With Florence winning all sorts of mobile game awards from the BAFTA to IMGA. It’s time to spotlight some other amazing story driven games you can play on your mobile. This list doesn’t include any gamebooks or any Telltale Games, because it’s hard to miss those.
Broken Age by Double Fine
Broken Age is the original Kickstarter blockbuster game back in 2012. It raised more than USD$3 million out of its USD$400,000 in crowdfunding. Back when we were still supporting Kickstarter for games.
Broken Age is a classic-style adventure game with a heartwarming story adventure. You begin by choosing between two characters – Shay, a coddled space explorer who goes through the same routine every day and Vella, a young girl who’s about to be sacrificed to a giant monster.
The two characters’ stories intersect in a pretty interesting way and I don’t want to give any spoilers here but trust me when I say you’ll get pretty invested. There are a number of mysteries for you to figure out such as why is there a monster in the first place? Where did this spaceship even come from?. All in all a perfect little story adventure.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons by Starbreeze Studios, 505 Games
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is on narrative par with the games Journey and Ico, and I don’t use that comparison lightly. It’s a beautiful tale, elegantly told that will tug on the hardest of heartstrings.
The journey begins with the father of the two brothers gravely ill. They need to embark on a quest to find the cure to save his life. It’s an emotional start to an emotional game. It’s not all gloom however as there are charming moments interspersed with this adventure. Part of the charm of its story lies in what the story doesn’t tell you. There’s no discernible dialogue for you to interpret. There’s no text either, and cutscenes are used sparingly. More is done with less here than most narrative-driven games would ever dare to attempt.
Come for the story but stay for the gameplay. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons allows you to move the brothers independently of each
Gemini Rue by Wadjet Eye Games
Gemini Rue is a game about many things. Identity. Faith. Morality. Pointing. Clicking. Most of the plot is impossible to talk about without liberal use of spoiler warnings, so I’ll try to keep things simple.
Gemini Rue is the story of two characters in two very different settings – former assassin Azriel Odin, searching for the location of his missing brother on a world controlled by the Boryokudan (space yakuza). And an amnesiac prisoner called Delta-Six, whose lack of an identity isn’t going to stop him escaping the sterile brainwashing hell of the mysterious Center 7. For much of the game, you get to switch between them at will.
Are you intrigued yet? Think of it as Azriel acting as a Blade Runner/noir style detective and Delta-Six in some Prison Break/Dollhouse scenario. Gemini Rue is definitely one of the lower tech games on this list, having come out in 2011. But it should be on the list for any adventure game player.
Her Story by Sam Barlow
Her Story helped reinvent interactive movies. In this game, you get to play detective looking in at an internal police computer. The terminal has been unlocked by a friend, you’ve been left alone, and it contains several hundred interview clips concerning a fictional 1994 murder case.
The challenge is basically to work out what’s going on. You search this database using keywords, and after watching a clip can annotate, tag and set aside the particularly interesting ones. The first few snippets offer up many avenues to explore, which is just as well because you come to this case cold – no idea who the victim was, who the woman being interviewed is, or any other details.
Her Story has a great narrative at the core, but what seriously elevates the game is an ingenious method of unravelling that narrative through pure interactivity. It’s not just that the story is fragmentary, and thus ambiguous, or that it contains well-hidden twists. It’s that you are the one assembling these fragments, and can go off in any direction your curiosity demands at any time.
Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) by Upper One Games, E-Line Media
Never Alone is the result of a collaboration between the gaming industry and actual Alaskan Natives. That alone should be interesting enough to warrant the educational download but Never Alone is also a
It’s a platform game steeped in culture and folklore. You’ll play as two characters: Nuna, a young Iñupiaq girl, and her companion, an arctic fox. A blizzard has brought Nuna’s village to the brink of starvation. Seeing her people suffer, she decides to find the source of the blizzard and stop it.
Most of the time Never Alone is a peaceful trot through the ice and snow. It’s serene, it’s meditative. The soundscape is minimal and it gently presses on you with a graphical filter and shallow depth of field that gave the impression of watching this girl’s trek through increasingly weary eyes.
In this game, you’ll learn about the Alaskan way of life, their people and their stories but you need to go on the journey to get there. But for now, remember that you’re
Simulacra by Kaigan Games
Simulacra is Paranormal Activity of mobile games. But instead of ‘found footage’ you’ve found a mobile phone. Turning on the app reskins your phone into a somewhat familiar (without trademark infringing) mobile OS. Except this isn’t your phone. It belongs to a young woman named Anna.
