Whether it’s because we’ve been stuck inside from the pandemic or we’ve just been looking for something different, a lot of us have probably considered video games as a new hobby. But, between the sheer size of the industry, the multitude of platforms available, and the confusing technical aspects of gaming, it can be difficult to get your foot in the door. While we have [other articles to help you with that][Here, link to my article on getting into video games], we’ll be talking about something different here: story-focused games that are easy for beginners to play!
Why Should I Get into Gaming, Anyway?
Despite gaming’s mischaracterization as a medium dominated by mindless violence and mind-numbing drudgery, it has some of the most innovative, powerful stories you’ll find across any medium.
Every storytelling medium—books, movies, music, whatever—has its own specialty. Books excel at displaying internal conflict, while movies are exceptional at showing excitement and action.
Video games are all about immersion. They bring you into the story, get you wrapped up in the emotion, and give you control over what happens. This, especially when combined with excellent writing, cinematics, and acting, adds a powerful new element to a story.
But video games also have a downside that no other media does. You have to win to finish the tale. Simply throwing hours in will get you through any book or movie, but, with gaming, there’s always a chance that you’ll get roadblocked simply because you can’t complete that mission or beat that boss. As a result, the story drags to a standstill.
While some games are increasing their accessibility in myriad ways (including “story-mode” difficulties), that’s definitely not present across the board, making it hard for newbies to enjoy the great stories gaming has to offer. So, what’s the easiest solution?
Find games that aren’t too difficult in the first place!
How Do I Find the Right Games?
As I said, you should find games that are easy…or that, at least, aren’t too hard. While some might recommend [online, social games] [link to the pitch about Final Fantasy XIV from one of the other writers], the best stories are going to be found in single-player games. If you’re looking for easy, story-focused games, it’s probably going to lead you to one of two genres: Role Playing Games (or “RPGs”) and “Walking Simulators.” In general, RPGs will have longer, epic stories, while Walking Simulators will be shorter, but far more unique. As easy as it would be for you to just browse game stores for these genres, we’ve decided to do some of the work for you! Below, you’ll find some top-tier, accessible, story-focused games, most of them available on a wide range of platforms.
For the Lover of Soft Magic, Indie Films, and Webtoons:
What Remains of Edith Finch
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
What Remains of Edith Finch is a short game—a mere five hours—that plays like a magical indie film. In it, you take the role of Edith Finch—the youngest and sole remaining member of a supposedly cursed family in the modern era—as she visits her old, Escher-esque home to unravel the mystery of her family members’ deaths. As gripping as this already is, the game takes you one step further by making you play through each event, which have their own, very unique (but intuitive) forms of gameplay.
For Everyone Who Wanted to Rewrite the Game of Thrones Ending (and Wished It Had More Magic!)
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
While technically an “action-RPG” (a term that represents a fast-paced, action-heavy RPG), Dragon Age: Inquisition doesn’t require the twitch reflexes other games are known for, and it balances its difficulty fairly well. What really makes the game stand out is that every choice you make matters. Allies can become enemies and vice-versa, and the dark Western Fantasy world is an amazing amount of fun to influence.
For the Anime Nerds
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
The Tales Of series has a strong fan following for a reason, and while Tales of Vesperia may not be the strongest entry (in my opinion, at least), it is available on a wide variety of platforms and is a powerful example of why the series is so beloved. Tales of Vesperia features an exciting battle system reminiscent of [fighting games] [here, link to my article on introducing people to fighting games] without ever becoming too difficult. The learning curve is exceptionally gentle, allowing you to focus on its charming, colorful cast, its beautiful world, and a story that starts out fun and exciting while gently growing in depth and seriousness.
For the Hikers, Nature Lovers…and Those Who Always Wondered What Could Go Wrong When You’re Out There Alone
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
After Henry’s wife is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, he takes a summer job as a firewatcher in the Wyoming wilderness. He quickly starts a friendship with one of the other employees over the radio, which turns dark as they realize someone has been listening in on their conversations and tracking their movements, a mystery that you, as the player, must unravel. While you can’t affect the main story in this Walking Simulator, each player’s relationship with Henry’s friend will be unique. And, while the story is short, it’s incredibly powerful. You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; and you’ll think about the ending while you lay awake at night.
I know I did.
For Everyone Who Wanted Blade Runner to Be Shinier (and Wished They Had a Role!)
Detroit: Become Human
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC
Detroit takes place in a near-future version of the titular city, with a story that seems reminiscent of a cleaner Blade Runner. The big draw of the game, though, is that every single choice you make matters. Really. You micromanage the hell out of the game, and the gameplay feels more like an interactive film than what most think of as a video game. Even the parts you “lose” aren’t really lost—they just push the story in a different direction.
So, What Now?
Now, you should go out, pick one of these games, and get playing! If you decide you’d rather play something a little more exciting and don’t care much about the story, check out this article on the [fighting game genre] [again, link to my fighting game article]. Or, if you feel totally lost and would like some help getting into gaming as a whole, check out [our starter guide, here] [link to my “getting into gaming” article].