Whether the gamer on your shopping list enjoys a good crime saga, a swashbuckling adventure or an epic medieval tale, here are some of the video games that scratch the narrative itch.
Whether it’s the history-spanning tale of an assassin and his family or an elaborate narrative about a medieval kingdom plagued by civil war and dragons, some of this year’s best video games feature enthralling stories deftly told.
If the gamer in your life (and on your shopping list) loves a good yarn, here are some games that would make excellent gifts for them this holiday.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Rated M, $60
The epic medieval role-playing game "Skyrim" is so full of story you could spend months on end trying to get to the bottom of it all. Just to start with, there is the enthralling main story to dive into — a tale about a kingdom in the grips of a civil war during a time when dragons have also suddenly reappeared. You, of course, play the protagonist — the "dragonborn" hero whose coming was foretold.
But there is so much happening beyond this main plotline it's hard to know where to start. The numerous side quests are filled with tales of intrigue, treachery and adventure of all sorts. Want a vampire story? It's in there. How about a story about werewolves? That too.
And as if that wasn't enough, throughout this digital world you'll find books to read that tell the tales of various people and various events that have happened during Skyrim's history. This library alone could keep you occupied for days or weeks on end.
If you know someone who enjoys George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" books, then it's a good bet "Skyrim" will be a big hit with them.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations — PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Rated M, $50
If the gamer on your holiday shopping list is the kind of person who'd enjoy an epic story that weaves the past and present together into one thrilling, history-and-globe-spanning adventure — then look no further than this fourth game in the "Assassin's Creed" main series.
"Revelations" drops players into an ambitious tale about a man and two of his ancestors caught up in an ancient war between the Templars and the Assassins. It's a story that's set both in modern times as well as in ancient Constantinople.
Part historical epic, part sci-fi brain bender, "Revelations" delivers a story filled with vibrant characters and an abundance of big ideas. In short, it's the kind of story you'll happily lose yourself in.
L.A. Noire — Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Rated M, $40
Murder, betrayal, drugs and corruption — the open-world action adventure known as "L.A. Noire" has all of this in spades plus a cool old-school 1947 Los Angeles setting that just begs to be explored.
The game drop you into the shoes of a cop returned from World War II — a cop who must try to get the bottom of a series of crimes using his wits, his observational skills and his ability to get information out of people.
This is a story filled to the brim with unique, well-drawn characters stunningly rendered thanks to some amazing motion-capture technology and superb voice acting. In fact, "L.A. Noire" does such a good job weaving an intrigue-filled tale in the gritty film noir style that, earlier this year, it became the first video game ever screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.
If you know someone who loves the film noir detective movies of the 1940s and 50s or the old hardboiled crime novels, then this game is a must for them.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception — PlayStation 3, Rated T, $60
For those looking for a big, cinematic storytelling and gaming experience, the latest in the "Uncharted" franchise is sure to fit the bill.
This swashbuckling tale sweeps players up into the globe-trotting, treasure-hunting adventures of Nathan Drake — a modern-day Indiana Jones if ever there was one. This time around, players find Drake heading into the Arabian Desert on the hunt for the fabled city of Ubar — also known as the "Atlantis of the Sands."
Of course, there are plenty of twists, turns, narrow misses, intrigue and even a little romance along the way ... making it so this game is nothing but pure adventure-filled fun.
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword — Wii, Rated E10+, $50
Speaking of adventure-filled fun ... there's nothing like experiencing a story that sweeps you up and takes you along on an epic voyage. And that's exactly what "Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword" does ... while tossing in some top-notch Wii Motion Plus sword fighting to boot.
What's especially cool about this tale is that it's an origin story that not only takes us along on an enthralling journey with childhood friends (and Nintendo favorites) Link and Zelda but reveals the land of Hyrule's past.
The game's film-like cinematics do much to help deliver a narrative that's full of magical, family-friendly adventures and lively characters as well as some truly heartfelt moments.
Of course, this is just a short list of games that feature top-notch stories. What do you think: Which games would you recommend for someone who likes a well-told tale?
For more holiday shopping recommendations, be sure to check out:
- Geeky gifts for the gamer in your life
- 5 great games for the art lover
- 5 great games to play with the whole family
- Black Friday games you've got to grab
Winda Benedetti writes about games for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things here on Twitter or join her in the stream here on Google+. And be sure to check out the In-Game Facebook page here.