What's Your Favorite Choose Your Own Adventure-Like Game?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | With Detroit: Become Human's release, let's look back on our favorite branching path adventure games.

Article by USgamer Team, .

Adventure games have been around since the dawn of time, probably. Whether they were in picture books or point-and-click PC games, adventure games have always been with us. Video games evolved them, and in the past decade, they've gotten even more ambitious.

The latest in the Choose Your Own Adventure game trend stems from Detroit: Become Human, the new project from the creators behind Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. It's an interesting game from a presentation and structural perspective, letting players hop around their flowchart timelines at their leisure unlike past games, although its writing leaves a lot to be desired. You can read Mike's review on Detroit: Become Human if you're curious.

In the meantime, our community question this week is this: What's your favorite Choose Your Own Adventure-like game? Visual novels, dating sims, Twine games, Telltale games—they're all fair game!

Mike Williams Reviews Editor

Caty took my first choice with Until Dawn. So, I'm going with another option that most players haven't touched upon. It's a game that actually came out this year and many haven't talked about or remarked upon. I wanted to talk about it, but it got lost in the review scrum and didn't make it out alive. My choice is Batman: The Enemy Within, the second season of Batman: The Telltale Series.

While the basic story involves Batman yet again stopping a host of criminals that are descending upon Gotham City, while also dealing with the legal authorities, that's not the real point of the season. Instead, you're re-introduced to John Doe, a character that Bruce Wayne met during his brief time in Arkham Asylum during the first season. And it's clear to anyone who's spent anytime with the Batman mythos that this character will eventually become The Joker, the biggest villain in Batman's considerable stable.

Based upon your choices, Batman: The Enemy Within offers you a unique vision of the Joker. The Telltale Series' strength was always in its reinterprets of Batman and his Rogues Gallery, but crafting your own Joker is such a wonderful centerpiece that I'm surprised more narrative games don't go this route. The extreme ends of your choices lead to a Joker who's more like the classic Clown Prince of Crime, or one that operates more like vigilante, but there's a nice narrative gradient in-between those poles. Regardless, it was a wonderful choice on Telltale's part and an illustration of the studio perhaps trying something new within its standard formula.

Nadia Oxford Staff Writer

Oh, shucks, maybe The Wolf Among Us. It was my first Telltale game, and still my favorite. I love its graphics: All those grimy pinks and purples. Plus, is there any other game that lets you shut the elevator door in the face of the storybook Beast just because you want to avoid a conversation about whether or not Belle is screwing around on him? BEAST WILL REMEMBER THAT.

I'd also like to give a shout-out to Dragon's Den, my favorite actual Choose Your Own Adventure book. You play a medieval peasant and learn the bad guy controlling the dragons was a time-traveller from a mysterious land that turns out to be our world and our time. That's not a bad twist for a kids' book. Most Choose Your Own Adventure books had OK plots, actually. It's a shame teachers didn't let us use them to write book reports.

Matt Kim News Editor

While I don't know if I can call it my favorite, Life is Strange is probably one of the best ones I've played in recent memory. A lot of people wrote it off for its cringey dialogue (which gets much better as the season progresses) but that's just part of its appeal. It was an earnest mix of Degrassi and X-Files with a lot of geeky love for pop culture thrown in. I still haven't played the Before the Storm season, but I'll probably dive back into the series in earnest when the second season is revealed.

Caty McCarthy Features Editor

Nadia already lay claim to the best Telltale game The Wolf Among Us, so I guess I have to go with something else. Now bear with me on this one, the following isn't necessarily my favorite multi-path adventure game (there are many: Long Live the Queen if we want to include life management simulators, Heavy Rain for comedic purposes, the first season of The Walking Dead, 80 Days for being a phenomenal interactive fiction adventure, plus about a billion Twine games that I am probably forgetting).

I'm going to go with a semi-recent game: Until Dawn. Until Dawn follows a similar formula of Quantic Dream's own games, only it's better, because it wholly embraces the campiness of slasher movies, and later even horror too. It's kind of a mixture of both those things. While narratively it goes a little bit too off the rails (the monsters are pretty dumb), I found myself really caring about the group of young adults alone in the woods. When some died, I was legitimately bummed out. I even accidentally killed nearly everyone during my first playthrough at the very end of the game, and it was hilarious.

