We all like to be told a good story. Some games place narrative at the very heart of the experience, minimising interactive elements in the name of spinning a good yarn.
This isn’t a bad thing at all, especially when it’s done well. Indeed, a compelling narrative that gets you directly involved can be deeply captivating. Each of these iOS narrative games are top examples of the format.
Oxenfree (Netflix account)
Oxenfree is a deeply creepy point-and-click style adventure about a bunch of friends who visit an abandoned military island for a party. The game’s horror-inflected plot is compelling enough, but it’s the fully voiced dialog that really keeps you coming back to see what happens next. You’ll find yourself caring about the characters even as you dread what’s around the next corner.
Her Story ($1.99/£1.79)
Sam Barlow’s hugely influential Her Story saw the unlikely return to popularity and respectability of the FMV (full motion video) game genre after a horrifyingly iffy spell in the early ’90s. This brilliantly executed whodunnit sees you piecing together evidence from a series of brilliantly acted video testimonies, scrubbing through for clues. This one packs a real narrative punch.
What Remains of Edith Finch ($4.99/£4.49)
What Remains of Edith Finch sees you ambling around a house in first person, steadily uncovering the morbid mysteries behind the family that used to live there. As befits the ‘walking simulator’ tag that such games often attract, there’s precious little in the way of puzzle solving or true interactivity here, but the ambient storytelling approach has been expertly executed.
Old Man’s Journey ($4.99/£4.49)
Old Man’s Journey is decidedly more gamey than others on this list, requiring you to indulge in a little light spatial puzzle solving. Its emotional yet completely wordless story is told through that gameplay – and the beautiful landscape that frames it – rather than any traditional narrative tricks, making for a uniquely affecting experience.
Florence doesn’t take a lot of time to run through, but boy does it make an impact within that brief running time. It’s a poignant love story with only the barest of interactive mechanics, told with a highly distinctive hand-drawn art style that makes it feel like a graphic novel come to life. This is also a narrative game that makes brilliant use of the iPhone. We’d say more, but we’d have to insert spoiler warnings.