The best video games can take you on a spellbinding journey through a cleverly written and well thought out story, but the line between video game and drawn out movie is thin. Many games avoid this by giving you minor choices, making it feel like you have control over your destiny. As we know, most choices we make in games have minimal importance over the course of the game. The games on this list, however, double down on the idea of choose your own adventure. Here are 25 Best Video Games Where Your Choices Matter.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead
Let’s start off this list with the game that brought the genre back into the mainstream. While not the first of its kind, “The Walking Dead” introduced a new generation of gamers to the idea of making big choices in games. While we know now that our choices didn’t matter much, people playing the game at the time could never be sure how much their decisions would change things.
We’ll never forget having to choose which character would live and which one would die within the first few hours of the game.
Westerado: Double Barreled
This game sets you on a mission of vengeance across the wild west as you hunt down the man who murdered your family and set fire to your home. “Westerado” randomly generates the man who killed your family; it could anyone and it’s all up to you to make the right choices to track him down.
Threaten the wrong person, and they might not give up vital clues that could lead to the killer. Do certain quests, and it could lock away other paths and leave clues unfound. Westerado makes anything you do have consequences and, with the random nature of the game, it makes every play-through different from the last.
The Stanley Parable
You find yourself alone at work with no direction other than the voice of a narrator. Do you do as the narrator says or do you purposely go against what it says? This game is all about whether you actually have a choice in narrative stories or not.
Making strange and questionable choices in the game will result in strange and odd situations, making this game a must play for those who enjoy the art of narrative.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
“Shattered Memories” is a re-imagining of the first “Silent Hill” game, filled with the normal exploration of Silent Hill itself as well as running for your life from monsters. It’s divided into two separate parts. There’s the aforementioned exploration, but also a set of therapy sessions determining your own psych profile.
It’s in these therapy sessions where the game determines what type of play-style your playing, then it’ll change the game accordingly. Based on your answers, during these sessions, the rest of the game will alter certain aspects of its world to reflect your answers.
Ever want to be the bad guy in the video game? Well, “Tyranny” gives you the chance to be the merciless blood-lusting murderer ever gamer wishes they could be.
Throughout its main story, you make a number of important decisions. Most of Tyranny’s biggest choices come from its Conquest mode at the beginning of the game. Conquest acts as a prologue to the main game and it has you making monumental choices that you get to see the effects of later in the game.
Most of the games choices have to do with the overarching conflict between the game’s two major factions and which one you’ll favor throughout the story.
With your son kidnapped and possibly in the hands of the dreaded Origami Killer, it’s up to you to find the clues and rescue your son. The Origami Killer doesn’t make it easy, though. Along the way, you’ll have to make near impossible decisions that will test your morale and mental limits.
Will you have what it takes to complete these twisted challenges, such as mutilating yourself or killing a former criminal with a family of his own? If not, you risk the chance of the Origami killer taking your son’s life. The choice is up to you.
Life Is Strange
In “Life is Strange” you play Max, a high school student who discovers she has the ability to rewind time. The choices you make have lasting consequences that you might not see until late in the game. While you can rewind time after the immediate fallout of your decision, you won’t be able to reverse your choice later.
At first, many choices you make seem like simple teen drama, but the game quickly evolves and puts you in life or death situations. Early on, if you didn’t make a number of small decisions, it could result in the death of a character.
The moral decisions may have lasting effects in game but could very well have lasting effects on the player as well.
This Is The Police
In “This Is The Police” you play a police chief who’s only trying to make to make it for a few months before retirement. The city of Freeburg has other plans. This game pulls no punches. Within the tutorial of the game, you make a choice that could help a friend and crooked cop get himself out of trouble, but goes against your code. Depending on your choice, his fate is decided as he and his entire family could end up dead. Not long after, the game prompts you to “fire all black cops” due to threats to their lives from a group of extremists.
Tales From The Borderlands
This is Telltale’s hilarious take on the Borderlands franchise. You control a scoundrel from the streets of Pandora and a corporate stooge trying to achieve his wildest dreams.
