Life is Strange and Until Dawn are both games from a very popular genre of interactive stories. In these games, gameplay is not the most important element: your narrative decisions are. Many, if not most choices you are going to make in these games are going to impact the plot (and, by extension, ending) in various ways. Because of that they have a strong factor of replayability.
It’s also important to emphasize that while they share their story-first, choice-intensive goals, Life is Strange and Until Dawn are quite different from each other. Until Dawn is very much oriented towards feeling and looking like horror movies. Meanwhile Life is Strange is closer to an adventure game, and instead of just fright and spooks it’s interested in relationships and interpersonal drama (the good kind).
We made sure to provide examples of both. Unsurprisingly, some developers make multiple appearances, because it’s a rather niche style of game and there are some who clearly specialize in it.
With that established, let’s take a look at…
|Night in the Woods||2017-02-21||Action & Shooter||-39%|
|The Dark Pictures Anthology - Man of Medan||2019-08-30||Adventure||-72%|
|Life is Strange 2 Complete Season||2018-09-27||Adventure||-89%|
|Last Day of June||2017-08-31||Adventure||-91%|
|Tell Me Why||2020-08-27||Adventure||-73%|
|The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope||2020-10-30||Survival horror||-70%|
|Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered||2015-01-28||Adventure||-81%|
|The Walking Dead: The Final Season||2018-08-14||Adventure||-92%|
|The Longest Journey||2000-11-17||RPG||-66%|
|The Wolf Among Us||2013-10-11||Adventure||-67%|
|Detroit: Become Human||2020-06-18||Adventure||-64%|
|To the Moon||2011-11-01||Adventure||-43%|
|The Vanishing of Ethan Carter||2014-09-25||Adventure||-82%|
|BEYOND: Two Souls||2020-06-18||Action||-71%|
|Developer||Night School Studio|
If you’re looking for something to tug at your heartstrings the way Life is Strange does, then Oxenfree is a pretty good game to begin your search with. It’s also quite likely to give you chills, because it’s a supernatural mystery story. You’re playing as Alex, a teenager heading for an island party with other teens. The party goes well enough, until things start getting really weird because of a radio.
Oxenfree is 2,5D graphic adventure, which bases most of its story and gameplay around conversations, exploration of the island, and interacting with objects. And interesting element is that conversations occur organically, through speech bubbles popping up during regular gameplay. You can even choose to ignore or interrupt the other person, which might have its own consequences.
Night in the Woods
|Genre||Action & Shooter|
Night in the Woods is in some ways quite similar to Oxenfree: it’s a mostly 2D adventure interested in relations between teen characters and it uses speech bubbles for its dialogues. It takes place in a small town, once profiting from nearby mines which have since become unprofitable, leading to a slow decline of Possum Springs. You’ll explore it all as Mae Borowski, a college dropout returning home.
The story involves investigating the disappearance of Mae’s old friends, troubling visions, and mysterious figures in the woods. It also involved Mae’s mental health issues and the strain they put on her and her family. Overall, Night in the Wood is a fantastic adventure game, with engaging and rewarding relations with its NPCs, interesting story, and a unique, distinct art style. Give it a shot.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan
After the success of Until Dawn, developer Supermassive Games knew they struck gold. As a result they’ve come up with The Dark Pictures Anthology series, exploring Until Dawn’s format in new settings and new stories, presented to you by a mysterious Curator. In the first title in the anthology, Man of Medan, you help the mysterious man complete the story of an old, seemingly haunted warship.
Man of Medan is a very story-oriented game. There are many weighty decisions to make at dramatically appropriate moments, and plenty of Quick Time Events which are going to be quite useful if you want to keep some characters alive. Man of Medan also is a surprisingly neat party game thanks to its multiplayer mode, Movie Night, letting up to five people play more or less together.
Quantum Break has something in common both with Life is Strange and Until Dawn, but it also does its own thing, creating an interesting and ambitious mixture of ideas. With Life is Strange it shares all the time shenanigans, while the point of contact with Until Dawn is cinematic approach which in QB means more live-action cutscenes than you’d expect. There are even story-changing choices involved!
Quantum Break is a third-person shooter following Jack Joyce, a man who witness first-hand a failed time travel experiment and has time manipulation powers to show for it. At specific points in the story you also take control of the antagonist, whose precognitive powers allow him the luxury of affecting the course of the story via the Junction Points. You can even preview the outcomes before committing.
Life is Strange 2
In the least surprising turn of events, Life is Strange 2 is quite like its predecessor. And so are other entries in the series, for that matter. They change main characters and location with every new installation, but they are going to follow similar gameplay and ideas, in one way or another. In Life is Strange 2 you’re seeing the story of two brothers, Sean and Daniel Diaz, currently on the run.
You’re playing specifically as Sean, the older brother, and the game gives the difficult task of caring after Daniel. LiS2 involves a lot of difficult choices, and the way you treat your brother, and the moral compass you instil in him, determines the ending you’re going to get. You won’t get a teen, ill-fated romance out of LiS2, but you will get an emotional journey with many hard decisions.
