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The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever

Updated February 16, 2020 325.7k votes 38.3k voters 690.1k 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 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    9,065
    2,534

    The Last of Us

    Action-adventure game, Survival horror

    Release2013

    DeveloperNaughty Dog

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  • 2
    Red Dead Redemption is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    5,947
    2,101

    Red Dead Redemption

    Action-adventure game

    Release2010

    DeveloperRockstar San Diego

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  • 3
    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    5,761
    1,263

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    Action role-playing game

    Release2015

    DeveloperCD Projekt RED

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  • 4
    Tell Tale's The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    2,458
    1,035

    Tell Tale's The Walking Dead

    Episodic video game, Adventure

    Release2012

    DeveloperTelltale Games

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  • 5
    Star Wars: Knights of the Old  is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    5,028
    2,305

    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

    Action role-playing game, Adventure

    Release2003

    DeveloperAspyr, BioWare

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  • 6
    BioShock Infinite is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    6,021
    2,664

    BioShock Infinite

    Shooter game, Action-adventure game

    Release2013

    DeveloperIrrational Games, 2K Marin

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  • 7
    Fallout: New Vegas is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    2,747
    1,177

    Fallout: New Vegas

    Shooter game, Action role-playing game

    Release2010

    DeveloperObsidian Entertainment

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  • 8
    Tomb Raider is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    1,314
    595

    Tomb Raider

    Action-adventure

    Release2013

    DeveloperCrystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal

    amazon buy button

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  • 9
    Metal Gear Solid is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    2,956
    1,303

    Metal Gear Solid

    Shooter game, Action-adventure game

    Release1998

    DeveloperKonami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Konami

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  • 10
    The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina o is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    4,101
    1,937

    The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

    Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game

    Release1998

    DeveloperGrezzo, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development

    amazon buy button
  • 11
    Life Is Strange is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
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  • 12
    Final Fantasy VII is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    4,426
    2,181

    Final Fantasy VII

    Role-playing

    Release1997

    DeveloperEidos Interactive, Square

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  • 13
    Star Wars: Knights of the Old  is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    2,041
    904

    Release2004

    DeveloperObsidian Entertainment

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  • 14
    Assassin's Creed II is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    4,169
    2,199

    Assassin's Creed II

    Action-adventure game, Stealth game

    Release2009

    DeveloperUbisoft Montreal

    amazon buy button
  • 15
    Batman: Arkham Asylum is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    3,120
    1,613

    Batman: Arkham Asylum

    Action-adventure game, Action game

    Release2009

    DeveloperRocksteady Studios

    amazon buy button
  • 16
    Grand Theft Auto V is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    1,687
    769

    Grand Theft Auto V

    Action-adventure game, Racing video game

    Release2013

    DeveloperRockstar North

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  • 17
    Red Dead Redemption II is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    381
    42

    Red Dead Redemption II

    Action-adventure

    Release2018

    DeveloperRockstar Studios

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  • 18
    Dragon Age: Origins is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    3,478
    1,861

    Dragon Age: Origins

    Role-playing video game

    Release2009

    DeveloperEdge of Reality, BioWare

    amazon buy button
  • 19
    The Wolf Among Us is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    986
    458

    The Wolf Among Us

    Graphic adventure

    Release2013

    DeveloperTelltale Games

    amazon buy button

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  • 20
    Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    417
    107

    Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

    Action-adventure game, Platform game

    Release2016

    DeveloperNaughty Dog

    amazon buy button
  • 21
    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    2,364
    1,250

    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

    Action-adventure game, Action game

    Release2004

    DeveloperRockstar North

    amazon buy button
  • 22
    Final Fantasy X is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    2,492
    1,245

    Final Fantasy X

    Console role-playing game, Role-playing video game

    Release2001

    DeveloperSquare

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  • 23
    The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    4,510
    2,449

    The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

    Action role-playing game, fantasy

    Release2011

    DeveloperBethesda Game Studios

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  • 24
    The Legend of Zelda: Majora's  is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    942
    455

    The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

    Action-adventure game, Action game

    Release2000

    DeveloperNintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development

    amazon buy button
  • 25
    Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
    2,577
    1,418

    Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

    Shooter game, Action-adventure game

    Release2009

    DeveloperNaughty Dog

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