In Pandora it pays to have friends and the allies you make throughout the game will play a big part in the finale of the game. If you haven’t made the right connections, you won’t see many characters a second time at the end of the game.
FTL: Faster Than Light
“FTL” gives you a daunting mission—save the federation from a massive rebel space station. It equips you with a ship and only a handful of crew-members to do so.
While it may seem like the biggest choices are what weapons to equip, the choices you make could mean the difference between saving the galaxy and dying in a horrible explosion.
This game has many small random encounters that test your moral limits. Do you send a few crew members down to a planet to help civilians knowing they could die in the process? Do you buy a slave in order to gain a new crew member or do you blow the dirty slavers out of the sky along with the slaves? What’s more important—the mission or what is right?
Do you ever watch horror movies and find yourself yelling at the characters to make the right choices? Well “Until Dawn” is your chance to prove that you could do better. In this game, you take control of multiple teenagers as they try to survive until dawn.
It won’t be easy. Even small choices could result in the death of a character. It’s up to you to navigate all eight characters through this amalgamation of horror movie tropes and make the right decisions for all eight to survive.
The Wolf Among Us
Based on the comic series “Fables,” “The Wolf Among Us” puts you in the shoes of Sheriff Bigby Wolf as you try to solve a murder mystery that evolves into a conspiracy plot.
Like most of Telltale’s games, your choices don’t change much of the story as a whole. No, in The Wolf Among Us, the choices you make will determine what kind of Bigby Wolf you’ll be. Will you be the hero of Fabletown, always doing the right and just thing, or are you willing to take the law into your own hands, killing those who seek to kill you before you can solve the mystery?
Your actions towards other characters also play into the final scene of the game as you try to get the people of Fabletown to trust your judgement.
“Papers, Please” takes place in fictional country Arstotzka that has just reopened its borders, and you play the part of an immigration officer, denying and granting entry to foreigners. While it may sound easy enough, as political tension increases, you have to keep track of more rules and regulations, forcing you to develop an observant eye.
Papers, Please prompts you with many decisions, from deciding whether food or heat is more important for your family, all the way to helping a secret organization take control of the country. Every choice you make factors in to what ending out of twenty you get.
“Dishonored” puts you in the shoes of Corvo Attano, the royal bodyguard to the empress. When your framed for her assassination, you must rescue her daughter and clear your name in the process. While most games make their choices clear, Dishonored reacts to how you play the game by tracking how much chaos you make. Sure, it’d be easy to kill and maim whoever gets in the way of your sweet revenge, but if you do so, expect more panic from civilians and more guards posted around the city.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
In “Kingdom Come: Deliverance,” you play as a peasant named Henry in 15th century Bohemia who constantly gets caught up in major historical events.
While the story is rather linear, the choices you make as Henry can alter many side quests as well as what people think of you. Your choices decided what kind of person Henry is. For instance, do you throw cow feces at someone’s house for bad mouthing the king or do you run the errands that your dad gave you like a good boy?
History may be set in stone in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but there are many different paths Henry can walk down to get there.
Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic
Set four thousand years before the events of any “Star Wars” movie, “Knights of The Old Republic” gives you a lightsaber and force powers and lets you do what you want with them. You could become a great Jedi Knight like many before you, or you could become the evil Sith that everyone has always wanted to be.
Whichever one you prefer, you get to make the ultimate choices between the light and dark sides of the force.
But really, who doesn’t want to be a Sith Lord? Search your feelings, you know it to be true!
Telltale's Guardians of the Galaxy
It’s hard to talk about games where choice affects the story without talking about Telltale. The late game studio helped popularize the genre with it’s take on franchises like “The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones,” and “Batman.”
But none did this as well as Telltale’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” You take control of Guardian’s leader Star Lord as you go on a mission to save the galaxy, again. Not only do your words change how other characters react to you, but your actions change the path of the story as well. Resulting in the villain’s plans changing as well as the characters you end the game with.
