Strengths and Weaknesses of Individual Game Stories


This feature seeks to highlight specific aspects of a game’s story, such as adherence to a unique structure, its character development, or its usage of theme. Stories that handled these aspects well are discussed in the Critical Hits section; stories that struggled are discussed in Weak Points. 

Critical Hits

12 Minutes:

12 Minutes develops the theme of mindfulness, by connecting it to plot, character, and setting.

Harry finds his police vehicle in the ice

Disco Elysium:

Disco Elysium uses broken things as symbols to emphasize the theme of redemption.

Final Fantasy VII:

Final Fantasy VII’s memorable opening succeeds by weaving in  character, setting, theme, and conflict. 

Final Fantasy XIV: Character

Final Fantasy XIV establishes its villain’s character through an arc that forces him to make difficult choices. 

Guilty Gear Strive:

Guilty Gear Strive uses its gleefully absurd tone to illustrate its themes while staying true to both genre and franchise conventions. 


Hades integrates the protagonist’s goals into its structure, marking the end of each act with a change in direction.

Prey: Soundstage


Prey (2017) maximizes its setting, a labyrinthine space station, by using it to illuminate the plot, the characters, and the theme. 

Resident Evil: Village:
Setup and Payoff

Resident Evil: Village uses setup and payoff to create tension surrounding the mystery of the protagonist’s unique abilities. 

Yakuza: LaD: Kasuga and the Tape

Yakuza: Like a Dragon:

Yakuza: Like a Dragon uses both kindness and cruelty to make the audience sympathize with its protagonists.

Weak Points

Chrono Cross:

Chrono Cross’s story struggles to get off the ground due to a lack of goals, stakes, and urgency.

Final Fantasy VIII:
Setup and Payoff

Final Fantasy VIII’s most infamous plot twist is a failure of both setup and payoff. 

Mother 3:

Although Mother 3 is a much-loved cult classic, its irregular structure, perspective switches, and time skips result in an inconsistent pace. 

Octopath Traveler:
Setup and Payoff

The disconnect between setup and payoff in Primrose’s portion of Octopath Traveler leads to a stale, repetitive story with nothing new to say.

Persona 5:

Persona 5 has all the elements of a strong story, but a bloated third act keeps it from reaching its full potential.