The 29 Best Story-Rich Games on Steam
The best story-rich games on Steam will mostly come from game genres like RPGs, JRPGs, and first-person shooter games that focus on a campaign. Only a few genres can commit to providing a unique story-telling experience.
However, hundreds of titles can be considered story-rich because the genres mentioned above have been prevalent for decades already.
These games have a unique pace that lets you experience the game and immerse yourself in the story. The well-written scripts become more pronounced with a brilliant game design and elegant art or graphics. Some of these games’ stories will bring an emotional roller coaster to each player, and some titles might even reduce you to tears.
God of War
For people who have heard of God of War, you might be surprised that the game is on the list because it is a Sony exclusive. However, they are starting to open up to the idea of releasing their games on the PC. They released God of War in January 2022, which was already released a few years before on the PlayStation console.
For those who haven’t heard of God of War before, it is based on Norse mythology, where you play as the God of War, Kratos, and exact revenge against the Gods of Olympus. The game’s main selling point, apart from its story-rich adventure, is its unique artistic design combined with its violent and gory gameplay.
You can get blindly lost on brutally finishing enemies, but make sure to take a grasp on the story as it is an enamoring tale about a father and son. The game’s visuals are stunning, especially on 4K resolution, but it will need one of the best PC builds to run if you want to max out every setting on the highest resolution.
Death Stranding is an open-world action-adventure game made by legendary game creator Hideo Kojima. His most notable work in gaming would probably be the Metal Gear Solid franchise, and if you have played some of those games before, you could expect the same mind-twisting story from each of his works.
In Death Stranding, you will play Sam Bridges, and your main mission is to deliver hope to humanity by connecting the last survivors of America together. Players call the game a walking simulator, but that term can be meant either positively or negatively.
It is true that there will be a ton of walking involved, but you will explore the beautiful nature scape of the open world and meet new friends and establish connections along the way.
Some players will find the game interesting and get enamored by the story when building connections with other NPCs you meet along the way, but there are a few others who will get bored of the gameplay. Either way, the game has a brilliant story with amazing Hollywood actors like Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen.
It Takes Two
It Takes Two is one of the best co-op games ever made. It is also one of the best games for couples on Steam because anyone can enjoy this beautiful game without having an interest in playing games in general. The game took home multiple Game of the Year awards, including Best Family Game, Best Narrative, and Best Multiplayer Game awards. The accolades speak for themselves, and it is definitely a must-try for not only couples but also a friend.
To play the game, only one person needs to buy the game and have the other join for free with Friend’s Pass. Work together as you adventure through a crazy journey in this pure co-op perfection game. You will both play as a couple, Cody and May, who are both turned into dolls by a magical spell and trapped in a fantastical world.
You will get reluctantly challenged in saving Cody and May’s fractured relationship throughout the story. Master each character as you gain unique and connected abilities at every new level. It Takes Two has one of the best stories for a co-op game, and it is definitely the best game on this list to play as a couple because everyone can enjoy it no matter which genre they prefer playing.
Dying Light is a first-person zombie adventure game set in a post-apocalyptic open-world overrun by zombies. The game is incredibly story-driven for a game that has a ton of action because of its focus on parkour. Playing as the main protagonist, you will venture out the world trying to survive against Techland’s unique take on zombies.
The zombies in this game are able to run like crazy, and they usually stick in hordes. They also introduce unique or special zombies that have a unique way of fighting them. The game introduces these zombies with a backstory on how things came about and how they mutated.
Dying Light has one of the best storylines and is also considered one of the best zombies games on Steam. Dying Light is definitely a game you must pick up if you are a fan of zombie games and fast-paced action-adventure games. The combat and movement are very fluid in the game, and it becomes addictive to the point where you want to explore every inch of the post-apocalyptic world.
Dying Light also has a sequel called Dying Light 2: Stay Human. The main story of the sequel is not connected to the main story of the first one; however, there are a few dialogues that mentions the past, but nothing too important. You can start with either game, but I would definitely suggest playing the first title first.
Divinity Original Sin
Divinity Original Sin is a turn-based RPG inspired by the famous Dungeons & Dragons game. You will gather a party of four, whether controlled by an AI or friends, and explore an open world where you can interact with literally everything and everyone you see.
The world is extremely vast, with story-rich content in every corner. You will encounter NPCs around the world and go through a ton of side quests that take hours to complete since the turn-based combat is quite long but in a good way.
Reading through thousands of texts will be required because the game does not hold your hand, where you can blindly follow markers to finish objectives or quests. You will learn to immerse yourself in the fantasy. Divinity Original Sin has won a ton of accolades, including and it really shows that they deserve it.
