12 Best Story-Driven Games on PC With Compelling and Unforgettable Narratives [2023]

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Storytelling has always been a strong suit for games across different console generations and PC gaming. If you’re like me, you love games that immerse you into stories with control in your hands, where you define the narrative around the main protagonist or a group of characters closely tied to you through empathy.

Before we list the best story-driven games on PC that will keep you hooked from start to end, let’s learn about the evolution of storytelling in PC games.

Evolution of Storytelling in PC Games

Storytelling is a fine art. To understand it, we must look beyond PC games and shift our focus to the 1970s. Video games were new during that period, but they left a lasting effect on people who got the chance to play them. Games like Pong on the Atari console captured the imagination of many people, as they clocked hundreds of hours on it. However, it was only moving blocks – a visual experience unique to almost everyone that played it for the first time.

However, with time and the advancement of technology, simple mechanics changed to more adventure-based games. In the 1980s, narrative-based games were wordplay as they let you perform actions with typing: Go left, pick up the key, grab the sword, and so on. They were immersive and able to provide a narrative with words.

YouTube video
Source: Old Classic Retro Gaming

The first game that combined action and narrative was Mystery House, released in 1980 for the Apple II device. It brought a point-and-click interface, removing the need to type commands. The suit followed as LucasArts released adventure-based games such as The Secret of Monkey Island.

The rapid growth in storytelling in PC games started when Blizzard Entertainment 1994 released Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. It engaged players with a compelling story, giving them a reason to fight. And, then, their best work hit the PC as World of Warcraft. They continued to provide excellent top-notch narrative-based games, including StarCraft and Diablo.

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In the current decade, there has been an increase in story-driven games. You get the likes of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Red Dead Redemption 2, and many more. These games take you on a journey where you play as a core character in the story. 

And it would be best if you also remembered indie-game developers that offered unparalleled storytelling. Some notable story-driven indie games include Undertale, Firewatch, Life is Strange, Inside, Gone Home, and Disco Elysium.

Now that you have a fair idea about the history of storytelling in video games, let’s dive into the list of games!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is undoubtedly the best story-driven RPG game of current times. It was released in 2015 and gained immense popularity due to its storytelling capacity. You play as the Geralt of Rivia, exploring the immersive world with your trusty horse, Roach, while staring at the game’s awe-staking environment.

The story starts as you get the contract to track Ciri – the Child of Prophecy. And the stakes are high as Ciri is a powerful woman who can change the world.

witcher-3-2
Source: Steam

The game offers plenty of content in the form of activities. For example, you can play a game of Gwent with NPCs or take additional contracts to kill monsters. You get plenty of side-quests as you explore different combat techniques, including stances, signs, and potions.

The Game of the Year edition has all the goodies you’ll need to get immersed. It comes with the next-gen patch, which improves graphics to a new level. You get to continue your journey with two excellent DLCs, the Heart of Stone, and Blood and Wine, offering 100 hours of additional playtime.

Preview Product Rating Price
The Witcher 3 Game of the Year Edition (PC DVD) The Witcher 3 Game of the Year Edition (PC DVD) No ratings yet $22.32
  • Developer: CD PROJEKT RED
  • Estimated time to complete: 56 hours for the main story and 187 hours for the completionist.
  • Release Date: May 18, 2015

Life is Strange: True Colors

Life is Strange is a well-known interactive story-driven franchise in the market. With Life is Strange True Colors, you continue to explore the world from the eyes of Alex Chen. 

She is a psychic who can absorb and manipulate others’ emotions. Initially, she hides her powers but is compelled to use them after a freak accident that kills her brother — and begins the fascinating story of unrevealing the town’s dark secret that leads to her brother’s death.

Life is Strange: True Colors

The story takes place in Haven Springs. It is a small mining town located at the core of Colorado which adds to the game’s mysteries. And the artsy camera filter graphics does justice to the storytelling, whereas the audio fills you in so that you stay close to your character.