Much the same as if you found a phone on the side of the road you can flip through their contacts, photos and messages to see who it belongs to. But unfortunately, in this
Interact with people from Anna’s life through text messages, emails, phone calls or vlogs. The narrative of this game is told in a variety of ways and you feel closer to Anna because of it. The gameplay controls are unnervingly familiar and with multiple endings to unlock it’s an extremely rewarding title to play through.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP by Capybara Games
Sword & Sworcery blends 8-bit inspired graphics with a novel rhythm-based combat system. It tells the story of the Scythian, an ancient warrior on a quest to retrieve the Trigon. Along the way, the story is told through an elaborate internal monologue, rewarding the player with new soundscapes and insights into its mysterious world.
Sword & Sworcery takes on a minimalist feel – drawing you into the game’s world by, withholding much of that world from you. Story-telling through restraint, if you will. Your guide is the archetype, a dapper fellow with a cigar and a cane and one hell of a chair. He addresses you, the player, directly. His welcoming words set an intriguingly offbeat tone for the adventure to come, as he thanks you for choosing “to participate in this experimental treatment for acute soul-sickness.” Before long, you’re thrust headlong into your quest.
Sword & Sworcery is only a few hours long, though if you play it the way the game encourages you to play it, those few hours may be spread over a number of weeks. But despite its brevity, the game doesn’t feel too short. It’s a satisfying experience that leaves you feeling like you’ve seen an important and heroic task through to completion.
The Banner Saga Series by Stoic Studio, Versus Evil
A trilogy of strategy games set in a fantasy adventure. Where the decisions you make in the middle of a conversation are almost as important as the ones you make on a battlefield.
The Banner Saga series takes place in a world stuck in perpetual twilight. The sun has stopped moving weeks before the events of the game. During this time the cities are being overrun by the Dredge, an ancient race believed to have been extinct. It’s a turbulent time of war, where relationships and battle decisions go hand in hand.
What makes those decisions so effective here is that there are no obvious conversation paths based on an emotional scale. Such as in Telltale. Most chats and strategic choices play out unpredictably. But the outcomes, even if they turn out the opposite of what you were hoping for, rarely feel random or unfair. The story and decisions made are set amongst increasing duress and strategic tension.
There are three games in the series and while the first one is necessary to play, the second is where the game really shines and third is a bittersweet ending to wonderful series. Well, I guess it depends on what end you get because there are multiple conclusions to the series, depending on your decisions earlier.
The Silent Age by House On Fire
Set at the height of free love, bandanas, mustaches and bell-bottoms. The 70s was the start of the Cold War and the start of janitor Joe’s journey to save the world.
Joe’s a Vietnam vet who’s now working as a janitor for the mysterious Archon National Defense Services. Not that anything’s very mysterious in Joe’s life, as he stolidly goes about his business, unfazed even by the drums of almost certainly toxic chemicals that are stored in his office. Archon needed him to help them out, you see, and he obliged because that’s just the kind of guy he is. They even gave him an award for it that he proudly displays on his wall. Life’s good when you just keep your head down and don’t question anything.
Well, that is until you find an old guy who takes a break from dying just long enough to tell Joe that he’s come back in time to save the future. Could Joe take the man’s handy-dandy pocket time machine and go visit his “present” (future)-day self to explain things? Well that’s you’re getting out of me.
Thomas Was Alone by Mike Bithell, Bossa Studios
Have you ever read the book Flatland? If you haven’t it may be hard for you to care about a bunch of coloured rectangles. At first. What looks to be a simple puzzle-platformer with the most rudiementary of graphics is elevated by its storytelling.
Thomas Was Alone is a unique and entertaining game that doesn’t look like much as first. The game tells the story of the emergence of the first self-aware artificial intelligence. Each of its ten chapters begins with a fictional quote or two from newspapers, spokespeople and commentators at the time of the Event, but the narrative texture comes from the internal monologues of the cast of jumping rectangles as they navigate their way through minimalist, geometric levels.
You begin the game with a single red jumping quadrangle – Thomas – and pick up friends along the way. All of whom are different personalities with different abilities. One shape can float on water, one acts as a bouncy trampoline; smaller, nimbler rectangles can be stacked to create staircases and so on. Think of this as a minimalist game about jumping and friendship.