Total Nerd The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever  

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List Rules Only games with great narratives (graphics and gameplay not considered).

Video game stories range from the extremely simplistic to the staggeringly complex. While early games - and many contemporary ones focused on gameplay - treat the plot as a loose outline filled in by action or puzzles, some games have tried to push the boundaries and tell emotionally gripping, cinematic stories with elements of interactive control and player choices that forward the storyline.

The advent of so-called "sandbox" games, which give players more freedom in choosing how to explore the environment, which missions to embark upon and what order to progress in has also served to make games more character-driven and involving. ("Fallout 3," for example, builds up a karmic profile of the player based on decisions in how to advance through missions.) These best storyline games build on the gameplay and graphics with genuinely good stories. 

Currently at the top of the list of the best video game storylines are the Mass Effect games with BioShock, The Last of Us, and Half-Life 2 all in contention for the number one spot. Gamers will also recognize other popular video game franchises like Metal Gear Solid and Assassin's Creed, which feature twists and surprises in their storylines. 

This list collects the games with the most entertaining and involving storylines. Vote for your favorite games on the list, and build your own version to add more suggestions that aren't already ranked! There is no shortage of games with amazing stories.

list ordered by

1
4,169 2,483
Mass Effect 2 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Mass Effect 2 Third-person Shooter, Action role-playing game Mass Effect 2 is an action role-playing video game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. It was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 on January 26, 2010, and for ...more

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2
4,479 2,723
BioShock is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
BioShock Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Survival horror BioShock is a first-person shooter video game developed by 2K Boston, and published by 2K Games. The game was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 platforms in August 2007; a PlayStation ...more

3
5,521 1,338
The Last of Us is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
wiabux added The Last of Us Action-adventure game, Survival horror The Last of Us is an action-adventure survival horror video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released for the PlayStation 3 on June 14, 2013; an ...more

4
3,629 2,055
Mass Effect is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Mass Effect Shooter game, Third-person Shooter, Action role-playing game Mass Effect is a 2007 science fiction action role-playing third person shooter video game developed by BioWare for the Xbox 360 and ported to Microsoft Windows by Demiurge Studios. The Xbox 360 ...more

5
3,511 1,476
Star Wars: Knights of the Old ... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Action role-playing game, Adventure, Role-playing video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a role-playing video game developed by BioWare and published by LucasArts. Written by Drew Karpyshyn, the soundtrack for the game was composed by Jeremy ...more

6
4,089 1,747
BioShock Infinite is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
midnightq2 added BioShock Infinite Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K Games. It was released worldwide for the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 ...more

7
3,688 1,339
Red Dead Redemption is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Red Dead Redemption Action-adventure game Red Dead Redemption is an open world, western action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar San Diego and published by Rockstar Games. It was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 ...more

8
3,187 1,608
Final Fantasy VII is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Final Fantasy VII Console role-playing game, Japanese role-playing game, Role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII is a 1997 role-playing video game developed by Squaresoft. It is the seventh installment in the Final Fantasy series and the game is the first in the series to use 3D computer ...more

9
2,265 1,821
Half-Life 2 is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Half-Life 2 Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Survival horror Half-Life 2 is the well-recieved sequel to Half-Life. Half-Life 2 takes place in the dystopian City 17 and the surrounding area, almost 20 years after the events of the original Half-Life. In ...more

10
2,866 1,713
Fallout 3 is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Fallout 3 Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction Fallout 3 is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios, and is the third major installment in the Fallout series. The game was released in North America, ...more

11
2,850 1,377
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina o... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a 1998 action-adventure video game developed by Nintendo's Entertainment Analysis and Development division for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It was ...more

12
2,872 1,559
Assassin's Creed II is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Assassin's Creed II Action-adventure game, Stealth game Assassin's Creed II is a 2009 historical fiction action-adventure open world stealth video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the second major installment in the ...more

