Many narrative-focused video games nowadays like to boast that your choices really matter, stating even the most trivial decisions could have dire consequences on the story’s overall outcome.
More often than not, that simply isn’t the case, as branching storylines eventually always converge to the same ending regardless.
Until Dawn is one of the rare exceptions to this rule, as Supermassive’s PS4 exclusive not only decided its character’s fates on the choices that were made but also on the skill of the players that controlled them.
Whether it’s failing a quick time event, not exploring the surroundings for clues, or simply choosing the wrong path, one wrong choice in this interactive survival horror game could mean the death of any of the seven main characters.
As such, mistakes are bound to be made on anyone’s first playthrough of Until Dawn. While not all of them may deserve it, playing again is warranted in order to save these irresponsible, prank-loving teens.
Dragon Age: Origins
If you ever wanted to see what Bioware looked like it its prime, Dragon Age: Origins is a perfect example of an RPG with endless options for replayability.
As the title dictates, Dragon Age: Origins is the origins story of a character known as The Grey Warden. He or she is one of the last of an elite order, tasked with saving the world from the disastrous event known as the Blight.
When customizing, players are given the ability to choose their character’s gender, appearance, race, and class. While this sounds pretty straightforward for any RPG, it is what comes after that sets the tone for the story.
Depending on what players pick for their overall race and class, there are six different origin stories that dictate the plot of the game: Dalish Elf, Dwarf Commoner, City Elf, Mage, Human Noble, or Dwarf Noble.
Dialogue, stories, and numerous other things in the game revolve around the first choice in the game, making each playthrough its own unique experience.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
I know what you’re thinking: “I can barely finish one playthrough of The Witcher 3, let alone multiple!” While it is indeed a long game, I can assure you that CD Projekt Red’s final installment in Geralt of Rivia’s trilogy really should be played more than once.
Like other games on this list, there are so many choices and stories that simply can’t be experienced the first time around.
Whether it is the fact that you choose one path over another or simply rushed to the ending in order to get to the climax, plenty of small and large details can be missed the first go around.
The power of hindsight also allows Geralt to possibly choose which of the three endings he’d like his surrogate daughter to get to experience – as well as who he could end up with romantically.
If that isn’t enticing enough, The Witcher 3’s new game plus mode allows Geralt to carry over all of the inventory and skills he earned by the end of the first playthrough.
Enemies are also scaled accordingly, allowing for those looking for more of a challenge a few hundred more hours of monster hunting fun.
The sheer amount of endings in NieR: Automata is amazing. In total, the game features 26 different outcomes to its story.
While a handful of these endings may be jokes that aren’t canon to the main plotline, just as many are packed to the brim with changes to the narrative.
Somewhat similar to Mass Effect, Automata takes advantage of its save system in unique ways. For example, carrying over a save file after beating the game for the first time results in a different perspective of the main story when staring new playthroughs.
Things as simple as upgrading tools can also affect the outcome of endings as well.
The coolest part about all of this is how it fits in line with NieR: Automata’s story, characters, and ongoing themes. While they may have somewhat similar overlap, each of these new playthroughs feels like a continuation of the story as a result.
If you want to talk about revolutionary games in-regards to multiple playthroughs, no title is more important than Chrono Trigger.
When Chrono Trigger released back in 1995, it set a new standard for JRPGs. Few games before this Square-developed title featured multiple endings in a game.
Chrono Trigger had 13 endings in total. Even by today’s standards, that many endings is insane.
What is even crazier is just how fleshed out each path ended up being. Each of the game’s endings was entirely dependent upon when and how players reach and complete the game’s final battle.
The title is also still praised to this day for the sheer amount of choice it provides its players. Never before had a game placed so much emphasis and focus on character-driven side plots that also bear weight on the main story.
Mass Effect Trilogy
Few series have as much depth and care placed into its lore and dialogue as the Mass Effect trilogy. From the very get-go, backstory, class, and character selections alter the way things play out throughout the entirety of each game to come.
Dialogue tree options, the way NPCs interact with Commander Shepard, and even unique missions are all centered around things as simple as choosing where and how they were raised.
The vast array of choices alone are enough to warrant multiple playthroughs for every title, as only specific paths can lead to unique conversations and stories that would otherwise be unheard.
What makes the trilogy truly special though is its continuity. With each new installment in the series, players get to see how their choices affected the next game.
These choices include NPC interactions, romances, and even character deaths. Depending on how players (mis)handled the entirety of Mass Effect 2, it is even possible to go into Mass Effect 3 missing almost every member of the Normandy crew.
If nothing else, each of these games is certainly worth replaying just to get a glimpse of what polar opposite a Paragon and a Renegade Shepard can look like – figuratively and literally.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Despite the fact that you’ll have to trudge through the grueling, snowy prologue once again, Red Dead Redemption 2 more than merits a replay to fully experience all it has to offer.
The first reason being that a second playthrough allows the ability to play the exact opposite playstyle you may have done the first time around.
Was Arthur as noble as physically possible the first playthrough? Well now that he’s got that out of his system, it is time to see what the game is like when he robs, plunders, and kills everyone in his way.
Not only will this change the way the game plays for gamers, but it also affects the world around Arthur. Different dialogues pop up around camp depending upon the moral choices that are made, as Arthur even sits down and chats with members of the Van der Linde gang about his aggression issues the more innocent people he kills.
Regardless of whether you alter your playstyle or not, there is definitely a lot of important information you’ll be able to pick up on by going through Red Dead Redemption 2 a second time.
A conversation that may have seemed trivial during the first go-around could foreshadow what is to come.
Fallout New Vegas
The Fallout series has always been notorious for letting players customize how their character makes it through the game. Each title lets the protagonist invest in certain abilities, which then open up different opportunities to approach situations relevant to the narrative.
Of all the titles in the series, Fallout New Vegas is the shining example of what a branching path narrative can be when it reaches its full potential, thanks in large part to its amazing storyline.
Like other installments in the series, New Vegas deals with the Fallout of a Nuclear Apocolypse. This time around, players fill the shoes of The Courier: a mailman out for revenge after the game opens with them being shot in the head.
What follows is a cavalcade of crazy adventures, including a battle for power between three factions: The New California Republic (NCR), Caesar’s Legion, and Mr. House.
Choosing one of these three sides has effects on missions and interactions with the other two. As such, there are three different ways to approach the game’s main narrative.
If that isn’t enough of a unique experience, New Vegas also features a Hardcore mode. In this mode, the game is far more realistic and intense, requiring The Courier to eat, sleep, and maintain other real-life necessities alongside playing the story.
With all of that in mind, it is really no surprise that a lot of people are still playing Fallout New Vegas today, almost 10 years after its initial release.