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The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever

Updated February 16, 2020 327.9k votes 38.6k voters 692.6k 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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  • 1
    The Last of Us
    9,159
    2,594

    The Last of Us

    Action-adventure game, Survival horror

    Release2013

    DeveloperNaughty Dog

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  • 2
    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
    5,831
    1,296

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    Action role-playing game

    Release2015

    DeveloperCD Projekt RED

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  • 3
    Red Dead Redemption
    6,014
    2,121

    Red Dead Redemption

    Action-adventure game

    Release2010

    DeveloperRockstar San Diego

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  • 4
    Tell Tale's The Walking Dead
    2,493
    1,074

    Tell Tale's The Walking Dead

    Episodic video game, Adventure

    Release2012

    DeveloperTelltale Games

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  • 5
    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
    5,055
    2,325

    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

    Action role-playing game, Adventure

    Release2003

    DeveloperAspyr, BioWare

    Amazon buy button
  • 6
    BioShock Infinite
    6,061
    2,687

    BioShock Infinite

    Shooter game, Action-adventure game

    Release2013

    DeveloperIrrational Games, 2K Marin

    Amazon buy button
  • 7
    Fallout: New Vegas
    2,776
    1,193

    Fallout: New Vegas

    Shooter game, Action role-playing game

    Release2010

    DeveloperObsidian Entertainment

    Amazon buy button
  • 8
    Metal Gear Solid
    2,983
    1,314

    Metal Gear Solid

    Shooter game, Action-adventure game

    Release1998

    DeveloperKonami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Konami

    Amazon buy button
  • 9
    Tomb Raider
    1,336
    620

    Tomb Raider

    Action-adventure

    Release2013

    DeveloperCrystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal

    Amazon buy button

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  • 10
    Life Is Strange
    Amazon buy button
  • 11
    Assassin's Creed II
    4,209
    2,209

    Assassin's Creed II

    Action-adventure game, Stealth game

    Release2009

    DeveloperUbisoft Montreal

    Amazon buy button
  • 12
    The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
    4,115
    1,960

    The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

    Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game

    Release1998

    DeveloperGrezzo, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development

    Amazon buy button
  • 13
    Batman: Arkham Asylum
    3,141
    1,624

    Batman: Arkham Asylum

    Action-adventure

    Release2009

    DeveloperRocksteady Studios

    Amazon buy button
  • 14
    Red Dead Redemption II
    507
    52

    Red Dead Redemption II

    Action-adventure

    Release2018

    DeveloperRockstar Studios

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  • 15
    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords
    2,051
    916

    Release2004

    DeveloperObsidian Entertainment

    Amazon buy button
  • 16
    Final Fantasy VII
    4,456
    2,199

    Final Fantasy VII

    Role-playing

    Release1997

    DeveloperEidos Interactive, Square

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  • 17
    Grand Theft Auto V
    1,728
    795

    Grand Theft Auto V

    Action-adventure game, Racing video game

    Release2013

    DeveloperRockstar North

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  • 18
    Dragon Age: Origins
    3,504
    1,870

    Dragon Age: Origins

    Role-playing video game

    Release2009

    DeveloperEdge of Reality, BioWare

    Amazon buy button
  • 19
    The Wolf Among Us
    1,002
    467

    The Wolf Among Us

    Graphic adventure

    Release2013

    DeveloperTelltale Games

    Amazon buy button
  • 20
    Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
    445
    120

    Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

    Action-adventure game, Platform game

    Release2016

    DeveloperNaughty Dog

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  • 21
    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
    2,393
    1,258

    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

    Action-adventure game, Action game

    Release2004

    DeveloperRockstar North

    Amazon buy button
  • 22
    The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
    960
    466

    The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

    Action-adventure game, Action game

    Release2000

    DeveloperNintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development

    Amazon buy button
  • 23
    Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
    2,602
    1,421

    Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

    Shooter game, Action-adventure game

    Release2009

    DeveloperNaughty Dog

    Amazon buy button

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  • 24
    Final Fantasy X
    2,509
    1,254

    Final Fantasy X

    Console role-playing game, Role-playing video game

    Release2001

    DeveloperSquare

    Amazon buy button

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  • 25
    The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
    4,536
    2,465

    The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

    Action role-playing game, fantasy

    Release2011

    DeveloperBethesda Game Studios

    Amazon buy button

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