Stray, another single player video game
Illustration by Laura Wood, The Ohio State University
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Stray, another single player video game
Illustration by Laura Wood, The Ohio State University

In light of the success of Stray, here are several other solo story games for your gaming pleasure.

Recently, video games have been seen as something that brings people together. With the introduction of online gaming, it has never been easier to spend time with friends who might be miles away. But before multiplayer and widespread online games came along, video games were appreciated for their single-player stories. Whether you are a gamer who likes to solve puzzles, someone who would like to casually explore an open-world game or a fan of first-person shooters, there is a single-player video game for you. Here are the top seven single-player story games:

7. Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020)

This cozy, cutesy little island game was released at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic; it easily became a beloved source of comfort for people who spent many of their lockdown hours at home playing the game. This 2020 Animal Crossing game, the fifth of the series, features your customized character taking over as “island coordinator” for an abandoned island at sea that is set to become a popular vacation spot. You get to collect bugs, fish and fossils, as well as decorate the island and make friends with the adorable animal villagers that come to live alongside you. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.

Close Runner-Up: Harvest Moon: One World (2021)

6. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

Set to be the final game within this particular timeline, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild begins with well-loved protagonist Link waking up after a hundred-year slumber. The game, reminiscent of the original 1986 release, gives the players few instructions on what they should be doing. The game opts for an open world where gamers can roam and explore freely, completing tasks along the way. Breath of the Wild is an excellent crossover between action adventure and puzzle solving, making it perfect for gamers who want action while also thinking about their next move. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is available exclusively on the Wii U and Nintendo Switch.

5. The Last of Us Part II (2020)

The second installment of Naughty Dog’s zombie series, The Last of Us Part II is set five years after The Last of Us (2013). The game is focused on two female protagonists, Ellie, who players will recognize from the 2013 game, and Abby, a soldier involved in a heavy conflict between two groups of survivors. The post-apocalyptic game is thrilling, mysterious and sometimes downright scary. If you’re looking for an action game that will make you squirm in your seat, this game is for you. The Last of Us Part II, like its predecessor, is available exclusively for PlayStation.

4. Red Dead Redemption II (2018)

Rockstar Games — who also created the Grand Theft Auto series — has always been known to create games that feature amazing stories and online modes, which is not an easy task. Red Dead Redemption II is no exception. The Wild West-style game is set in 1899, where players enter the scene playing as Arthur Morgan, a criminal and gang member. The game is open-world, meaning that players can spend as much or as little time as they want in certain areas. It combines both first and third-person perspectives, usually a decision left up to the gamer themselves. Considering that Red Dead Redemption is one of the only popular gaming series set in the Wild West, the game’s nontraditional setting can be exciting for gamers who are tired of seeing the same old things. Red Dead Redemption II is available for PlayStation, Xbox and PC.

3. GTA V (2013)

Grand Theft Auto V has been revered by many for its online mode, an extensive game mode that allows players to build their own life within the confines of San Andreas and alongside other gamers. However, some gamers tend to forget that the game has an equally amazing single-player campaign mode that features all the freedom and adventure that many seek to recreate in the online mode. GTA V has an impressively extensive campaign, coming in at 31.5 hours of playtime on average. Gamers play myriad characters, completing tasks from bank robberies to hired assassinations. GTA V is available for PlayStation, Xbox and PC.

2. Halo Infinite (2021)

Because of the popularity of first-person battle royales like Fortnite and Apex Legends, there has not been a lot of first-person shooters that feature both extensive online play as well as an in-depth story mode. This was the norm in the early 2000s and 2010s, especially with the consistent release of Call of Duty games. However, Halo Infinite marks a return to this trend. The sixth installment in the Halo series, this first-person game set in the future follows the well-known and well-loved character Master Chief as he sets out on a mission to fight against a faction known as the Banished. While the game does feature an extensive amount of lore, it would still be a fun game for anyone who finds the subject matter interesting, despite its extremely long in-game history. The Halo series remains only available on Xbox and Microsoft Windows.

First-Person Shooter Runner-Up: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)

1. Skyrim (2011)

Easily the most popular fantasy game to exist and arguably one of the most popular single-player games ever, Skyrim was released in 2011 as the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls series. Not only does this game feature extensive storylines and amazing lore, but it is also an open-world game that features a character that is entirely customizable by the player. Unlike Red Dead Redemption II, players do not have to go through a story mode with a premade character; instead, players must create their own unique character within the first 10 minutes of gameplay. From then on, the game’s fate lies in the hands of the player. Even after the “main story” is completed, players do not “finish” the game. Instead, gamers are encouraged to continue to complete side missions and storylines, never truly running out of things to do. Unfortunately, there is no online mode for this game, despite its immense popularity for over a decade now. Skyrim is available for PlayStation, Xbox, PC and Nintendo Switch.

Fantasy Runner-Up: Elden Ring (2022) and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)

Writer Profile

Janey Schmidt

Columbia College Chicago
Bachelor of Arts in English

I have always been an avid reader no matter the format. I am especially eager to read, write, and talk about all things fantasy!

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