John here! I am an avid player of video games, have been for years. I’ve played lots of them over the years, some of them repeatedly, for a variety of reasons. Some games I can play over and over again just because they’re plain fun. But others bring me back because of exceptional storytelling. Here’s a few of my favorite games, from a writer’s perspective.
Planescape: Torment is the one game I would recommend on the quality of the writing alone. The gameplay is fairly standard western RPG style (if you’re familiar with Baldur’s Gate, it’s similar), and it’s not terribly compelling. However, the story and the characters are absolutely top notch. You play as the Nameless One, a horribly scarred man who wakes up in a morgue with no clues as to his identity. During his quest to find out who he is, he meets up with a number of unique companions, including Morte, a perverted floated skull, and Fall-From-Grace, the chaste succubus, who all join his quest for their own reasons.
Word of advice: The game was not terribly well-optimized from the word go, and it doesn’t like modern PCs much. I recommend the use of the mods detailed here to get the most from it.
Bastion has great gameplay as well, proving that good story and good gameplay need not be mutually exclusive. You take control of the Kid, who ventures out into a world that’s falling apart around him in order to find out what the crap happened to it. The story is delivered in the form of an omnipresent narration that is just a delight to listen to.
In addition to a good story and a well-developed cast of characters, Radiant Historia boasts the most creative uses of time travel as a plot device I’ve ever come across. You follow the story of Stocke, a soldier of the empire of Alistel, setting off on a simple journey that rapidly becomes very complicated as soon, he finds himself fighting not just for the fate of his kingdom, but to preserve the very fabric of time itself.
Yeah, I know, me and everyone else on the internet. Well, I couldn’t not mention it. I’ll keep it short: If you haven’t played Undertale, play Undertale. You won’t regret it.
In contrast to the previous entry on this list, here’s one you almost certainly haven’t heard of. Last Scenario is an RPG in the vein of classics like the Dragon Quest franchise, about a young boy with dreams of being a hero. His life is changed forever when he’s approached by a mysterious stranger who tells him that he’s the descendant of a legendary champion and that it’s his destiny to go forth and save the world. Sounds cliche, right? Well, yeah, that’s the idea. Throughout this young boy’s journey, he soon learns that reality isn’t as simple as that, and soon, he learns what being a “hero” really means.
Unlike the other entries on this list, Last Scenario can be played for free, so go ahead and give it a try.