The voice acting is second to none. You can visually see everything in detail as if it was developed as an AAA game. The game design and the compelling story all blend well with this perfect turn-based RPG. Things get very technical in the game, so you might want to play this with someone who is also interested in all the good things mentioned above.
Baldur’s Gate 3
Baldur’s Gate 3 is also made by the same developers, Larian Studios, as the previous title, Divinity Original Sin. The game is essentially the same in terms of core mechanics and story-rich content, but the game has a rich history stemming from the first two Baldur’s Gate titles.
Baldur’s Gate 1 was released in 1998, and Baldur’s Gate 2 was released in 2000. That is over two decades of waiting for an incredible franchise, and it was all possible because of the success of Larian Studios’ Divinity Original Sin series.
You do not have to play the previous Baldur’s Gate titles to play this third installment. Just get ready to read through thousands of texts like in Divinity Original Sin and immerse yourself in a fantasy world with a few other friends (optional).
The Walking Dead: Telltale Series
The Walking Dead by Telltale Games is a story-rich comic book game that introduced a whole new trend in gaming when it was released. The game is about watching the cutscenes, making decisions through dialogue choices, and checking how it will all play out. Each decision made will have a minor or heavy impact on the story’s outcome, and you will want to play it multiple times if you want to see different scenarios.
The game is literally all about the stories, and the dialogue choices add a level of immersion to this classic zombie comic book story. You can replay all the scenarios until you have experienced all of the grueling moments. The game’s definitive edition contains all four seasons inside one game with over 50 hours of gameplay in 23 episodes.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt continues the story of Geralt of Rivia and his task to find a child of prophecy in a story-driven open-world RPG that is rich with cities, pirate islands, dangerous mountain passes, and caverns. The stories from the previous Witcher games are connected, but The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is still somewhat understandable without playing the previous games.
The whole story or franchise is still based on the popular The Witcher novels, and you can choose to read them until you catch up to this game as well. While progressing through the story, you will encounter hard choices with impactful consequences so that each playthrough can be different. However, it will take hundreds of hours to finish because the amount of content in the game is second to none.
You will also have different romance options that can change the game’s story. As Geralt of Rivia, a professional monster hunter, you will encounter many side quests while hearing tales from different NPCs leading you to track and hunt down a wide range of exotic monsters prowling the open world.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the best games ever made, and with its meteoric rise to the top, it also led to an incredible TV series on Netflix. If you are into story-rich open-world RPGs, this should be the first game to play on everyone’s list.
There are a ton of games in the Tales series. However, not everything is available on Steam. Some of the great titles made it to the platform, such as Tales of Berseria, Tales of Arise, Tales of Zestiria, Tales of Vesperia, and Tales of Symphonia.
Each game is independent of the other, so you do not have to play them in order. You can start with any game you want. Tales of Berseria and Tales of Zestiria are connected to each other with different timelines. The connection is just fun to think about, but their story is still independent.
All Tales games are action RPGs but have the psyche of turn-based JRPG combat systems. It is not as fast-paced as other action RPGs like Scarlet Nexus, but it is unique in its own real-time combat system.
Each Tales game has a unique and compelling story. Some of its core features include its combat system, item and equipment customizations, cooking, recurring characters, and even some collaborations. The Tales series is definitely a good starter for anyone new to JRPGs or ARPGs.
A Way Out
From the same developers as the award-winning, It Takes Two, A Way Out was their first big title. It is also an exclusive co-op adventure set in a prison where two prisoners try to make their escape. Each player controls one of the main characters, Leo or Vincent, and you will try to escape with a complete stranger and learn to trust each other if they want a shot at escaping the prison.
The game is filled with puzzles, crimes, and a whole lot of story-rich scenes. The gameplay is basically a simple adventure game because the game immerses you in the life of a prison inmate. Co-op is key to solving puzzles, and everything is curated in a way that requires critical thinking from both players.
Like It Takes Two, only one person needs to buy the game, and you can use Steam’s Remote Play Together feature to play with someone else. The game can only be played in co-op mode, so there is no reason to get this title without asking someone if they want to play too.
Half-Life 2 is the sequel to the award-winning Half-Life series, which garnered over 50 game-of-the-year awards and was also named “Best PC Game Ever” by PC Gamer. The game not only revolutionized FPS (first-person shooter) games but also added an immersive storytelling experience.
While the first title was released in 1998, and the sequel was released in 2004, the game is still timeless. As a research scientist named Gorden Freeman, you start the game and find yourself on an alien-infested Earth. Your goal is to rescue the world from the mistake you unleashed at Black Mesa.
