Interactive story games were some of the first games to hit the market back in the day. At that time, the games were played in a text format. You got to sit at your screen and read an endless amount of text. Then, you were able to make a choice that would advance the story in one direction or the other.
Nowadays, the games are a bit different. Not only are they played in a fully-defined 3D environment, but they also have a lot more depth.
Usually, interactive story games are thought of as games that basically play like a movie. The player does not have to give a lot of input, but they still get to make key decisions that impact the outcome of the game.
For this list, we have had to broaden our horizons a little bit. Purely interactive stories are quite a few, and many of them fail to elicit the same emotions that a great narrative should. Still, we have managed to comb through the games available on Xbox and pick the ones that have the most intriguing story and also give you the most control over the outcome.
Here is our list of the 19 best interactive story games for Xbox Series X / S.
Life is Strange
Life is Strange has perhaps had the biggest impact on getting interactive story games into the mainstream. It has done a great job of combining various genres and having a story that has you hooked to the edge of the seat. It was also on our list of the best action-adventure games for Xbox.
There are multiple stories in the Life is Strange series. The original one is generally considered to be the best one, and that is probably what you should start with. That said, the other stories in the game are still great and are completely unrelated to the first one.
While there are some criticisms that can be labeled on Life is Strange, the biggest one being that many decisions in the game do not have any serious consequences, the story itself is one of the best we have ever played through. As such, this is perhaps the first interactive story game that someone new to the genre should play.
The Walking Dead
There are a lot of games in The Walking Dead series. Most of them are a part of the same storyline and are classified into seasons like the TV Show.
The Walking Dead series was developed by Telltale Games using their trademark formula. If you have played another game by the studio, you will know what to expect. The story is set in The Walking Dead universe, but it does not follow the same characters as the series does (for the most part).
Instead, you get to participate in events that are happening in other areas of the world in the same timeline as the series’ main characters. The choices that you make will end up having a lot of impact on how the story turns out.
There are also a few other games that deviate from the main storyline. Due to the similar nature of the game, chances are that you will like all of the games if you like one of them. However, you probably won’t find anything to play here if games by Telltale are not your thing.
The Medium is a horror game that has you traverse multiple worlds to find out what happened at a communist resort.
It was on our list of the best scary horror games on Xbox. The main reason it made the list was because of its storyline. While horror games are generally known for having good stories, The Medium certainly has one of the best.
Everything from the characters to the setting to the soundtrack seems to mesh together really well. The game not only makes you feel uneasy and gives you regular scares, but it also causes you to question the morality of both your character and others around you. Overall, this is a game that any fan of horror interactive story-telling should play.
Despite its name, Vampyr is not a horror game. Instead, it explores vampiric themes in old London. Set in 1918, the game begins with you turning into a Vampyr.
As a Vampyr, you want to feed your endless bloodlust. You also have ample opportunity to do this, since people come to visit you on a daily basis. With the flu epidemic in full swing, you are one of the better-known doctors in the city.
Vampyr does a great job of asking the player to draw the line. It is completely up to you how you decide to behave with every person you meet, but the decisions you make will end up having consequences down the line. The fate of the citizens is in your hands.
Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy
The next game on our list of the best Xbox interactive story games is Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy. The game has you play the role of Star-Lord, and you are the leader of the group which is supposed to save the galaxy.
The game takes a non-serious approach, primarily driven by storytelling. Due to there being so many characters from the Marvel universe, everyone has their unique arc that unfolds as you play through the story.
To be fair, the story here isn’t as special as some of the other games on this list. As such, we would only recommend this for people who are interested in the Marvel universe and want a unique take on the Guardians of the Galaxy. Others are probably better off with other titles.
Firewatch is one of the most thoughtful and beautiful games currently available. You are Henry, and you are responsible for watching out for fires in the Wyoming wilderness.
As strange things begin to happen, you move ahead to try and investigate. The only other person you can talk to is your supervisor. Throughout the game, you will be talking to her and the words you say will have an impact on your relationship.
There is a rich world for you to explore here, but all that relates back to your supervisor. The dialogue is downright amazing in Firewatch, and the things said by both of the characters give a lot of food for thought to the player.