13
2,407 1,223
Dragon Age: Origins is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Dragon Age: Origins Role-playing video game Dragon Age: Origins is a role-playing video game developed by BioWare's Edmonton studio and published by Electronic Arts. It is the first game in the Dragon Age franchise. The game was released ...more

14
2,548 547
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
davis-lau added The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Action role-playing game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an upcoming action role-playing video game set in an open world environment, that is currently in development by Polish video game developer CD Projekt RED. It is ...more

15
2,607 1,429
Mass Effect 3 is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
midnightq2 added Mass Effect 3 Third-person Shooter, Action role-playing game Mass Effect 3 is a 2012 science fiction action role-playing third person shooter video game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, ...more

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16
2,885 1,635
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game, Role-playing video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls action ...more

17
2,053 1,253
Portal 2 is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Portal 2 Action-adventure game, Puzzle game, Platform game Portal 2 is a 2011 first-person puzzle-platform video game developed and published by Valve Corporation. It is the sequel to Portal and was released on April 19, 2011, for Microsoft Windows, OS ...more

18
2,196 1,146
Batman: Arkham Asylum is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Batman: Arkham Asylum Action-adventure game, Action game, Beat 'em up Batman: Arkham Asylum is a 2009 action-adventure video game based on the DC Comics superhero, Batman. It was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Eidos Interactive in conjunction ...more

19
2,046 1,381
Heavy Rain is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Heavy Rain Action-adventure game, Interactive movie, Action game Heavy Rain is an interactive drama action-adventure video game developed by Quantic Dream and published by Sony Computer Entertainment exclusively for the PlayStation 3 in February 2010. The ...more

20
1,674 1,005
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Platform game Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a 2009 action-adventure third-person shooter platform video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 3. It is ...more

21
1,433 1,459
Half-Life is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Half-Life Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Action game Half-Life is a science fiction first-person shooter video game developed by Valve Corporation, the company's debut product and the first in the Half-Life series. First released in 1998 by Sierra ...more

22
2,107 934
Metal Gear Solid is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Metal Gear Solid Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Action game Metal Gear Solid is an action-adventure stealth video game developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Japan and first published by Konami for the PlayStation in 1998. The game was directed, ...more

23
1,492 863
Chrono Trigger is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Chrono Trigger Console role-playing game, Role-playing video game Chrono Trigger is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1995. Chrono Trigger '​s development team included three designers ...more

24
1,379 883
Silent Hill 2 is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Silent Hill 2 Horror, Third-person Shooter, Survival horror Silent Hill 2 is a survival horror video game published by Konami for the PlayStation 2 and developed by Team Silent, a production group within Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo. The game was ...more

25
1,639 1,266
Portal is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Portal Puzzle game, Platform game, Action game Portal is a 2007 first-person puzzle-platform video game developed by Valve Corporation. The game was released in a bundle package called The Orange Box for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 on ...more

26
1,525 687
Fallout: New Vegas is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Fallout: New Vegas Shooter game, Action role-playing game, Action game Fallout: New Vegas is an action role-playing video game in the Fallout video game series. The game was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Bethesda Softworks. It released for ...more

27
1,831 930
Final Fantasy X is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Final Fantasy X Console role-playing game, Role-playing video game Final Fantasy X is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square as the tenth entry in the Final Fantasy series. Originally released in 2001 for Sony's PlayStation 2, the game was ...more

28
1,220 742
Shadow of the Colossus is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
JacobDay added Shadow of the Colossus Action-adventure game, Puzzle game, Action game Shadow of the Colossus, released in Japan as Wander and the Colossus, is an action-adventure game published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2. The game was released in North ...more

29
1,455 941
God of War is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
God of War Action-adventure game, Action game, Hack and slash God of War is a third-person action-adventure video game developed by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. First released on March 22, 2005, for the PlayStation 2 ...more

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30
1,475 890
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Action-adventure game, Action game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an open world action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 26 October 2004 for the PlayStation 2 ...more

