Video games come in all shapes, sizes, and genres. We love our fast action. We love our open-world horse rides. We love our dragons, our aliens, our futuristic androids. And we also love our storytelling. It may not always be the sole feature we are looking for but great storytelling can really lift a game out of a simple hack-and-slash to a fully-fledged entertainment experience. We’re talking Narrative Games, and LudoNarraCon is the latest digital convention to celebrate the best indie narrative games in 2021.
What is ‘LudoNarraCon’?
LudoNarraCon is a digital online convention focused on narrative video games. It is the dream baby of indie game label Fellow Traveller, hosted on Steam and showcasing a wide array of narrative games across many genres. LudoNarraCon runs from April 23 to April 26.
The digital convention is available free to all Steam users worldwide, with exhibitors sharing live streaming content on their Steam store pages. There are downloadable demos, behind the scenes specials, and plenty of panels with developers and support crews. Not only is it a great opportunity to check out some new narrative video game but you can also spend some online time with the creators.
Wait, What Are ‘Narrative Games’?
‘Narrative’ is essentially what creates the story. For years, the gaming industry referred to the narrative in games: the plot, the character development, the atmosphere, the dialogue, the sounds and music. All of these elements come together to create the story. Over the years, video games evolved, matured, and diversified in game play. Genres have expanded and multiplied. The narrative in video games soon became the main feature of some games, creating the genre Narrative Games. These games are built solely on the storytelling with the player keeping to the script and expectations clearly set out in the story.
Narrative Games (aka Story Games) are perfect for people who are looking for something like an active book. You are reading the game with all of the entertainment traits of a book but as the player, you are more actively involved rather than passively looking through the window. Some great examples of narrative games we have reviewed on GeekMom include Some Distant Memory, A Short Hike, and Necrobarista. While many games will still include great narrative (for example, The Last of Us and Hades), not every game is built solely on its story. Some prefer to depend on action elements or horror or something else. It’s also important to note the term ‘narrative games’ is not exclusive. Video games, just like players, can work with many genres and mechanics.
What Can I Expect to See at LudoNarraCon
There are a couple of games I recognize from PAX Online 2020, including Unpacking and Genesis Noir, both of which feature beautiful storytelling with smooth atmospheres. Most of the other games are ready to showcase for the first time, building a collection of 44 games for you to discover. I plan to explore every single one of them over the weekend but I’m going to start with these top three and work my way from there: Forgotten Fields, Pendragon, and Tunic. Take a look at the list below and let me know what catches your eye.
How Can I Support More Indie Greatness Like This?
I am so glad you asked! Seriously though, LudoNarraCon is an amazing opportunity to highlight a specific genre of games which in turn contributes to the development of bigger-budget games we all love so much. During the COVID-19 Lockdowns, many of us turned to gaming to keep us entertained and moderately sane. Gaming can be good for your health but it relies on the right type of game for you at the time and the right use of the game for your circumstances (read more on this fascinating research here).
Narrative games can be useful for promoting a sense of calm and control. They promote a sense of immersion, control, and escapism. However, the majority of pure narrative games are developed by indies and do not often gain the love they deserve. At best, many of the smaller narrative games are scooped up by bigger labels and blended into their existing games. This can subsequently help the narrative of their game but takes away a big chunk of the benefits from having a simple narrative video game experience.
LudoNarraCon is fully sponsored by Fellow Traveller, an indie game label who works with game developers. To help fund future LudoNarraCon events, Fellow Traveller is offering a Supporter Pack to purchase for USD$7.99 but only for the duration of LudoNarraCon. The Supporter Pack includes:
- Brand new mini game, Cyrano, specially commissioned for LudoNarraCon
- Compilation album of soundtracks from LudoNarraCon Showcase
- Collection of desktop wallpapers from games featured
For more details about LudoNarraCon, head to the official website here. It’s available on Steam all weekend! Let us know your favorite hidden gems in the comments below!