Discover an arsenal of futuristic weapons while you fight against alien abominations across different territories. There are also a few puzzles you will need to solve, and you can already sense that some of the ideas for their future titles (Left 4 Dead and Portal) gained inspiration from this game.
The Wolf Among Us
The Wolf Among Us comes from the makers of The Walking Dead – Telltale Series. It is the same choosing your own adventure genre where you will only have to read through the dialogue, watch the scenes, make your own decisions, and ultimately experience the story.
Each decision you make will have an enormous consequence and change the story. These decisions are not only based on what you choose but also on when you choose to do it. You can have multiple playthroughs to find alternative storylines, but in terms of overall replayability, it is mostly for the game’s story-rich campaign.
The Wolf Among Us has a total of five episodes, and the story is based on the Eisner award-winning Fables comic book series. If you are looking for a game that is purely “story-rich,” look for games like The Wolf Among Us or any other Telltale game.
Undertale is another masterpiece on this list. It is almost like your typical RPG but with a dash of bullet hell. The bullet hell comes from Undertale’s combat system, where you control a heart and play a bullet hell minigame in between fights. Do not worry if it might seem a little difficult, but it is pretty simple, and the game is quite underrated as a story-rich RPG because the game flies over the radar.
The graphics might be pixelated and might turn a lot of people off, but the game is beautifully done. The story is elegant as each dialogue is rich in context with a few funny quips here and there. Undertale is a criminally underrated RPG; at the same time, it is also one of the best bullet hell games on Steam.
The BioShock series is a shooter loaded with unique weapons. You will consistently find ways to complete your arsenal and get stronger, but at the end of the day, your ultimate weapon will be yourself and your genetically modified DNA.
You get to inject plasmids to give you superhuman powers like electrocuting or freezing enemies. BioShock is often seen as the modern-day Half-Life, where the gameplay and story are both futuristic and one of the best in the industry.
In BioShock, you can hack devices and systems, upgrade your weapons, and experiment with new ammo variants for these weapons. You can also turn the whole environment around you as a weapon by using your powers.
The BioShock series has a collection of all the BioShock games – from the remastered BioShock up to BioShock Infinite (the third installment), including all the DLCs released for each main title.
Final Fantasy Series
The Final Fantasy series has been known for over three decades as one of the best story-rich JRPGs in video gaming history. Most of the Final Fantasy titles have turn-based combat where anyone can easily learn the mechanics. Once you get used to it, you can play other Final Fantasy titles and experience each story-rich campaign each time.
Each Final Fantasy title has a separate story, but some of them have sequels if they become popular enough. For example, Final Fantasy 7 and 8 can be played without knowing the connections of the stories, but for titles like Final Fantasy X and X-2, these stories are connected, and you would need to play the first title first.
The best thing about Final Fantasy games is their storytelling combined with their amazing graphics and head over heels cutscenes. You can say that they pioneered the way developers invest more in high-quality cutscenes since they were way ahead of the other games in the early 90s.
These became a staple for most story-rich games as it immerses and captivates the players more in the story. I would suggest playing games like Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy 13, and Final Fantasy 15 to start.
These games will keep you interested as the gameplay is more up-to-date to a wider audience, and you can experience why Final Fantasy’s stories are always epic, sometimes heartbreaking. Once you get used to the series, you can go to their other timeless classics for their story.
Cyberpunk 2077 is CD Projekt Red’s next big project after their massive hit, the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. They mirrored Cyberpunk 2077’s core gameplay elements to the ultra-popular Grand Theft Auto series by Rockstar Games. The game is an open-world futuristic third-person shooter RPG with a rich storyline.
The amount of content in Cyberpunk 2077 can take you up to a thousand hours to fully complete, and there is so much content that you get to do a lot of side quests and activities even before doing the stories. Every corner has stories different from the main story, which adds a lot of depth to the stories around Night City.
Cyberpunk 2077 has an enthralling storyline that also features one of Hollywood’s biggest actors, Keanu Reeves. While there are a lot of things to do in the game apart from finishing the main storyline, the campaign should still take up to 30 to 40 hours to complete if you purely focus on the main quests. That is not how RPGs are usually played because you are always rewarded for exploring or doing things outside of the main storyline.
Persona is arguably one of the best anime games on Steam out there. It has one of the highest-rated video games of all time with Persona 5. It was so well-received that it stemmed their first-ever sequel on any Persona game in the series after two decades.
Persona’s unique features always involve students as the main cast. You develop social links with the characters you encounter throughout the series, and you can even have romantic interests in the game.