Quantic Dream games are known for their intense reliance on Quick Time Events, as well as their focus on cinematic presentation. Heavy Rain remains one of the best-known QD productions, even a decade later. It tells a story of people affected by the deranged activities of the so-called Origami Killer. Over the course of the game you’ll control several characters, but not all will see the end.
It’s a dark and gritty story, as one could expect from a serial killer-related plot, and the endings you can get can be equally dark. Getting a good one requires a lot of work and good reflexes, because the QTEs don’t take prisoners. It’s not a game for everyone, leaning closer to the horrors of Until Dawn than the sincere dramas of Life is Strange, but it’s nevertheless a good game to check out.
Last Day of June
How much would you do to save the life of someone you love? This is the big question asked by Last Day of June, a heartfelt game about fixing one tragic accident by revisiting the past. The player character, Carl, can use his dead partner’s painting to affect the events which led to the fateful event, solving a Rube-Goldberg machine of choices and consequences.
Last Day of June is, in its gameplay layer, an adventure game with puzzle elements, giving you control of various characters in addition to Carl himself. The game is inspired by “Drive Home”, a song by Steven Wilson, who also created Last Day of June’s soundtrack. If you connected to the time-warping, tragic plot of Life is Strange 1, this lovely game should have a strong effect on you as well.
As an action RPG, Vampyr does its best to mix weighty plot decisions with slash and dash action one could expect from playing a vampire in London of 1918. As doctor Jonathan Reid a veteran of the great War-turned-new vampire, you’ll have to investigate the roots of a plague troubling London. Along the way you’ll have to choose whether to embrace your vampiric side or avoid feeding on mortals.
Key elements of Vampyr are relationships Reid maintains with NPCs around him, especially his patients, and investigations of his potential victims and clues advancing the plot. There’s also a fair share of combat, which involves mostly unarmed and melee attacks, but if you are into being a vampire you can also unlock powerful abilities. Just remember: the game knows how many people you drained.
Tell Me Why
The last shout out to Dontnod Entertainment on the list: Tell Me Why takes on childhood trauma with a supernatural bent, an approach this studio’s games are known for. Tell Me Why follows twins Tyler and Alyson Ronan who reunite after many years. No0w, back in their Alaskan hometown, they can compare their memories and explore, and perhaps reshape, their own history together.
The key part of the gameplay revolves around multiple versions of events and deciding which version the twins choose to believe. There are also puzzles to solve, involving a book pf fairy tales complied by the twins’ mother. There are two main endings based on a specific moment, but interactions with NPCs create their own variables and possible futures for the characters.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope
Another entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology series, Little Hope took a break from ships and hallucinations. Instead, it asks players to help the Curator find the full story of what happened in a village of Little Hope somewhere in the United States. The plot involves a tragic house fire in the 1970s, and a few students visiting the town in 2020. There may or may not be some witchcraft involved.
Gameplay-wise, Little Hope doesn’t stray from the tried and tested formula of other Supermassive horrors, tweak and polished for improved experience. You still can expect QTEs which can make or break the happy end, you still shift perspectives every so often, and the co-op option is there as well, letting you share the game with others, each person controlling a different character.
2005’s thriller/crime fiction Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy is actually a precursor of the genre. It is year 2005 in New York, and the city has to deal with abnormally cold weather. Even worse, NYC experiences an unusually high number of murders. Police is unable to handle the crisis. The murders are committed by normal and righteous people who suddenly snap and kill someone randomly.
You play as two characters. The first is Lucas Kane, another normal citizens of the New York, who snapped and does not remember anything about the murder. The second character is Detective Carla Valenti who is currently working on Kane’s case. You get to play on both sides and it’s entirely up to you, who are you going to help more. As a result, the game features several possible endings.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season
The Walking Dead series, was a product which brought the Telltale company fame and fortune. The game is based on the very popular TV show which, in turn is an adaptation of a comic series created by Robert Kirkman. The Walking Dead: The Final Season follows Clementine, several years after the the original Telltale’s TWD game. She is now a hardened teenage girl focused on protecting Alvin Jr.
During many years they spent together, they created a strong relationship between each other. In the zombie-ridden setting, Telltale were able to explore the nature of humans. The Walking Dead: The Final Season is going to engage you with its great characters and an immersive story, benefitting from Telltale’s trademark design: choices and consequences carrying over several episodes.
The Longest Journey
Launched in 1999, The Longest Journey is the oldest game on this list (which does not mean that it is the worst). It is a classic point and click adventure game filled with sci-fi and fantasy elements. In this game you are going to take a role of April Ryan, an 18 years old student. She lives in the universe known as Stark. A world similar to our own, filled with technology.
