Interactive Storytellers (a.k.a. Walking Simulators)
A new twist to an old genre, walking simulators hail from the old-school genre of interactive fiction as seen in text-only adventure games on home computers in the late 70’s. They are, however, a new breed of storytellers that present an interactive, graphical environment to the player, often in a first-person perspective and with an amount of narration based on the goals of the developer. The player can freely move around, explore the environment, and progress with any included narration, but the player tend not to have special abilities, such as combat, or the like typically found in games of other genres. Interactive fiction was re-popularized in 2011 by The Stanley Parable as a free mod for Half-Life 2, which saw an award-winning, high-definition standalone remake on Steam Greenlight in the following year. Other notable titles include another Half
Life 2 mod-turned-standalone-title Dear Esther, Fullbright’s award-winning Gone Home in 2013, and Among the Sleep by Norwegian developer Krillbite Studio.
Even AAA publishers have taken note of the commercial success of this genre, with Square Enix releasing the highly-acclaimed episodic adventure series Life is Strange early this year. The creator of The Stanley Parable returned this year with The Beginner’s Guide, another instantly popular hit. Over the last several years, this genre has gradually expanded into the horror scene, most notably with Frictional Games’ Amnesia: The Dark Descent in 2010 and its just-released SOMA, as well as Red Barrels’ Outlast in 2013. Look out for the genre’s broad applications in the VR space in the coming years, with development already in the works to take advantage of immersion-enhancing peripherals, such as the Oculus Rift.
Life is Strange
The Stanley Parable