VGC Day 19: Storytime!

Welcome back to our 30 day video game challenge! If you’d like to catch up with the other days, click here.


Oh boy! If you haven’t checked out my short article on storytelling in video games and you have a moment to spare, take a gander at that so you’ll know where I’m coming from with my answers.

Day 19: Name the video game with the best story.

dragon-age-origins

Obviously.

liara-facepalm

Okay, okay… This is actually a tough question, because, as the saying goes, there is no accounting for taste. There are a lot of reasons I like the storytelling in Dragon Age: Origins but I’ve already talked about them a bit in the article on storytelling.

I’m woefully behind on some more recent games, but I would say (based on what I’ve heard), that the Uncharted series does a good job of slowly unfolding the story information. Likewise, it seems that Horizon: Zero Dawn has some interesting lore that is revealed as the player pulls back the layers of the game.

But although it is a convoluted tale, I think that the Metal Gear series really had a fantastic overarching story (my qualms with how it was presented in some installments aside). Nothing was ever as it seems, and by the time I finished Guns of the Patriots, I had the sneaking suspicion that [possible spoilers] I had been acting for the terrorists all along [end spoilers]. What a punch to the gut, that after all my efforts, I might not have been [again…] the hero I thought I was being! [end possible spoilers].

Image result for metal gear solid

What about you? Did you like the Metal Gear Solid storyline (if you played the games)? What is your favorite video game story? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!
~ Athena


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20 comments

  1. While I enjoy games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Uncharted, and even The Last of Us, I generally find the storytelling to be so so at best. For me those games are more about the characters and world building than the actual overarching narrative which is at best on par with a summer popcorn flick (nothing against summer popcorn flicks as I love them). Recently though, shorter form, narrative focused games have done a great job of telling well thought stories. Stuff like Firewatch last year or Gone Home did a good job of storytelling than most major AAA games.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My favorite video game story and favorite story is my obvious answer: FFVII. I love the complex, if often convoluted story line where nothing is necessarily what it seems and people are still arguing/discussing what *really* happened. I’m a huge fan of religious symbolism, and the game has it in spades. I also have nothing but respect for anything that “makes” me spend over decade studying a mystical religion. I love stories that make you think, and I’ll be thinking about the references and connections in FFVII for the rest of my life.

    Not far behind is Legend of Zelda. I’m currently reading the Hyrule Historia, which talks about how the timelines branch off from each other. I love how Zelda is almost like the same story told over and over again because every cycles and repeats, and arguably I could say the same about Final Fantasy since every game has similar paradigms, and the first is literally a time loop. I could extend this cyclical nature to Mass Effect, too, since it’s literally about a process that’s repeated for no one even knows how long. How long have the reapers done their harvest? How many cycles have there been? (Granted these questions may have been answered and I just haven’t seen them, but if not…) I think I love stories that show how things constantly go round and around in a pattern and it’s up to us to divine that pattern in order to either uphold it or break it.

    I’ll need to check out Metal Gear! I’ve watched my husband play a few of them, and the stories were REALLY interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s an interesting comment about the Legend of Zelda being a loop. I remember having a conversation once about how it’s not the “story” of Zelda, but a “legend” of Zelda, so legends change over time as the society needs a different message or a different kind of story. But you make an interesting point!! And Mass Effect, of course, leads right into thoughts of a cyclical existence. Reapers have existed in the ME universe for hundreds of millions of years, with the organic/synthetic cycle preceding even that (yup, nerd status confirmed), but as they say, there is nothing new under the sun. So the idea of history repeating itself is certainly an interesting one to explore in games, too!

      And, of course, I bow to your knowledge of Final Fantasy, but I can see the draw, especially as it takes on complicated issues and keeps people talking for such a long time! And definitely check out Metal Gear! It’s one of my favorite series! (and another one I can nerd out on haha)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The fact that it’s the “Legend” of Zelda is a huge tell. And they’re all called that. Each Zelda appears to be an incarnation/reincarnation of the original Goddess Hylia (I’m reading the Hyrule Historia right now hehe), and then Link of course is the “link” between all the stories, and he’s how the player accesses the game, which I think is terribly clever. He’s the link between us the players (the outside world) and the fantasy world of the game.

        If I ever want to make myself go cross eyed, I think about astrophysics and how the universe (possibly) began and how it might (possibly) end. One of the theories of the latter is called “the big crunch” where eventually the universe stops expanding (and I still have no idea what it’s expanding into if everything is the universe) and starts contracting until it’s as small as it was before the Big Bang. So everything collapses on itself and possibly there’s another Big Bang and it all just starts all over…every 100 billion billion years. If that’s the way it happens (or happened) how many times HAS it happened, and then I go cross eyed. Maybe it’s why we’re in love with cyclical stories, because on a small (human) level history really does seem to repeat, but maybe that’s just because on a gigantic, macro, universal level, it really does.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh my goodness have you read Childhood’s End??? You have to read it… it talks about having a “species” memory, which is why certain symbols and things develop, and… I can’t say anything else without spoiling, but reading this comment makes me think you’d love the book if you haven’t read it yet!

