The best narrative games on PS4: essential buyer’s guide.

 
 

ERICA

Developer: Flavourworks
What's the story?: Unearth the grisly truth behind a cult conspiracy. 

A feature-length cinematic experience with live action visuals and Hollywood production values awaits you in this gripping interactive thriller.

Guide Erica through a mysterious underworld as she peels back the gruesome secrets of her father’s murder. Not only do your decisions change how the branching storyline unfolds, but you can physically interact with Erica’s environment. Innovative use of your smart device’s touch screen or the DUALSHOCK 4 wireless controller’s touch pad lets you use your fingers to perform a variety of actions, such as playing the piano or cutting through a security camera wire. 

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Hidden Agenda

Hunt down the infamous ‘Trapper killer’ in this chilling crime thriller, using your mobile device’s touch screen to make tough choices that change how the story ends. Work together with up to five friends to reveal the killer’s identity, or go head-to-head and conspire against them to carry out your secret objective without being caught… 

 
 

Detroit: Become Human

Developer: Quantic Dream
What's the story?: Discover what it means to be human in a future world where androids serve humankind.

As you guide the androids Markus, Kara and Connor through their individual journeys, you'll face countless choices, covering how they interact with the world around them, leading to branching storylines that can see submissive androids become rise up against their human masters, or work to save them.

Will you choose a pacifistic route? Or pit our heroes against each other as the android revolution starts to form? Be careful, one misstep can mean the life or death of your characters - but the story will continue.

 
 

The Heavy Rain and BEYOND: Two Souls Collection

As masters of deep, emotive and gripping narrative-led gameplay, Quantic Dream’s ability to weave branching storylines and immersive character arcs has given us some of the best examples of cinematic video games.

Developer: Quantic Dream
What's the story?: Hunt down a serial killer and protect your son.

Heavy Rain primarily casts you as Ethan – a father on the trail of the Origami Killer who has kidnapped his young son – alongside three other playable characters, each with their part to play in catching the murderer.

As the mystery progresses, Ethan is taunted by twisted messages from the killer, and the choices you make could see any of the characters live or die, sending the story spiralling in new directions which cleverly interweave with each other.

Developer: Quantic Dream
What's the story?: Harness supernatural powers and guide a desperate young woman to freedom.

BEYOND: Two Souls tells the story of Jodie Holmes, a young woman with extraordinary powers and a supernatural link to the soul of another entity named Aiden. Follow Jodie’s story from early years to adulthood as she comes to terms with her powers – and tries to evade a nefarious CIA cell who want to use Jodie as a weapon.

With performances from Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, Beyond: Two Souls premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was lauded for its character and voice acting, and the direction of its interactive storytelling.

 
 

Life is Strange

Developer: DONTNOD
What's the story?: Rewind time to fix the future of a small bayside town.

This episodic interactive adventure has built a huge, passionate fanbase since its debut back in 2015 – and for good reason. It’s one of the most sophisticated, moving entries in the genre.

Photography student Max is back in her hometown of Arcadia Bay for the first time in years. When she saves the life of her old friend Chloe, Max discovers she has a singular gift – she can rewind time. Plagued by premonitions of a dark future, Max must learn to understand her power – and the consequences of changing the past.

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Life is Strange 2

In the sequel, follow brothers Sean and Daniel as they go on the run in the wake of a tragic incident, and try to come to terms with Daniel’s newfound supernatural powers.

 
 

Until Dawn

Developer: Supermassive Games
What's the story?: Try to survive the night in a deserted cabin stalked by a killer.

A remote cabin. A group of teenage friends. Winter in the American wilderness. Even those with a passing familiarity with slasher-horror will know that’s a recipe for disaster and, sure enough, as the intricate story arcs of Until Dawn are revealed, things start to go terrifyingly wrong for the eight companions trapped on the mountainside.

With a branching storyline where each decision you make has rippling consequences, players can alter the course of the game, saving characters from the deranged killer – or sealing their bloody fate. One of the most gripping games of recent times, and a must for horror afficionados.

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Kholat

Travel to the bleak Ural mountains to investigate the death of nine Russian hikers in this award-winning narrative mystery on PS4.

 
 

The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan

Developer: Supermassive Games
What's the story?: Decide the fate of five friends stranded in the Pacific Ocean.

Until Dawn creator Supermassive Games returns to show their mettle as masters of chilling, cinematic storytelling – and do so with the first part of The Dark Pictures anthology, a series of stand-alone interactive horror games.

The first entry, Man of Medan, pulls on real-world events, intriguing legends and classic horror movie beats as it weaves the tale of a group of friends setting off on a doomed diving trip. As a storm rolls in and you’re left adrift in the Pacific Ocean, what should have been a pleasant day at sea takes a sinister turn, and leaves you with decisions that will dictate who lives or dies, and the direction the story will take.

 
 

The Inpatient

Developer: Supermassive Games
What's the story?: Piece together your memories after waking up in an eerie sanitorium.

The masterful storytellers at Supermassive Games take their brand of spine-chilling narrative into the VR space with The Inpatient, a psychological horror game set 60 years prior to the events of Until Dawn.

If you’re brave enough to don your PS VR headset, you’ll find yourself as a patient in a mysterious medical facility. With no memory of how you got there, you’ll piece together fragments of memories and make choices that guide the plot through the eerie sanitorium.

For an added layer of realism, you can use voice controls to make all of the game’s dialogue choices as you meet a sinister cast of characters.

Gone Home

Developer: The Fullbright Company
What's the story?: Uncover the fate of your missing family.

