gameplay is just full on fuck with your head fun.  I totally would drink and play this game only to be calling my friend late at night to tell them that I'm freaked out because this game is messing with my head.  It's really something that someone should play to understand.  I know that people can go on the net and find out what's up with this game but honestly play it before you read anything about it.  It's really fucking good.

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I will go on record and proudly say that Eternal Darkness is the only horror game that made me turn off my Gamecube, I was that terrified.

The scene with the bathtub is quite possibly the best execution of a 'jump' scare I've ever seen in any form of media. Just a shame that Silicon Knights got bogged down with Too Human after they completed work on Eternal Darkness.