Forum > Gaming Discussion > Story In Games - Can It Be Done?
Story In Games - Can It Be Done?
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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 20:58:09
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With games like Heavy Rain and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories giving a new level of narrative manipulation to the gamer I was thinking about what game stories in the past I've enjoyed -- and came up with none.

Usually game stories are either hackneyed (save the world) or incomprehensible (Metal Gear Solid).

It doesn't upset me, I don't play games for story, but I'd be interested in any stories from games you could recount that are worth repeating.

Ico has been mentioned, but that's more of a poem than a story.  

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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:04:36
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Hotel Dusk is awesome. It all comes together at the end, although I know Dark robio disagrees.

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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:33:06
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gamingeek said:
Hotel Dusk is awesome. It all comes together at the end, although I know Dark robio disagrees.

Regular old fashioned Robio liked it.  I did think things tied up a little too neatly and everyone had their closure and happy endings or at least was on the path to a happy ending.  I thought that sort of clashed with some of the style and themes of the game.  

That does bring me to what I wanted to mention and that's the Mystery sub-category in the Adventure game genre.  A lot of those games have to have good stories otherwise the main draw of the game (the mystery) ends up being a dud and no one plays it.  The Dagger of Amon Ra was a fantastic mystery that actually came together well and made sense.  Hotel Dusk as GG said was pretty good.  I think the first 3 Phoenix Wright games taken as a whole tell a really good story about the Fey family.  And if you want to go back even further, go look at Deja Vu for the NES.  It was a little simple, but the story of an amnesiac Detective trying to get his memories back and find out why he was framed for murder was done very well.

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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:42:09
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I already think that there's been plenty of great stories already done in games myself, most notably Mass Effect 1 & 2, Dragon Age, heck pretty much any Bioware game at that, Lost Odyssey, Assassin's Creed, Final Fantasy games etc. I've also enjoyed that are more just you're typical 'popcorn action' types like Gears of War, Halo, God of War, etc. So for me it's kind of a moot question.
Edited: Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:42:38

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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:44:24
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It depends on what you mean by "story"
  • Great writing:
    • Super Mario RPG
    • Baten Kaitos Origins

  • Great presentation:
    • Radiata Stories
    • Tales of Symphonia

  • Great characters:
    • Persona 4
    • Baten Kaitos Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean

  • Great narrative:
    • Persona 3
    • Suikoden V



The Baten Kaitos games are really heart-felt; Radiata Stories is worth experiencing to see how much better it does a lot of aspects of the presentation than games of a similar ilk; the Persona games take a fanciful crazy situation and make them feel completely real and down-to-earth; and Suikoden V does a great job of bringing it all together (except screwing over the ending if you don't get all the characters).  And of course Super Mario RPG, which is perfect in every way.

There are a lot of aspects, and the difficult part is that you're wrapping gameplay in a story (or inserting story between plotpoints) so it's not really going to be fluid.  That said, I've found plenty of instances where the various aspects relating to story as making a significant difference in my own enjoyment.

You're right in that the common theme skews heavily toward end-of-the-world scenarios, though I don't think that necessarily entails harming the story, but makes it more difficult to come across as anything other than retreading the beaten path.  I think this is where Tales of Symphonia is a great example across the board -- in every way the game is a cliche, but it does it as well or better as anyone else.

What I find primarily though is the writing makes all the difference.  You can go anywhere with the story and have the writing make it work.
Edited: Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:46:02

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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:45:12
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Can you relay any of those stories?  (Beside God of War, which is a good one).  I've only played FF1,2 and 4.  Those stories were not great.  Gears of War had story? Halo?  I like the first book, but hardly any of that makes it into the games.

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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:48:11
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Here's every Final Fantasy story ever told. . .

A ragtag band of individuals joined together by fate fight an evil empire/wizard/force/etc to save the world from destruction.

I think the closest they ever came to an original story in the series was FF8, which was still for the most part a differnt take on that format, but there were enough differences and twists (particularly with the ending) to make it notable.

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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:48:12
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Yodariquo said:
It depends on what you mean by "story"
  • Great narrative:
    • Persona 3
    • Suikoden V

 Talking about narrative.  And you are spot on about writing.  There are plenty of games with amazing writing.

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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:51:07
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robio said:
...
 The Dagger of Amon Ra ...

 That was a good one, I had forgotten I even beat that game.

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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 21:58:31
The Longest Journey, Grim Fandango (i played it with a walkthrough just to move along because the story and characters were so awesome)

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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 22:02:34
aspro said:

 Talking about narrative.  And you are spot on about writing.  There are plenty of games with amazing writing.

 That being the case, Suikoden V is my top pick, so long as I leave an asterisk on there about the ending.

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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 22:31:31
The Longest Journey was amazing. KOTOR was also incredible.
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Tue, 02 Mar 2010 22:37:05

bugsonglass said:
The Longest Journey, Grim Fandango (i played it with a walkthrough just to move along because the story and characters were so awesome)

Agree.

If you're looking for  different games with not much saving world/hero element to them there's the old I have no mouth game based on the harlan ellison story.

