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The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
342.2k votes 34.6k voters 633k views 285 items

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 the worlds of Kingdom Hearts, or 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
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26
Silent Hill 2 is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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
27
Fallout: New Vegas is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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
28
Life Is Strange is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Shawn Lutzko added
29
God of War is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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
30
Assassin's Creed is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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
31
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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
32
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
wiabux added 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
33
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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
34
Final Fantasy X is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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
35
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Fla... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Mabie1 added Action-adventure game, Stealth game
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a 2013 historical fiction action-adventure open world stealth video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the sixth major ...more
36
Spec Ops: The Line is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
designergamergeek added Shooter game, Third-person Shooter, Action game
Spec Ops: The Line is a 2012 third-person shooter video game developed by the German studio Yager Development and published by 2K Games. It was released on 26 June 2012 in North America and 29 ...more
37
Shadow of the Colossus is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
JacobDay added 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
38
L.A. Noire is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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
39
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Platform game
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is a 2011 action-adventure third-person shooter platform video game developed by Naughty Dog, with a story written by script-writer Amy Hennig. It is the sequel to ...more
40
The Wolf Among Us is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Kikina added
The Wolf Among Us is an ongoing episodic graphic adventure video game based on Bill Willingham's Fables comic book series. It is developed and published by Telltale Games and distributed by ...more
41
Kingdom Hearts is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game, Action game
Kingdom Hearts is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square in 2002 for the PlayStation 2 video game console. It's the first game in the Kingdom Hearts series, and is the ...more
42
Tomb Raider is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Adam Tyler added Action-adventure game, Platform game, Action role-playing game
Tomb Raider is a 2013 action-adventure video game published by Square Enix. Tomb Raider is the fourth title developed by Crystal Dynamics in the Tomb Raider franchise.
43
Grand Theft Auto V is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
theonlysunwolf added Action-adventure game, Racing video game
Grand Theft Auto V is an open world, action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 17 September 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox ...more
44
Fable is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
midnightq2 added 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
45
Final Fantasy VIII is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Hero added Console role-playing game, Role-playing video game
Final Fantasy VIII is a 1999 role-playing video game developed and published by Square. It is the eighth major installment in the Final Fantasy series. The game was the series' second 3D ...more
46
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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
47
Star Wars: Knights of the Old ... is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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
48
Final Fantasy VI is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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
49
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's ... is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
RobertSchwab added Action-adventure game, Action game
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is an action-adventure video game developed by Nintendo's Entertainment Analysis and Development division for the Nintendo 64. It was released in Japan on ...more
50
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Ki... is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Choggner added 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