It’s no secret that I am a big single player gamer. And I figured, since I’d already done a post about my favourite multiplayer games, perhaps it was time to talk about some of my favourite single player ones as well. So, here is a list of single player games with awesome narratives, that you should check out if you haven’t already!
* Side note: this list ONLY includes games you can play on PC. So sorry, no Zelda or Uncharted.
11. Stardew Valley
Even though this game looks like it’s just a farming simulator, there is much more to it. The first being what you could consider the main quest, the community centre. This storyline is an awesome tale about small businesses beating enormous corporations. The other stand out stories, come from the characters. You can befriend other villagers, whose stories are very well written. One character I liked, Shane, struggled with alcoholism and depression. The closer your character gets to him, the more he opens up more and steps away from the drinking. Many of the characters in this game have very nuanced stories just like Shane’s, and are well worth exploring.
The Grand Theft Auto series is more known for their open world, and controversies, than their narratives. However, I was very invested in GTAV’s story. So much so, I would change my playstyle depending on who I was playing. If I was Michael, I’d drive nicely and not attack random people. If I was Franklin, I’d speed all over the place and never crash. And if I was Trevor, I’d just go nuts. This is the story of three criminals: one just entering the world, one wanting to leave it behind and one… well, one’s just completely insane. The three stories work together so well, and I really felt for these characters and their stories far more than I ever had in previous GTA games. If you never tried the campaign of GTAV, it’s well worth a play.
9. Batman Arkham Asylum
It was difficult to try and pick my favourite of the Arkham games. And even though I think Arkham City is better, to me, Arkham Asylum has the tighter story. Playing as the masked vigilante Batman, this game revolves around the Joker taking over the Arkham Asylum. And only Batman can get the place and all the inmates (many of which he put in there in the first place) back under control. The reason I chose this over Arkham City, is because my favourite part about Arkham City is the city itself. The story, I felt, got a little lost in all the areas to explore. Where as in Arkham Asylum, the story was the star of the show.
The first Portal is an incredible game in more ways than one, but I particularly enjoyed the overarching story. Even though it isn’t the main focus of the game, the loose story interwoven between the puzzles I always felt was very intriguing. The mystery behind GLaDOS and why everything had been abandoned – as well as who you even are, and how you wound up as part of the testing chamber in the first place. GLaDOS is over all such an awesome antagonist also, and this is a game I won’t be forgetting my first playthrough anytime soon.
7. Wolfenstein: The New Order
This game destroyed me when it came out. And in my opinion, none of the later Wolfenstein games have come close to how good this game was. In this reboot of the Wolfenstein series, you play again as BJ Blaskovich, whose primary goal is to kill all the Nazis. Even though that basic concept sounds the same as the old school Wolfenstein games, there is another layer to this one.
BJ becomes part of a team of rebels, working together to bring the Nazis down. The team ends up really being the heart of this narrative. There’s a moment when one of the characters who is wheelchair bound, pilots a helicopter. As it takes off, the character declares, “they don’t need to walk when they’ve learnt how to fly” and the music swells. It’s such a well done moment and there are tons of moments like this throughout the entire game. It’s honestly movie worthy quality in terms of storytelling, and well worth a playthrough.
6. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The main questline of this literally stars the voice of Sean Bean. That’s all the reason I need, right? OK fine, I’ll explain more! I know many people don’t bother with the main questline for Bethesda games, however, this one I always finished. I found the Oblivion plotline interesting, mainly because I’ve always been a fan of the Daedric princes. Also, there are some awesome side quests throughout this game. Two of my personal favourites have to be a quest where you dive into a persons dream and help them overcome their problems. And another one where you go into a painting. Not to mention, the entirety of the Shivering Isles DLC narrative is just perfect.
5. No One Lives Forever
OK, this one of gaming’s greatest mysteries in my mind – HOW do people not know about this game!? It sort of flew under the radar somehow, and while it has aged a little graphics wise, the general storyline and gameplay are superb still. You play as a female spy named Cate Archer during the 60’s, so she sadly faces a lot of doubt from her male colleges. However, she alone must save the day from the villainous agency H.A.R.M after her fellow agents are assassinated. This game has everything. Fun FPS gameplay, stealth missions, run and gun missions – and some awesome locations. You go to morocco, an ultra-groovy night club, the top of a snowy mountain and even into space! This game is why my standards for narrative games are so high!
4. American McGee’s Alice
If you read any of my previous lists, you probably expected this to be somewhere on this list. This game has meant a lot to me as gamer, but aside from that, the story is incredible. There is a reason it was almost made into a movie a few years after it came out. In this twisted re-telling of Alice in Wonderland, you play as eighteen-year-old Alice whose family died in a tragic fire. Due to her survivors’ guilt, she blames herself for their deaths and has spent years in a catatonic state in an asylum.
She returns finally to Wonderland to repair her shattered mind. There you go on an amazing journey through different landscapes, fighting all sorts of creatures before facing off against the dreaded queen of hearts herself. The gameplay is fun and engaging, and the story is both gripping and utterly devastating at times. Alice’s journey is one of the best in single player gaming, and well worth the play.
3. Half-Life 2
Both Half-Life 2 and its predecessor are considered incredibly innovative games. Half-Life 2 I have played through multiple times, and each time the story still gets me hooked. You play once again as the mute Gordan Freeman, although this time its been years since Half-Life and the entire world has changed. The mysterious Combine have seemingly taken over everything. With the assistance of your old friend Eli Vance and his daughter Alyx, it’s up to you and your crowbar to save the day and fix what happened all those years ago in Black Mesa.
I never got too far through the first Half-Life, but I found it didn’t matter too much as this game’s story is just as compelling on its own. Also, the GRAVITY gun! THE GRAVITY GUN! Play this game for that alone! But the story is also a big standout, and one I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
2. Dragon Age: Origins
As much as I love Inquisition, Origins will always have my heart. The best thing about this game, is that no two playthroughs will ever be entirely alike.This, I think, adds a lot to the wonderful storytelling by Bioware. You can play several different character races from elves, to dwarves, and they all begin with a different background. However all players end up in the same situation, recruited a Grey Warden and tasked with protecting the world from the evil Darkspawn.
The story that follows is largely based on your own player choices, such as the group you travel with and the friendships you form (or don’t), as well as the choices you make impacting the world around you. Overall, the world and characters are all incredibly well made, and the plot – as well just the general lore of Thedas – is so filled to the brim, it’s hard not to get sucked into it! This game is well worth a play, despite the average gameplay.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Where does one begin with the Witcher 3? Well this is one of only 2 games that I had to lie down after I had finished the story because I was so sad it was over (the other one was DA: Origins). I restarted this game three times, and only on the third time did I finally understand why it was so popular. You play as Geralt, a stoic monster hunter or ‘Witcher’. And Geralt’s story is honestly one of the best in gaming.
I’ve never been through so many emotions in just one game. I was happy when we found Ciri, conflicted when I had to choose between Triss and Yennefer, and was mesmerized when I listened to Priscilla’s song. These characters grew to mean the world to me, and I never wanted to leave them. The two DLC’s also perfectly wrap up the entirety of Geralt’s story, with Blood and Wine especially, leaving me an emotional wreck afterwards.
What about you? Any big single player gamers out there? Let me know what your favorite single player stories are and why, in the comments down below!