5 Games Even Non-Gamers Should Try

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By Nicole Pryde, @xnikkipryde

 

Lately I’ve been having conversations with my non-gamer friends about what makes video games unappealing to them. The main things that repeatedly came up were complicated mechanics and settings, lengthy play time, and affordability. There also seemed to be an assumption that video games in general lack story and depth.

 

I personally love video games with strong stories, and I’m constantly trying to convince my non-gamer friends to give my favorites a try. So, I decided to compile a short list of some games that I feel have unique, emotional, or complex stories…while also being affordable, simple in mechanics, and short in play time.

 

Life is Strange

 

 

This choice-and-consequence game by Dontnod Entertainment was one of my favorite gaming experiences of 2015. The protagonist is a teenage girl named Max Caufield, who is a photography student at a private, arts-focused secondary school called Blackwell Academy. Max is by all means a normal girl – dealing with snobby classmates, awkward relationships, and the pressure to find herself and succeed in a field she loves – when she accidentally discovers that she has the ability to turn back time. Within hours of realizing her powers, she saves the life of another teenage girl named Chloe, who happened to be her childhood best friend. The two reconnect, and as they explore the limitations of Max’s powers, they find themselves becoming deeply involved with the strange recent events in their town, including the recent disappearance of a local girl called Rachel Amber. It is an up-and-down emotional journey that will tug at your heartstrings. Get the tissues ready.

 

This is a decision-based and story-focused game, so the controls are very simple. As Max, you walk around, interact with objects, and have opportunities to choose between different actions or dialogue. The “butterfly effect” plays a huge role in this game. The choices you make affect how the story ends. The game is also broken up into five episodes that last about two to three hours each, and with a recap given at the start of each episode, it’s incredibly easy to pick up and put down when it’s convenient for the player.

 

Gone Home

 

 

Admittedly, I almost didn’t go through with this game because one I started playing, I was half convinced that it was going to turn into a horror game with a jump scare or something. But that’s absolutely not what this game is. In this story exploration game by The Fullbright Company, you play as Katie, a young woman who just arrived home after spending a year abroad. It’s late in the evening and no one else is home yet, but a letter from Katie’s younger sister Sam is taped to the door.  She says that she has left the home, and does not want anyone to know where she is.

 

As you walk through the house, you find more letters and items from Sam.  Sam’s voice reads the letters aloud overhead as the player explores and interacts with objects that give clues as to what was happening to the family while Katie was away. The events leading up to Sam’s departure are emotional, heartbreaking, and at times kind of dark.  The gameplay is super simple – you just walk around and hit buttons to interact with the objects that interest you – and only lasts a couple of hours.  Some may say that’s not enough for a game that costs about 20USD, but in my opinion it was well worth it to experience the touching, well-written story.

 

Oxenfree

 

 

Much like the aforementioned Life is Strange, Oxenfree is a choice-based game with a mysterious coming-of-age story. The player takes on the role of Alex, a teenage girl joining her friends for an overnight trip to the mostly-deserted Edwards Island. In investigating an urban legend surrounding the island, they accidentally open a rift to a paranormal dimension, and things start to get creepy. Despite the gameplay being very simple and short, the game has a great story with a lot of heart. If you’d like to know more about the story, I’ve actually already reviewed it here on The Nerd Machine.

 

The Walking Dead: Season One

 

 

Even if you’re not big on The Walking Dead comics or television series (I’ve never read the comics myself, and I stopped watching the show during season three), this game can still amaze. You play as Lee Everett, a former professor and convicted criminal who is being transported via cop car when the outbreak starts. When the car wrecks and Lee is attacked by walkers, he has to flee to safety. He ends up at the home of Clementine, a sweet little girl who had been left in the care of a now-deceased babysitter. Unable to abandon the poor girl, and convinced that her parents aren’t coming back, he decides to take young Clementine with him to keep her safe.

 

This game, much like all of the other games developed by Telltale, is an episodic, decision-based story. The player’s dialogue options and decisions not only affect the ultimate outcome, but also the way the characters around them behave, how relationships develop, etc. It’s an incredibly emotional story that is about so much more than survival and fighting zombies. Even though it’s relatively short, it has more heart than some awesome games that are over fifty hours long.

 

The Wolf Among Us

 

 

The Wolf Among Us gives a dark story based adventure that is mostly noir-inspired. Based on the comic series Fables by Bill Willingham, The Wolf Among Us illustrates a world in which fairytale creatures live in 1980s New York City. The story echoes the city of that time period, showing a seedy and dangerous environment in which fables–turned-prostitutes are being murdered. Detective Bigby (the Big Bad Wolf Himself) is the main character investigating the escalating crimes, with a main cast of Snow White, Ichabod Crane, and many others. Eventually, a conspiracy is uncovered leading to a thrilling series of events.

 

The juxtaposition of neon lights with gruff wolf men and foul-mouthed toads creates a unique setting not replicated in most games. While using the standard Telltale episodic game structure, this game sets itself apart by setting and focus on mystery. The neon-drenched streets give The Wolf Among Us a decidedly different vibe than other story-focused games and the constant twists of the story will keep the player engaged.

 

Do any other gamers in our community have more suggestions to add? Please let us know in the comments!


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