One day she discovered the existence of another universe: Arkadia, a place filled with magic and mystery. Unfortunately there is something bad in the air. A thing, which can destroy both Stark and Arkadia. April is the only one who can save both worlds. TLJ focuses mostly on plot and conversations with very interesting NPCs. If you want to enjoy a classic, then this game is perfect for you.
The Wolf Among Us
The Wolf Among Us is another game from Telltale with gameplay very similar to The Walking Dead. In this game you are going to take a role of Bigby Wolf (formerly known as the Big Bad Wolf), the sheriff of Fabletown. It’s a haven for characters from fairy tales, old stories etc. Bigby protects them from various adversaries (especially normal humans), despite his lingering villainous reputation.
Very early on in the game Bigby realizes that he had found himself in the middle of something big. In The Wolf Among Us you are going to meet many characters you might know from fairy tales like Snow White, Beast or Red Riding Hood, or, in fact, the graphic novel series by Bill Willingham. You are probably going to be surprised by their appearance as well as personalities, time wasn’t kind.
Detroit: Become Human
Detroit: Become Human takes place in the near-future Detroit city, where androids become an everyday tool used by residents for certain tasks. Unfortunately, existence of androids which are similar to humans leads to a variety of social problems, e.g., many humans believe that constructs stole their jobs. You are going to take control over three different androids trying to get by despite growing tensions.
They are Kara, Markus (who works as a household help) and Connor (a prototype who works as a detective). Through their eyes you are going to see that due to the mistake in their software, androids started to snap. However, the most important is the fact that they started to feel human emotions. The plot and dialogues are going to suck you in and get you to explore every branch in the story.
Gone Home is probably the most original game on this list. It has a little bit of horror hidden in it but most importantly, it focuses on everyday life of normal people. When the story starts. It it’s 7th of June 1995. You are Katy, a 21 years old girl who after a few years in Europe decided to come back home. When you arrive late at night to the house, you discover that it is empty.
Now you need to find what the hell happened to your family. Through exploration and information gathering you are going to pick up the entire story of your house. You experience Gone Home from the first-person perspective, and it’s very open-ended, focused on your own exploration, interacting with objects and collecting clues pointing to the reasons behind family’s disappearance.
To The Moon
To the Moon is a relatively short game and the gameplay in this game is almost non-existent. However, this game is also absolutrely worth checking out. Why? Because of the plot… The premise alone should be enticing: you’re stepping into the shoes of two agents capable to implanting fond memories in the minds of dying people. One of their patients is an especially hard case, prompting deeper investigation.
In To the Moon there’s no combat, there isn’t even inventory. Instead, the game goes all in on making you solve the puzzling memories of your patient in order to discover the perfect wish-memory to grant him. It’s not easy, however, and quickly you’re going to be dragged into the touching story. If it’s stories and feelings you’re after, To the Moon absolutely delivers.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a really interesting Polish adventure game, created by Adrian Chmielarz’s studio The Astronauts. The game is based on stories straight from weird fiction and a pulp horror genre. Our main aim, as the title of the game suggest, is to find a 12 years old Ethan Carter. During our adventure we are going to visit a beautiful yet mysterious Red Creek Valley.
We’re playing as Paul Prospero, an investigator of paranormal activities, to whom Ethan wrote fan letters. As you try to find your young fan, you discover a series of troubling events surrounding the boy’s family. The game features an open world, letting you collect clues in more or less any order. The ending you get depends on how much you’ve discovered, and how complete a picture you managed to form.
Beyond: Two Souls
Beyond: Two Souls is a game created by Quantic Dream. Studio responsible for such games like Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain. It’s a mix of thriller and the action adventure game putting you in control over Jodie Holmes. She has a gift which is also a curse: she has powerful telepathic abilities and can make contact with a being called Aiden.
The story takes places over a long time, following Jodie since her teenage years well into her adult life. That includes positive and negative entanglements with the government, very interested in her psychic abilities. While the gameplay isn’t too different from the typical Quantic Dream fare, an interesting quirk of Beyond is that you can switch control to Aiden, exploring the maps as a ghostly entity.
In Firewatch you are going to take control over Henry, a middle aged man tired with his life as well as the society itself. This is why he decided to take a job of a forest ranger in a beautiful forest in Wyoming. Days go by and your only companion is Delilah. You can contact her via your shortwave radio. One day something weird happened in the forest which forces you to leave the tower and explore the area.
This exploration is the main element of the game, leading you to clues and, indeed, pretty sights. Another crucial element is your relationship with Delilah. Depending on your decisions, your relationship with her might strengthen or become strained. In its time Firewatch has been dubbed a walking simulator, but despite lack of high-octane gameplay, it’s a very satisfying experience.
Dramatic choices, dire consequences
That concludes our (updated) list of games like Life is Strange and Until Dawn. We’ve covered both extremes: the heartwarming stories and the blood-curdling nightmares, with something in-between for good measure. Most of these video games can be found on the three major platforms: PC (especially on Steam), Xbox, and PlayStation, so if you use at least one of these, you shouldn’t be too worried about not being able to play the game that caught your interest.