As for the gameplay, it would be your regular JRPG with its own distinct style, as you battle using your Personas in the human psyche of others. If you are a big anime fan, you will definitely enjoy Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 Strikers, which are currently on Steam.
Persona 5 Strikers is a sequel to Persona 5, so you would have to play Persona 5 first before playing it. However, Persona 5 Strikers is sort of an experimental game as it switched from its usual turn-based RPG to a hack-and-slash game. The stories are still captivating and engaging, with a lot of plot twists.
Grand Theft Auto 5
Grand Theft Auto 5 is another open-world action-adventure game similar to a previous title on the list, Cyberpunk 2077. Grand Theft Auto is arguably the best video game of all time. It is the second best-selling video game in history, behind Minecraft. It is the only AAA game in the top 5 best-selling games, which says a lot about how good GTA 5 really is.
From the game’s core gameplay elements and game design all the way to its story, everything is perfectly made. The game’s content is also second to none compared to any game in any genre. The game throws you into the city, and you will go through the story by going around different locations while experiencing what the world has to offer.
You can finish the story in 15 to 20 hours, but the story is a bit underrated because the most popular content about the game is its multiplayer content. After finishing the story, you can still spend thousands of hours playing online or even invite friends to play with you and run heists.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 is made by the same developers, Rockstar Games, of the Grand Theft Auto franchise. The game is essentially the same in terms of gameplay and content, but with a different setting. Red Dead Redemption is set in 1899, following the story of an outlaw, Arthur Morgan, who is a member of a gang in a fictionalized representation of the Western United States.
If you are a fan of gangs, outlaws, hunters, gunslingers, and everything in between, you would definitely enjoy the Red Dead Redemption series. The story does not require you to play the first title of Red Dead Redemption, but some scenes foreshadow the events from the previous events when you play the sequel.
So far on this list, we already have three open-world action-adventure games that are quite similar but differ in terms of time setting – Red Dead Redemption – 20th century in the Western United States, Grand Theft Auto – present day in the fictionalized city of Los Santos, and Cyberpunk 2077 – set in the futuristic year of 2077 in a fictionalized city called “Night City.” Each game mentioned is a masterpiece, and it will take a lot of commitment to choose and play one as each title offers thousands of hours of gameplay to fully complete.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn is an award-winning open-world action-adventure game with one of the best visuals you will see in most AAA games out there. The game’s story focuses on the main character, Aloy, who is a young huntress determined to find out details about her ancestry.
Throughout the story, you will gradually get to the big picture as every gap is filled, and every inch of the world has enough lore to keep you curious and interested. The typical story might seem generic, but there are a ton of memorable moments, and the cast of characters brings the story to life. The whole world feels exceptional and engaging, while the amount of content in the game is also brimming.
If you want to play a game that heavily focuses on its story, Horizon Zero Dawn is a good choice. You can also play the sequel if ever you get hooked to the series.
Nier Automata tells a story about androids named 2B, 9S, and A2. They will battle to reclaim the world of a machine-driven dystopia. The game is led by a renowned video game director and scenario writer, Yoko Taro, which gained a ton of praise for his works on Nier Automata because of its existential story.
The game’s combat system is extremely fluid and offers much more than simple hack-and-slash gameplay. It may take you around 20-40 hours to finish, but there are a few alternative endings to the game, which may tempt you to start another playthrough. The game’s story is deeply sorrowful, and you will not regret playing it.
Assassin’s Creed Series
Assassin’s Creed is an open-world action-adventure stealth game where its core gameplay elements originated out of the popular Prince of Persia games a few decades ago. The story revolved around assassins in the 12th century, but there is more to it than just that.
The main setting is actually set in the future, where you have access to the “Animus” that allows you to relive the memories of your ancestry. The stories you will playthrough will be set at different times for each title but still revolve around the stealthy gameplay Assassin’s Creed is known for.
Assassin’s Creed has more than ten titles, but you do not have to play them in chronological order. Each title is somewhat connected but not necessarily mandatory to know the story of each. You can watch through some of the games because there are too many titles to commit to the whole series if you are new.
Dead Space is a story about an engineer on a spacecraft of USG Ishimura. You will encounter some problems inside the spacecraft and learn the meaning of true horror. Your mission is to try and fix the spacecraft, but you will uncover the blood bath that took place on the ship where the previous crew was slaughtered and infected by an unknown alien lifeform.
The game has a lot of jump scares, and the overall atmosphere adds a ton of tension which might disrupt your gameplay. Dead Space isn’t a game for the faint-hearted, and you should try and see if you are able to play the game because the game’s story is unique and engaging.
