- Writing is crucial in RPG games as it develops characters and tells stories, making the genre exceptional and immersing players in detailed worlds and narratives.
The writing in games like
Persona 5 Royal, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,
trilogy is praised for its excellent storytelling and complex narratives, offering players philosophical discussions and moral dilemmas.
Divinity: Original Sin 2,
Baldur’s Gate 3,
showcase exceptional writing that creates unique worlds, explores real-world issues, and presents complex characters and narratives with poetic and allegorical elements.
Writing in video games is often overlooked as a subject despite there being some amazing games out there with some seriously good writing. When it comes to dialogue and writing, RPG games are often the best as they are dialogue-heavy and quest-focused, meaning the player will encounter a high number of speaking NPCs.
The writing behind narratives and dialogue is what works best to develop characters and tell stories. Without good writing, good stories wouldn’t exist. RPGs thrive through the writing behind them. If the writing is bad, the game will never be great, but if the writing is good, then this is where the genre becomes exceptional, allowing players to get lost in immersive worlds and stories.
10 Persona 5 Royal
Metacritic Rating: 95
Persona 5 Royal
- PS4, PS5, Switch, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S
- March 31, 2020
Persona 5 Royal is one of the finest JRPGs ever made, and that’s mostly achieved through its excellent writing. This is a long game, and it takes character development very seriously. Most players will throw in over 100 hours in their playthrough, and so much of this time is spent simply interacting with characters and going on social dates and meetups.
Whilst the story is excellent, and the characters are even better, it’s the specific writing style that should be highlighted here. It’s nothing fancy, and it adheres to JRPG conventions, but it works and it’s effective. There’s a thoughtful exploration of real-world issues, and it all interconnects and links into the Japanese culture presented throughout every facet of the game.
Metacritic Rating: 96
- PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox One X, Xbox Series S, PS4, PS5, Switch
- November 11, 2011
The interesting thing about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the writing can be so awful, but it’s also great at the same time. The lore behind The Elder Scrolls franchise is deep and immersive, and it’s probably the best fantasy world in the video game industry. However, it’s the character-based writing that occasionally lets the game down (or maybe it’s just the voice acting that leaves a sour taste).
Despite this, the writing found in books and notes scattered around the game is excellent, and a great example of how to establish a world. There have been books released outside the games, compiling collections of writings that players can collect in Skyrim. These highlight how some of these passages truly are Tolkien-esque, and a great example of video game literature.
8 Mass Effect Trilogy
Metacritic Ratings: 91, 96 and 93
The Mass Effect trilogy features some of the best storytelling and writing in gaming, and it’s a series that genuinely had fans captivated throughout the late-2000s and the 2010s. It’s a significant franchise often praised for the depth and complexity of its writing and storytelling.
A connected narrative spanning across three games isn’t something that often works, but the Mass Effect trilogy achieves a slam dunk, and it’s one of the best video game trilogies ever made. There are a multitude of philosophical discussions prevalent throughout all entries, and the player has to frequently make decisions based on moral dilemmas that directly impact the narrative’s direction. It’s connected video game writing at its finest.
7 Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Metacritic Rating: 80
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
- November 16, 2004
- Troika Games
One of the best examples of a cult classic in gaming, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines presents players with a rich, dark, gothic, and complex world of corruption and violence. It’s a unique setting and premise, and the writing expertly creates a dark, brooding atmospheric tone.
Through the introduction of multiple factions and alliances, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines’ writing is shrouded in moral ambiguity, often throwing difficult choices and consequences at the player. The game includes multiple references to previous vampire and gothic literature and successfully cements itself as a significant entry in the world’s long-running vampire lore.
Metacritic Rating: 92
- March 24, 2015
- From Software
Bloodborne is an interesting entry because it doesn’t feature writing in the traditional sense of video game storytelling. Instead of lots of cutscenes and heavy dialogue, Bloodborne’s writing is featured through notes and brief snippets of narration and dialogue. What makes it great, though, is that it takes a lot of inspiration from legendary writer H.P. Lovecraft to present a unique cosmic horror world.
The mystery behind the writing is partially what makes it so great, as players have to piece snippets of information together themselves to form the larger picture and establish the story. It’s a testament to FromSoftware’s writing team that it’s widely regarded as one of the greatest examples of writing in video games just based on notes and scattered snippets.
5 Divinity: Original Sin 2
Metacritic Rating: 93
Divinity: Original Sin 2 features some excellent writing, often presented through its unique style of visual storytelling. It’s got some of the finest quests in gaming with tight dialogue and great characters, but part of what makes the writing and characters so great is the unique starting setup. Players get a specific origin story that is tailored for their character and features some great background writing, making each playthrough a unique experience.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 tells an intricate story, utilizing its amazing writing to weave a world of politics, corruption, conspiracies, and ancient mysteries. It’s filled with complex morals and ethical decisions that ultimately blend into a masterfully crafted narrative.
4 Baldur’s Gate 3
Metacritic Rating: 96
Baldur’s Gate 3
- PC, Stadia, macOS, PS5
- August 3, 2023
- Larian Studios
Baldur’s Gate 3 weaves a fantastical world that features the best writing in the franchise so far. It’s based on Dungeons and Dragons which carries with it an amazing world, and an abundance of great writing already, giving it a great foundation to build on.
Players have a vast world to explore, and the dialogue is sharp and expertly written, allowing characters to feel real, and creating a sense of freshness to the established world, which only expands as the player’s decisions repeatedly affect the progression of the story. It’s a great narrative, once again featuring poignant philosophical debates and real-world parallels, expertly told through its subtle writing.
3 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Metacritic Rating: 92
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Switch
- May 19, 2015
- CD Projekt Red
Based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher novels, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the greatest games from the previous console generation, featuring some of the best writing and storytelling in any modern RPG. Geralt is a fan-favorite character at this point, and supporting characters like Triss and Yennifer have etched their names in gaming history because of the game’s strong character development.
It’s incredibly faithful to the source material, and the writing featured in the game further expands on the world’s lore and creatures, innovatively adding complex depth. The overarching main narrative is quite complex for a video game, but CD Projekt Red handles it like it’s nothing, making sure it’s not too hard to follow but still unfolds in a masterfully unexpected way.
2 Disco Elysium
Metacritic Rating: 91
- PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Stadia
- October 15, 2019
The dialogue featured throughout Disco Elysium flows in an almost poetic manner. Its words captivate the player and establish an intricately crafted, decaying, and dystopian world, filled with all sorts of socioeconomic problems. The most impressive thing about Disco Elysium is that it feels so raw and real, not too far from reality, despite being set in a pseudo-fantasy world.
There are lots of overlaps with the real world, and the writing unfolds almost as if it’s an allegorical tale, a unique approach to writing in the gaming industry. Its characters are complex and multifaceted, and whichever choices the player makes, they’re never quite wrong or right – it just has boundless implications.
1 Planescape: Torment
Metacritic Rating: 91
- PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
- December 12, 1999
- Black Isle Studios
Universally acclaimed as one of the greatest examples of writing in any video game, Planescape Torment is an older game that was released back in 1999 and left a legacy that the industry will never forget. If Planescape: Torment had never been released, half the games on this list either wouldn’t exist, or would be nowhere near as intricately written as they are.
This is a game that solidified the medium of video games as one that can tell amazing narratives, capable of rivaling or even surpassing the greatest Hollywood films or classic novels. It’s frequently celebrated for its literary quality and the manner in which it unfolds a deep, complex, and meaningful story with philosophical and ethical reflections. It’s video game writing at its finest.
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