          The only unfortunate torpedo is that the Zelda games weren’t originally intended to be connected in any sort of timeline, so while I do like the timeline and definitely like trying to “link” all the games, I wonder how much of that (even my own thoughts) is fan created and how much is/was intended by the devs. Of course, that could point to there really being a higher design, since the pieces fit together so well even though it wasn’t “planned” and then I’m off onto another topic entirely haha. Thoughts?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I haven’t, but I have read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and one of my favorite psychologies is Jungian, so I definitely understand and believe in universal archetypes! Wait…I’ve heard someone else mention this book. Ah, it’s Arthur C. Clarke! I just added his 2001: Space Odyssey to my TBR list. I’ll switch that out for this (I made a rule for myself that I can only have one book per author. It helps cut down on the number, and as I finish a book, I can add another from the same author).

            Oh humans LOVE creating patterns. I know because I’m one of those humans. I think the timeline was something that they retconned as they created more games, but the “link” think I’m going to hold onto, because he does literally link the player to the game. The Final Fantasy time loop thing is also dodgy, because it was supposed to be the “Final” Fantasy, but I could argue and say that they just ran with their original paradigm in the first, but I have that other theory about “whisper down the lane” where it really is just one game/story told many times so each iteration changes.

            Because humans like patterns and because creators are human, they, too, will create/weave in patterns into their work often inadvertently. It’s one of the reasons I think many authors become formulaic (though some more than other *cough cough* Dan Brown), because you find a pattern and you stick with it. It’s why we see faces in inanimate objects. Well, there’s the pattern thing and other factors, but I guess if both creators and consumers are both contriving and expecting the contrived, it’s an even break 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Sorry to mess up your reading list… but I hope you like the book 🙂

              And I like the Link link (not to be confused with a like-like). You’re absolutely right that people like patterns and can find them even where they don’t actually exist. I never thought about patterns in regards to formulaic writing, so that’s very interesting!

              I thought the name “Final Fantasy” came from the devs having one last chance to create a game before they went bankrupt (so it was their final chance to create a fantasy)? Or is that just an urban legend?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Oh no worries! I’m actually happy you reminded me about this story, because it had come up before, but I failed to add it to my TBR list, so I completely forgot about it. It sounds like something I would love.

                Nope! That’s where the name came from. They poured all of their money into one last game and called it Final Fantasy, and a legend was born. Of course the name becomes more ironic with each iteration. The “whisper down the lane” theory is just me making up explanations and ideas :p

                Liked by 1 person

  3. Whenever story-heavy games are mentioned, the first that come to my mind are Planescape: Torment, Undertale, and Zero Escape. None of those games rely on well-rendered cutscenes to convey a plot; in some way, they incorporate the medium’s oddities rather than attempting to become films. To me, they’re made by creators with a lot of respect for the medium.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. Those are great examples of storytelling done well in games (at least the ones that I’ve experienced so far!). Like I said, I’m not always on board with how MGS conveys its story, and your examples show that it doesn’t take fancy cutscenes to provide a deep storytelling experience to players!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Did someone say HZD?! *praises Aloy’s awesomeness for several pages* 😀

    I’m really looking forward to playing DA Origins soon! It’s still my plan to start it once I’m done with HZD. Then I’m going to go back to reading your fan fiction. I think it’s awesome already, but I’m thinking I might enjoy it even more if I play Origins first. MGS will happen some year, I hope.

    As for me, my favourite video game story is the one in trilogy of Final Fantasy games I keep rambling about, constantly. 🙂

    Like

  5. I did respect how Metal Gear’s story flowed, my 90% of the time it was waaaay beyond my head. I just couldn’t connect the dots and keep up with the flow.

    Stories I do like, Mass Effect is great. Although as mentioned it kind of sticks to a safe formula, it’s told very well and enhanced by it’s great characters. I’d also throw Zelda out there, not for it’s direct story telling, it’s quite vague and subtle how it tells it’s story sometimes, but because of this fans come up with their own timelines of where each games falls into the time line, and it’s quite fascinating to see all the theories that come up when throwing in factors like time travel and such. It’s totally open to interpretation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, Metal Gear is quite a convoluted story… it took a while to get it, and a number of hours haunting forums, and maybe I think I almost understand what was going on?

      And absolutely! Sometimes it’s fun to have your own interpretation and see what others can come up with, too. I definitely like the overarching Zelda lore.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t played Metal Gear Solid, but I’ve heard great things about the story. This might be cheating, but my favorite stories are in story-driven games like visual novels and adventure games. They’re specifically geared towards telling a story, sometimes sacrificing gameplay or what have you. Among those, my absolute favorite stories are those in the Ace Attorney series. Love those courtroom drama murder mysteries! They’re really well-told too, with great plot twists and excellent characters.

    Liked by 1 person

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