Despite the simplicity of the gameplay, these games can offer an unforgettable adventure.
The walking simulators revered today in the industry are a real breakthrough in the world of video games. Although no, it is not quite true. Such titles have become one of the most highly regarded genres precisely because they are too far from colorful explosions, button fevers, loud phrases, and other characteristic features of modern AAA-class games.
And while not everyone is willing to accept the idea of a walking simulator, many of them deserve all praise and not condemnation. They may not have a deeply developed gameplay, but this is not what they need. Action-packed stories, graceful plot twists, and an immersive atmosphere are the genre’s strengths, and the best of the genre proves that you don’t have to hit combos over and over again to have a great time.
That Dragon, Cancer
Developer: Numinous Games | Publisher: Numinous Games
Few games are based on real events. Even less often, their plot forces players to reflect on their own lives. That Dragon, Cancer falls into both categories, which is why it’s so important that as many people as possible play it. The Numinous Games team lovingly created this project dedicated to the little boy Joel Green, who failed to defeat cancer.
That Dragon, Cancer is a special visual experience in which the player is almost completely inactive, but at the same time, it is so easy to delve into the story and empathize with the characters that the lack of gameplay is almost not felt. Some games are remembered for their mechanics, others for their graphic style, and, finally, others sink into the soul thanks to the plot. That Dragon, Cancer may not have a unique mechanic, but as the last point, it will surely reach your heart and remain in your memory for a long time.
Developer: Giant Squid | Publisher: 505 Games
Incarnated by art directors Journey and Flower, ABZU has traditionally prioritized visuals in a stunning adventure that plunges you into the mysterious depths of the ocean. Explore the amazingly vibrant underwater world as you travel with Mother Nature’s most enchanting exotic creatures.
Control your diver, explore the ocean, and perform various acrobatic stunts, encountering unique whales, dolphins, sharks and other marine life along the way. Interact with colossal schools of fish and enjoy how they react to your every move and disperse as predators approach. Can you uncover the ancient secrets buried at the bottom of the ocean? Or retreat in the face of the dangers that lurk in these depths?
Technically, this is more of a swimming simulator than walking, but the game still suits us.
Developer: The Fullbright Company | Publisher: The Fullbright Company
Ever wanted to know how a team of the greatest minds would live in space aboard a high-tech space station? Tacoma gives you the opportunity to find out, exploring every corner of the lunar base in search of clues and details of the crew members’ life together. Explore the station physically and with holograms to find out what the year 2088 will be like.
Tacoma is a story that explores the impact of isolation on a team of six. Through fully voiced and animated sequences, players are immersed in a small world that flourished on Tacoma. Interact with holograms to uncover a multi-layered plot, play with time, and try not to miss the slightest detail of what happened.
Kentucky Route Zero
Developer: Cardboard Computer | Publisher: Cardboard Computer
The incredible story of Kentucky Route Zero from Cardboard Computer rivets to itself with its uniqueness. The game is announced as a classic quest, but the journey of a trucker along route zero is more about communication and relationships with people than anything else. This game is not just a walking simulator; you will come across inexplicable things along the way.
Elite soldiers with superpowers. Disgraced detectives with a tenacious gaze on the details. Mystical warriors of light. Ordinary structural analysts. These are the roles that we dream about when we buy new games. That’s right, an ordinary structural analyst. As if you hadn’t dreamed of becoming one of them from a young age!
In INFRA you will finally be able to partially realize your dream by solving mechanical and electrical puzzles and … walking a lot, because this is still a walking simulator. Of course, you would like to delve deeper into the role of the structural analyst in the midst of structural collapse. However, let’s be honest, boring games are not destined to be included in the list of “best walking simulators”, and believe me, INFRA is far from boring. This is a true visual delight, even though the building you are exploring could collapse at any moment.
As you might have guessed, this is a pretty intense walking simulator.
Developer: Night School Studio | Publisher: Night School Studio
Night School Studio acknowledges that Oxenfree, a 2.5D adventure about the mysteries and supernaturals that takes place on the island, is a walking simulator. In addition to an interesting and enticing setting, the game focuses on the characters, the main character – the girl Alex, the development of her relationship during long conversations with friends.
Some decisions can radically change the course of history. Oxenfree is quite drawn-out, but not enough to refuse to pass it, it took its place among the representatives of the genre.
