Trading in tight or complex gameplay for what is often an engaging and thought provoking narrative wrapped in vast exploration, walking simulator video games have created a genre of their own and with any luck are here to stay.
The following is list with our best walking simulators that we’ve played recently. The best walking simulator games present players with twisting mysteries that will boggle the mind and unique settings that have never felt more natural thanks to the first person perspective. So grab your tissues and put aside a good six hours or so, because these are some of the best story-driven walking simulator video games.
Set within a mysterious underground water facility (sounding familiar?), SOMA is a creepy first person walking simulator from the guys at Frictional Games that draws heavily from science fiction masterworks such as “Total Recall” and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”. The result is a video game that has you exploring the PATHOS-II base as you question exactly what has happened in the time you’ve been in a coma and why are all of the facility’s robots speaking as if they think they’re human?
A somewhat little known and underappreciated first-person walking simulator, Ether One is a video game which places you in the mind of a dying patient as an “explorer” travelling through their memories whilst searching for the source of the problem. It’s a novel idea that is unlike anything you’ve probably come across before, full of mysteries, puzzles and hidden sections you’ll most likely miss the first time round but is worth exploring again. Ether One is a walking simulator where you only get out what you put in.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Set within the fictional small English village of Yaughton, players will explore the location whilst trying to find out why all of the inhabitants have disappeared and seemingly gone to heaven. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a first-person adventure game that starts at the end of the world, sending shivers down your spin as you tentatively walk around and follow the shimmering light remnants of the people who used to populate the area. Backed by an absolutely stunning soundtrack and fantastic voice acting, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is one of the best walking simulators we’ve played in 2016.
The perfect exploration game for those wanting to relax or want to take a break from the normal conventions of most walking simulators, Proteus is a colourful and procedurally generated video game that moves at whatever pace you dictate. Proteus stands out from the pack because there really is no objective within it. The only change that occurs in the game are the different seasons that pass by as you interact with the various musical creatures, often resulting in a beautiful symphony of sound.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
In one of the best walking simulator games, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you’ll explore a vastly detailed yet eerily creepy rural setting as a paranormal investigator tasked with finding out what happened to Ethan Carter, the horror-adventure video game was specifically designed to never hold your hand making it a little difficult at times to solve some of the puzzles, but much like a Dark Souls the sense of accomplishment is what you should play this walking simulator for. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter draws a lot of inspiration from horror yet manages to evoke a storybook quality, with an ending that nobody will see coming.
Set in the Wyoming wilderness during the tail end of the 1980’s, Firewatch places you in the shoes of Henry, an ordinary man with relationship problems hoping to get away from the stress of city life. In your role as a fire lookout your only source of contact is the heard but not seen Delilah, but does she know more than she is letting on? What makes this first-person walking simulator great are the vast amount of dialogue trees and conversation options available, giving every player a unique experience every time as you unravel the mystery of what exactly is going on during your watch.
The Stanley Parable
Beginning life as a mod for Half-Life 2, The Stanley Parable is arguably the most inventive entry on a list of best walking simulators that are already nothing short of creative. Humour, breaking the fourth wall and surprising, The Stanley Parable acts as a commentary on the state of modern gaming, playing upon gamers expectations of what a game is and toying with them as a result. The star of the show here are the seemingly infinite amount of branching paths and possible outcomes that can occur whilst playing, it’s one of the best story-driven walking simulators that you’ll relish in experiencing time and time again.