Wikipedia - It is about an evil computer named AM that has destroyed all of humanity except for five people, who he has been keeping alive and torturing for the past 109 years. Each survivor has a fatal flaw in his or her character, and in an attempt to crush their spirits, AM has constructed ametaphorical adventure for each that preys upon their weaknesses. To succeed in the game, the player must make ethical choices to prove to the evil computer that humans are better than machines, because they have the ability to redeem themselves.
The story is fairly grim but a lot more fun than the short story which is pretty basic and depressing. I only played through 1 character and a half though.

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Wed, 03 Mar 2010 01:53:56

Dvader said:
The Longest Journey was amazing. KOTOR was also incredible.

Yeah, the Dreamfall game.  I have to get that one.  I bought the two Syberia's mistaking them for that.  It's a mystery adventure game right?



Agree.

If you're looking for  different games with not much saving world/hero element to them there's the old I have no mouth game based on the harlan ellison story.

Wikipedia - It is about an evil computer named AM that has destroyed all of humanity except for five people, who he has been keeping alive and torturing for the past 109 years. Each survivor has a fatal flaw in his or her character, and in an attempt to crush their spirits, AM has constructed ametaphorical adventure for each that preys upon their weaknesses. To succeed in the game, the player must make ethical choices to prove to the evil computer that humans are better than machines, because they have the ability to redeem themselves.
The story is fairly grim but a lot more fun than the short story which is pretty basic and depressing. I only played through 1 character and a half though.

That sounds like a good story. Too bad its DOS only (I thought is was DS at first).

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Wed, 03 Mar 2010 02:15:49

aspro said:

Dvader said:
The Longest Journey was amazing. KOTOR was also incredible.

Yeah, the Dreamfall game.  I have to get that one.  I bought the two Syberia's mistaking them for that.  It's a mystery adventure game right?


That sounds like a good story. Too bad its DOS only (I thought is was DS at first).

Longest Journey  is the first one. Dreamfall is the second. LG is more of a fantasy sci fi adventure, syberia is probably more of a mystery game. I thought syberia was ok. Lg is definitely more epic and alive.

I have no mouth can be run on dosbox I'm sure. I tried it on my mac not too long ago. Plus I think its abandonware now.

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Wed, 03 Mar 2010 02:39:08
Ico and SotC damn you! Sad

Actually a lot of games with great stories have been mentioned so far!

Hell yes to Grim Fandango.

    Children, our lives have been gongs striking; clamour and boasting; cries of despair; blows on the nape of the neck in gardens.

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Wed, 03 Mar 2010 04:36:55

angrymonkey said:

aspro said:


That sounds like a good story. Too bad its DOS only (I thought is was DS at first).

..

I have no mouth can be run on dosbox I'm sure. I tried it on my mac not too long ago. Plus I think its abandonware now.

Cool...

So most of these are point and click adventure games.

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Wed, 03 Mar 2010 05:56:50
Oh, and for storytelling no other game I've played as reached Metroid Prime's height. Of course the story its telling isn't that amazing...
Edited: Wed, 03 Mar 2010 05:57:09

    Children, our lives have been gongs striking; clamour and boasting; cries of despair; blows on the nape of the neck in gardens.

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Wed, 03 Mar 2010 08:48:36
aspro said:

Cool...

So most of these are point and click adventure games.

Those do come to mind the easiest. With those the story is all there is and it's upfront. It's what I like about the latest silent hill - the story and environment is what the game is - and hey it's a good one. There's so many games that you can play and totally ignore the story.

The basic background for the longest journey is that there are two parallel universes - one world of magic and a world of  science and technology that your character is in. The line between the two worlds is growing thin, causing chaos on both sides. Your character is capable of walking between these worlds and has to restore the balance. Very much a hero story and sounds kind of silly if you just read the plot but it is very good if you don't mind that it's like a sci fi/fantasy novel. I know some people disliked all the dialogue for the longest journey but I love that stuff. If I am into the setting, I want all the detail that there is. And ordinary conversations to get you into the environment or characters and not just to move you from a to b.

I also liked the part in the Myst game when you were being fed two different viewpoints from the brothers and you had to decide which one to believe.

It's kind of weird recounting adventure games to someone that doesn't play games for stories....

You kind of have to play grim fandango. Everyone has to play grim fandango. I won't say you're not a gamer if you don't enjoy this game - I'll say you're not human if you cannot enjoy this game. A perfect Voight-Kampff test.

Hey there's  Katamari Damacy  - Father on drinking spree destroys the universe(except for earth), sends his son whom he dislikes and continually berates to fix by rolling up people and their possessions against their will and flinging them into the sky. Music is good too.

Edited: Wed, 03 Mar 2010 08:49:29
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Wed, 03 Mar 2010 09:36:52

Relative to other genres I'd have to think that point and click games give the most control to the game designers to tell a story in a certain way.  I think back to the Sierra games I played like Police Quest and Gabriel Knight and really the stories worked because the user could not really change the outcomes (just control the pace).  

I think the pace of point and click (and I'll include Hotel Dusk in this as well) also makes the stories more memorable -- you have a lot of time to mull over what's going on, and story telling is part of the game, not just a cutscene between action.  For example, Halo could have had a great story, I wouldn't know because whenever they stopped the game for a cutscene all I wanted was for them to shut up and let me get back to shooting Covenant.

RPG's are potentially as good of a genre to present story, but often (at least within my world of JRPG) the stories are ludicrous.  Eternal Sonata and Shadow Hearts are some good exceptions.  

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