I like a variety of books and I plunge into games because they offer a narrative experience that’s also visual and interactive. Here are some of the latest story-driven games I’ve played. They are thematically vastly different but they share linear progression, both are set in abandoned locations, requiring the player to discover what happened and piece everything together. Both have a mystery to unravel and are bitter-sweet and pull on the heartstrings.
DELIVER US THE MOON
Looking for a sci-fi that hits the spot but movies / books just aren’t it? I recommend trying “Deliver us the moon”.
- Good, atmospheric sci-fi
- Well-paced story that unfolds over time and keeps you immersed in the mystery
- Good characters
- Good action sequences, varied areas, no area is ever repetitive or dull
- Atmospheric, experience being completely alone in space- very good!
- Short game, complete it under 10 hours.
The Earth’s resources have been depleted and new energy solutions have been found on the moon, but then one day…something went wrong, the station went quiet and connection was broken. To find out what happened, after years of preparation, an astronaut is sent out to space from an abandoned location. Venture through several abandoned stations and experience being completely alone in a vast, quiet space. What happened to the stations? Who is the protagonist? Each area you explore presents you with a number of clues to collect and puzzles/action sequences of varying degrees of difficulty, some are timed. It was everything from rebooting life support to being spaced and having to find a way back inside. They felt like things that could happen out there.
The progression is very linear, we need to travel from area to area in a logical sequence. It plays out as a slowly unfolding riddle where with each area we discover more, like peeling onion and playing detective because as we travel through each area, we basically collect clues: holo recordings, notes, memos, personal items, and piece together what happened on the Moon.
So you really need to look everywhere, some clues are more easily missable than others.
Slowly, over time, we piece together a relevant story about Earth and its future, doing what’s right, greater good vs putting the needs of individuals above the rest, and atoning. There is a broad spectrum of characters representing these themes and stances. We start on a desertified Earth and the story takes us to explore whether the characters were right or wrong in their decisions, consider how that impacted Earth and what was the cost. and whether some dreams are just futile. There is also a strong friendship theme and a father-children storyline. We get to know everyone and what happened to them through the little bits and pieces we find, all the while experiencing a truly chilling vastness and emptiness and overwhelming quiet, all alone in space. You can’t even communicate with the people who sent the character here.
It’s well-paced, stirring and atmospheric story that keeps the mystery and tension right until the final moments. The balance between story immersion, emotion and action are really nicely done in this game. And then there’s the revelation who the character is. It’s actually touching and heart-rending and it made the game’s ending that much bitter-sweet. I liked how careful the game was not to reveal it until a certain point.
They made me care about the story and characters. Go into the game without reading spoilers for maximum effect. I like how emotion and mystery go hand in hand together in this game. The action sequences / timed events get tedious sometimes but of note is the variety of mechanics used, no area is ever dull or repetitive.
The ending adds a final touch to the game’s emotional ride, though it’s not my favourite kind of ending. I prefer something less bleak for my protagonists than just “mission accomplished and that’s it, even for an atonement story, this sort of ending is an easy way out. Though as I mentioned, it also was affectingly bittersweet.
I really enjoy games and stories like this. This game is like the good book I was looking for, with food for thought, good characters and mystery that pulled me right in, but couldn’t find one to immerse and sink into until I’ve found this one. It hits the spot as far as thoughtful, immersive sci-fi is concerned. Good topic, and overall I liked how the story panned out and unfolded. I play to immerse myself in stories. Lately, I couldn’t find a sci-fi story to pull me in and this one was just right.
The sequel set on Mars is set to release soon and it uses a protagonist related to the story in Deliver us the moon. Well worth a play if you like good sci0fi that brings more to the table, that makes you care about individual characters and empathise with their situations and choices.
GHOSTS ON THE SHORE
The second story-driven game with just as linear progression is something quite a bit different. It’s emotional and romantic, sentimental. If an island setting, ruined houses, romantic ghosts, 19th-century romance, and a mystery from the 19th century are your thing, then I really liked this one, but it is a bit of a diamond in the rough.
