By Ben Grandis
When it comes to good stories in gaming, we often think of interesting characters tackling even more interesting conflicts. Player choice, high quality cinematic cutscenes, and great voice acting are hallmarks of the best stories in gaming. Most of these stories involve the characters speaking with each other to some degree. But not every good story needs dialogue to be great. Sometimes you don’t have to say a word to be meaningful. The following games have all told terrific tales without any words said between its characters. Games that don’t have direct dialogue between characters, but do have written notes to collect or voice acting, such as What Remains of Edith Finch or Gone Home, don’t count. We’re talking real silent storytelling here. So lets all shush our lips, listen, see, and check out the Top 10 Story Games Without Any Dialogue.
Death can be hard. Death can be harder if you’re a child. And Death can be at its hardest if you’re a dead child making his way through a terrifying and inhospitable afterlife. Danish Developer Playdead’s creepy classic Limbo provides one of the most unnerving 2-D platforming experience in gaming history. With no means of self-defense besides your own wits and running away, playing as the white-eyed boy in this dark world is nothing short of being intensely grotesque. For those who can stomach the unease, it is worth the hellish journey.
On a brighter note, both literally and narratively, Flower is the video game equivalent of getting a massage in a zen garden after smoking a joint. It is lush, colorful, trippy, and relaxing to play. The simple act of flying around green meadows as the wind itself carrying flower petals makes an artful and nature-friendly gaming experience. Get out your green thumb and learn to paint with all the colors of the wind!
A beautiful and sweet take on love and the connections it roots us in, Unravel is an unusual platformer where you control Yarny, an anthropomorphic ball of yarn Hew uses the very fabric of his body to traverse obstacles and explore the many memories and spots near his countryside home. Both casual and hardcore gamers will find something to enjoy in this colorful and comforting adventure.
Many games let you play as animals, but few let you become one on such a vulnerable and realistic level as the Shelter series does. Despite the gentle cell-shaded art-style, these games present an unflinching look on how to survive as a wild animal. As a badger in the first game and then as a lynx in the second, players experience the everyday challenges that they must go through not only to make it in the wild, but to also nurture their vulnerable offspring. Its a harrowing exploration of parenthood and nature, and the closest thing we have right now in gaming to being inside an episode of Planet Earth or a National Geographic special.
Perhaps the most recognizable entry on this list, Journey revolutionized what it means to tell a story without dialogue. Even though the two wandering nomads in this tale never exchange a single spoken word, the dynamic between them is emotionally resonant with all gamers who have taken part in their quest. Their shared exploration across sand-swept dunes and ancient temples is unforgettable. Pack your bags and give this Journey the chance it deserves.
The newest entry on this list is one of the most charming games to come out in recent memory. A little bit of Myst, a little bit of The Witness, and just a dsh of Pixar-style whimsy and you’ve got Rime. Without going into spoiler territory, just know that this tale of a young boy washed up on a mysterious island will make you feel all the feels. Treat yourself and give Rime a try.
What Journey was for the desert, Abzu does it even better for the ocean. Dive in to the wonder of a world that lies just beneath the surface of our watery planet. Become a modern-day Aquaman and traverse the seas with all kinds of nautical creatures at your side. Abzu is a gorgeous and intimate look at sealife, and you’ll be salty if you miss this saltwater adventure.
Some may argue that Machinarium doesn’t deserve a spot on this list since the characters do technically “talk” to each other. But since all dialogue is exchanged solely through images in speech bubbles rather than written or spoken word, we’re gonna let it slide. A fun point-and-click adventure where a robot named Josef must solve various puzzles, this game is basically the Wall-E of video games. Gear up for the fantastic machinations and puzzles this game provides.
#2. Another World
One of the best takes on the “fish out of water” trope in gaming history, Another World has been treated to multiple remakes and remasters since its original release in 1991. Its narrative intrigue is matched by its unforgiving difficulty. Cinematic and engaging, this is one interdimensional experience you’ll want to get lost in.
Without a doubt the most disturbing and most brilliant entry on this list, Inside is the king of creepy in gaming. While the game has no overt gore or extreme violence that is commonplace in horror gaming, it is still unsettling with its threatening atmosphere and disturbing themes. The mystery surrounding the misadventures of the nameless boy protagonist are truly unsettling. It also makes one of the most memorable and compelling gaming experiences of all time. You’ll get all kinds of goosebumps when this game gets inside your head.
What do you think of our list? What games told you a good story without saying anything? Let us know in the comments!