I have always had the conviction that the best video games are like playable novels. Both require the player/reader to be irresistibly drawn in by the storyline, characters and atmosphere from the first moment.
In fact, many games are considered visual novels and even help with reading and comprehension skills. The Pokémon games hooked my young cousin with the critter designs and 8-bit soundtrack but also taught him to read along the way.
Know your favorite books but not sure where to start your playthrough? BookTrib has you covered with the best video game recommendations to fully immerse yourself in a new adventure.
And in these stories, you get to decide the ending!
Are you a fan of…?
You probably knew this was coming. The Assassin’s Creed series is beloved for its forays into the most exciting turning points in history and detailed accuracy of its settings. Architects are even using Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s rendition of the Notre Dame Cathedral to rebuild it after the fire in April.
Unity (Ubisoft) takes gamers back to the French Revolution. While working as an assassin, the main character Arno witnesses and takes part in the rise of the revolution. He even escapes from the Bastille.
From the outfits, to the songs, to the rebellious vibes on the narrow cobblestone streets, you will feel instantly transported to the world of Les Misérables.
We’re all familiar with that famous quote by J.D. Salinger: “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”
With Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (Ubisoft), players get the next best thing: they get to solve a mystery with Charles Dickens! This installment in the series lets you play as twins Jake and Evie during the Industrial Revolution in England. Players not only scheme and sneak about but liberate child laborers from dangerous factories and chase down Jack the Ripper.
Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth (Daedalic Entertainment) is adapted from the immensely popular novel of the same name published in 1990. The story follows the construction of a cathedral in war-torn 12th century England and the people who are impacted by it.
The only catch? Players change the plot through their choices which makes each playthrough unique and full of surprises. Even if you’ve read the story many times over, you haven’t seen it like this.
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In Hello Neighbor (Tiny Build), you play as a child who witnessed something they really shouldn’t have and then looked too far into it. He wakes up trapped deep in his neighbor’s house, constantly on the lookout for his captor who harbors a terrible secret. Can you solve the way out before he catches you?
Sound like your favorite thriller? Trust your instincts and don’t be fooled by this game’s cartoonish design.
Another game with stunning artwork is Return of the Obra Dinn (3903), a playable mystery all in black and white. In 1802, after the merchant ship Obra Dinn was declared lost at sea, it ominously drifts back to port without a crew. Players take the role of a simple insurance investigator assessing damages who ends up finding so much more. Time travel freezes perps and victims in the act while the player moves around them and looks for clues.
In What Remains of Edith Finch (Annapurna Interactive), players navigate the abandoned house of the Finch family by playing as the last living family member. Edith goes through her family tree, exploring each bedroom for every relative. Each room is filled with clues since they were left untouched since the relative’s untimely death, going all the way back to the 1940s. Players open hidden passages and skim through old journals to piece together why Edith is the only one left alive.
The more you play, the more you find out about Edith herself and why she would dare return to such a haunted place.
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Night in the Woods (Finji) has to be one of my favorite games of all time, and for good reason. The cute anthropomorphic animal characters ease players into the deeper issues at hand. Mental illness, alcoholism and abuse are all discussed through the light-hearted art style. We play as Mae, a 20-year-old caught between being a kid and an adult. The first to go to college in her family (and the first to drop out), she struggles with finding her role in a town that is economically failing.
And when past family secrets come to haunt her, friendships—and lives—are at stake.
What do writers do when they feel too lazy to write? Play the Sims 4 (Maxis), of course! In this simulation game, each character is customizable from their winter outfits to their irises. Make a family, build your house and click play. It’s as easy as that and perfect for non-gamers to start with.
More experienced players can make it harder–just look up the internationally popular 100 Baby Challenge. Hungry toddlers, angry teens and visits from the Grim Reaper keep the game exciting day after day. Sims is a perfect platform for fans of books about family drama and romance. Will your characters get their happy ending? Only you can decide.
From its indie soundtrack to the gut-wrench spurred by the phrase, “This action will have consequences,” Life is Strange (Square Enix) has earned a huge following. You play as Max, a young photography student who witnesses her friend being shot in the school bathroom.
While reaching out in panic, Max discovers she can turn back a brief amount of time. When her friend is saved, nothing in Max’s life goes unchanged. Even the most innocent-seeming of responses to dialogue or choice in where to go has unseen effects on the ultimate ending.
You won’t want to wait on this tale of self-discovery and suspense.
(Article feature image is from Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth game)