The term ‘walking simulator’ has started springing up in the last few years.
I don’t particularly like the phrase myself, but it’s useful in describing a particular genre of games that seems to have become more prevalent in recent years. It’s the kind of game that’s somewhere between a point and click adventure and a narrative experience; a game that requires some input from you – usually some light puzzle solving – but mostly, you’re just walking through environments while the story unfolds around you.
These are our favourite 10 games that we’d describe as walking simulators. If you’re a fan of this genre, then these 10 really need to be in your games library.
10. Dear Esther
Dear Esther is often said to be the first ‘walking simulator’, and any game that has come after it is often considered to be a Dear Esther clone. True or not, Dear Esther is still an important game in the genre, and one that set a very high bar in terms of visual and production value.
Dear Esther puts you on a small island. You have no idea who you are, or why you’re there. The only story that plays out is told by a narrator, whose voice kicks in as you pass certain points in the environment. It’s a story shrouded in mystery, and right up until the end, it’s never quite clear what’s going on. A beautiful environment to wander around certainly helps this short experience be more engaging.
9. Three Fourths Home
Walking simulator isn’t quite the right term for Three Fourths Home since you’re driving a car through very basic scenery rather than wandering through well-realised locations, but in every other sense, Three Fourths Home very much fits into the genre.
In Three Fourths Home, you’re a young woman who finds yourself back living with your parents after a tough few months at college. You’re out driving – clearing your head – but the weather’s turned bad, and a hurricane is on its way. The game plays out in phone conversations with your mother, father and younger brother as you try to reach home in time. You’ll finish the game in less than an hour, but it’s poignant and powerful in its simplicity.