This is always one of the most difficult categories for two reasons. One, it pretty much requires you to have played all the games to completion. Two, narrative is so subjective. What is great to one person is awful to another. To judge this category, we all had to give our input.
A Plague Tale: Innocence – This is a weird game. I could honestly leave it at that, because it would be wasteful to not let you play it for yourself. Amicia and Hugo’s struggle is frustrating at times and heart-warming at others. The game kept giving me vibes of The Evil Within, but in a medieval setting. The narrative for me was the strongest part of the game, but I might just be a sucker for fancy latin words.
Control – Control is a strange game and it knows it. What I love about the narrative of Control is that it doesn’t try to be anything more than what the game needs. If you want answers every step of the way, you won’t get them. It doesn’t hold your hand it just gives you more questions and more intrigue. Normally, that would be incredibly frustrating as a player. The way the characters are written, the way they accept the fact that this whole concept and this entire world is weird helps the player also accept it. I’ve experienced more fulfilling endings, but rarely do I feel like a game and its story is pulling me along like a puppet on strings. Control had complete control of me every step of the way.
Death Stranding – Hideo Kojima’s parcel delivery epic is personal as it is convoluted. While it’s loaded with jargon, pseudo-science/history and Kojima-isms, Death Stranding is strangely engaging for a game that has a ton of its world building is done through breadcrumb emails and side quests. The game’s major twist is well done and satisfying even if its not really the crux of the story. Death Stranding is a game to be experienced, regardless of if you understand it or not.
Disco Elysium – I was excited and surprised to see this one make the list. While it’s far from subtle, it was a thought-provoking story about a town overrun by a capitalist group called The Coalition. You play as a detective who has literally drank himself into amnesia and must solve both a murder case and the mystery of who you are. I wouldn’t call it a feel good story, but it’s certainly worth checking out.
The Outer Worlds – *Sigh* This should have been it. This should have been the winner. So why can’t I bring myself to give it the nod? I enjoyed The Outer Worlds a lot, but even I’ll say that the narrative wasn’t the strongest part. I can’t even say the characters were, because honestly, it was just Parvati. This game had the potential to be a superstar, but it fell short on the story.
Who will win – Death Stranding – I would be stunned to see a Kojima game not get the nod for narrative at The Game Awards. Many casual players won’t get beyond the gameplay to experience the full breadth of the story, but it’ll probably do well at awards shows.
Who should win – Control – While I think Death Stranding delivers a more impactful experience, I think Control has a tighter and more engaging narrative overall. This is honestly a toss up, but I think Control’s story is a bit more approachable.