For the longest time, telling a video game story was always an afterthought. That's because in a lot of cases it doesn't matter how good your writing is, if the gameplay between each story beat sucks, that's all people are going to focus on.
But when a game gets it right, there's nothing else like it in any other medium. A good game story perfectly blends narrative and gameplay together to make an experience you simply cannot get anywhere else.
As the medium has evolved over the decades, many, many games have tried their hand at telling compelling stories in various different ways through the lens of video games.
From branching paths, to cinematic experiences, to Avant Garde storytelling techniques that only work in the context of a video game, there are many ways to make a video game story truly great, and these 20 are the most successful ones so far.
20. Grim Fandango
The 90s were the golden age of Lucasarts point-and-click adventure games, where seemingly every single year you'd have a new PC game centering around some clueless clod being guided around by the player through puzzles that only make sense after a good hour of rigorously banging your head against a concrete wall.
But the best of these still remains the one and only Grim Fandango.
Centering around Manny Calavera, one of many travel agents for the afterlife, this story takes Manny through an epic adventure that spans several in-universe years as he travels from one end of the afterlife to the other in a desperate bid to make right a horrible mistake he made involving one of his clients, and maybe - just maybe - earn some redemption for the sins he committed when he was alive.
While the story can be tedious at points, where it shines is in its humor and heart. In both cases the game displays an emotional maturity that acts as the lynchpin to the game's theme of redemption.