31
1,459 857
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game, Role-playing video game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is an action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks and the Take-Two Interactive subsidiary 2K Games. It is ...more

32
1,378 631
Star Wars: Knights of the Old ... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords Action role-playing game, Action game, Adventure Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords is a role-playing video game released for the Xbox and Microsoft Windows. It is the sequel to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic ...more

33
1,165 721
Dead Space is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Dead Space Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Third-person Shooter Dead Space is a 2008 science fiction survival horror video game developed by EA Redwood Shores for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game was released on all platforms through ...more

34
1,293 548
Tell Tale's The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Tell Tale's The Walking Dead

35
1,562 1,007
Assassin's Creed is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Assassin's Creed Action-adventure game, Action game, Stealth game Assassin's Creed is a 2007 historical fiction action-adventure open world stealth video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the first major installment in the ...more

36
1,310 744
L.A. Noire is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
L.A. Noire Action-adventure game, Third-person Shooter, Mystery L.A. Noire is a neo-noir detective video game developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games. It was initially released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms on 17 May 2011; a ...more

37
1,091 580
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Ki... is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Choggner added The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game, Hack and slash The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is an action role-playing hack and slash video game developed by Polish studio CD Projekt RED for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, OS X and Linux. The game was ...more

38
1,094 565
Fable is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
midnightq2 added Fable Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game, Action game Fable is an action role-playing open world video game in the Fable series. It was developed for Xbox, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows platforms, by Big Blue Box, a satellite developer of ...more

39
1,026 739
BioShock 2 is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
BioShock 2 Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Survival horror BioShock 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by 2K Marin for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The sequel to the 2007 video game BioShock, it was released worldwide on ...more

40
947 618
Final Fantasy VI is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Final Fantasy VI Console role-playing game, Role-playing video game Final Fantasy VI is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System platform. Released in 1994, it is the sixth title in the mainline ...more

41
869 640
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
wiabux added Deus Ex: Human Revolution Shooter game, Action role-playing game, Action game Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a cyberpunk-themed first-person action role-playing stealth video game developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix, which also produced the game's CGI ...more

42
904 683
Resident Evil 4 is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Resident Evil 4 Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Third-person Shooter Resident Evil 4, known as Biohazard 4 in Japan, is a survival horror video game developed by Capcom Production Studio 4 and released by multiple publishers, including Capcom, Ubisoft, Nintendo ...more

43
984 633
Max Payne is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Max Payne Isometric projection, Action-adventure game, Third-person Shooter Max Payne is a third-person shooter action thriller video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Gathering of Developers on July 2001 for Microsoft Windows. Ports created later ...more

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44
913 578
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Action-adventure game, Action game, Stealth game Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is a 2010 historical fiction action-adventure open world stealth video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the third major ...more

45
808 542
Silent Hill is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Silent Hill Action-adventure game, Horror, Puzzle game Silent Hill is a survival horror video game for the PlayStation published by Konami and developed by Team Silent, a Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo group. The first installment in the Silent ...more

46
1,130 1,036
The Walking Dead: Survival Ins... is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is a single-player first-person shooter video game developed by Terminal Reality and published by Activision. It is based on The Walking Dead television ...more

47
1,236 454
Life Is Strange is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Shawn Lutzko added Life Is Strange

48
879 670
Alan Wake is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Alan Wake Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Third-person Shooter Alan Wake is a survival horror video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released for the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The story follows ...more

49
720 446
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowi... is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
midnightq2 added The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Action role-playing game, Action game, Role-playing video game The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is an open world fantasy action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios, and published by Bethesda Softworks and Ubisoft. It is the third ...more

50
833 682
Deus Ex is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Deus Ex Science fiction, Action role-playing game, Computer role-playing game Deus Ex is a series of cyberpunk-themed first-person action role-playing video games. The series was developed by Ion Storm for the first two games and Eidos Montreal for later entries in the ...more