I hope the developers behind Until Dawn are given the chance to make another ambitious cinematic adventure game at Until Dawn's scale. One of their latest games, Hidden Agenda, kind of hits that, but it's still a far-duller murder mystery drama that's only made better by the fact that you play it with friends as part of Sony's PlayLink initiative. As it stands though, Until Dawn is worth checking out if you get the chance.

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Comments 26

  • Avatar for hdthroh #1 hdthroh 4 months ago
    Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! were my favorite choose-your-own-adventure books as a kid and I really like how Inkle adapted them to mobile.
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  • Avatar for Godots17thCup #2 Godots17thCup 4 months ago
    Does Her Story count? Granted, you're not steering a story along a series of branching paths so much as piecing together events after the fact, but man, it was so thrilling to follow my intuition and jump around the various interviews as it became clearer just how strange and unsettling "her story" really is.

    If not, then season one of Telltale's The Walking Dead by just a hair over The Wolf Among Us. Lee, or at least the version of him I experienced, became a fascinating picture of a man trying to both maintain his humanity and find some measure of redemption in an inhumane situation.Edited May 2018 by Godots17thCup
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  • Avatar for Vonlenska #3 Vonlenska 4 months ago
    Life is Strange. By, like, a mile. Ten miles. Hella miles.

    It clicked in a way very few games ever have, and remains one of my all-time favorites of any genre/style.
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #4 TheWildCard 4 months ago
    Despite some really dumb script choices, I really enjoyed Heavy Rain when it came out . The Wolf Among Us has rad setting and atmosphere, but the actual plot isn't up to snuff imo.

    I this have Until Dawn sitting in my backlog, maybe I should get to that soon.
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  • Avatar for WiIIyTheAntelope #5 WiIIyTheAntelope 4 months ago
    Until Dawn was great. Wolf season 1 was also fantastic, though it's been so freaking long since that came out I can only remember it in bits and pieces. I really enjoyed the new Kings Quest game too, though I've only completed the first chapter and the other 4(?) are still sitting in my pile of shame.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #6 chaoticBeat 4 months ago
    I haven't played enough of these to have an informed opinion. I really dug what I played of the first episode of The Walking Dead and I'd really like to check out Life is Strange and maybe Tales from the Borderlands at some point. Oh yeah, I tried Game of Thrones and it was not compelling at all.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #7 Roto13 4 months ago
    Any of the Zero Escape games. They totally count, they have flowcharts for the story and everything. I love those games.

    Runner up: Tales from the Borderlands. The game so good it made me fall in love with the Borderlands world and play the regular Borderlands games.
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #8 donkeyintheforest 4 months ago
  • Avatar for Fourfoldroot #9 Fourfoldroot 4 months ago
    It's a toss up between beyond two souls and until dawn... But as I'm a Sci fi more than a horror guy I'll settle on beyond as I enjoyed the story more. Special mention goes to Life is Strange for being interesting, although very limited in player agency, and I also want to express a dislike for the Tales games, Ci have recieved Borderlands and Game of Thrones on PS Plus and, despite liking those franchises, find the Tales game to be a complete linear bore.Edited May 2018 by Fourfoldroot
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  • Avatar for InsertTokenz #10 InsertTokenz 4 months ago
    Would it be cheating if I went with Outrun? ;)Edited May 2018 by InsertTokenz
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #11 LBD_Nytetrayn 4 months ago
    I don't think I've played many, so... Guardians of the Galaxy by TellTale, I guess?
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  • Avatar for moochan #12 moochan 4 months ago
    Don't know if this count but Chrono Cross with all the different characters with branching storylines with a good bit of them. If we are not counting RPGs than Wing Commander adventure games had a great branching stories that was insane back in the days.
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  • Avatar for AxiomVerge #13 AxiomVerge 4 months ago
    Until Dawn. Where is my sequel?
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  • Avatar for AstroDemon #14 AstroDemon 4 months ago
    I was a big fan of Virtue's Last Reward and 999, as well as The Wolf Among Us. I like a good choose-your-own-adventure game from time to time.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #15 NiceGuyNeon 4 months ago
    Tales from the Borderland is the best game Telltale have ever made and is also the best Borderlands game ever made. But there is no justice in this world and it will likely not receive the sequel it deserves and that's OK because at least we still have the fond memories of it. It's brilliant as far as these choose your own adventure games go.

