When I think storytelling in videogames, I think about two men from apparently opposite backgrounds yet they inspired me the same. They are Ron Gilbert and Yoshitaka Murayama, the creator of Suikoden I & II.
There seem to be a wall separating people who enjoy western adventure games and those who enjoy JRPG. I dislike fanboyism so I never felt the need to be attached with passion to a genre. All I like is to be told a good story. Whether it’s a Point and Click or a Japanese game makes no difference to me. I want to believe the creators of TWP are that open-minded, especially since I learnt that Ron Gilbert works on a RPG-like game engine.
I read somewhere that Ron Gilbert first intended to be an author and then put his stories into games. Murayama apparently did the same and did not intended to be a videogame creator but rather a novelist. He found himself in a Konami office and decided to sell his idea for a novel as a videogame project instead. Once he got the green light from his management, he decided to save the story for a second episode and wrote a prequel specifically for his first game, as he feared he was not experienced enough to do justice to his story. It was a success, so his story became what has been often hailed as the best story-based game ever made in Japan: Suikoden II.
The game has an actually simple gameplay compared to those fancy JRPG full of complex data and parameters. The focus is on the story and the larger than life character, the diversity of the settings, that makes it stand out of the crowds of Japanese productions. The art is beautiful and while clearly in the anime tradition is not overly so, making it appealing to those like me who are not primarily interested in it.
It would be fastidious to explain in details all the things that make these two games awesome, and you can find that everywhere online. Interestingly, Murayama disappeared after the second installment and the series went downards after that, just like a certain pirate game we know…
But long story short, this was a man who also had a philosophy of storytelling through a videogame and who did an awesome job at it. It was not devoid of humour too. It is constantly named as one of the best games ever, in countless articles and videos analyzing the storywriting much more than the game engine.
In another genre, Suikoden games are just as good storytelling games as Monkey Islands were.
So, do you guys know about Suikoden? And I cannot resist asking, @RonGilbert are you aware of Suikoden?