The Act of Great Storytelling

A short game like If On A Winter’s Night… is proof that you don’t need dozens of hours to build gorgeous atmosphere and tell a killer story [...] - Alexis Ong

After reading PC Gamer Alexis Ongs impressions of If On A Winter's Night, Four Travelers I decided to give the game (Free on Steam and a try. The plot as I know it: There are four characters on a train with individual stories you will experience. I have just finished the second story: The Slow Vanishing of Lady Winterbourne and what an experience it was! I can't really say that much about the story because it is one you have to experience for yourself, but I can say that the pace, the character Winterbourne, the music, and the setting are just a mix of great wonders. The way the atmosphere changes as Lady Winterbourne is shown in the present and the past is extremely well done for the little time you play as her.

I experienced a range of emotions going back and forth and at times I just wanted to be stationary because I did not want the story to go on any further. If the rest of the stories are as extraordinary as this one, I am in for a treat and I hope you also would like to join for an experience of your own!

Do you have any examples of very short games with a fantastic and emotional story? What did you like the most about them? Perhaps you would like to make your own short story game? If so, you could try out this tool - Adventure Game Studio.

I'm ending this with another example of just how much can be said with so little: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn" - supposedly written by Ernest Hemmingway after winning a bet on writing a novel with only six words.


Community Contributor
A lot of long games' stories are, in fact, more like a collection of short stories. Especially if you reduce the combat sequences to "and then there was a fight, which the hero won." ;)

The way you tell stories is huge. The story told in Outer Wilds, for example. Even with detailed descriptions of the surroundings, writing that game's story out as a book wouldn't fill up 100 pages (IMHO). The way it's told in the game, though, is more like piecing together a big jigsaw puzzle with the story written on it. It gets a lot more interesting when you've got to work for every scrap!

Lost Odyssey, a JRPG published by Microsoft, wasn't a short game at all, but it included memories of the main character. You would discover these as you go through the game and, when you access them, you find yourself reading a short story about the character's past. They were quite well done! (There's a good game to put on Game Pass!)