I am love narratives in all forms, and videogames provide some some remarkable interactive narratives. I don’t count these games towards my read count, but I would regret not recommending some of my favorite games from the year. The ones below are games with mostly simple mechanics with great stories and characters, that take about 2-5 hours to play, much like a good book!
‘What Remains of Edith Finch” is a gorgeous exploration of the near-mythical deaths of four generations of a very cursed family. You play as Edith, a young woman who returns to her family home to try to understand how and why everyone in her family is dead. You explore a richly detailed house, and each family member’s bedroom contains clues as to their personality. Edith finds diaries in each bedroom that allow the player to play through the last moments of each character’s life in mechanically and stylistically unique vignettes. Accidents, delusions, and even violence are treated with surreal, dreamlike, and almost whimsical tones and gameplay. Some stories hit like a gut punch while others are almost funny. The game is very skilled at making you care about these people through the details of their home, so by the time you play through their death you feel attached. This game is terribly effective at creating bittersweet nostalgia for characters that were already dead by the time you know them. This game is haunting, gentle, and oddly uplifting, and takes about two hours to play through. Trailer here.