So, if you like interactive story-driven games, you must try Life is Strange: True Colors.

  • Developer: Deck Nine
  • Estimated time to complete: 10 hours for the main story and 13 hours for the completionist.
  • Release Date: Sep 10, 2021

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a Western-theme story-driven action game. In this wild-west style game, you play as outlaw Arthur Morgan. The game is well-crafted in all departments, including outstanding graphics, surreal audio, and an excellent storyline full of surprises and twists.

Red Dead Redemption 2
Source: Steam

The game starts when you, as Arthur Morgan and part of the Van der Linde gang, find trouble in the western town of Blackwater. The gang is forced to flee with federal agents and bounty hunters after you — and thus begins the atmospheric story-driven adventure where you try to outrun the chasers. You can follow an honor system that determines Morgan’s morality during your journey. It can impact your gameplay and overall story outcome, so choose wisely, as the NPCs remember what you did to them!

Preview Product Rating Price
Red Dead Redemption 2 - PC [Online Game Code] Red Dead Redemption 2 - PC [Online Game Code] No ratings yet $59.99

The vast open world of RDR2 takes place across five fictitious U.S. states, which you’re free to explore. However, you’ll need to be wary about the random events, including ambushes, public executions, and people asking for help. You can also participate in side activities such as dueling, poker, and hunting. 

  • Developer: Rockstar Studios
  • Estimated time to complete: 50 hours for the main story and 179 hours for the completionist.
  • Release Date: November 5, 2019

The Wolf Among Us

Telltale is a master in storytelling through its interactive games. One of their famous creation is The Wolf Among Us – a story-rich detective game based on the popular and award-winning Fables comic books by Bill Willingham. Here, you play as Bigby Wolf — yes, a WOLF; you must discover the hidden truth behind the bloody and brutal murder in the Clandestine community during New York’s 1980s. As the sheriff of the town, it’s his job as he makes various decisions throughout the story — each having a massive impact on the outcome.

The Wolf Among Us
Source: Steam

The Wolf Among Us offers an episodic release with 5 episodes to explore. These include Faith, Smoke & Mirrors, A Crooked Mile, In Sheep’s Clothing, and Cry Wolf.

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The Wolf Among Us (PC DVD) The Wolf Among Us (PC DVD) No ratings yet

So, if you want to experience the Fables comic book through the Telltale style of presentation and narrative, then Wolf Among Us is for you!

  • Developer: Telltale Games
  • Estimated time to complete: 8 to 11 hours for the main story.
  • Release Date: October 14, 2013

A Plague Tale: Requiem

A Plague Tale: Requiem brings you to an incredible, breathtaking story where you learn how to survive in a grueling yet exciting world. You play as a duo of Amicia and Hugo and continue your journey in the game’s prequel, A Plague Tale: Innocence.

The fantasy world requires you to plan your next move carefully as you try to protect your brother from a supernatural curse. You can stealth attack your enemies or use powerful weapons and magic attacks.

A Plague Tale: Requiem
Source: Steam

And, when you start saving your brother, you’ll have to bear the consequences, including the return of the devouring rats.

Preview Product Rating Price
A Plague Tale : Requiem Standard - PC [Online Game Code] A Plague Tale : Requiem Standard - PC [Online Game Code] No ratings yet $49.99

But before you dive deep into the unique experience, it is always a great idea to try out the game through Xbox Game Pass by getting its 1-month subscription.

  • Developer: Asobo Studio
  • Estimated time to complete: 17 hours for the main story and 128 hours for the completionist.
  • Release Date: October 18, 2022

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Mass Effect Legendary Edition brings back the story of legend Commander Shepard as the hero goes through the sci-fi adventure of saving the universe and then continuing their journey into the worlds of Mass Effect (2007), Mass Effect 2 (2010), and Mass Effect 3 (2012). The Legendary Edition contains every single-player content from all three Mass Effect games, including 40 DLCs.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Source: Steam

The remaster lets you play it at its full 4K UHD HDR glory, where you take control of your beloved Normandy ship, taking it to the different corners of the universe. Like the original, you get to customize your character (with new customizations such as improved hair, eye color, and skin tones) before you embark on the journey to explore the Mass Effect Universe.

