Updated: Original list by Jessica Famularo, Updated by Jupiter Hadley on November 28th, 2020.
Narrative adventure games are games that have a story with them, some sort of text or dialogue that drives the player, captivates them, to ensure that they stick and relate to the story, wanting to follow it out to the end. I have already compiled a list of the best text-based adventure games, and though this list will touch on a few of them, it will be different in the way that it includes games where there are more visiual effects.
Narrative adventure games are quite fun to play around in, especially if you are looking for longer mobile games that will hook you in with something more than the feeling of wanting to play one more level or the feeling of wanting to continue until you have hit the next major milestone in the game.
From adventures with swipey mechanics, to games that start out as a simple clicker game that evolve into something much more, to choose your own adventure tales, there are plenty of solid choices out there if you’re looking for a top-notch game that tells a memorable story. Often these stories will stick with you, much longer than a game from the hyper-casual or arcade genres, which can be quite a nice feeling if you have been able to dive into it and understand various points of views! Here are ten fantastic narrative adventures to take you to a world well worth spending your time in.
Reigns is known for it's first game, where you can swipe at cards that appear on your screen, making decisions for a kingdom. Now, kingdoms, kings, princes... all of that is a bit old fashioned. Why not spend some time managing an intergalactic band instead? Reigns: Beyond is exactly that, the same concept swiping cards left and right to make decisions. Only this time, you are managing resources on a ship and deciding how to best lead your band through the galaxy.
This is more of a creepy point and click adventure game that has a strong narrative line, about a young girl who is going to die today. On her last day on Earth, you need to explore through a slightly strange, almost spooky town. The world is strange, Little Misfortune has bad luck, and only Mr. Voice can show her the way and guide her to whatever happens next.
Little Misfortune captivated me and kept me following and waiting to see exactly what happened next.
The Wolf's Bite is a narrative adventure game, inspired by a bunch of fairy tale classics, where you are looking to have the best possible restaurant, even if that means sabotaging the big bad wolf or the three little pigs! It's a turn based game, with a lot of different decisions that need to be made, which will then cause different effects, changing how well your restaurant is doing. I love the graphics in this game and the general fairy tale vibe it gives out.
The Almost Gone is more of a sombre game, following a strangely hallow game about death, loss, and dealing with the grief that comes along with it. Through looking at empty rooms and strangely peaceful places, you will explore areas and learn about the people who use to be there. Slowly, slowly this will unravel the story of what happened to you and why you are at that place, as well as the people that are still there, even if you cannot see it.
Another sci-fi adventure, Lifeline tries something a bit different. A space explorer is stranded on an alien planet, and his only hope of returning home is . . . you. Your phone serves as the only point of contact you have with this person, and you’ll have to single-handedly keep them alive.
It’s essentially another choose your own adventure game, but Lifeline uses the phone interface to great effect. There will be lulls in gameplay as you wait for the space explorer, Taylor, to reply, adding to the game’s realism while also making it a great choice for those who prefer to play their mobile games in short spurts.
If you'd like to know more about what makes this game a mobile classic, be sure to check out Susan Arendt's feature on why the original Lifeline still stands head and shoulders above its many spin-offs.
A Dark Room starts out as a simple idle game that tasks you with building a fire and scrounging for wood. Before long, though, you begin to explore the forest around you and the game expands into something quite unexpected.
Entirely text-based, A Dark Roomrelies only on words to set the scene, and it is quite effective. It mixes RPG and survival elements into its design to create something completely unique. We don’t want to spoil anything for you, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you should absolutely give this one a go.
Reigns immediately caught the gaming world’s attention when it launched in 2016. Borrowing dating app Tinder’s left and right swiping mechanics, you play as a monarch in a cut throat medieval fantasy world.
You’re presented with a number of decisions, swiping a card left for no and right for yes. Seemingly innocuous decisions can sometimes lead to your death, and you’ll be doing a lot of learning as you play through the lives of kings over a period of centuries.
80 Days has quickly become a classic since its debut just four years ago. It’s a choose your own adventure game set in an incredible steampunk world based on Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. In 80 Days, you assumed the role of Passepartout, the manservant to Around the World’s protagonist Phileas Fogg.
You’ll chart Fogg’s course, manage budgets, and meet some fascinating characters on your travels. Rich decision-making means there’s a lot of replay value here as well.
Whether you’re a Shakespeare buff or not, this retelling of Hamlet reframes the classic story with doses of wit and humor and modernised language. A remake of the classic gamebook of the same name, you’ll dive right into the story, making decisions as you go that can impact the way the rest of the tale plays out.
The writing is impeccable and pays due justice to the source material. Accompanied by lovely hand drawn illustrations, To be or not to be is an essential experience for anyone who enjoys a good text-based adventure.
Final Frontier: A New Journey takes us to the future, where the human race is struggling to survive. The Earth’s natural resources have been depleted, so the population looks to the stars, colonizing new worlds to build a better life.
The game uses a card-based decision making system that sees you swiping left or right on cards to move your adventure along. You’ll need to keep a careful balance, maintaining the satisfaction of your colonists, the government, and the newly-discovered planet’s native citizens. It’s reminiscent of Reigns and the Civilization series, using sim and narrative adventure mechanics to create an addictive sci-fi experience.