I get this question a lot ”My gf/bf/friend hates video games. How can I change their mind?” As someone who is both an avid gamer and watches her significant other play games when he’s using the TV, don’t play Star Wars Battlefront. Joking. Not really.
Basically, if you’re hoping to entertain the idea of someone to get into gaming, I would try and find something with an engaging story or isn’t too time consuming (whether we’re talking about game length or “it doesn’t get good until 8 hours in.”). While I enjoy the hell out of MOBAs, MMOs, FPS, all sorts of genres…interactive narrative is always something I will make time for. And when I come home to visit family, my 3 non-gaming sisters are always begging for me to throw on a game and play it for them.
I’ve always wanted to make a post like this, so here are the top games I’d suggest to anyone, viewer or player, to check out. All of these are solo player only.
Disclaimer: These are the ones I’VE played. My god there are many, many more titles out there and I’ve only listed a few, but I myself am still constantly playing catch up with everything gaming has to offer. That’s the beauty of the hobby, I suppose.
Not the underwear. SOMA is an underwater horror game sprinkled with some pretty heavy psychological themes. The game has no combat system, and enemy encounters revolve around hiding from your enemies rather than fighting them. There are little to no jump scares with this one, which can make watching gameplay with friends less nerve-wracking. What’s terrifying about this game though is how dark it is. Everything from the scenery to the themes of “what exactly is it that makes something human?” will make your skin crawl. One of my favorite titles from 2015 and highly underrated. It took me about 10 hours for this one I think, so it’s one of the longer titles on this list.
This 2016 title has you playing as a park ranger in the Wyoming wilderness over the summer. It’s got a lot of good mystery to it and moments where you’ll yell “NO FUCKING WAY!” Still, I have a love/hate relationship with this game. It’s absolutely stunning, and I still listen to the soundtrack from time to time. But its message is bittersweet. I still haven’t gotten over it quite yet.
I’ve admired the hell out of this game since the trailer back in 2014. Absolutely my favorite single player experience I’ve had in recent years. It’s an episodic game, meaning instead of a full game there are 5 “episodes” about 2-3 hours long. Perfect for playing one part at a time. If I describe what this game is about to you’ll think it’s stupid. A high school, teenage drama (think Degrassi) meets Twin Peaks. It starts out with you just discovering time travel powers, but becomes so much more than that.
I love this game so much I’ve bought it twice. The art is fantastic and you won’t forget the indie soundtrack either. Just to give you a sense of how ridiculous this episodic series is, here are some youtube comments if you look up any walkthroughs or music:
If Life is Strange is Degrassi meets Twin Peaks, this is Freaks and Geeks meets Poltergiest. Kind of similar to Life is Strange with the whole teen drama thing, but this one is more like Poltergeist. It looks like a simple 2-D platform game but has a completely unique way of telling a story. In real time you pick and choose through speech bubbles what you’d like to say to people, and those choices impact you later on in the game. Really cool illustration style as well.
VERY different game here. This crime fiction revolves around you watching various videos (and yes, with an actual actress) trying to figure out a murder mystery. I’m not going to say much here for fear of spoiling anything. Just play this one. It was nominated as Polygon’s #1 Game of the Year last year.
Like SOMA, this is another one of those “walking simulators.” You play as a girl returning home to see her family after being away for a while, but find out the house is deserted. You scour the premises for clues and hints as to where everyone has gone. Great voice acting and once again a better title if I don’t say much more about it.
Finding the story IS the game. There’s a narrator describing your every move, to the point where the goal seems to be about disregarding the narrator entirely. It started out as a mod for Half Life 2 by game designer Davey Wreden. He found that most major triple-A titles at the time make numerous assumptions about the player’s experience and fitting that within the game, and don’t provide answers for “what if” questions that the player may consider. It breaks the 4th wall quite often and likes to mess with your head a lot. You can easily see all 6 of the endings in about an hour.
Stunning visuals and soundtrack. This sci-fi fiction is really the only one on this list with combat. It’s NOT an interactive narrative but I wanted to add it to this list simply because of the art. It’s got a great story to tell and is literally a feast for the eyes. The combat can be a bit challenging to those who might normally not be into games, but it’s worth the persistence with this one.
Another horror/murder mystery game. Yeah…I like these. It’s set in an open world environment, meaning the player can roam around and explore at their will. You use paranormal abilities in order to solve crimes, such as sensing where important objects are located and reassembling the timeline of events tied to a certain death.