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Published on July 7th, 2012 | by Andre Gamble, Contributor

5 Games More Interested in Storytelling Than Gameplay

There’s nothing that I love more than being taken on a journey by a video game and experiencing different worlds through the eyes of someone else. There is nothing like it in any other form of media. Some gaming purist may look down on games in which good storytelling is the main objective, rather than solid gameplay, but that doesn’t make them any less fun or interesting. We take a look at some games that have tried to push gaming to a next level, even though the controls could have been tweaked a little.

5. Deadly Premonition

Deadly Premonition has charm coming out of everywhere. This game is like a love letter to 1980s American movies and the early ’90s cult classic television show Twin Peaks. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the game is taking itself seriously. If you have ever seen Twin Peaks you understand exactly what I mean.

Everything is story for this game. This game is ugly, it controls terribly, but god I love it so much. It’s so weird. If the story weren’t so crazy and insane this game would be unplayable.

4. Alan Wake

Alan Wake is described by its creator, Remedy Entertainment, as a “psychological action thriller.” The concept is awesome: an author lives out the events in his latest novel that he doesn’t remember writing. The story is incredibly engaging, and the way the game is cut into episodes. It really feels like an hour-long episode of a show. The best part is that you can pick it back up at anytime.

The problem with Alan Wake is a problem a lot of games are going to have soon. That problem is the need to have a gun in the character’s hand at nearly all times. People in the real world solve their problems in other ways. Why should video game characters be any different?  Besides that moral problem is the fact that the shooting in Alan Wake isn’t very good. I would much rather run away from those creatures or try to lure them into light traps than use a gun.

3. Indigo Prophecy

I would call Indigo Prophecy one of the overlooked gems of the last generation of consoles. If you weren’t hooked in the first five minutes then there is something wrong with you. You got to really feel for the main character; one minute he’s eating dinner and reading a book the next he wakes up in a bathroom standing over a dead body.

Indigo Prophecy has one major flaw, and it’s a flaw that I’m really starting to take notice of. This game has the desire to be an action-focused blockbuster of a game. Halfway through the story you go from being a part of a mystery told from the eyes of the detectives and the suspect to basically being in the Matrix.  I don’t mind gunning down a few hundred bad guys, but sometimes I want a bit of suspense. Is that really too much to ask?

2. Heavy Rain

Being a PlayStation 3 exclusive really helped Heavy Rain game get mainstream press. Developer Quantic Dream (the same folks who were behind Indigo Prophecy) wants to make interactive stories and it shows in Heavy Rain. Choices in this game are not easy to make; you have to sit and think every time you are presented with one. Sony seems to be fully backing the French studio by making the developers next game Beyond: Two Souls a PS3 exclusive.

I’m not a big hater of QTEs (Quick Time Events) as a lot of people are. When done right, QTEs can really put you into the shoes of a character. What I really dislike about this game is the voice acting. Having English voice talent try their best to do an American, “New Yorker,” accent doesn’t work. I hope Quantic Dream learned from this mistake for Beyond.

Another small issue is controlling the character on-screen. When you have full control over a characters movements onscreen you should feel like you are steering a poorly handling car.  I felt like I was running into every table and chair trying navigating my character from one end of the room to the other.

1. Shenmue

Shenmue was ahead of its time, to say the least. A 3D open world adventure game for the creators of Virtua Fighter. I remember playing this game on the Dreamcast as a kid. I didn’t know games could be more then just a quick distraction, but Shenmue felt like another world. It was the first game to make me feel like my story wasn’t the most important thing happening. Your own quest for revenge was just that: your own quest. The people in the town had lives that had nothing to do with you. You weren’t trying to save the world, stop some terrorist from getting a nuke, or saving the president.

You were looking to avenge your father, and that’s it. For all we know Lan Di (the guy who killed you father) is a nice guy. Maybe he volunteers at an animal shelter, or passes out food to the local homeless (but probably not)? All you know is that asshole killed your father and stole an awesome-looking mirror so you’re going to kick his ass…right after you play Hang-On for a few hours, and collect capsule toys, and look for sailors.

Now we come to Shenmue’s biggest problem: it’s pacing. This game’s story makes snails look fast. You can expect gamers who instant satisfaction to wait as the main character helps a small child feed a stray cat. Personally I love Shenmue’s crazy story swings, and I, like most fans, would give their first-born child up for the end to the trilogy. But maybe that’s a little too overly dramatic.

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About the Author

Gamer, writer, awesome dude. Andre has been gaming since his mother put a Game Boy in his hands 17 years ago. Now in his early twenties, Andre is trying to complete his bachelor's degree in creative writing for entertainment, and write in the games industry. Twitter - @AndreJGamble Email - agamble@gamingtruth.com

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