It is true that the game is played at a very slow pace, so it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Despite that, there are very few games that can invoke a similar sense of peace and tranquility in the player as Firewatch can.
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
The Stanley parable originally came out on the PC in 2013. It was an amazing albeit short game. Players were given a few critical choices to make, and they would lead to various endings that had a point to them.
The Ultra Deluxe edition comes to both PC and consoles, and it keeps the base of the game intact. However, there is a lot of additional content that has been added to the game that expands its scope. Now, it is possible to get a few hours of gameplay as you explore the world and see what it has to offer.
Despite that, we wouldn’t really say that the game is worth its cost. Unless it is discounted, there isn’t a lot of gameplay here for the average player to pay the game’s price.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
Ace Attorney games have enjoyed a loyal fanbase ever since they came out. The fact that they can still get away with outdated visuals is proof that the story more than makes up for any of the game’s other shortcomings.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was released in 2019 and continues the saga of Ace Attorney on the Series X and S. The game does not try to innovate on the formula in any way. Instead, it simply offers the first three games from the series in a single package.
You play the role of Phoenix Wright, and it is your job to investigate every single case that you are given to help your innocent clients. There are a total of 14 episodes from the first three games, allowing for a lot of gameplay. Those looking for a story-based game that is equal parts detective and equal parts lawyer should give this one a shot.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes And Punishment
There have been a lot of Sherlock Holmes games on Xbox over the years. The franchise simply refuses to die. The multiple films and TV Series made about the famous detective after 2010 have only made the demand for everything Sherlock Holmes increase.
From all of the games that we have played in the Sherlock Holmes series across all consoles, Crimes And Punishment is easily one of the best. That is why we also included it on our list of the best detective games for Xbox.
Crimes And Punishment is not a single story that plays through the entirety of the game. Instead, there are six different cases, all of which not only challenge Sherlock but also delve into his own personal life.
While we have to admit that a couple of the cases do not pique the same interest as the rest, there is more than enough good content here for players to experience. The only problem is that there are certain levels that feel a little too hard to complete. This can cause you to experience a certain amount of frustration if you are impatient.
Fable II is the next game on our list of the best Xbox interactive games. The game originally came out in 2010 but has been released on the Series X and S due to the fantastic backward compatibility on Microsoft’s consoles.
It should be clear by the name that the game prioritizes the story above all else. The story itself is quite simple, as you need to pick a class and try to be the best in that class (in terms of combat).
The characters are what really embellish the plot and make the game what it is. There are hundreds of characters that you get to meet, and you will need to make hard decisions as you go through the story. Almost all of them will have a consequence, which means that you can replay the game as many times as you want.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Edith Finch is a game that is regularly mentioned on our lists. The game puts you in the role of Edith, the last member of the Finch family left alive. The Finch house is downright massive, and you will be exploring the house to find out what happened.
Every single room will have one or more memories that you will go through. Every single story is played from a first-person perspective. However, every single one of them is almost completely unique from the other.
As you go through these stories, you will need to piece together the narrative and try to discover why all of your family is dead. Is there a greater story behind all of the deaths? Or is this just the cruel hand of fate letting you know of its power?
Late Shift is one of the few games on our list that are an interactive story in its truest sense. For one, the game does not make use of any computer-generated graphics. Instead, the game is acted out by professional actors.
You are responsible for making key decisions within the game. These decisions will have consequences, and there are multiple endings for you to discover. With a total of seven endings to experience, it is safe to say that you will be playing through this game multiple times if you like it the first time around.
The story revolves around Matt, a person who needs to prove his innocence after he has been forced into a heist in London. With numerous support characters, each with their own agenda, you will need to tread carefully if you want to ensure that you survive.
Tacoma is another game that tries to stay as true to the interactive story genre as it can. Set in the year 2088, and takes you through the story of a space station known as Tacoma.
A total of six people used to work at Tacoma, but they are now gone. It is up to you to find out what happened to them. Luckily, you can access the surveillance footage, of which there is plenty.
