As brand consultants at Burst, we often find ourselves describing a large part of the process as "storytelling" - but what is storytelling, really? It can be anything from the most drilled-down essence of a brand in one or two sentences, or it can be the mood conveyed through the specific actions of a brand's ambassadors.
Videogames have always been a vehicle for interesting stories, but technological advances in graphics, acting, and gameplay over the past couple of years have greatly increased our ability to put ourselves in the shoes of our characters and empathise with them. Here are 4 worthwhile stories that will immerse you in rich universes and hit you with an unreal range of emotions. (In no particular order.)
1. Her Story
Put in the shoes of a detective scouring archives of tapes, your task is to piece together the story of a missing man and the wife he left behind. There are no grandiose, rich set pieces here - just a detective's computer terminal and an archive of tapes only searchable by keyword. An immersive experience that unfolds organically, only driven by the keywords and connections that you personally make, this game's been rated highly by many reviewers thanks to its' sheer unconventionality and convincing acting by lead actress Rita Seifert. It's almost less of a game than an interactive film, and as the story unfolds you'll find yourself completely engrossed.
If Her Story is a quietly brooding, slow burn psychological thriller that takes place in one room, Uncharted 4 is literally its' polar opposite. Explore incredible, massive vistas from Scotland to Italy, Madagascar, and beyond in search of a long-lost pirate utopia and the treasure within. More than a pitch-perfect interactive tribute to Indiana Jones, Uncharted 4 tells a story of a treasure hunter looking towards the end of his career and asks the question, "Why?" Strategic combat and hair-gripping gunfighting helps build a riveting action story around a set of characters that while sometimes cliched, feel pretty real. Incredible voice and motion-capture acting combined with solid writing and super-fun gameplay make this a story not to be missed.
Take yourself out of Indiana Jones' shoes and put yourself in the shoes of a 17-year-old girl. No, seriously. This interactive story is less action-based and more decision driven - with the ability to rewind time and choose different actions, of which every single one has the potential to affect the game's direction. Make no mistake, while it sports a juvenile cast of characters and a seemingly harmless plot, this interactive fiction gets all "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" real quick (there's a reason it's rated Mature, despite featuring a bunch of twelfth graders). The team at Dontnod Entertainment have built an easily relatable cast that tells a story both fascinating and emotionally devastating, and your actions influence that story at every turn. (Fair warning, the dialogue can be extremely cheesy at points. They've done a terrible - or arguably amazing - job of sounding like teenagers).
If "emotionally devastating" was all you got out of that last description, then you're in the right place. The Last of Us will probably have you in tears in the first 20 minutes. It tells a story of a horrifying zombie outbreak and the ravaged society it's left, but unlike most undead-action games, it's a slow burn. Combat is based around stealth and methodical strategy, because in the future, bullets are kind of hard to come by. More riveting than the gameplay, however, is the story of a jaded old man and his relationship with a daughter figure who might have the potential to save the world. The morally flawed characters in this story are utterly, grippingly real, and this makes for one of those rare, beautiful storytelling experiences that will leave you completely gutted. This is one of my personal favourite games of all time, and beyond that one of the most raw, engaging stories I've ever experienced.