"Best Story" Contenders in GOTY 2018


#21

Spoilers for God of War and Spider-Man:

What I loved most about the Aunt May scene is how it purposefully plays with the notion of player choice versus character agency. From the way the dilemma is set up to the shot composition, it felt like the game was setting you up for an “L2 save May, R2 save the City” sort of moral choice. But that doesn’t happen, because this Peter does the right thing regardless of what he needs to sacrifice. It’s a scene that I was reminded of this weekend as I got near the end of God of War.

In that game, a similar situation arises that telegraphs a possible moral choice. Does Kratos leave Freya to die at Baldur’s hands, as both of them wish, or does he intervene and kill Baldur, thereby saving Freya’s life? But like in Spider-Man, Kratos makes the choice for us. He saves Freya, much to her chagrin, but it never feels like a choice that makes much sense. Kratos wishes to end the cycle of matricide and patricide that plagues the gods, sure, but he does that by perpetuating more violence? Or perhaps he felt that he owed Freya for saving Atreus, but he pays the favor back by going expressly against her wishes? And there’s little reflection of the dilemma in any case, with Kratos and his companions framing it as a difficult but correct choice. It didn’t feel all that correct to me game!

Anyway, the contrast of the two scenes is emblematic for why I feel Spider-Man had the better narrative. It does the work to make us empathize with who Spidey is and make his decisions feel natural to him. God of War, like its protagonist, feels more fractured and inscrutable in comparison.


#22

Obra Dinn for me.


#23

YES. god I loved this game? I loved this game. It’s much deeper than I was expecting? I was anticipating a goofy light-hearted adventure about a silly bard who sings at all his problems and, okay, it is that, but it’s not just that.
Very vague Chapter 5? 6? spoilers The whole scene in the club where Miriam is dancing, and you can dance next to her, and she just… talks. Was absolutely wonderful.


#24

I haven’t played a lot of different games this year, but Wandersong would probably still be at the top for me, even if I had played more games.

Wandersong looks like a goofy, colourful adventure and don’t get me wrong, it is. But it also tells a story about hope in a hopeless situation, without ever really falling into clichees.
Maybe it’s just the fact that this year has been horrible for me personally, but I really needed a story that showed that it’s still worth fighting for a better world, even when everything around you tries to tell you that it doesn’t matter.


#25

I haven’t finished Moss, but it might be up there.

Specific to the AAA games space, probably Spider-Man due to how solid the character-writing and narrative pacing was. It takes what’s worked about the movies, TV shows, and comics, to create a great send-up of all the material.

Overall, Deltarune. It’s not straying too far from the storytelling techniques in Undertale, which is great, because UT was in a league of its own when it came to characterization, theming, and hitting hard on the major story beats. DR takes those fundamental qualities and uses them to tell a story that’s subtly inverting the ideas of UT’s core themes.

It says a lot about a writer when they’re able to create a full, engaging, and thought-provoking story with just a first act.


#26

Feeling a little bummed out that I haven’t played multiple games from 2018 with a stellar story. Last year was a knockout with Night in the Woods and Edith Finch and other good stuff. This year, well I’ve only played four games from this year and the best story basically goes to Red Dead by default because it’s the only one with a story to speak of. I’ll have some catching up to do next year, I guess.

(But Iconoclast was mentioned earlier, and I’m excited to check that out when it comes to PS+ tomorrow.)


#27

It’s definitely more than just that. I loved the ways it intentionally muddies the waters about how much change and goodness can be created by just being kind. There were definitely a few moments where I thought it didn’t stick the landing on those themes, but overall I loved it too.

Some Wandersong spoilers:

That moment with Miriam is so great. I was also a huge fan of the twist at the end of Chapter 3. The reveal of the real “hero”, leading into the huge tonal shift at the beginning of Chapter 4 (the factory), is so well done. Also, each time that Lil B hugged someone was beautiful. People should hug more in games.


#28

I think Celeste deserves a nod simply due to how well they managed to marry the gameplay with the Story and overall themes of failure and self acceptance. It hit me really hard as someone who’s been going through a lot of personal stuff this year and I can honestly say that it helped me out of some pretty tough times. It also manages to balance tone extremely well, it is very rare for me that a game can manage to be charming, funny, sad, heartwarming, dramatic and even a little bit scary at times. It is a beautifully told story that has something to say and it elegantly dovetails with the gameplay. I can’t say enough good stuff about it, Celeste is an amazing game and a text book example of thematically and narratively coherrent gamedesign.


#29

I have finished the last episode of The Council.

I retract my statement on it even being close to The Best Story let alone a good story. This game goes so far off the cliff that it enters a whole nother dimension. Oh my god. It reaches a level of absurdity in episodes 4 and 5 that I APPLAUD the audacity of even making it. The actual confidence to have a sequel hook while having less closure than KOTOR 2 is amazing. Wow.

The first three episodes are so strong then it just loses the plot so hard that I’m sure my eyes burst from my skull in confusion at the end of the final episode.


#30

Subnautica was officially released in 2018. While not a typical story, the story of the planet and it’s ecology is what made it such a wonderful game. It has my vote.


#31

I finished Florence five minutes ago and I’m still crying. I teared up a bit here and there playing through the game, but then I got to the part where [Ending Spoiler]you find the photo of Florence and Krish under her keyboard and I did some serious ugly crying for a good minute. Besides the fact that this game turned me into Steven Universe for an hour, I just love how Florence tells its story. It’s all very simple in its premise, but presents the story’s events in a lot of creative ways that actually make great use of the fact that it’s a mobile game. I’d explain what I mean by that, but this game really does deserve not being spoiled for others.


#32

Happy to see others recommending Unavowed and Florence. I played the latter while a friend watched and we both like, had some Big Feelings during it. Unavowed was bought for me by a friend while I was stuck in the mountains of North Carolina for 2 weeks and it managed to get me through that time and tell a damn good story while it was at it. Deltarune is also a good one, and I did have a lot of fun with God of War, but that felt almost in spite of Kratos in some ways.

I don’t have anything new to recommend because I haven’t actually finished the one game I have for this year that hasn’t been mentioned yet: Octopath Traveler. I haven’t started it, because I just got around to borrowing it from a friend, so IDK how the story will shake out. Turns out, I’ve mostly been playing old games and re-releases this whole year.

Can I recommend MMO expansions? If yes, Stormblood for FFXIV definitely would be my pick.


#33

Octopath has plenty of redeeming qualities but its story is definitely not one of them. It is utter garbage in most respects and often the least pleasurable part of the experience.


#34

You’re the first person I’ve ever seen say this about Octopath. I’ve generally seen people pretty happy with how strangely it handled the narrative for a single player RPG.


#35

I think the takes on this forum were pretty similar to mine. The gameplay’s great. The story is…not. It’s mostly very boilerplate and in a few cases it’s just gross, particularly the opening of the dancer storyline.


#36

Primrose’s story sucks in a lot of complicated ways, it squanders all of it’s interesting stuff with blunt, cliche driven dialogue and a lot of Edgy for Edgy’s sake.

But other than that I actully enjoyed most of Octopath’s stories, even if I’d only call about half of them “Good”. Ophelia’s is sappy as hell and I love it a whole lot, it’s probably my fave of the bunch. Tressa’s feels fresh and interesting and she’s a great lead, as are Haanit and Cyrus, who all carry their stories super well. I’ve got a soft spot for Therion and Alphyn too, but I’ve not finished theirs yet. I’d agree that overall Octopath probably isn’t Best Story material, but I do like it a lot and I think it deserves a mention.