Developer: Variable State | Publisher: 505 Games
There is one common element at the heart of many walking simulators – a mystery. In the role of FBI agent Anna Tarver, the players travel to a small town in Virginia to investigate the case of the missing boy. Obviously, someone in Burgess County is required to know where the child is, but figuring out which one will be difficult.
Anna will have to morally confront the locals in order to shed light on the sinister deeds happening behind the scenes of the town. The more she communicates with others, the clearer it is that each of them has dark intentions. And whether they concern the missing child is another question, although it was he who served as the beginning of the journey of the main character and her partner Maria Halperin.
Developer: White Paper Games | Publisher: White Paper Games
The best walking simulators are more adventurous than realistic simulators. Simple walking is quite boring, while travel leaves us feeling accomplished or prompts us to think about the chosen path. The essence of Ether One is many forks, as the player will have to explore the open world through the prism of an unstable mind.
Most of the games in the genre rely on a unique visual style. Ether One is not only intriguing but pleasing to the eye as it cleverly finds a way to tell the story of dementia without trivializing the mental disorder. The deeper you dive into Ether One, the more you realize how easily our fragile mind can let a person down and make him doubt the reality of what is happening.
Nobody said that the best walking simulators have to be optimistic.
Developer: The Chinese Room | Publisher: The Chinese Room
You’ll never guess where Dear Esther originated, giving rise to the development of a walking simulator as a genre. Here’s a hint: after years of blind hopes, we finally got to see the sequel to this legendary title.
That’s right, this atmospheric journey across a desert island was originally a mod for Half-Life 2. Moving away from the sci-fi thriller in the spirit of the progenitor, Dear Esther takes a more relaxed and relaxed approach to the story. There are no evil government groups and headcrabs here, but the secret of Esther and the island to which she calls the player arises.
Dear Esther, you will doubt everything you see. Is this all real or just an obsession? Gradually unraveling the not-so-linear story, you will piece together the truth hidden in the depths of a clouded memory.
The Unfinished Swan
Developer: Giant Sparrow | Publisher: SCEA
The swan doesn’t seem like a particularly intriguing centerpiece for the game. So what speaks in favor of The Unfinished Swan is that it hides something more behind its name.
Here you have to explore a bizarre unfinished kingdom. In search of the king, which turns into an incredible journey, the same swan from the name will become the guide. Along the way, you will create more than one unique piece of art, bringing to life a virtually untouched world.
The gameplay is pretty simple: players will have to scatter ink balls to find their way forward. Overall, there is nothing special about the game, which is why The Unfinished Swan suffered from critics. At least it has become one of the best walking simulators, and that’s something, isn’t it?
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Developer: The Chinese Room | Publisher: SCEA
On the eve of the mysterious mass disappearance, residents of a small town have to put up with the existence without their loved ones and clear answers about what is happening. Light anomalies scattered around the area will not only reveal the whole truth about the events of the recent past but also tell how closely the lives of their participants were intertwined. Among the personal stories, the main tragedy looms, which tells about the real horrors that ruined the population.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is dedicated to exploring and finding the truth, but how easy it is to get lost in lush parks, intricately furnished homes that deftly reveal the nature of their missing owners, and abandoned small businesses that once helped the city survive. Beautiful in many respects, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture gives players not only a narrative but a purely visual pleasure.
Developer: Campo Santo | Publisher: Panic, Campo Santo
Wyoming. In the history of games in this mountainous state, only a couple of titles have “settled”. Fortunately, one of them is everyone’s favorite The Last of Us, so Firewatch has great neighbors.
Firewatch is set in 1989, 24 years before the cordyceps epidemic hit the world in a completely different game. Players are given the role of Henry – a lonely man who decides to become a sentinel and monitor the safety of wildlife. As it turns out later, everything is not so simple, so Henry embarks on an unpredictable journey through the very forests, which he must protect from fires.
As stated in the description, Firewatch is a game “about adults who have adult conversations about adult topics.” Obviously, this entertaining walking simulator Campo Santo wanted to appeal to an older audience. The choices you make and the secrets that unfold as you progress draw a fascinating mystery, framed by your actions.
Layers of Fear
Developer: Bloober Team SA | Publisher: Aspyr
There isn’t much gameplay in Layers of Fear, which is why the plot is so important here.
Being a horror game, the game has a definite advantage over many other walking simulators. The Bloober Team took advantage of this, amazing players with a deep dive into the unnamed artist’s shattered mind. The exploration of his home is literally riddled with frightening moments and tension, both psychedelic and atmospheric.
