There are countless games that focus on drawing the player into a new world with a fantastical story. There are also many, many games that barely have any story worth mentioning and survive because of their rock solid gameplay. For this list I tried to focus on mostly single-player experiences. There are a number of multiplayer games that have absolutely zero story elements and are fantastic. Some people think Overwatch is one these games (although Blizzard does try to tell stories outside of the game with comics and short videos). Some of the games on this list do have stories, but are either so secondary that they might as well not be there or repeated throughout the series history so many times that it is just as meaningless. Anyway, enjoy the list!
Super Mario Bros. (series)
Does saving the princess from a giant turtle count as story? I don’t think so. Mario barely says three words in any of his video games. He does say Ya-Hoo a whole lot. I am a huge fan of the Super Mario games, especially Odyssey. Some of them have had more story lines than others, but the gameplay in all of the Mario games is top notch. Running, jumping, and collecting things is just simple enough to appeal to a wide audience. Over the years Nintendo has really honed this formula and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Dark Souls (series)
I always thought that because Dark Souls‘ story was near non-existent that I wouldn’t enjoy it. Boy was I wrong. I have recently started Dark Souls II and will soon begin Bloodborne, all in anticipation of Dark Souls Remastered coming later this year. The reason that I enjoy the game so much is because of the great gameplay designs. Sure the game is difficult, but it is also fair. Every battle teaches you something different and eventually you learn how to master the combat against all sorts of monsters and demons. I am also looking forward to replaying the games and trying some different weapons and combat abilities.
Mega Man (series)
The epitome of gameplay over story. The Mega Man series not only features some of the best music in video games, but also features some of the best music. Some of the my favorite features of video games is the idea of super effective attacks. Pokémon has super effective attacks and Pokémon is one of the best games of all time. The idea of having a different levels of effectiveness between weapons and certain enemies adds a great layer of strategy to the game. The Mega Man series has excellent platforming coupled with excellent character design. Sure the story is to save the world from Dr. Wily, but that just ends being a mechanic to get from point A to point B.
Do games need stories? I would argue that they do not need stories to be successful. But that combining stories with gameplay can create an experience that offers something different than film or literature, and that is what gaming is all about – doing something different than the classic forms of media.
Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks