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Top 10 Narrative Adventure Games I Wish I Were Playing Right Now!

With more and more games releasing every year I find myself drawn more and more towards thematic narrative style games with new and interesting stories to explore. However, with so many great ones on the market, I can't get them all to the table. So here is a list I put together of the ones I want to play right now, whether I own them or not!

10 Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven is a tactical dungeon crawler with a fantasy theme. Each player takes on the role of a mercenary, each with their own unique playstyle. You might be a barbarian style character who can spend health to boost their attacks, or a healer type who can buff the party or provide first aid and status condition removal. As you complete dungeons and quests you travel further on the map unlocking new areas to explore and adding new mercenaries to your guild.

Gloomhaven comes in at number 10 for me because I really enjoy the game, we've been playing it digitally for a while now and I really like the puzzle the game offers. However it's much further down the list, because I would really like to play it physically, but at the same time it would mean committing a year, probably more, to doing so at the expense of everything else.

That said, however, Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion does feel like it would be a manageable campaign that offers some of what the mainline game provides at a smaller price point and with less of a time commitment.

9 Sleeping Gods

For some Sleeping Gods might be their number one, but for me it settles in here at #9. I've lusted after many of the Ryan Lauket games in the past, the art and world building intrigues me but the mechanics rarely do. With Sleeping Gods the same is true, I want to play the game, to explore the vast world and see what secrets it has to tell, but at the same time I don't want to deal with controlling 9 crew or the obscure combat mechanics.

In Sleeping Gods, you play as Captain Sofi Odessa and her crew, lost in a strange world in 1929 on your steamship, the Manticore. You must work together to survive, exploring exotic islands, meeting new characters, and seeking out the totems of the gods so that you can return home.

A game of Sleeping Gods isn't like a play session in a standard campaign, you simply play for as long as you want to and then save the game, much like 7th Continent. There's no set missions, or even prescribed first encounters, just set sail and see where the world takes you. You also wont see everything in a single playthrough so you could replay the campaign over and over to find new places to explore and stories to tell.

8 Stuffed Fables

Oh Brother, this is a good one... Oh wait, Oh Brother is the title of the first (and probably only) expansion for Stuffed Fables. In Stuffed Fables you play as Stuffies. stuffed animals that come to life when the human world has gone to sleep. Play takes place in an adventure book with the map on one page and the rules of play on the other.

We played through the base game of Stuffed Fables a couple of years back and really enjoyed it, so when a new campaign dropped I knew it had to be on my list. In Oh, Brother, the little girl from the first story has grown up and now your stuffies belong to her younger brother. The campaign also introduces two new playable characters, a plushy unicorn and a hard plastic action figure.

Stuffed Fables sits a bit lower on the list overall partly because I know its likely the last story in the system which makes me sad and partly because I'm more excited for Jerry's newest game Familiar Tales appearing higher on this list!

7 Roll Player Adventures

I really like Roll Player, it takes one of the most fun parts of an RPG, creating a character and gamifies it. Roll Player Adventures answers the question, what do you do after you've finished creating that character? Go on an adventure, right?

RPA is a huge box full of story. The base game ships with 11 adventures each presented in their own adventure book intended to emulate the look of the old D&D modules. From an ascetics point alone I want to play this game. Each adventure builds on the last with your choices in one story affecting future adventures.

The main draw of the game of course is being able to port your characters from Roll Player into the world of Nalos and see how they would fair. However, the point of Roll Player is that you can create a wildly unbalanced hero with crazy high stats and improbable weapon choices. This is smoothly handled by the game though by the use of a dice placement puzzle as it's main mechanism. High stats and low stats become coloured dice and skills and weapons become ways to manipulate the dice puzzle.

RPA lands in this position on the list primarily because I don't own it otherwise it would likely be higher. The high price point and long play time and massive box size all work against this one, but I'm still really eager to give it a go and if I see it going cheap I'll likely cave!

6 The 7th Continent

At Christmas I took 7th Continent back to my flat with me with the intention of playing solo. I even bought a journal for mapping and note keeping. I really wanted to take a deep dive on this one and explore it, having really regretted not having access to it during the pandemic. I've played it once since!

7th Continent is a massive, sprawling game of adventure and survival in a strange land and I love it to bits. The game is a springboard to a world of stories, born through the paths you choose. Your adventure can be curtailed by a poor choice such as exploring a dark cave or sticking your hand into a nest of blood sucking insects, or you can loose your leg after being certain that you know which way to pull the lever on that trap!

However the game is also brutally punishing, just surviving can be a struggle, which sometimes overshadows the adventure and exploration, after all nobody remembers the beauty of the desert when they are dying of dehydration. It's also very heavy on the book keeping, every step of exploration requires you to dig through 900+ cards, which slows everything down.

The truth is that if the 7th Continent were a video game, I'd probably have explored all the content by now. As it is I've really only scratched the surface, completing just the first Curse. The two huge boxes of content and the in game upkeep keep this one out of my solo rotation... but that doesn't mean that I don't want to return, even typing these words I am drawn inexplicably to that mysterious isle, to once again tread its cursed earth!

5 Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island

Unlike other games on this list Robinson Crusoe isn't a campaign game, some might even argue it's not a narrative adventure game, but I know Ignacy, for one, would disagree. The motto of Portal Games, the publishers for Robinson Crusoe is "Games that tell stories" and Robinson absolutely falls into that category.

In Robinson Crusoe you are on a desert island and must survive. However depending on the scenario you choose changes what other goals you might have. For example in the opening scenario you must build a signal fire while also ensuring you have food and shelter to survive the harsh weather conditions of the Cursed Island. In other scenarios you might be escaping a volcano or trying to capture film of the great and mighty King Kong.

And while the scenarios provide a structure to your adventure it is the cards that provide the stories. Each time you try to complete tasks you may end up facing an adventure card, many of which have a immediate bane or boon but then are shuffled into the event deck only to reappear later, providing consequences to an earlier choice.

With this mix of 30+ scenarios and now four different decks of adventure card, no two games on the Curse Island will ever be the same... That is, if it ever comes! Despite being funded many moons ago the collectors edition of this along with the book of adventures expansion is still in the wind. Portal have promised that it's absolutely coming out this year, but I'll believe it when I hold it in my hands at this point!

4 Lands of Galzyr

Lands of Galzyr is one of my biggest crowdfunding regrets, but not because I bought the game, but instead because I didn't. In Galzyr players play as the anthropomorphic critters from the Dale of Merchants series. Each game takes place over an in-game week and you'll travel around the land of Galzyr having adventures. When you're done you pack up the game and it will remember what happened, so when you break the game out the following week choices you made will have impacted the land.

However, unlike a regular campaign game, new players can join, old players can drop out, you can even switch and play different characters. This open ended sandbox style play means that there is no "ending" in Lands of Galzyr, you just open the box, play a session and see where the world takes you. Of course this also means that there isn't same sort of meaningful progression that you might find in an RPG. Your stats and bonuses don't increase over time, instead you just sort of shuffle them around.

However as a narrative adventure, this one feels fresh and interesting. I love the idea of returning to the world to discover what impact you have had, as well as bringing new players in and telling the story of why the world looks the way it does, telling the tales of your previous exploits. While the mechanics and the gameplay of Galzyr might feel a little secondary, this is all in service of telling a better story, and I want to try that!

3 Familiar Tales

Jerry Hawthorne appearing on this list for the second time! Familiar Tales is the latest (at time of going to print) Jerry Hawthorne game from Plaid Hat Games, who are themselves the masters of this genre. In Familiar Tales players take on the roles of a wizard's familiars tasked with protecting a young princess in a dangerous land.

Like Jerry's other titles, this one dances along a fine line of child like wonder and lurking darkness. The world of Familiar Tales is beautiful and vibrant, with gorgeous art and fun characters and for the first time ever, a fully narrated story through the integrated app. But it also has an undercurrent of darkness. Twisted fairy tales, corrupted creatures and lurking nightmares that give this story just enough bite to keep it exciting.

Familiar Tales is a further refinement on Jerry's other games, where rules have occasionally been left up to the players to interpret, whereas this one feels much more nailed down. The addition of the app also cleans up some of the book keeping from previous entries and allows for a replayable campaign with minimal note taking and of course a wonderfully narrated story, full of music and sound effects that will warm your heart and chill your bones.

While other games on this list are in the wings because I don't own them yet or I haven't found the right group, Familiar Tales is planned to be our Christmas game and I have no doubt that come Christmas morning this one will be on the table without question.

2 RoboMon

Pokemon! Sorry, Robomon. This is a brand new adventure game from Gabe Barrett where players adventure in an 8-bit world capturing wild creatures and battling with them. Gabe makes no secret of the fact that this game is inspired by Pokemon and it seems, right now, to be the closest adaptation of the Pokemon IP to a board game that is out there.

This one, has yet to hit the table because it doesn't yet exist. The game is set to go to the factory in January so only time will tell how good it is, but that doesn't stop me wanting to play it. I have my concerns with combat and the lack of real multiplayer rules, but I'm really excited for the story and exploration and just that sense of nostalgia that the games looks like it will offer.

Robomon is a solo/co-op choose your own adventure style game. Each page of the storybook allows you to interact with NPCs, explore interesting locations, solve puzzles and most importantly battle and capture Robomon. The game will also ship with an arena style PVP game where you can battle your friends and a prequel adventure Gramps Island, which is intended as a shorter campaign and should be available on Tabletop Simulator very soon.

1 Freelancers: A Crossroads Game

Plaid Hat Games does D&D in their own unique style. The tagline for the game already had me hooked, "Dungeons and Exactly One Dragon" but add in the Forgotten Waters style humour and voice acted narration and the Crossroads system from Dead of Winter and this was an instabuy for me, quite literally!

In Freelancers, you and upto 6 friends can embark on one of five quests intended to take a D&D style campaign and condense it into a single evening that is rules light and story heavy, with a huge chunk of levity thrown in for good measure. Each adventure you create a new character by pulling two sheets from the included pads and combining them to create a race and class. You pick a handful of traits to further define your character, write down a name and then you're off on the adventure.

Like many of the games on this list Freelancers turns to app integration to handle all the heavy lifting, the app handles the story progression, generates random encounters and provides rules and voice narration throughout. Not only does this approach make for a more immersive game play experience but also cuts down on rulebook flipping and book keeping in game too!

While the artwork and National Lampoon comedy styling of Freelancers might not be for everyone, for me, its the game I most want to play right now... Shame it's wrapped up for my Birthday... Guess I'll just have to wait then!


What worlds are you waiting to explore on your tabletop? Let me know in the comments

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