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9 Beautiful, Heartwarming Narrative Driven Games to Follow

Brenda Zhang

August 27, 2020

6 minute read

Indie games often have the most stylized art and creative stories out there. These 9 visually appealing games are beautiful in more than one way—the story and relationships in each are either charming or heartwarming, and sometimes very personal. The games here are very diverse in art and genre, but their distinct, stylized art and moving story are the common thread between them all.

Many of these games are ones I found from various #PitchYaGame rounds, and I'm once again grateful to the event for bringing them to my attention. I won't dig too deep into the details here, since I'll likely make full articles on many of these in the future, but definitely check out their trailers, Twitters, and Steam pages or websites to support them and their amazing projects!

Roji's Room

Roji’s room is a lucid dream RPG where you can control the outcome of your adventure! Beat up entities, befriend and more! And a unique story to unfold!

Roji's Room is an adorably illustrated adventure where you get to meet little animals, humans, ghost cats, and vegetable-headed friends or fight some strange yet cute entities. Apparently, you can even absorb them?! There isn't much on the story itself yet, but I'm very curious about the turn-based gameplay and the narrative inspired by the likes of Undertale and Earthbound.

Moonshell Island

Moonshell Island is a pixel art action RPG featuring charming characters & a heartwarming tale of achieving dreams, building a community & saving the island from a mysterious foe.

I've actually been following Moonshell Island for a long time now because it's one of my favorite pixel art styles I've ever seen. I'm constantly lurking on the artists' Twitters wondering when I'll get to play a demo. The developers put a high emphasis on charming graphics and social interactions between in-game characters to help build story in all their titles. Not to mention the gameplay itself, which is fun and simple while still being complex enough to be challenging and interesting.

I can't wait to roam around the vibrant world of Moonshell Island and uncover the heartwarming tale they mention while also building community and having an adventure.

Weaving Tides

In Weaving Tides you ride on the backs of carpet dragons! Set out on a journey to explore ancient dungeons, solve puzzles and patch up a world made of magic and textile! Conquer Zelda-like dungeons and unveil hidden mysteries packed in a charming story.

I remember Weaving Tides all the way back from its successful Kickstarter where I watched a girl riding on a dragon weaving carpets and other textiles. If that description doesn't make you curious, I don't know what would. With beautiful graphics and a truly unique concept for a puzzle adventure, Weaving Tides promises to be a game with a story to remember for dragon, textile, adventure, and puzzle lovers alike. Wow—come to think of it, it's the only one I know of that can appeal to all those categories at once!

Zniw Adventure

A point-and-click that: looks like a comic book, feels like an animated cartoon, has a 90's vibe. It's Zniw Adventure - a homemade game with dinosaurs!

I've been seeing this one everywhere and for good reason! With the most unique concept and graphics (and dinosaurs!), Zniw Adventure looks like a playable cartoon adventure remniscent of those Saturday morning cartoons I used to watch as a child. Bringing with it nostalgia, fun, and quirky dinosaur characters all in one of my favorite genres, this one looks like it'll be a hit for 90s kids, current kids... and all other humans! I'm most excited to explore the diverse prehistoric locations and meet dozens of dinosaurs on the journey with Zniw.

LUMEN: Lost Passages

Play as Lumen, the Soul Warden, a demigod from the Underworld. After a demon ambush strips his power and blocks all the Soul Passages Lumen must reopen them and find his way back home!

LUMEN is darker than all the previous ones so far, but not any less in terms of art or story. Inspired by Castlevania and Super Metroid, with a Hollow Knight feel, this metroidvania has a distinct visual style that matches its dark story of demons and demigods. As Lumen, you'll have to relight soul passages in the mortal realm after a demon ambush. Now, excuse me while I join their Discord to scout out the demo so I can try it out (you should too).

Rettend

Memory is a treasure in which life beckons. Observation is key in Rettend, but there are multiple creative ways to solve the puzzles.

The game Rettend caught my eye right away with its high resolution graphics, but is severely underseen! It's a creative puzzle game that's still early in development, but the voiceover, music and visuals have already captured my heart. After a soul-touching poem, the camera pans to photographs and objects strewn about, and you see remnants of old forgotten memories. Then, at just the right timing, a voice starts singing with a sentimental tinge over beautiful guitar music. I promise you will feel the weight and emotion of memories that aren't even yours.

Call Me Cera

Call Me Cera is a cozy, compassionate game about anxiety, adult friendships, & living your best life. The healthier your choices, the more the story unfolds!

Ah, anxiety my old friend. Call Me Cera is a realistic, but wholesome visual novel story about adulthood and anxiety. I'm very curious about the mechanic of positive decisions advancing the narrative because rarely do stories unfold when good, healthy things happen rather than when negative things happen that you have to fix. This seems like an uplifting game that I, and no doubt many others, would be able to relate to in daily life. It looks like a breath of fresh air in this matrix of adulthood.

Screenshot of Call Me Cera's supportive dialogue

Venba

In Venba, you play as an immigrant Indian mom in this narrative puzzle game about family, home and cooking! When Venba immigrates to Canada, the recipe book from her mom is damaged in travel. Figure out the missing parts from the book and cook delicious food!

With clean and colorful art and a relaxing vibe, Venba explores the life of an immigrant parent, a rarity in games as the parent is almost never the focus. As most immigrants will understand, it's the little things that help their culture carry over from generation to generation. Food is one of of those things, which is why it's important to this immigrant mom, Venba, to reassemble her recipe book that got damaged in the move from India to Canada. In this cute tale, you'll get to cook Indian dishes and follow along with the story of this delightful family.

Screenshots of cooking and narrative in Venba game

Letters

A cute, often silly, sometimes sad adventure game about friendship & growing up. Explore Sarah’s colorful world & use the power of words to change her life.

In Letters, a young girl named Sarah uses the power of words in a very literal way to change the world around her. As you roam around the pages of notebooks and letters, you can rearrange and use words to help people and creatures. Whether you're using "friendship" to build a ship for a stranded sailor or using a "drawing" to fix a bird's broken wing, you'll have fun coming up with creative ways to use words all the while coming to understand Sarah's story, friendships, and process of growing up.

Warm Your Heart

If you're looking for personal stories about friendship, family, growing up, adulthood, and anything in between, I would highly recommend starting your search with these heartwarming games. They're all powerful and diverse stories with unique mechanics for conveying their important messages and uplifting those who play them.

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