10 Video Games with the Most Unconventional Narratives
In recent years, video games have increasingly focused on storytelling as an integral part of the gaming experience. While many titles opt for traditional, cinematic narratives akin to mainstream movies, there is a growing trend toward experimental, avant-garde, and outright bizarre storytelling in popular video games.
10. Death Stranding
Renowned game creator Hideo Kojima is known for his unconventional narrative style, and Death Stranding is no exception. Set in a devastated United States, the game follows a porter delivering supplies to keep remaining cities connected. It features invisible “Beached Thing” monsters, a cargo-obsessed cult, and the unique ability for players to swim back to their body upon death. The story unfolds with themes of an adopted fetus, terrorism, and the revelation of the player character’s sister as an entity perpetuating extinction events.
9. BioShock Infinite
BioShock Infinite takes players on a wild narrative ride, beginning with the rescue mission of Elizabeth in the flying city of Columbia. However, the game takes a sharp turn around its midpoint, delving into alternate universes, time travel, causality, redemption, and an endless array of lighthouses representing alternate realities.
8. The Stanley Parable
The Stanley Parable is an intentionally post-modern and metanarrative game that revolves around player choices in response to a narrator’s guidance. The game offers numerous, often bizarre, endings, such as nuclear explosions, encounters with scrapped game elements, and parodies of other games like Minecraft and Portal.
7. Elden Ring
FromSoftware’s titles are known for their unconventional storytelling, relying heavily on background lore rather than a straightforward plot. Elden Ring explores strange elements like a divine goddess married to her male self, kidnappings, and intricate mythological references throughout the game.
6. Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium takes an unusual path in video game storytelling, using its plot to delve into political and philosophical satire. As detective Harry investigates a murder, the story becomes increasingly convoluted, with different facets of Harry’s mind and a surreal world where different nations are separated by mist.
5. Doki Doki Literature Club!
Doki Doki Literature Club! initially appears as a traditional dating sim but turns into a horror game, with character deaths, glitches, and a self-aware antagonist who must be deleted from the game.
4. The Binding of Isaac
Although gameplay takes precedence over narrative in The Binding of Isaac, the story still introduces strange elements. It follows a child pursued by his religious mother, featuring transformations, dream-like sequences, and a revelation that the game is a story written by Isaac and his father.
3. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Known for its unconventional narratives, the Metal Gear Solid series takes a post-modern and avant-garde approach in Sons of Liberty. The game features misinformation, turning off the console, and a storyline that intentionally defies logic.
2. Alan Wake
Alan Wake draws inspiration from mind-bending thrillers, introducing players to incomprehensible situations. The narrative is filled with time skips, amnesia, dreams, and layers of reality, culminating in an explanation that may leave players puzzled.
Undertale is a love letter to classic RPGs, deconstructing common tropes while involving players in high-concept narratives. The game challenges conventions such as saving, EXP, and levels, making them in-universe concepts discussed by other characters, especially in the Pacifist and Genocide Routes.