StoryScan: Critical Hits

Strengths in Individual Game Stories

12 Minutes:
Theme

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

Alan Wake:
Paratext

Alan Wake uses its abundant paratext to blur the line between fiction and reality.

BioShock Infinite: Exposition

Bioshock Infinite avoids the dreaded ‘info-dump’ by concealing crucial exposition deep inside its setting. 

Chrono Trigger:
Structure

Chrono Trigger tells a memorable story by hitting all of the key beats of the Three-Act Structure.

Cyberpunk 2077: Subplots and Side Stories

Cyberpunk 2077 uses the Sinnerman quest-line to reinforce themes of redemption and salvation.

Harry finds his police vehicle in the ice

Disco Elysium:
Theme

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

Final Fantasy VII:
Opening

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

Final Fantasy IX: Character

Vivi the Black Mage is well-remembered because he has strengths, weaknesses, goals, and obstacles. 

Final Fantasy XIV: Character

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

Final Fantasy XIV: Subplots and Side Stories

Final Fantasy XIV’s Dark Knight job quest-line adds depth to the main narrative by developing the characters, the setting, and the themes.

Final Fantasy Tactics: Character

Final Fantasy Tactics uses a Corruption Arc to show what happens when a character compromises his integrity in pursuit of his goals. 

Goldeneye:
Adaptations

Creative use of the source material makes Goldeneye (N64) a stand-out among cinematic adaptations.

Guilty Gear Strive:
Tone

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

Hades:
Structure

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

Kingdom Hearts:
Opening

Kingdom Hearts satisfies three separate audiences with an opening that emphasizes conflict and character development. 

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver: Opening

Soul Reaver’s opening efficiently establishes the story’s plot, characters, and setting.

Portal:
Character

Portal’s AI antagonist keeps things interesting by making the impersonal personal.

Prey: Soundstage

Prey:
Setting

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

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: Theme

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard reinforces its themes of survival through self-sacrifice with the recurring motif of the family. 

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. 

Snatcher:
Inspirations

Snatcher combines its cinematic influences with original ideas, resulting in a story that could have only come from Hideo Kojima. 

Spec Ops: The Line:
Theme

Spec Ops: The Line leaves a lasting impression on players by reinforcing its theme, the high cost of heroism, at key plot points. 

Super Mario RPG:
Tone

Super Mario RPG makes the most out of its lighthearted, comedic tone by integrating it in both story and scene.

Tales of Arise:
Inciting Incident

Tales of Arise combines global and personal conflict to create a compelling Inciting Incident.

Team Fortress 2:
Paratext

Team Fortress 2 uses paratextual videos and comics to overcome the storytelling limitations of the genre.

Trover Saves the Universe: Stakes

Trover Saves the Universe grounds its absurd story by periodically raising the stakes.

Yakuza: LaD: Kasuga and the Tape

Yakuza: Like a Dragon:
Character

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