Hey Poor Player Holiday Buyers Guide 2022 – Let Me Tell You A Story

Who Needs Books When You Have These Games?

Story

Is it already that time again? With the Holidays closing in once more, we know a lot of you are looking for gifts for all the players in your lives, and maybe some things you’d like to get for yourselves too. If you’re not sure what to get, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. From November 3rd to November 18th, we’ll be bringing you guides to satisfy every type of player each weekday. Strap in and kiss your wallet goodbye.

Some of us come to video games for deep gameplay, complicated mechanics, and tons of replay value. Others just want to hear a great story, something new that’s well told. We’re not saying the games below don’t have excellent gameplay, but what stands out most about them are their fantastic stories players will enjoy discovering.

 

Endling – Extinction is Forever

 

Story

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Our Review

A lot of players think of story-based games and assume that means long screens filled with text or long cutscenes dumping story on you are a necessity. That’s how so many story-based games tell their tales, after all. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Endling – Extinction is Forever defies that trend as it tells a story about a mother fox, the last on the planet after environmental catastrophe has driven the species to the verge of extinction, who has a little of pups. These pups may be the last hope for her species, but when one is kidnapped by trappers, she’ll do anything she can to get it back. This isn’t a story told primarily with words, it told through visuals and gameplay in a way which is incredibly impactful. We highly recommend checking it out.

 

Gerda: A Flame in Winter

 

Story

Platforms: Switch, PC

Our Review

When I hear something is inspired by real events, the first thing I think of is the telltale Law & Order theme song, but after I’ve managed to push that from my head (so you know, days later), historical dramas are definitely one of the next things I think of. We don’t get a lot of these in video games though which is why Gerda: A Flame in Winter is such a nice surprise. Set in an occupied Danish village during the early days of World War 2, the developers were heavily inspired by the experiences of their own grandparents in surviving such an occupation. Gerda is put in impossible situations as she is forced to juggle a variety of different needs in order to survive this difficult time. With realistic challenges and a story that our own Heather Johnson Yu described as, “masterful,” anyone interested in the time period absolutely needs to consider this one.

 

IMMORTALITY

 

Story

Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PC

Our Review

Marissa Marcel was supposed to be a big film star. Discovered by a major director and hyped as the next big thing, she starred in two movies in the late 60s and early 70s, but the first was never released, and the second never finished. She mostly vanished for nearly thirty years before returning for a final role, and then seemingly disappeared forever. That final movie was never released either, by the way.

The story of Sam Barlow’s IMMORTALITY follows the career of Marcel in a rather unconventional way as you scrub through hours of video footage from her three films, both of the films themselves as well as behind the scenes, making of, and promotional footage, trying to figure out the mystery of what happened to these movies and to Marcel herself. Because so much player agency is involved in choosing a path forward, there are a rather absurd list of ways this footage could be seen, but the storytelling works beautifully regardless because of the structure Barlow has put around the entire project. Anyone interested in storytelling needs to check out IMMORTALITY.

 

Syberia: The World Before

 

Story

Platforms: PC (Coming soon to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, and not so soon to PS4 and Switch)

Our Review

It can be hard for smaller game franchises to get a second chance. After Syberia 3 seriously underwhelmed players, many thought the long-running series would end on a sour note. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and after another long way, the team at Microids returned with Syberia: The World Before.

Long time series protagonist is, Kate Walker is joined by a new co-star in 1940s wannabe musician Dana Roze and jumping between the two and seeing how Dana’s story so long ago continues to reverberate in the modern day is beautifully done. At times their story requires a bit too much suspension of disbelief, but if this is where Kate’s story ends, it does so in a far more satisfying way than Syberia 3 could manage.

 

We Are OFK

 

Story

Platforms: PS5, PS4, Switch, PC

Our Review

We Are OFK is more than just okay. It’s excellent, telling the story of an indie band coming together, all of them struggling with their own issues while living in LA and trying to make it in the music business. With great music, great characters, and excellent visuals, those looking for a story experience can’t do too much better. If anything, the game’s biggest flaw is that it’s too story-based. We Are OFK might have benefitted from making the few, brief, gameplay experiences feel like they mattered a bit more or letting players have choices that seem to actually matter. Still, if you’re just looking for a well-told story, you should absolutely check this one out.

Andrew Thornton
Andrew has been writing about video games for nearly twenty years, contributing to publications such as DarkStation, Games Are Fun, and the E-mpire Ltd. network. He enjoys most genres but is always pulled back to classic RPG's, with his favorite games ever including Suikoden II, Panzer Dragoon Saga, and Phantasy Star IV. Don't worry though, he thinks new games are cool too, with more recent favorites like Hades, Rocket League, and Splatoon 2 stealing hundreds of hours of his life. When he isn't playing games he's often watching classic movies, catching a basketball game, or reading the first twenty pages of a book before getting busy and forgetting about it.

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