Vampire: The Masquerade- Bloodlines
Based off of the tabletop role-playing game “Vampire: The Masquerade,” this game makes you a new vampire maneuvering through a story of vampire politics. This RPG has many choices to make, but one of the most important choices happens before you even get into the game. Choosing your clan (what type of vampire you are) plays heavily into how you’ll be able to interact with characters and how you’ll have to approach quests. Some clans even make it so your not allowed to be seen by normal humans. That, along with the relationships you form, will play into which ending you get.
Pillars of Eternity
Yet another game made by Obsidian makes this list, this time with “Pillars of Eternity.” Not only is this game Obsidians first attempt at making their own world, it’s their homage to many old school role-playing games as well as a number of tabletop RPGs.
Some of Pillars of Eternity’s best moments are in the small choices, like stumbling upon a quest-line you weren’t expecting, or even smaller encounters you’ll experience later in the game. Not only that, but the ending you get will be determined by your actions as you play the game, resulting in a number of different ending cutscenes.
Dragon Age: Origins
“Dragon Age: Origins” reinforces the idea that every action you make has consequences. Some are immediate while others may have more lasting effects with certain characters.
Any way you look at it, the actions you make are shrouded with a thick layer of moral ambiguity. With an emphasis on a more bittersweet ending, Dragon Age: Origins sets itself apart in a crowd of other games like it.
Crusader Kings 2
“Crusader Kings 2” sees you take on the throne of a kingdom or empire in medieval Europe. Every interaction with other characters in this game can have history altering effects. Get someone to not like you enough and they may try to have you killed.
It’s all about making political choices while trying to expand your rule. Even the smallest of choices have lasting effects on the course of history.
I’m giving this spot to all three of the “Mass Effect” games; they’ve earned it.
With four video games, seven novels, a comic series, an animated movie, and even a theme park ride, Mass Effect has become one of the most influential gaming titles in recent memory. The game throws into a galaxy of aliens, space battles, and political intrigue as you take control of Commander Shepard.
Over the main trilogy, your choices have lasting impacts on characters throughout the three games. Choices you make could see some of your most beloved characters dead; and, they stay dead. You could lose a character in game one and never see them again while another person could have that character with them at the end of the series. This causes you to consider the consequences of your actions in a very serious way. The game forces you to think like a commander of troops who’s trying to keep their squad alive.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
In the third installment of The Witcher series, you play Geralt, trying to find and rescue Ciri. Along the way, you’ll hunt and kill a wide variety of monsters, as all Witchers do.
For a good portion of the game you make small choices that determine what type of Witcher you’ll be. But (Spoilers) things pick up once you are reunited with Ciri around the end of the second act. From that point forward, what you say and do cause a ripple through the rest of the game, which could end in a number of different endings, both good and bad. Imagine playing a game for forty odd hours and getting a “bad” ending. Choose wisely.
Spec Ops: The Line
From the get go, “Spec Ops: The Line” is all about impossible choices, choices that play out in the player rather than the game itself. The world Spec Ops: The Line presents is a grey one, full of moral ambiguity. This setting is reflected in the difficult choices you make throughout the game.
Whenever it seems like Spec Ops gives you limited options, it hides a number of other solutions. It could be whether you engage the enemies, try to solve it peacefully, or execute one of two criminals. All of these have alternative solutions, but it’s always up to you how to go about the situation. Spec Ops: The Line makes it increasingly difficult to be an upstanding soldier as you progress through the story, but not impossible.
Fallout: New Vegas
Obsidian’s 2010 take on the “Fallout” franchise is still regarded as one of the best games in the series. New Vegas takes into account every action you make throughout your play-through, whether it be stealing, killing, or lack thereof as you reshape the landscape of New Vegas.
Your reputation carries a lot of weight in the Mojave Desert and entire factions, quests, and plots could be locked off from you because of your previous actions. So, you might wanna be careful who you piss off.
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