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The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever

Updated February 16, 2020 332.8k votes 39.1k voters 699.5k 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
    9,370
    2,690

    The Last of Us

    Action-adventure game, Survival horror

    Release2013

    DeveloperNaughty Dog

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  • Red Dead Redemption2
    6,170
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    Red Dead Redemption

    Action-adventure game

    Release2010

    DeveloperRockstar San Diego

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  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt3
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    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    Action role-playing game

    Release2015

    DeveloperCD Projekt RED

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  • Tell Tale's The Walking Dead4
    2,608
    1,128

    Tell Tale's The Walking Dead

    Episodic video game, Adventure

    Release2012

    DeveloperTelltale Games

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  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic5
    5,120
    2,373

    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

    Action role-playing game, Adventure

    Release2003

    DeveloperAspyr, BioWare

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  • BioShock Infinite6
    6,158
    2,740

    BioShock Infinite

    Shooter game, Action-adventure game

    Release2013

    DeveloperIrrational Games, 2K Marin

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  • Fallout: New Vegas7
    2,860
    1,227

    Fallout: New Vegas

    Shooter game, Action role-playing game

    Release2010

    DeveloperObsidian Entertainment

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  • Metal Gear Solid8
    3,046
    1,345

    Metal Gear Solid

    Shooter game, Action-adventure game

    Release1998

    DeveloperKonami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Konami

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  • Red Dead Redemption II9
    743
    63

    Red Dead Redemption II

    Action-adventure

    Release2018

    DeveloperRockstar Studios

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  • Life Is Strange10
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  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time11
    4,178
    1,987

    The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

    Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game

    Release1998

    DeveloperGrezzo, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development

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  • Assassin's Creed II12
    4,293
    2,245

    Assassin's Creed II

    Action-adventure game, Stealth game

    Release2009

    DeveloperUbisoft Montreal

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  • Tomb Raider13
    1,382
    660

    Tomb Raider

    Action-adventure

    Release2013

    DeveloperCrystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal

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  • Final Fantasy VII14
    4,511
    2,221

    Final Fantasy VII

    Role-playing

    Release1997

    DeveloperEidos Interactive, Square

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  • Batman: Arkham Asylum15
    3,198
    1,653

    Batman: Arkham Asylum

    Action-adventure

    Release2009

    DeveloperRocksteady Studios

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  • The Wolf Among Us16
    1,044
    482

    The Wolf Among Us

    Graphic adventure

    Release2013

    DeveloperTelltale Games

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  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords17
    2,083
    934

    Release2004

    DeveloperObsidian Entertainment

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  • Dragon Age: Origins18
    3,551
    1,884

    Dragon Age: Origins

    Role-playing video game

    Release2009

    DeveloperEdge of Reality, BioWare

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  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End19
    518
    128

    Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

    Action-adventure game, Third-person Shooter

    Release2016

    DeveloperNaughty Dog

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  • Grand Theft Auto V20
    1,807
    851

    Grand Theft Auto V

    Action-adventure game, Racing video game

    Release2013

    DeveloperRockstar North

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  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas21
    2,447
    1,273

    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

    Action-adventure game, Action game

    Release2004

    DeveloperRockstar North

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  • Horizon Zero Dawn22
    396
    103

    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
    4,592
    2,485

    The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

    Action role-playing game, fantasy

    Release2011

    DeveloperBethesda Game Studios

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  • Dragon Age: Inquisition24
    998
    480

    Dragon Age: Inquisition

    Action role-playing

    Release2014

    DeveloperBioWare

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  • God of War25
    2,355
    1,205

    God of War

    Action-adventure game, Action game

    Release2005

    DeveloperSCE Santa Monica Studio

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