The best story games for PC gamers
Narratives make the world go round and games are no exception, here’s the best story PC games
PC games are still an ever-evolving art form, and how gaming treats stories is part of that. It’s not just the mechanics of playing a game or how it looks that’s changing, how games involve the player and the player’s experience in a narrative is something that’s rapidly being perfected.
If you love a good story, if you love to curl up with a book or get immersed in a film, then let us give you the beginning, middle, and end of our picks for the best story games for PC gamers.
To The Moon
With RPG Maker visuals it might be tempting to ignore To The Moon, but if you take a step into its world of dream-altering reality you’ll discover a game so beautiful and touching you’ll carry it with you for the rest of your life.
We can’t say too much about To The Moon without spoiling it, so all we’ll say is that it’s a heart-breaking and wonderful experience with an utterly astounding soundtrack. Also, you’ll never look at Animorphs the same way again. We guarantee it.
Divinity: Original Sin II
What sets Divinity: Original Sin II apart from other RPGs isn’t just the quality of the storytelling, which is outstanding, but how much of it you can make your own through your actions, choices, and decisions.
From the moment you start the game you’ll be given choices that impact the shape of the story you face, and it doesn’t let up. This ties up in one of the most satisfying endings in PC gaming, but we won’t spoilt that for you.
Take a friend along for the ride and you’ll tell a shared story twisted between your warring wants for the narrative, making it feel more like a game of Dungeons & Dragons than anything else on the PC.
Disco Elysium doesn’t just weave a large narrative into the game, it weaves a million of them - both large and small. You’ll explore the mystery behind a murder alongside working out where you left your shoes on a drunken rampage, you’ll talk to shopkeepers, dockworkers, and even your tie as you explore the many stories within its depths.
What Disco Elysium does that almost no other game does is lets you decide who you want to be in that world, you don’t decide everything at the start, it’s your interactions that bring out who you’re playing as. With ideas acting almost like equipment, slotting them into your head to unlock new interactions and reactions from others, Disco Elysium is a deep and compelling exploration of story and the psyche.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Deeply sad, deeply moving, and deeply engrossing, What Remains of Edith Finch is a story about family and tragedy, and it’s one that’ll stay with you for a long time.
As you visit your family’s home you explore the bizarre architecture, reliving the stories that have become layered over it through decades. Each story takes a different form, with some being almost-minigames that somehow manage to be far more than the sum of their parts. What Remains of Edith Finch is a tearjerker of a masterpiece, and the time you spend in that house’s halls are guaranteed to be important to you.
Her Story is a game that takes place almost entirely outside of the confines of the game itself. You’re sitting in front of a computer, searching for and playing back video clips of a woman’s police interviews after a murder.
There’s no levels, no checkpoints, no bars to entry. You simply watch the clips and search for more information on the police system. When you work out what happened and what it all means it’s almost breathtaking. Her Story won many accolades on its launch, and when you play it you’ll understand why.
Kentucky Route Zero
Kentucky Route Zero may look like a simple adventure game on the surface, but play for any length of time and you’ll be drawn into its fantastical, magical-realism world full of strange characters.
Released as a series of episodes that have all now come out, Kentucky Route Zero is utterly compelling and seeped in an Americana-esque magic that’s entirely its own. Powerful, evocative, and with an art style that’s simple but stunningly beautiful, Kentucky Route Zero is a journey into the unknown that you won’t regret spending time with.
The follow-up to Gone Home sees you seeking an AI in a distant space station, and as you wander its abandoned halls you put together what happened in the hours before it became an empty hulk.
As you explore the game you’ll encounter recordings of the now-departed crew, playing them back as holograms that walk around the space you inhabit which can be rewatched, rewound, and followed as they go about their business. Feeling at times like experimental theatre, Tacoma pushes narrative in a fascinating direction, and contains some of the best characters in PC gaming.
Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition
The oldest game on this list has yet to be bettered in a tonne of ways. Released hot on the heels of similar-looking but vastly different Baldur’s Gate series, Planescape: Torment instead puts the focus on story and narrative, with you working out who you are in its bizarre, multi-layered world.
Much like some other games in this list the game asks you to choose, some choices are large and obvious and others are much more subtle. Even the way in which you respond, be it flippant or serious, will affect your character’s growth as they change throughout the game’s length. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hardcore RPG fan or someone who loves a more in-depth narrative, Planescape: Torment remains one of the best story games for PC gamers, and it satisfies on almost every level.
Dear Esther sees you wake up on a mysterious Hebridean island. As you wander its barren slopes a voice over plays, telling you snippets of a life before, or is a life now? Are you in a dream, is this real, what’s happening?
The game refuses to give you easy answers, and with each playthrough differing in key ways, you’ll not get a definitive story to take with you. Instead you have to piece it together for yourself as you explore above and below the island. Who is Esther, who are you? These questions, and many more, will be answered - or not - as you set foot on Dear Esther’s stony shores.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher series has always flirted with narrative mastery, with the first taking interesting steps in letting the player be wrong and the second having an entirely different middle chapter depending on your choices.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the series perfected, with a brilliant narrative that tells the story of Geralt and his weird, broken found family he’s built up over a lifetime spent fighting evil. With shades of grey dripping off every decision and narrative beat and some truly wonderful characters, especially in its superlative DLC, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a worthy entrant in our list of the best story games for PC gamers.
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Article by Alex McHugh