Best Player Decision-Based Games You Should Check Out
Interested in learning more info about player decision-based video games? This compounded list of games places the player as a decision maker, with integrated consequences to past actions. Moreover, this list will feature both heavily decision-based games and games that simply have decision-based mechanics.
Whether the decisions are merely dialogue, insignificant, or plot-twisting, these plots will leave you on the edge of your seat.
First, what are decision-based mechanics?
An introduction to decision-based mechanics (that also ushers nostalgia) is imminent with Batman: Arkham Asylum, which gives the player the option of choosing how to approach a targeted enemy. An additional example of a decision-based combat style is Naughty Dog’s acclaimed The Last of Us. The game’s low amount of supplies forces the player to make decision-based combat choices.
This choose-your-own-adventure format has evolved to whole plot lines of games being affected by the decision the player makes. Some games mimic reality in which the main character makes each dialogue decision, and the surrounding characters react and build relationships. Ultimately, this will change the outcome of your experience, with games featuring numerous endings resulting from the player’s actions.
The best examples:
Don’t stop scrolling, I saved the best ones for last!
First developed by Quantic Dream and released in 2010 by Sony Computer Entertainment, Heavy Rain is a psychological thriller based in the sodden autumn of Philadelphia. A serial killer known as the Origami Killer is on the loose, preying on boys during rain forecasts.
The story plays through four players including a father, a journalist, an FBI agent, and a private detective. Imperatively, as the father’s young boy goes missing, they race to identify the dreaded Origami Killer.
With the narrative-focused gameplay resulting in 5 different endings, this gripping murder-mystery game is masterfully made.
Coupled with multiple BAFTA awards, this game is certainly worth the hype and a good addition to anyone’s must-play list!
Is a thrilling horror more your speed? 2k’s The Quarry might just interest you.
Released earlier this year, this stimulating survival horror adventure allows you to control the fate of 9 different characters.
Centered around camp counselors as they attempt to survive their last night at summer camp Hackett’s Quarry, the player must face supernatural elements and crazed locals. Additionally, your player’s decisions are imperative in this game, as there are over 186 unique endings!
However, some fans believe that 2k’s earlier release Until Dawn is the better game.
Next up is gaming company Supermassive Games’ first release, Until Dawn. This interactive drama horror presents 9 different characters as they struggle to survive Blackwood Mountain. With an 8-hour plot length and up to 18+ hours for the whole experience, this game grants the players numerous options on how to approach the story. Coupled with 6 different endings, this beloved game is a perfect example of an interchanging story.
QTEs, known as quick time events that force the player to make- you guessed it, quick decisions are heavily pronounced in this game. However, the player can ignore these to change the flow of the game. This narrative-driven game is a great example of decision-based games.
Dark Pictures Anthology
Don’t want to play alone? This series has three different ways to play: solo, ‘Movie Night Mode’ that up to 4 friends can join, and the shared story played through a 2-player online co-op.
Equally important is the series of stand-alone games, the Dark Pictures Anthology Series. Also produced by Supermassive Games, this series features titles such as Man of Medan, Little Hope, House of Ashes, and The Devil in Me.
These games feature 5 playable characters that can live or die based on your actions. Although it is a series, each game functions as a stand-alone original story.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead
This graphic adventure game with comic book-style animation is absolutely amazing.
Varying characters as you navigate through 4 seasons and 23 individual episodes, the 50+ hours of gameplay seem to keep you addicted to continuing the story. Your decisions affect gameplay as you maneuver through heartbreaks, trial and errors, and life-threatening situations based on The Walking Dead‘s apocalyptic world.
The first season starts with the main character Lee as he escapes being arrested as the zombie outbreak begins. You are first introduced to the vital character Clementine, a young girl stranded at home alone. Additionally, the series ebbs and flows through different main characters, with Clementine’s story being at the helm.
Being a personal favorite of mine, paired with an interesting gameplay/animation style, this is a must-play game.
Interested in more games by Telltale?
Life is Strange
The hardest part of this list was deciding where to put this game. I have personally played it numerous times, trying to find all the details possible.
Produced by Square Enix, Life is Strange is a series of graphic episodic storylines. The original was released in 2015, and with a recent remaster, this game could be considered a work of art.
Evidently, you play through the game as the character Max, as she returns to her hometown to study photography. As a high school student, you discover the ability to rewind through time, resulting in the butterfly effect. You navigate through corruption, murder, bullies, suicide, and the fate of friendship all while moving through realms of time.
Dialogue heavy, your relationships vary what ending you receive, as well as how and who you manage to save while playing. The first few seasons are established in an episodic format, where past decisions carry over to the next episode. Although only two endings, these still vary depending on past minute decisions made within the game.
Detroit: Become Human
If you couldn’t tell, I love a good Playstation Exclusive.
Detroit: Become Human is easily one of my absolute favorite games.
In this dystopian world robots are integrated into human life and work alongside the human race. It features an unstable future where human unemployment remains high. As robots, known as androids, seemingly ‘take over’ the world, the player navigates a tumultuous divide between android and human. As androids become sentient, the player switches between three different android main characters, deciding where the line of humanity falls and settling the future of androids.
One of the main characters is Connor, an android working for the android police force. He struggles with the decision of becoming sentient and apprehending the so-called ‘deviant’ androids — his assigned job. Another main character is Kara, an android forced into an abusive household where she decides the fate of the little girl trapped at home. If they leave, where do they go? Their story is affected by the outcome of both Connor’s decisions and other main character, Markus. Markus starts as an assistant to renowned painter Carl, who encourages Markus to ‘be himself’- leaving him with unresolved feelings of his own mortality and the fate of the androids.
As you play, you decide the fate of androids and how they integrate into society. Also, you have the ability to lead – or end, a rebellion for equal rights. Finally, this game features an estimated 80 endings, however, a more probable number is around 40 with slightly different variations and ending cut-scenes.
If you have a PlayStation, play it. If you don’t have a PlayStation, get one.
Honorable mentions for decision-based mechanics:
Here are some honorable mentions of games with good decision-based mechanics but not necessarily decision-driven storylines.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Although the decisions made in RDR2 don’t completely affect the game, the honor level that Arthur Morgan lives by affects players’ gameplay. You can also make decisions that affect gameplay as seen in missions: We Loved Once and True, Money Lending and Other Sins VI, and Our Best Selves.
Assassins’ Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed features decision-based gameplay with its combat style- but this entry of the franchise implemented new decision options. The player first decides which character they want to play with, and can also encounter one-off individual missions that offer either rewarding or damning results.
Mass Effect 2
Released in 2010, Mass Effect 2 players can command crew members and affect relationships. An interesting element of this game was it allowed players to transfer save files, so players could continue based on decisions made in the past game.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Along with decision-based combat, NPCs offer many decision-making opportunities in this game, affecting the vast array of characters.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Of course, what list would be complete without Skyrim? Although the decisions aren’t essential to the main story, the freedom of venturing into the open world grants many opportunities for players. These decisions affect side quests and groups of people.
If any of these games interest you, consider checking them out. I promise it’s worth it.