Preview Product Rating Price
Mass Effect Legendary Edition - Origin PC [Online Game Code] Mass Effect Legendary Edition - Origin PC [Online Game Code] No ratings yet $59.99

The Legendary edition also brings new gameplay enhancements with better weapon feel and firing. The input controls are also revamped to suit new generational players with better squad behavior, cover mechanics, and gameplay cameras.

  • Developer: BioWare
  • Estimated time to complete: 60 hours for the main story and 135 hours for the completionist.
  • Release Date: May 14, 2021

Half-Life 2

When is Half-Life 3 coming? Well, no one knows, even though there are many hints (the meme just writes itself).

Until then, you enjoy the classic storytelling action game, Half-Life 2, which won over 50 Game of the Year titles in 1998. And you will enjoy the gem even if you play it in 2023.

Half-Life 2
Source: Steam

Half-Life 2 drastically improves on Half-life 1 as it adds more realism to the character, the environment, and the storytelling, as Gordon Freeman picks up his legendary crowbar to fight against the aliens with the responsibility to free the world from the wrongdoings that took place at Black Mesa.

The game still shines thanks to the ahead-of-the-time Source Value proprietary engine technology. It brought advanced facial animations and hyper-realistic water physics, as well as impressive AI that can challenge the best of you — truly ahead of the time.

So, try Half-Life 2 for fantastic storytelling and to see how it changed the shooter genre. And after you finish it, you can play Half-Life Episodes 1 and 2; don’t forget to ask the Steam community — “When is Half-Life 3 coming?”

  • Developer: Valve
  • Estimated time to complete: 13 hours for the main story and 20 hours for the completionist.
  • Release Date: November 16, 2004

Check it out on Steam.

Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition

Are you feeling the need to enjoy an epic story with action-adventure at its core? Then, check out Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition. The game lets you explore a futuristic machine-ruled Earth as you play as Aloy to fight against the odds to find hidden mysteries ruled by deadly machines.

Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition
Source: Steam

As you play through the quest line, you learn about new tribes and locations and fight 26 new machines with unique fighting styles and weaknesses. And you can also tame a few machines and use them to move across the world.

The game’s PC version has additional features, such as 4K ultra-wide support. Also, the Complete Edition gives you access to its vast expansion, The Frozen Wilds. 

  • Developer: Guerrilla
  • Estimated time to complete: 30 hours for the main story and 77 hours for the completionist.
  • Release Date: Aug 7, 2020

Check it out on Steam.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo is a legendary game franchise that has left its mark on gamers. And, if you want to relive the epic sage of Halo games, then Halo: The Master Chief Collection is the game you must pick.

The Master Chief Collection has 6 Halo games, including Halo: Reach, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo 4. The epic bundle sets to an unparalleled Halo Campaign across multiple games where you explore the Halo universe in the best possible way. You get to play a total of 67 campaign missions across six games!

Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Source: Steam

In addition to a well-crafted narrative-heavy single-player campaign, Halo is also famous for its multiplayer. Over the collection, you get access to more than 120 multiplayer maps. Most importantly, the collection also brings Halo Forge, an iconic map editor with improved means to build maps.

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Halo: Master Chief Collection - PC [Digital Code] Halo: Master Chief Collection - PC [Digital Code] No ratings yet $39.99

Playing through the saga, you can notice how storytelling evolved in games. With time, Halo storytelling took advantage of the advancement in technology. Moreover, with 343 Industries taking over Halo 4 development, it showed a drastic change in approach, which continued with Halo 5 and Halo: Infinite.

