5 Games that Redefined Interactive Storytelling

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Over the last couple of decades, gaming has become something of a media sensation.

Games no longer have little character sprites and chip-tune music, but rather hyper-realistic characters with epic soundtracks. In a lot of ways gaming has become more of an art form. While simple games can be the most fun, some of the best ones have deep enriching plots with well developed characters. But what's the difference between playing a game and experiencing it?

I think that it boils down to how the game is presented and played. Now I'm not saying that the games in this list are the best games or anything like that, but rather games that did something different. Each of these games have their own special charm that made them more than games but rather an experience. I would recommend these games for anyone looking for something a little different in their libraries. Without further ado, let's get to it!

Asura's Wrath

In this game players take control of Asura, the demigod of wrath, as he fights to save his daughter from his former comrades in arms known as the "Seven Deities." To do this he must harness his anger and hatred, and use it on those who oppose him.

Asura's Wrath is a very unique game in the fact that 80% of the game is Quick Time Events. What this means is while you don't get too much actual game play, you are instead treated to several beautifully rendered CGI cut-scenes. Upon it's initial release gamers were reluctant to purchase a $60 movie, but as news of how good it was spread it wasn't long before this game was everywhere.

Each level is set  up like a episode of anime (it even has commercial breaks), and at the end of each episode players are scored based on how well they respond to buttons as they appear on the screen.

The game is absolutely stunning. Using a mix of cell-shading coupled with 3D rendering, colors pop off the screen. The voice acting in this game is superb (both English and Japanese) adding a whole new level of depth. You can definitely hear the rage in Asura's voice, but there are also undertones of sadness and hurt in those screams. When he's with his wife and daughter is when the acting really starts to shine as you can see and hear the love he has for his family.

Asura's Wrath is available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game itself can be completed in about 6 hours (if you do all the optional stuff) and offers a variety of extra content as well as DLC. One thing to note is that the game's final chapter is a DLC pack so if you want to get the whole story, you'll need to shell out an additional $10. But considering that the game goes for about $20 now, it's actually not that bad.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

South Park: The Stick of Truth is next on the list. What makes this game special is that it's essentially one giant interactive episode of South Park. In this game players will take on the role as the new kid, a silent protagonist of the players own design, as they try to win back the Stick of Truth from Clyde and his horde of Twilight fans.

One of the things that really made this game stand out for me is that it is completely self aware. For some this can be a bad thing but The Stick of Truth does it in a tasteful way. Well as tasteful as South Park can get. For example you're in the middle of a fight and trying to decide what to do when suddenly the enemy that you're facing suddenly shouts "Hurry up so I can have my turn!" Another example is when you first unlock Stan as a party member whenever you would approach weaker enemies he will say something like "Dude, we all know you're gonna win so can we just skip this?" It's small things like that that make this a true South Park game.

Customization is also very strong in this game. Want to be a black ginger kid with a handlebar mustache? Go for it. An elf-zombie S.W.A.T. member? Go nuts. There are thousands of possibilities for character creation in this game.
In addition to all of this players can also take advantage of their surroundings to solve puzzles, make pathways, or even knockout enemies before they get to you.

South Park: The Stick of Truth is available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. If you're looking for a good turn-based RPG with some crude flair then this is the game for you.

BEYOND: Two Souls

Next on the list is BEYOND: Two Souls, an interactive drama game exclusively for the PlayStation 3 system. What makes this game interesting is that this game can be seen as the future of the motion capture industry. Sure other games have had big name actors in them, but none have captured them as well as Beyond.

In this game, players will take control of Jodie (played by Juno's Ellen Page) a woman who for some reason has a mysterious entity called Aiden attached to her. As she looks into the mysteries that surround this spirit, she eventually meets a man named Nathan (played by Spider-Man's Willem Dafoe) who wants to use her powers to connect with his lost loved ones.

Like Heavy Rain this game's strengths come from the choices it presents to the player. Every action you do has a consequence of some kind and dramatically impacts the story. That feeling of finality coupled with the suburb acting by Page and Dafoe brings a very unique narrative that will keep your attention.

Beyond: Two Souls is a PlayStation 3 exclusive. If you're looking for an intense, dramatic, cinematic experience then look no further.

Kingdom Hearts Franchise

Next is the Kingdom Hearts franchise. What make these games unique is that it shows just how open people are to new ideas. 20 years ago I don't think that anyone would have thought that Final Fantasy and Disney would come together, let alone make such a great game. But they did and the results were outstanding.

In this game players take control of Sora, a young boy who wields a mysterious weapon known as the Keyblade. With this he has the ability to travel between worlds (both Disney and Final Fantasy) and fight the forces of darkness.

One of the things I love most about this franchise is that it takes all of my old favorite Disney movies, and presents them to me in a way that is fresh and new. Sure we all know the stories of Hercules and Aladdin, but did you know Hades contracted Final Fantasy VII's Cloud to kill Herc? Or that Jafar is in a secret League of Disney villains? Sure it's not part of the canon, but that's what makes it fun

Most of the Kingdom Hearts games are available on PlayStation with two or three available for the Nintendo handhelds. The third entry in the main series is slated for release sometime next year, but to get caught up on everything before that they have HD remasters of the first two games complete with the cut-scenes form the handheld games.

All Five Nights at Freddy's

Last on the list is one that I'm sure a lot of people won't agree with but hear me out. Five Nights at Freddy's is a really interesting game when you think about how it presents the story to the player. At first all you get is phone calls from a former employee that explain the crazy situation going on at Fazbear's Pizza, the restaurant where the game takes place, but as you progress through the game you discover little notes on the wall or even an 8-bit mini game depicting scenes of the past.

So what makes this game unique and interesting in the ways of storytelling? Simple. It makes the player do the research to learn the story. In a time where the plot is just handed to us on a silver platter it's nice to dust off the old detective cap to figure out what the heck is going on in a game. Back in the old 8-bit era if a player wanted to know the plot, they would have to look it up. Well that's the case with this one as well.

The story is completely optional. Well at least the finer points of it at least. If a player wants to know the real story then they're going to have to look for it, but that's where it gets tricky. You see in order to find clues to the game, the player has to pay attention to certain parts of the night, and in a game where you're supposed to only pay attention to what animatronic is in what room this can be a little tricky. It not only adds to the difficulty of the game, but it also enriches the player experience.

Want to know how the anamatronics got possessed? It's on a poster in room 4 but don't keep the camera on it too long because Freddy's coming for ya!

Five Nights at Freddy's is available on Steam, PC, Mac, and mobile. There have been no announcements on a console release, however the fourth and final chapter is slated for release on Halloween, while Warner Bros. has recently acquired the rights to make a movie. That's right they're making this into a movie...

Published Jun. 10th 2015

Contributor

A senior at the University of Central Arkansas with a major in creative writing and a minor in art. I've been playing games for longer than I can remember and have a true passion for all things gaming. I also have a HUGE weakness for chili dogs and redheads.


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