Graphic adventure games like Life is Strange have been around for longer than most people think. In the 1980s, a company named On-Line Systems (later Sierra Entertainment) developed and published graphic adventure games such as Mystery House, Wizard and the Princess, Mission Asteroid, and more. These games have only continued to develop and evolve into what we know as today’s graphic adventure games. The genre now offers compelling and thought-provoking stories, beautiful cinematography, and lovable characters. With all the hype around it, Life is Strange’s popularity comes as no surprise. Even after finishing it, fans are looking for more games like Life is Strange to sate their hunger for a good story and great graphics. And look no further, for we have compiled a list of the top 20 graphic adventure games like Life is Strange to help you with your search!
What are Graphic Adventure Games?
We should start off by explaining what makes a graphic adventure game just that. Graphic adventure games are games that help tell the story to the player through the use of graphics. Now, you may be thinking: don’t all games use graphics? However, some adventure games use text to achieve this, and they don’t use graphics at all. The text adventure method of storytelling has fallen out of popularity since graphic adventure games improved in quality. However, it remains a popular way of writing interactive fiction. The key difference is that graphic adventure games require the player to interact with an environment they can see. Games achieve this in different ways; through touching, moving, combining objects, and observing everything that’s actually there on-screen.
Graphic adventure games have different ways of telling their stories. Some use text bubbles and character sprites. Others use voice acting and have you moving about in a first or third-person perspective. Some have cartoony graphics and others, such as Life is Strange, do their best to make the characters look real. In the end, it all comes down to what you’re most comfortable playing and what you prefer from an adventure game. There’s something to suit everybody’s taste!
What made Life Is Strange so popular?
Contrary to what you may think, Life is Strange didn’t always enjoy the popularity it has now. Some even called it a sleeper hit – a game that was unsuccessful at launch but became successful later on. The game and its sequels have since garnered generally positive reviews, though, with a lot of praise going into the writing and character development. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any flaws – the game has received criticism for bugs related to character lip-syncing and the slang used in the game.
Setting aside the whole technical part, though, what made Life is Strange so popular is probably the same thing that graphic adventure games are known for. The thought-provoking narrative, the questions posed to you at the end of the story, the hardships, and the flaws the characters overcome. Many games deliver their point very poetically, and Life is Strange is no different. The subtle changes and impact your choices have on the ending of the game are enough to put the world’s weight on your shoulder and make you reflect. The characters are another plus, too. Should you find one of them relatable, become attached to them, and follow their story closely throughout the game, you’ll catch yourself waiting with bated breath to see how everyone’s story resolves. Games like Life is Strange are popular because of these interesting and endearing aspects. They also definitely make you reflect.
20 Games like Life Is Strange
Heavy Rain follows four protagonists, each of which has connections to the mystery of the Origami Killer. The Origami Killer is a serial killer who murders his victims using long periods of rainfall. A father trying to save his son, an FBI profiler struggling with addiction, a journalist dealing with insomnia, and a private investigator are all roles you’ll get to experience throughout the game. It’s not the first, but it is probably the most popular among David Cage’s choice-based games that feature on the PS3 and PS4. It’s also probably one of the more emotionally impactful ones and for good reason.
The Wolf Among Us
Yes, it’s another Telltale game. They’re just too good at making games with a haunting atmosphere and stories that leave you thinking about them for days on end. The game has five episodes and tells the tale of Bigby Wolf, a sheriff in Fabletown investigating mysterious murders. Avid fans of fairy tales and folklore will enjoy this one, as The Wolf Among Us is chock full of characters that fit the criteria.
While not very realistic at face value, Vampyr is a game that has you wondering about the duality of man. Jonathan Reid is a doctor turned vampire who fights his bloodthirsty nature and the Hippocratic Oath he took. This game explores the tough decisions we sometimes have to make between our survival and our values. It also has a great score!
Tell Me Why
Tell Me Why is an episodic game split into three parts by the same developer as Life is Strange. It tells the story of two twins, Tyler and Alyson, who can communicate with each other through telepathy. They reunite to investigate the truth behind the death of their mother. However, they must also rely on their memory of the events to do so. The game explores how different someone’s version of traumatic events may be from what actually happened. It’s a very interesting take on the fallacy of memory.
Another game where the choices you make alter the final outcome. Fahrenheit is a game that introduces Lucas, a murderer, and two police detectives who try to figure out what happened. It’s Quantic Dream’s (and David Cage’s) first attempt at what would later become their staple: choice-based graphic action-adventure games. Although many criticize the game for its graphics, we think the story is good enough to be enjoyed despite the fact.
