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Raptor Picks 2014 – Narrative

Don Parsons / January 18, 2015 at 12:00 PM / Gaming, Opinions

2014 was an interesting year in terms of the tales that our beloved videogame industry endeavored to tell. From Indie games that bubbled up from nowhere to comic book adaptations, and interesting takes on that recurring theme of war, 2014 gave us a lot to think about. These stories were spun out through diverse approaches to game design, through found recordings, newspaper clippings, phone calls, and cinematic cut scenes. The means for investing good gameplay with good story are ever growing. 2014 also saw the growth of the visual novel’s popularity in the west, as our top pick will tell! – Jose Alvarado

Walking Dead: Season 2

Clementine The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: Season One was an innovative game that spearheaded a whole new approach to narratives in games.  Well the zombie apocalypse continued on its gory path in 2014. The game forces you to make split second decisions that will change the lives of characters that you could actually grow fond of. Your decisions from season one get imported into season two, making the past events meaningful to the gameplay. Clementine is a perfect protagonist to center the narrative, whereas most post-apocalyptic scenarios in games turn into good excuses to kill indiscriminately, the preservation of her innocence forces the player to continually buy into the emotional weight of the story. — Jose Alvarado

Valiant Hearts

 

Valiant Hearts

Of the two world wars, the first is definitely the less represented in movies and games. Anyone familiar with the history will know that it was an extremely complicated historical event. Valiant Hearts treads through this rich and lesser known territory by focusing on the personal experiences of a few every man characters. The game’s structure mirrors one of the clearest narratives to have emerged about the history of the war — what seems at first like an adventure (remember that soldiers were told they’d home for Christmas) will eventually turn very grim. By allowing you to play from the perspective of a variety of characters, including a father and son conscripted into opposing armies, Valiant Hearts frames the horror and futility of humanity’s first fully mechanized war within a very human story. — Jose Alvarado

Five Nights at Freddy’s 2

Five Nights at Freddys 2

The setup is terrific: you’re the new night-watchman at a Chucky Cheese-esque pizza parlour where the animatronic animals are put into ‘free-roaming’ mode at night. Do your job poorly and they’ll attack you, they might even give you a heart attack. A phone call from your manager each night sets up the evening’s challenge, subtly implying that your own murderous death could be at hand. By night five it will have become very clear that something strange is going on. — Jose Alvarado

Runner Up: Wolfenstein: The New Order

wolfenstein

One of the biggest surprises of the year came when everyone found out that not only had Machine Games managed to make a good linear FPS in 2014, but that it would come with interesting characters and cinematically sophisticated cut scenes. The story itself may not have been ground breaking, but this alternate Europe, where Nazism succeeded, was evocatively brought to life through the attention paid to voice overs and back-stories. The narrative took the player from the beachheads of 1945 to a Croatian prison camp fifteen years later and the moon—all of which felt a lot more convincing than it really even had a right to. Hell, even a jarhead like B.J. Blazcowicz got to come through all the killing looking like something resembling a three dimensional person. — Jose Alvarado

Runner Up: The Wolf Among Us

Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us is a Telltale series of five episodes featuring a cast of legendary fantasy characters. The players assumes the role of the Big Bad Wolf, Bigby Wolf, as the Sheriff of Fabletown. A murder mystery rocks the community, and the strained situation most fables find themselves in starts a slow crumble of the city government. The player will comb through the community, speaking with many characters but also experiences occasional quicktime combat sequences.

The race for this particular award was pretty close and I was delighted to see The Wolf Among Us getting so much praise from the TechRaptor team. This was a very interesting episodic series for Telltale to take on and the results were satisfactory in my view. I would not argue that The Wolf Among Us is my favorite Telltale series but it should not be surprising that this game was a dark horse for a number of video game publications. — Thomas Nelson

Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate is a Japanese visual novel about a group of friends, the repercussions of time travel and implications of a global scientific conspiracy. Steins;Gate is a serious visual novel with a splintered narrative, many endings and an assortment of potential romances. There is very little of the fan service necessary to place this game in the genre of eroge, but this is a Japanese visual novel. Players can expect twists, tragedy and unsettling endings. This title offers high replayability but can be frustrating in trying to achieve the “perfect” ending.

Steins;Gate was one of the few titles that I was personally cheering for during the voting process and I am happy to see it win rightly earned recognition as having the best narrative of the year. Far too many games are recognized simply by being mainstream and for a fringe title such as Steins;Gate to win is why I appreciate the TechRaptor staff. It is reassuring to work with a team that has distinguishable taste and is willing to play titles that fall outside the standard triple-A sequels. As far as I can tell most other websites handed this award to a Telltale game or a limited few that, from my perspective, failed to have a particularly captivating story. The category for narrative was very competitive but in my view the clearly superior title won out in the end. My hope that going into the future imported titles can continue to receive earned recognition. — Thomas Nelson


That is how we saw game narratives of 2014! We hope that you enjoyed the story and tune in for the finale of the Raptor Picks tomorrow!

What did you think of our choices for top narrative? Do you disagree with the choice of a visual novel? Tell us why or why not in the comments below!


Don Parsons

News Editor

I've been a gamer for years of various types starting with the Sega Genesis and Shining Force when I was young. If I'm not playing video games, I'm often roleplaying, reading, writing, or pondering things brought up by speculative fiction.