  • Developer: 343 Industries
  • Estimated time to complete: 58 hours for the single-player content, 44 hours for co-op
  • Release Date: December 3, 2019

The Last of Us Part 1

With PlayStation releasing its games on PC, you can experience one of the best stories of all time in The Last of Us Part 1 game. The game’s storytelling is excellent, and it makes it evident from its 200+ Game of the Year Awards.

It takes you through an emotional story where you play as Joel to smuggle out Ellie, a 14-year-old kid from a military quarantine zone. The game’s setting revolves around an infested and ravaged civilization fighting among itself and against the infected. In addition, you also get to explore the Left Behind prequel chapter, where you learn how Ellie and her best friend Riley see the events that changed their lives.

The Last of Us Part 1
Source: Steam

The Last of Us Part 1 remake on PC sees plenty of upgrades in terms of graphics and optimization. It brings new features such as Nvidia DLSS Super Resolution and AMD FSR 2.2 support, making it easy for anyone to run it and enjoy its breathtaking take on the survival-horror genre. The PC release also adds ultrawide support with improved 3D audio so that you can feel the horror.

Overall, TLOU offers an excellent-paced single-player story that can make you cry. It explores an exciting relationship that revolves around humanity and is one of the best story-driven games on PC.

  • Developer: Naughty Dog
  • Estimated time to complete: 14 hours for the main story and 22 hours for the completionist.
  • Release Date: March 28, 2023

Check it out on Steam.

Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2 redefined the horror genre with the psychological warfare that the player must experience during its story-heavy single-player campaign. It first came out in 2001 on PlayStation. However, the recent news of the Silent Hill 2 remake is real, with the release date still being determined.

Silent Hill 2
Source: Steam

There is little news on how the remake will stand out. However, its Steam page offers a compelling outlook on how things can pan out.

So, if you’re a horror game lover who loves storytelling, keep waiting for its remake to be released on PC.

  • Developer: Bloober Team
  • Estimated time to complete: 8 hours for the main story and 16 hours for the completionist for the original 2001 version.
  • Release Date: TBA, most probably 2024

Check it out on Steam.

BioShock: The Collection

The Bioshock franchise is one of my favorites on PC. It offers a combination of excellent shooting, magic spells, and storytelling, with top-notch graphics and a surreal soundtrack. The package will keep you hooked from start to finish as you discover the underwater world of Rapture and the above-water world of Columbia.

BioShock: The Collection
Source: Steam

BioShock: The Collection is a package of all the BioShock games, which include the original BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite. The first game sets the tone for an epic adventure where you play as Jack — a young man who arrived at Ratpure when a plane crashed near a lighthouse. He then explores the place and learns to wield new powers with potions by modifying his DNA. You get accustomed to little girls and the Big Daddy in charge of protecting the girls.

BioShock 2 takes you to events 10 years after the original Bioshock as you discover who’s snatching the little girls. The events take place during the fall of Rapture.

Preview Product Rating Price
BioShock BioShock No ratings yet $18.66Amazon Prime

And, in BioShock Infinite, you’re placed in the shoes of a U.S. Cavalry veteran with the mission to rescue Elizabeth. It is an epic adventure with a unique combat system and storytelling.

  • Developer: 2K Marin, 2K China, Digital Extreme, and others
  • Estimated time to complete: 8 hours for the main story and 16 hours for the completionist for the original 2001 version.
  • Release Date: Sep 16, 2016

Conclusion

Story-driven games on PC have come a long way. All games bring something unique from the Half-life 2 era to The Last of Us Part 1 era. And, with the advancement of technology, it has become easy for developers to capture user expression and add real-life graphics and excellent sound for telling a story through video games — giving you a chance to forget reality.

Liked what you read? Check out our list of the best PS4 RPGs that you can play today!

Nitish Singh
Nitish Singhhttp://www.techaltair.com
For the past 20 years, Nitish has been an avid gamer. His primary focus is on PC games, but he also enjoys exploring the worlds of Nintendo, XBOX, and PlayStation. Nitish is always looking for new games to try out and is particularly fascinated with emulation.

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