The items we leave behind say more about us than you’d think, and in Gone Home, The Fullbright Company lets objects tell a story without relying too heavily on cutscenes.

You play as Katie, who returns from a year abroad only to find her family home deserted. Her only clue is a note from younger sister Sam begging not to look for her. The only way to figure out what happened is to search the house for information and try to piece together what happened while Katie was away, and uncover the fate of her loved ones.

 
 

The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series

Developer: Telltale Games
What's the story?: Protect a young orphan girl in a world ravaged by the undead.

The world of The Walking Dead will be familiar to most horror fans, and for their episodic tie-in series, Telltale Games has crafted a gripping, story-focussed experience set in the same deep-South Georgia location as the source material.

Following the story of Lee, a lone survivor of the undead apocalypse and Clementine, a young orphan girl lost in the dangerous world, the episodes form interactive, immersive games that focus more on narrative and character arcs than traditional gameplay.

Throughout four seasons, players control the story’s direction through dialogue choices as Lee and Clementine try desperately to find her parents in a thrilling, emotionally-charged chain of events.

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The Wolf Among Us

Uncover a grisly trail of murders and control the narrative arc of a hard-boiled pulp thriller set in a world of fairy tales and folklore.

 
 

Oxenfree

Developer: Night School Studio
What's the story?: A group of friends open a terrifying supernatural rift on an ominous island.

This graphic adventure by Night School Studio revolves around a group of five friends that get dragged into a supernatural mystery after unwittingly opening a ghostly rift. You play as Alex, a rebellious teenager who brings her new stepbrother Jonas to an overnight summer party at an old military island.

When things start to take a sinister turn, your decisions will determine how Alex and her friend’s story pans out. Oxenfree can be completed in four to five hours, so it's perfect if you who want a shorter adventure – or just want more time to explore different endings.

 
 

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Developer: The Chinese Room
What's the story?: Explore an idyllic village, hours after the world has ended.

Proving that a narrative-led game doesn’t necessarily have to be crammed with exposition to pack an emotional punch, developer The Chinese Room earned a BAFTA nomination for this tale of the end of the world.

Set in a quaint English village, around five days after the ‘primary event’ that has ended humanity, you spend the game investigating the eerily silent rural idyll, piecing together fragments of memories that weave through the deserted homes, shops and playgrounds.

Despite encountering no physical characters throughout the game, players are left with a real sense of the people who lived in the village and the devastating events that swept through the sleepy village – a testament to the power of the developer’s skilled storytelling.

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Dear Esther

The Chinese Room’s breakout hit paved the way for EGTTR, telling an elegiac tale of tragedy on a remote Hebridean island.

 
 

What Remains of Edith Finch

Developer: Annapurna Interactive
What's the story?: Solve the mystery of the Finch family's disappearance.

This beautifully crafted, BAFTA-winning tale of death and discovery comes from Giant Sparrow – the creative minds behind the critically acclaimed PS3 exclusive, The Unfinished Swan.

Join 17 year-old Edith Finch as she explores her mysterious family home and uncover the macabre circumstances surrounding each generation’s disappearance in an anthology of playable stories.View each unique tale through Edith’s eyes, interact with her surroundings through the ages, and discover why she’s the last of the Finches left alive.

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Investigate the disappearance of a young boy in a picturesque mountain town in this atmospheric paranormal mystery

 
 

Firewatch

Developer: Campo Santo
What's the story?: Leave the rat-race for a life in the wilderness - where you're not as alone as you think.

The peace and tranquillity of a Wyoming national park provide the backdrop for Firewatch, the tale of a middle-aged man escaping a personal tragedy by embracing the simple life of a forest fire watchman.

From the tower that becomes your home base, stunning mountains, forests and lakes stretch out in all directions – but all is not quite as tranquil as it may seem.

With only a walkie-talkie – and the voice of Delilah, your supervisor – for company, you control the conversations that the pair have and where Henry investigates the forest around him as it becomes clear he’s not completely alone and long forgotten mysteries from the park’s past come to the surface.

 
 

Broken Age

Developer: Double Fine
What's the story?: Explore two characters' lives in parallel as they embark on unexpecrted adventures.

Like traditional point-and-click adventure, Double Fine’s Broken Age focuses on dialogue and puzzles along with beautiful artwork and witty writing. It’s a coming-of-age story about two teenagers in completely different worlds, yet in strangely similar situations.

Explore the lives of Shay, a space explorer forced into the same routine every day, and Vella, a young girl who escapes being sacrificed to a huge monster by her village. Freely switch between the characters and their individual stories as you help them take control of their own lives.

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A Night in the Woods

Follow the story of Mae as she returns to her hometown after dropping out of college in this quirky adventure.

 
 

Grim Fandango

Developer: Double Fine
What's the story?: Help the dead to reach the afterlife while uncovering a sinister plot threatening your business.

LucasArts’ critically-acclaimed adventure and a must-play if you’re a fan of puzzles, well-written stories and unforgettable characters.

Travel to the underworld and play four years in the death of the quick-witted Manny Calavera, a travel agent at the Department of Death who sells luxury packages to souls on their journey to the afterlife. Collect items and information as you save Manny from a conspiracy threatening his salvation in this delightful combination of film noir and Mexican folklore.

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Day of the Tentacle Remastered

Go on a mind-bending cartoon puzzle adventure as you try to stop a mutated purple tentacle from taking over the world.

 
 

More essential buyer's guides

Check our guides to some of the best PS4 games from a wide range of genres.

Racing games

Post-apocalyptic adventures

Job simulators

Games for kids & families

Couch multiplayer games

Side scrolling platformers