2021 oprainfall Awards: Best Story

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

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Previous Winners
2016: Muv-Luv
2017: Persona 5
2018: Yakuza 6
2019: Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Video games have a special place in media: Their interactive nature makes for impactful storytelling in ways movies and books cannot replicate. Games can offer new experiences that cannot be attained in real life; can augment situations in ways you may never be able to experience otherwise; or put you into situations and emotional states you may or may not ever want to be in for real, all in an effort to tell a compelling story. This year’s nominees all share strong, memorable stories that ask players to see the world from a different perspective, and all of them are worth the title of Best Story. But which will come out on top?

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker

Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker

NA Release Date: Dec. 3, 2021
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5

Ten years in the making, Endwalker is the culmination of four expansions (five if you include A Realm Reborn), two supreme deities, 14 worlds, and thousands upon thousands of hours shared by millions of people around the world. Not only does it build upon all these narratives and experiences that came before, but it also manages to tell its own self-contained story that rivals some standalone RPGs. It’s a pretty daunting prospect for any MMORPG expansion to live up to its predecessors, and Endwalker pulls it off with aplomb, wrapping up the story of Zodiark and Hydaelyn, but leaving plenty more for players to sink their teeth into for years to come. But is that enough for it to be crowned the best?

Tales of Arise

Tales of Arise | Alphen and Shionne

NA Release Date: Sep. 10, 2021
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S

Tales of games have a long, beloved history, and Tales of Arise continues that legacy with an all-new cast, world, and story to tell. For centuries, one world has ruled over another, subjugating its people and sapping them of their dignity. Things cannot remain as they are. Can two people born of different worlds change the shared fate of these worlds to create a better future? It’s an old but compelling story, and Arise brings thought, care, and a cast of fantastic characters with wonderful chemistry to the fore to tackle it, just as previous games have. Can it take home our top prize, though?

Lost Judgment

NA Release Date: Sep 21, 2021
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S

Video games are a great vehicle to tackle difficult subjects, since they put players so firmly in the shoes of another, and Lost Judgment is one of the better examples of this strength in play. Dealing with bullying, depression, and ostracization can leave people feeling adrift and alone, and Lost Judgment takes a sympathetic look at their plight in ways I haven’t seen other games of this type attempt to do. What does justice really look like? Toss in a murder mystery and you’ve got all the trappings of a really strong, thought-provoking title that keeps you asking questions long after you’ve finished playing, making it a real contender for Best Story. But is it enough?

And the winner for Best Story is…

Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker!

Despite fierce competition, Endwalker walks home with the prize! XIV has been a phenomenal MMORPG experience for years, but this expansion truly pushed its storytelling to places I don’t think most people saw coming. It challenged players with themes of despair, loneliness, loss of self, and hopelessness, and yet still wound up affirming the beauty of life, and that’s a difficult line to walk for any game, let alone one with a subscription. For this balancing act, as well as the way it wraps up a decade of previous storytelling, Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is this year’s Best Story.

About Leah McDonald

Leah's been playing video games since her brother first bought an Atari back in the 1980s and has no plans to stop playing anytime soon. She enjoys almost every genre of game, with some of her favourites being Final Fantasy Tactics, Shadow of the Colossus, Suikoden II and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Leah lives on the East Coast with her husband and son. You can follow Leah over on Twitter @GamingBricaBrac