Just like most of the other games on this list, there are multiple paths that you can take and multiple endings for you to experience. There is no combat and no puzzle-solving in the game, meaning that you are just supposed to explore the station and slowly discover what has happened.
The only problem, and it is a major one, is that the game takes between two and five hours to complete according to the developers. In our experience, it is more like two to three hours. With no additional content, the only thing you can do after that is replay the game and try to discover the other endings.
The team behind Gone Home is the same team that created Tacoma. In fact, Gone Home was the title that got the studio into the mainstream. This is the game that created the concept that was explored in Tacoma to a greater extent.
Overall, the story in Gone Home is considered to be much better than that of Tacoma. This is evident from the multiple awards that the game has earned. As for the game itself, it plays exactly like Tacoma but feels a bit more bare bones.
You come home after a year and find that there is no one there. You will now need to wander around the house and slowly piece together what happened. Once again, there is no combat and there are no puzzles. All you need to do is to explore the house and figure out what is going on.
Styx: Shards of Darkness
Styx is more of a combat and stealth game. The only reason we have included it on our list of the best interactive story games for Xbox is due to the fact that it places a heavy emphasis on the story.
Apart from that, the decisions that you make also have an impact down the line. This does not just apply to the dialogue, but also to your actions. For example, stealthily creeping past an enemy may be a prudent move for now, but that same enemy may come to flank you during a later fight.
That said, this is still a game that is based on action and combat. As such, those who are die-hard fans of interactive stories may not like Shards of Darkness. Those who do, however, can also try other games in the Styx series.
Oxenfree is a game that toys with your emotions. Although it takes place on an old military island, the story revolves around two step-siblings who are just beginning to discover each other.
You get to play the role of Alex, a brave girl who has accidentally wandered into a ghostly rift. After that, it is entirely up to you how you decide to play the game. Just like others on this list, Oxenfree allows you to pick your own adventure.
The way you react to predetermined events opens up a path that takes Alex and her stepbrother Jonas to revisit the past of the island, experiencing all of the haunting memories of the military personnel that were stationed there.
The added twist in the game is that while you play as Alex, you need to be watchful of everyone on the island. The harrowing experience could alter their lives forever, and it is up to you to make sure that things do not take a turn for the worse.
Duke Nukem 3D
It is very unfortunate that the reboot of the Duke Nukem series can only be described as terrible. The newer generation of gamers will have no idea just how amazing and innovative the original games were.
Putting all the influence that Duke Nukem had on the shooter genre to the side, it is entirely possible that the developers behind the game may just have also created the interactive story genre.
In the remaster of Duke Nukem 3D, it is possible for players to play through the four episodes that were a part of the original game. On top of that, there is also a brand new fifth episode that has been created and voiced by the same people that were behind the original.
Although the focus of this game is definitely on the action, there is still a cohesive story for you to play through. At the very least, Duke Nukem 3D should allow you to see what the narrative side of games was like when the entire industry was still in its infancy.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a mystery game where you get to explore a lot of occult themes. After you receive a letter from Ethan Carter saying that his life may be in danger, you travel to him to find out more.
When you get there, you realize that Ethan has disappeared. What’s more, there has been a murder in the village. It is now completely up to you to find out what happened to him, and if he is still alive. While the game does not have horror elements, there is a spooky side to the whole affair.
The one thing that you have going for you is that you can talk to the dead. Using your ability, you will do all in your power to try and find out what is going on.
Due to the non-linear nature of the game, there is a lot of exploration to do. That said, the game is still an interactive story, where you get to build your own adventure.
We end our list of the best interactive story games for Xbox Series X / S with Disco Elysium. The game was showered with awards when it was released as a PC exclusive in 2019. Since then, it has made its way onto other platforms.
Disco Elysium has you play the role of a detective. Although it is fundamentally an RPG that has you level up your skills as you play through the game, the story is the focal point of the game.
There are literally hundreds of characters that you can talk to. The in-depth dialogue system present in the game makes each conversation unique and very engaging. The process of slowly discovering what is going on behind the murder of an individual will take you through the entire city, and what you choose to do in it is entirely up to you.