The best walking simulator to this day

I am considering to play some “walking simulators”. There are many that were praised very highly , but the genre has been evolving and maybe, what was considered great when these games first came up, is not so special anymore…
Which ones would be the must-play today?

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I hear a taxonomical inquiry brewing in the distance, take shelter

“first-person games without combat”?

SOMA in safe mode, Observer, and Tacoma would probably be my recommendations

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I think it makes the most sense to view ‘walking sims’ as a potential revival of adventure games in a period where they were still fallow.

I think the goals and interrogations of the movement were:

  • Embody the player in their character in a first-person perspective, instead of the sharp divide between player and character in classic LucasArts and Sierra games
  • Remove puzzles, in an era where the internet has caused us to lose all faith in prebuilt puzzles, and Old Man Murray still sings
  • Use the narrative toolkit of level designers over storyboarders – this is largely an outgrowth of designers who grew up as 3D level designers, as opposed to the narrative designers who were responsible for writing their wordy games
  • Recenter the narrative as a personal-growth/self-reflection/delving narrative. This largely follows from level-design-based storytelling techniques

Gone Home remains my gold standard. And I think it’s fair to call it: this mini-genre is mostly fulfilled, the possibilities of this form well-explored, and the adventure game and horror genres are healthy enough again and are re-incorporating what was learned from these walking sims. Late-period games like What Remains of Edith Finch are investing more in writing and acting and micro-games and bursting out of the initial goals (and failing, in the case of Edith Finch).

SOMA is an interesting example because I think it’s a parallel evolution of Frictional’s work in first-person horror, though they were specifically trying to mix the two: Frictional asked The Chinese Room, developer of the first widely-recognized walking sim, Dear Esther, to make their Amnesia sequel, A Machine for Pigs.

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Paratopic is the only one I’ve really liked, but I also mostly haven’t played them. Good horror-ish game, PSX-style visuals, only about 1 hour long, no branching narratives, uncanny.

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pathologic 2

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Gone Home, Paratopic and SOMA are standouts for me too. I would also recommend ANATOMY by Kitty Horrorshow, The Beginner’s Guide, September 1999, Jazzpunk, maybe taking a stroll through some Garry’s Mod maps by your lonesome. And I would also recommend the stuff The Chinese Room make, like Dear Esther, A Machine For Pigs and Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture.

Ooh and What Remains of Edith Finch is a nice story game.

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i should replay gone home. played it during a time when i was very influenced by anti-walking sim talk but like, for a while now i’ve been re-evaluating and re-experiencing a bunch of stuff differently to how i’ve felt them before (yume nikki, lsd, fft) so maybe i’m also receptive to gone home now? worth exploring.

also, lsd is kind of a walking sim, right? it’s only about wandering around, and your only interaction is colliding with things which may warp you to a new scene.
so long as you don’t try to overindulge it remains fascinating. it will every so often introduce some entirely new element to itself, and it feels special to have this dreamworld grow on my daily visits

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LSD is a really good pull and should absolutely be included, a game 20 years before its time

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It’s Winter looks interesting but have yet to boot it up.

Am I the only one weirded out by the inclusion of Soma as a walking simulator? The genre always tacitly suggested to me no real fail state, your grandma can beat the game

Is Paradise Killer a walking simulator because I can’t gush about it enough?

I think we could make that famous sandwich alignment chart with the walking simulator genre

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I would argue Paradise Killer is an adventure game descending from the detective visual novels and that its environment traversal doesn’t descend from walking sims or even interact much with the rest of the game. It gives flavor and a parallel platformer experience but it isn’t used to give clues or even really tie into the specific characters – it sets the mood and acts as a pleasant intermediary. It gives world story but not plot story.

Except…my definition above doesn’t do much to encompass the ‘archeology tour’ subgenere: kairo, NaissanceE, and even Proteus and Bernband. Hmmm…

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It doesn’t really fit your “The Best” framing because it’s modest, but my hour or two on Dépanneur Nocturne recently felt well-spent

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Devotion absolutely fits within the framework that @BustedAstromech outlined. The focus is on environmental storytelling and the puzzle and horror elements do not create a significant barrier.

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That accidental walking sim produced by the interactive tour of a weird house for sale that’s been making the rounds on the net since yesterday makes me believe we’ve barely seen the possibilities of the genre.

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lsd, proteus, slave of god, panoramical

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I love Slave of God

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does cement mixing sim 3000 have puzzles i cant remember whatever that’s another one of my picks i wanna say crypt worlds too

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Also, since you asked about critical darlings, I haven’t replayed them since they came out, but my sense is Journey kinda holds up but is perhaps not necessary, and Flower is definitely not worth your time

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Is * The Stanley Parable* too involved with all its multiple endings and stuff to count?

I’d also give Firewatch an honorable mention. It made me feel a lot more than many of the games being mentioned ITT.

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Should we consider The return of Obra Dinn a walking simulator?

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