You wreck your boat in a storm and find yourself on a beautiful island. Everything is in ruins A ghost, Josh, accompanies you. A ghost that doesn’t seem to remember anything, or rather lets you piece the story together with him. You basically follow a trail and explore the island, then you visit the other two islands. It’s very linear but the story is immersive and you want to explore further and want to know more about Josh and maybe even yourself. You have to find out what happened on the island and what it has to do with the ghost that follows you. Or with you. And you decide if you buy into it, or be sceptical. I’m a romantic, so I knew what choices to pick and this story I shaped was a perfect fit for me.
- abandoned island with an immersive, well-paced mystery – check, the game is atmospheric with an eerie vibe.
- emotional and romantic storyline
- likeable characters and good banter
- very good voice acting, though admittedly Josh is my favourite.
- bonus: it caters to my romantic side, especially one of the endings – glad for that. Really loved the story, though there could have been one more type of ending.
- The island is beautiful and lovely but textures/art could use more polish. However, for me, the story makes up for it, I didn’t even notice them after I got totally pulled into Riley and Josh’s world. I also really love the “visions” Riley has, that recreate the past and important moments – very nice
- Story-driven rather than quest driven but it would have been fun to have sidequests for other, unexpected ghosts.
- Note that the decision to use the first-person view is very well thought-out and adapted to the story – I liked that.
- Replayability: There are several different endings but because of the mystery that gets solved the first time around, I probably wouldn’t replay it until my memory of the story fades a little. Love it to bits, though, it is like a book.
- It’s a short game and you can complete it in about three hours. It has an automatic save but if I, say wanted to replay the ending, there’s no way for me to do that, so I kinda wish it had at least one manual save point.
I bought it because it made me think of Another Code series – console games about a little girl who was looking for her father and befriended a ghost (and helped ghosts and solved lots of fun puzzles). I wasn’t disappointed. While the game is a lot more story-based than another code, that had many puzzles, I think I also like the story a little bit more here than in Another Code because it is romantic, where Another Code, whole fantastic and still one of my favourites, was about a father and a daughter. This here is a sentimental story that goes back far into the past, there are references to literature, there’s lots of drama, forbidden bonds but strong beyond death, a tragedy on the island, feelings and some really warm , lovely moments, and most of all lovely characters you care for and who can have a good rapport and great banter; the more you explore, the more they bond. It’s well-paced, the banter and the voicing are great and you reveal bits of the story as you go deeper into the island by interacting with everything you can. Bonus: beautiful vintage books you run into and references to poetry. The 19th-century story mixes with more recent history as you discover another person was here before you. It’s pretty straightforward- just follow the path, explore every clue you find and pick your choices. There are also moments when the protagonist experiences visions – fragments of the past – those are really well-done and tie into her own story.
The mystery is strong the first time around, you want to know where’s the end of the road and what awaits, you want to know what happened and who’s Josh. Future playthroughs are more for completing the achievements because you already know what happened but still it’s like a good book for me and immersion is great owing to the absolutely lovely characters. The types of choices satisfied me, they make you decide what you accept and what you don’t accept, so I felt it was really well done..
For me, I’m a romantic and believe in soulmates and there’s that storyline here, and I had a sense of fulfilment, however bittersweet. I loved Riley and Josh and though I don’t recommend replaying it until the story fades a little in your mind, I want to plunge right back in because I miss them. And Josh’s voice.
The game’s not perfect. Art-wise, it’s unpolished, the textures could be better, there could have been some side quests, even though you still meet other intriguing ghosts. I also have a sense that some scenes could have been longer or there could have been more good memories because everything did feel a bit rushed and certain characters should have had more development, some scenes could have had a more detailed reminiscence from Josh. The story is immersive but could use a bit more work to make it truly shine. The core material is really good, though. I enjoyed it because it does cater to my romantic side and made me totally emotionally invested. I do love the idea, the island, the story and the choice mechanics, one of the endings, and definitely love Josh. But it’s really up to you, the choices allow for a totally different experience and I think the devs did a great job with the choice mechanics.