This story is a dark tale that tells of a tortured artist who is obsessed with completing his masterpiece. And while the painting is a key plot element, there is something much more personal underneath. Of course, you will find a lot of walking in Layers of Fear, but before each step, expect inner doubts from the expectation of the next horror.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Developer: The Astronauts | Publisher: The Astronauts
In response to a strange letter from young Ethan Carter, detective Paul Prospero was able to react in the only possible way: he packed his things, armed himself with curiosity, and went to a remote mining town. Upon arrival, the hero found that the boy had disappeared, and the letter led him to an investigation into the murder, which in fact turns out to be much worse than it seems at first glance.
Prospero, fascinated by the occult and the supernatural, in his search for Ethan is helped by his amazing ability to talk with the dead. The Vanishing of
Ethan Carter relies heavily on the atmosphere, replacing unexpected fright with real horror that happens to a missing child.
The Astronauts have chosen to focus on exploration and observation, although Prospero’s path to truth is blocked by several puzzles. And the answers found under the pile of bodies could change the detective forever.
Developer: The Fullbright Company | Publisher: The Fullbright Company
Coming home is the very idea that many of us try to simply dismiss. On vacation, on holidays, on vacation, the last thing we want is to return to our native land. Gone Home from The Fullbright Company will remind you why we do not at all strive to see the places of our childhood again.
On June 7, 1995, we find ourselves on the threshold of a very familiar house. Turning the doorknob and carefully going inside, we expect everyone to rejoice and joyful surprise. However, instead of all this, we are met by an ominous, unbearable silence.
Where are the funny screams? A tight hug? The happiness of a family reunited after months of separation? And an empty dwelling is just one of the mysteries that we have to solve in this exciting adventure.
There are no puzzles or battles here: Gone Home allows players to explore the house at their own pace, exploring every corner and invading the privacy of all its inhabitants in order to find out what happened there.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Developer: Giant Sparrow | Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
And really, what is left after Edith Finch? According to the story from Giant Sparrow, not exactly a big family. After a quick adventure at a relaxed pace, players will discover what lies behind this sad title.
The various episodes of What Remains of Edith Finch gracefully tell a story of mystery that aims to answer the basic question: what happened to Edith’s family?
As the only living member of the Finch family, the main character relives the events of the past, trying to find out the truth. As the game progresses, you will travel through the last days in the life of each family member, finding yourself either at the beginning of the 20th century or in more modern times.
Even if the storyline leaves you unmoved (although we doubt it’s even possible), What Remains of Edith Finch is a great game that gives the term “walking simulator” a rather positive connotation.
Developer: Kojima Productions | Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Death Stranding from Kojima Productions is overloaded with symbolism, details, own terms, moreover, the game interface is overloaded, and the plot really begins only with the fourth chapter. Despite all this, the key mechanics in the game are pretty simple and enjoyable.
Even making your way through the snow-covered plains with a mountain of parcels behind you, you will experience an almost meditative delight, thanks to well-chosen background music and a mesmerizing visual style. At times, Death Stranding gives you moments of peace and loneliness, let the whole world wait.
Developer: Frictional Games | Publisher: Frictional Games
At the center of the game is the mystery of Simon Jarett’s appearance at the PATHOS-II underwater station. With no memory of Simon of how he got on her or what was going on. The player will have to explore and discover the laboratory from a new angle in order to decide the fate of Simon. If you want to play it like a real walking simulator, then turn on safe mode, it will not let the monsters kill you and will allow you to focus on the story.
The Stanley Parable
Developer: Galactic Cafe | Publisher: Galactic Cafe
In 2011, a curious interactive walking simulator, created on the Half-Life 2 engine, appeared on the market, which eventually grew into a full-fledged remake two years later.
In The Stanley Parable, the player finds himself in the role of Stanley, an office worker whose duties are limited to monitoring the data on the monitor. Accustomed to only pressing keys and not asking questions, Stanley is lost when the computer screen suddenly goes blank and soon sets off to explore the office.
Stanley’s story evolves with your every action. The narrator tries to direct the narrative, but due to the sheer number of forks, the plot is constantly changing. The game originally had 6 endings, which is already impressive for a walking simulator. But even more surprising is that there are 16 more endings in the remake.
The Stanley Parable is the ultimate walking simulator yet a gripping adventure that recalls Portal and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in tone and comedic style. The result is a game that is definitely worth playing and getting all 22 endings.