    I haven't played Until Dawn, but Telltale's Batman game is pretty dull, it felt really dated by the time I got to it. Wolf Among Us is one of their top 3 I'd say though, maybe even number 2, but Tales is the way to go.

    I could not stand the dialogue in Life is Strange and uninstalled it within like an hour. I'm not asking for much, but if the type of game you're making has no compelling game mechanics you have to go give me something and what you give me can't be total shit writing and dialogue.
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  • Avatar for Daikon #16 Daikon 4 months ago
    @NiceGuyNeon I agree 100%. Tales from the Borderlands is their finest game so far.
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  • Avatar for camchow #17 camchow 4 months ago
    Maybe it's because I haven't played enough of these, or maybe it's just nostalgia, but I'll go with Gold Rush.

    Three completely different adventures based on how you choose to get to California. Loved this game as a kid, also I had no idea what Scurvy was but I learned after that failed attempt to sail around South America! Never did beat the Panama scenario though.

    Idk, there was just something really charming about having to type in each command. It tickled my little kid brain to be able to walk type in whatever I wanted as a command in these old Sierra games and seeing if the game registered it as something I could do. Edited May 2018 by camchow
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  • Avatar for alinazim61 #18 alinazim61 4 months ago
    Deleted October 4000 by Unknown
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  • Avatar for Macuelos #19 Macuelos 4 months ago
    I'll agree with whoever said Zero Escape games, because those are great. Virtue's Last Reward is the best in terms of CYOA (and quality, and also production value) in my opinion.

    But if we're going with bonkers answers, as some people have done, I will instead go with

    Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (and also its remake Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles). In nearly every level, you can choose which path to take, which will determine which boss you'll fight and also which level you will unlock to go through next. I know this practice really started with Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, but I like Dracula X Chronicles and think it deserves more attention.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #20 VotesForCows 4 months ago
    I don't normally like narrative games, but I really enjoyed Life is Strange. Great characters and an engaging plot. I'd probably have preferred to watch it as a tv show to be fair.
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  • Avatar for docexe #21 docexe 4 months ago
    If we are talking of purely narrative games (as opposed to just games with branching paths or selectable stages), probably Steins;Gate.

    I really liked the cast of characters (even if the protagonist at times can be an acquired taste), the way it integrates time travel into the plot, as well as some of the wicked plot twists it takes in its second half.
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  • Avatar for Tetragrammaton #22 Tetragrammaton 4 months ago
    Choice of Games has some really good ones, and I still like Choice of Dragons the best.
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  • Avatar for yuberus #23 yuberus 4 months ago
    Life is Strange was a really good one. If it counts, I also loved Read Only Memories - maybe more of a visual novel, but your choices do impact the endgame.
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  • Avatar for NotCarolKaye #24 NotCarolKaye 4 months ago
    Until Dawn.

    Seriously, play it if you haven't. It's a hoot.
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  • Avatar for ShadowTheSecond #25 ShadowTheSecond 4 months ago
    For something I haven’t seen mentioned, “Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis” is a classic Lucasarts adventure game that provides a pretty meaningful choice in terms of how it’s played (solo puzzles, more fist/fighting oriented, or team mode). Most of the Lucasarts point and click adventures are great, but few gave a gameplay change that significant (and changes to the ways things happen even though the settings are generally the same).
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  • Avatar for ojinnvoltz #26 ojinnvoltz 4 months ago
    I hate these types of games and it's probably David Cage's fault. But Indigo Prophecy is always entertaining. Each play through reveals something incredibly stupid about it you didn't realize before.
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