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The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever

Updated February 16, 2020 331.8k votes 39.1k voters 698.6k views271 items

List RulesOnly 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.

 

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  • The Last of Us1
    9,332
    2,674

    The Last of Us

    Action-adventure game, Survival horror

    Release2013

    DeveloperNaughty Dog

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  • Red Dead Redemption2
    6,143
    2,158

    Red Dead Redemption

    Action-adventure game

    Release2010

    DeveloperRockstar San Diego

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  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt3
    5,962
    1,337

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    Action role-playing game

    Release2015

    DeveloperCD Projekt RED

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  • Tell Tale's The Walking Dead4
    2,592
    1,117

    Tell Tale's The Walking Dead

    Episodic video game, Adventure

    Release2012

    DeveloperTelltale Games

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  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic5
    5,107
    2,365

    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

    Action role-playing game, Adventure

    Release2003

    DeveloperAspyr, BioWare

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  • Fallout: New Vegas6
    2,850
    1,219

    Fallout: New Vegas

    Shooter game, Action role-playing game

    Release2010

    DeveloperObsidian Entertainment

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  • BioShock Infinite7
    6,147
    2,734

    BioShock Infinite

    Shooter game, Action-adventure game

    Release2013

    DeveloperIrrational Games, 2K Marin

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  • Metal Gear Solid8
    3,030
    1,341

    Metal Gear Solid

    Shooter game, Action-adventure game

    Release1998

    DeveloperKonami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Konami

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  • Red Dead Redemption II9
    704
    62

    Red Dead Redemption II

    Action-adventure

    Release2018

    DeveloperRockstar Studios

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  • Life Is Strange10
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  • Assassin's Creed II11
    4,282
    2,236

    Assassin's Creed II

    Action-adventure game, Stealth game

    Release2009

    DeveloperUbisoft Montreal

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  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time12
    4,168
    1,983

    The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

    Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game

    Release1998

    DeveloperGrezzo, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development

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  • Final Fantasy VII13
    4,500
    2,219

    Final Fantasy VII

    Role-playing

    Release1997

    DeveloperEidos Interactive, Square

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  • Tomb Raider14
    1,376
    657

    Tomb Raider

    Action-adventure

    Release2013

    DeveloperCrystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal

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  • Batman: Arkham Asylum15
    3,185
    1,648

    Batman: Arkham Asylum

    Action-adventure

    Release2009

    DeveloperRocksteady Studios

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  • The Wolf Among Us16
    1,038
    479

    The Wolf Among Us

    Graphic adventure

    Release2013

    DeveloperTelltale Games

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  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords17
    2,079
    931

    Release2004

    DeveloperObsidian Entertainment

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  • Dragon Age: Origins18
    3,548
    1,881

    Dragon Age: Origins

    Role-playing video game

    Release2009

    DeveloperEdge of Reality, BioWare

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  • Grand Theft Auto V19
    1,799
    841

    Grand Theft Auto V

    Action-adventure game, Racing video game

    Release2013

    DeveloperRockstar North

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  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End20
    504
    127

    Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

    Action-adventure game, Third-person Shooter

    Release2016

    DeveloperNaughty Dog

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  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas21
    2,441
    1,271

    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

    Action-adventure game, Action game

    Release2004

    DeveloperRockstar North

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  • Horizon Zero Dawn22
    389
    102

    Horizon Zero Dawn

    Action role-playing

    Release2017

    DeveloperGuerrilla Games

    Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing video game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for PlayStation 4 and released in early 2017.

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  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim23
    4,587
    2,481

    The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

    Action role-playing game, fantasy

    Release2011

    DeveloperBethesda Game Studios

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  • Dragon Age: Inquisition24
    997
    478

    Dragon Age: Inquisition

    Action role-playing

    Release2014

    DeveloperBioWare

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  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves25
    2,640
    1,432

    Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

    Shooter game, Action-adventure game

    Release2009

    DeveloperNaughty Dog

    Amazon buy button