With Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human the latest AAA first party title to drop from Playstation, we thought we’d take a look at some of the other amazing narrative experiences that are already available on PS4. Whether you’re waiting to play Detroit and want to try something else just now or have just finished the game, fallen in love and would like to experience something similar there’ll be something on this list for you.
Starting close to home we have Quantic Dream’s serial killer thriller Heavy Rain. The story has multiple plots, all revolving around a serial killer who kidnaps and drowns children. It is incredibly dark and emotional and really drags the player into the conflict and tests your motivation. Not only does the story have a variety of outcomes but there are multiple scenarios that are entirely missable depending on how you play giving the title excellent replay value. The twists will keep you gripped as you work your way through the story to eventually unveil the identity of the Origami Killer.
The Wolf Among Us
Of course, Telltale games are going to feature on an article about narrative-driven experiences. Telltale are the current kings of the genre, using licenses to great advantage to deliver consistent high quality episodic point and click games. The Wolf Among Us is their absolute best. Bed on the comic series ‘Fables’, the game features the big bad wolf himself as the star, Bigby. You are the town Sheriff and the game has a strong mystery vibe to it. A spate of deaths in Fabletown are all clearly connected and it’s up to you to solve them and work out what is affecting this magical community. The dark, gritty, noir like setting is really special in this game. Contrasting this with the magical characters and our preconception of who characters like Snow White are and how they should act leads to a game that really subverts expectations in the best possible way.
Back to Playstation exclusives now and we have Supermassive Game’s Until Dawn. This is a horror adventure featuring multiple playable characters. Eight teenagers decide to go on a vacation to a remote cabin on a mountain side. The group suffer through several strange happenings and are pursued by multiple enemies, one of whom sets dastardly Saw like challenges. A very important part of the gameplay is the Butterfly Effect mechanic. This means any of your actions at any point throughout the game can have devastating consequences. With so much variety in gameplay, any character can live or die, Until Dawn offers vast replay value. A bonus is that the game is visually astounding, characters are incredibly lifelike.
The Sexy Brutale
Another game that revolves around murder and mystery, Tequila Work’s The Sexy Brutale is a fantastic example of a unique concept executed well. The game is set in a mansion and heavily relies on a time travel mechanic, you are able to view events which lead to a character’s death, rewind time and take steps to prevent the murder occurring. Each murder is totally unique and has different twists employed to keep the gameplay interesting. As you explore each section of the mansion and save character’s lives you’ll uncover more of the overarching story and the history of the mansion and its’ inhabitants. The game’s visuals and music are both fantastic which really helps to immerse you in the world.
In 2013 the Fullbright Company introduced us to their ‘walking simulator’ Gone Home. Us gamers were very naive back then. We assumed that any game with a slow pace, intense atmosphere and a mystery to be solved had to be either scary or at least in the horror genre. This title subverted all of those expectations and gave us something that absolutely defines the walking simulator genre. It’s best not to say anything else and just let players experience this for themselves, it is well worth your time.
Resident Evil 7
After several action titles Capcom decided to go back to their horror roots with Resident Evil 7. The results? A brilliant narrative horror title with a smattering of action throughout. The game has two huge advantages that make it a special narrative experience. The first is that it was designed to be played entirely in PSVR. This adds additional immersion to the game even without VR, scripted moments help to pull the player into the character’s situation. The second is the higher difficulty levels. They make the game tighter, the player’s actions are more focused on survival and choice instead of action. It all really comes together well to deliver a totally immersive experience that is currently unrivaled in the horror genre.
Is it cheating to put a remaster on the list? Since it’s my list I’ll make the rules and include not one but two remasters. Heavy Rain was the first, Bioshock is the second. Set in the fictional fallen utopia of Rapture, the game is a true adventure through an incredible world with so much going on you’ll need to play it multiple times to appreciate it all. More importantly, you’ll want to play it multiple times. Rapture is truly breathtaking, every step you take will be met with another distraction, The first person camera and blank slate character really immerse you in the environment, he’s not a native to Rapture so he has as much to discover as the player. This game really defines exploration. If you do feel like moaning in the comments about the inclusion of two remasters on this list, would you kindly smack yourself in the face with a gold club?
Tales from the Borderlands
Take the winning Telltale Games formula. Throw in the best character from the Borderland’s universe in a starring role. Give the characters an absolutely madcap adventure across a crazy alien planet with even crazier inhabitants. Have huge set pieces that really drive home the madness of the entire situation. Employ a sadistic sense of humor and sarcasm that helps to frame all your choices in the morals of the world that your characters exist in. What does all this add up to? Tales from the Borderlands. A masterclass in how to do comedy properly, this game is an absolute blast to play.
Beautiful. Simple. Engaging. Emotional. Intense. Thought-provoking. Valiant Hearts is all of these and more. This 2D side-scrolling puzzle game set during World War One is an absolutely gripping drama. The light puzzle gameplay only really exists to give the player something to do while the narrative unfolds. Despite the stunning, cartoon like 2D graphics the game deals with some really serious subject matter including desertion and prisoners of war. This is really special and the ending of the story will likely stick with players forever.
God of War
‘Save the best for last.’ I don’t know who came up with that phrase but I’m using it here. God of War is the pinnacle of what a story driven game can be. Despite the brilliant combat and stunning graphics, the absolutely excellent lore and world are what you’ll be coming back to God of War for. The character’s interaction is fantastic, a testament to how perfect the writing is. You’ll really feel the bond develop between protagonist Kratos and his son Atreus as they progress throughout their quest. Each new area to explore will make any gamer giddy with joy as it unveils more narrative to be enraptured by. A true masterpiece in every way and what every story should aspire to rival.
The End… For now.
There is plenty of other great narrative experiences on PS4. Blackwood Crossing, Journey, The Walking Dead. This list could have been trebled. I haven’t even included the games I haven’t played that have a stellar reputation, such as Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (it’s on the list I promise). With the release of Detroit: Become Human I’m sure these games have something to worry about, early indications are very positive. For the definitive review, you’ll have to check back thelootgaming.com, ours is en route!