Dead Space has two other sequels, and each one is connected to the main protagonist’s story, Isaac Clarke. Dead Space 3 is much lighter in terms of the horror aspect as it features a co-op campaign where you can play the whole story with a buddy.
Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel Series
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel series is probably the most challenging game here. It is not challenging because of the gameplay or progression, but it is challenging because of the time you have to sink throughout each game.
The series boasts a whopping average of 60 hours of gameplay for each title. There are four games in the Trails of Cold Steel series alone, and there are a ton of other games in the series that are connected but not necessarily mandatory to play them all.
However, you can still start the Trails series with Cold Steel and finish the four games. If you want a more hardcore experience, you can try this order.
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the Third
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
All of these games are available on Steam.
Each title is story-driven, and players will continue to play each title once they get hooked to the story. The gameplay might get dragging for some because of how slow some of the buildups are, but you will get used to the pace eventually. These are all common in JRPGs, and it is an acquired taste.
The Evil Within
The Evil Within is another horror game title on this long list of story-rich games. The game was developed by Shinji Mikami, who directed the original Resident Evil series and Resident Evil 4.
The Evil Within’s story starts with a detective and his partners who will investigate a scene of mass murder and eventually encounter a mysterious foe. The game features horrifying environments giving you anxiety at every corner, and an intricate story immersing you in the world and heightens the tension.
The Evil Within has multiple DLCs and a sequel containing multiple DLCs that expand the story of each title and add more hours to the game. If you enjoyed the game, you can get the DLCs because they should force you to shell out more dollars to buy.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
South Park is known for its TV series, but they eventually developed a game that uses the same art as the TV series. The gameplay or combat system uses a turn-based RPG system that is similar to most JRPGs. However, the game relies on the TV show’s humor, and if you do not find the series funny, you might not enjoy playing the game.
The story starts with a bunch of fourth-grade kids who are roleplaying in an epic civilization locked in a neverending war that lasted for a thousand years. You will arm yourself with weapons to defeat underpants gnomes, hippies, and other forces of evil. The goal is to discover the lost Stick of Truth and earn the right to become a friend to the show’s main cast of characters, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny.
The whole game is being written and voiced by the brilliant minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, both of which has written hundreds of episodes for their epic TV show, South Park. They brought their own brand of humor and tied it up into an epic game. If you are a fan of the show, buy the game without even thinking about it.
Ni no Kuni
Ni no Kuni’s series is inspired by the works of Hayao Miyazaki from Studio Ghibli. The developers are also from Studio Ghibli and published by Bandai Namco. The first game in the series is a turn-based JRPG, while the second one takes you to a classic tale with the whimsical aesthetics you see in Studio Ghibli films.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a remaster of the 2011 version released on the PlayStation 3, while Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is a great sequel that followed seven years after.
If you are looking for a wholesome, feel-good JRPG, the Ni no Kuni series is the best way to start. It might feel like a kid’s game to some, but you can try other JRPGs on the list if this is not your type of game.
Halo: Master Chief Collection
Halo is one of the greatest video game franchises ever. You will experience an epic story of Master Chief’s iconic journey of all six titles in one single collection. Every story is connected, so you would need to play it in chronological order.
Every title can be played on co-op for the campaign mode, and you can enjoy the whole experience with one special person because the story is amazing, especially for the first three titles. The story does not get affected if you add another player to join you in the campaign mode.
The gameplay mechanics are like any other first-person shooter out there. It is easy to pick up, so you do not have to worry about the game being too complicated if someone does not want to read or learn a lot of things before they can start playing.
If you both enjoyed the campaign and the overall gameplay, you could even play a few multiplayer games online if you want. There is also an iconic map editor, Forge, that can build new maps and have more creative ways to play the game. Halo also has one of the best gaming soundtracks for any video game franchise ever.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age is an instant classic. It turned out to be one of the greatest Dragon Quest games. Do not be fooled by the “XI” as you do not need to play the other games of the series to enjoy this gem.
This title is the last entry in the series from creator Yuji Horii, character designer Akira Toriyama, and composer Koichi Sugiyama. It is a beautifully made game where the game challenges you at the perfect pace of story and progression.
The turn-based combat system is basic enough for new players to enjoy and has enough customization and tactics for experienced players who are used to the Dragon Quest games. The gameplay and graphics are modernized to the new generation but still maintain the core art style from its previous predecessors.
Dragon Quest XI S is definitely the best choice if you want to smash hundreds of hours on a JRPG. The difficulty can be customized to your liking, which can add a ton of replayability to the game, especially if you aim for 100% completion.