Röki is one of the newest games that feature on this list, released in 2020. In the game, Tove, the protagonist, goes on a journey to rescue her younger brother from a monster straight out of a fairy-tale. The monster is the titular Röki. It’s a great and fantastical adventure that has endearing graphics to boot. It’s a point-and-click adventure, but that doesn’t stop it from showcasing beautiful scenery and telling a great story.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
If you are looking for more horror games like Until Dawn, you’ll like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. It’s an open-world horror adventure video game and the game doesn’t hold your hand while exploring. In the game, you’re tasked with uncovering the dark secret of what happened to Ethan Carter and his family.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Games like What Remains of Edith Finch are the best example of video games being used as an art form. It’s an exploration game telling the story of Edith Finch. Her family members died in unusual ways, leaving only one in each generation. The player is guided by the voice of Edith towards memorials of each family member that have different visuals and gameplay.
The Walking Dead
Telltale’s The Walking Dead is one you may have played before and are sure to remember if you have. With five episodes under its belt, the franchise has had its fair share of choice-making and tear-inducing moments. The story follows Lee Everett and Clementine, a young girl Lee rescued, as they try to reunite Clementine with her parents. There’s also the whole zombie apocalypse thing going on that makes everything harder. We’re not going to lie – the choices you have to make in this game are hard, and sometimes it may not seem like there’s a right choice. However, The Walking Dead poses questions that are hard to think about and even harder to answer. Games like Life is Strange and The Walking Dead are sure to leave you attached to the characters and heartbroken after they leave.
The Last of Us
Nearly everyone who plays video games knows at least a little bit about The Last of Us. Joel is a smuggler who escorts Ellie across the United States in a post-apocalyptic situation. You get to learn about the relationship between the two characters while fighting off the Infected, humans transformed by the Cordyceps fungus.
Oxenfree is a supernatural mystery adventure game that has the player mostly exploring. The developers wanted to avoid cutscenes and leave players to their own devices going through the environment. You get to learn about Alex, a teenager heading towards a fictional Island to attend a party along with her friends. They soon get swept up in some supernatural occurrences and must find their way back home.
If you’re a fan of science fiction, you’ll like Quantum Break. You’ll also be very happy to learn that real scientists helped in the creation of the game, which is super cool. Jack Joyce, the main character, develops time manipulation abilities after a failed experience and tries to find a solution to the apocalyptic event known as “The End of Time”.
Another fairly recent game, with its release in 2020, Twin Mirror has you taking the role of Sam, a journalist. He returns to his hometown to investigate the death of his close friend Nick. Along the way, you get help from Sam’s ex-girlfriend Anna and together try to find out what happened.
The hand-drawn art in Scarlet Hollow is absolutely beautiful. The game immerses the player in a horror-mystery story where you visit the town of Scarlet Hollow to attend your aunt’s funeral. Along the way, you uncover a dark secret that plagues your family and must make impactful decisions in the wake of this revelation.
Until Dawn is an interactive drama horror video game that focuses on the story of eight young adults who must survive until dawn when they will be rescued. The message it sends is a bit different from Life is Strange, but powerful nonetheless. Until Dawn delivers its atmosphere well using quick time events and snap decisions players must make. These choices range from minor decisions to moral decisions and can impact the game greatly. We definitely need more choice-based games like Until Dawn that feature these kinds of timed decision-making instances and unique gameplay.
Beyond: Two Souls
Beyond: Two Souls is one of the many interactive dramas Quantic Dreams has released. The story follows Jodie, a girl born with supernatural powers, as she tries to uncover the secrets behind the existence of another soul linked to her since birth: Aiden. From her early years all the way to adulthood, you get to experience all the good and bad this psychic link with the mysterious entity has brought her. Beyond: Two Souls teaches us about loss, love, and the struggle of a young girl not quite accepted by her peers. If you’re looking for more games like Life is Strange, this is probably the closest thing.
Night in the Woods
If you’re looking for a story-driven game that lets you explore and acquaint yourself with the characters, this is it. The graphics may be more cartoony than the other games on this list, but Night in the Woods has an engaging story. The game centers around a young college drop-out named Mae Borowski who returns to her hometown, where she finds that not everything is as she left it many years ago. As with many of the other games on this list, Night in the Woods requires players to make choices that affect the story later on.
Last Day of June
If you could go back to one crucial moment in your life, would you change anything? What happens if you do change it? Are there things in your life that you can’t affect, no matter how hard you try? Last Day of June deals with questions like these and will leave you heartbroken after finishing it. The game centers around Carl and June, a couple who get into a car accident that turns out fatal for June. After her death, Carl finds out he can make changes to the sequence of events that lead up to the tragedy and tries to multiple times. Not all goes according to plan, though.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is probably one of the most famous examples on this list. It has a rich story featuring Geralt of Rivia on the search for his adopted daughter Ciri. It’s a choice-based game played on the PS4, PS5, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC. This game received multiple accolades, as well as a spot on the list of the best video games ever made.
Detroit: Become Human
Detroit: Become Human is a game that explores the meaning of humanity and sentience. As a result, the game features three androids: Kara, Connor, and Markus, who each have different goals. Kara wants to explore her sentience after breaking free from the shackles of her master. Connor is an android who has the task to eliminate other sentient androids. Finally, Markus is an android who has made it his life’s goal to release other androids from servitude. As far as games like Life is Strange go in terms of asking questions that make you self-reflect, this is a pretty good match.