Nonlinear gameplay

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A video game with nonlinear gameplay presents players with challenges that can be completed in a number of different sequences.wikipedia
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Emergent gameplay

emergentprocedural narrativedid not expect
Whether intentional or not, a common consequence of open-ended gameplay is emergent gameplay.
Such emergence may also occur in games through open-ended gameplay and sheer weight of simulated content, in Dwarf Fortress or Space Station 13 for example.

Visual novel

visual novelssound novelAdventure
Branching storylines are a common trend in visual novels, a subgenre of interactive narrative and adventure games.
Non-linear branching storylines are a common trend in visual novels, which frequently use multiple branching storylines to achieve multiple different endings, allowing non-linear freedom of choice along the way.

Adventure game

Adventuregraphic adventurepoint-and-click adventure game
Branching storylines are a common trend in visual novels, a subgenre of interactive narrative and adventure games. This is typically used in many graphic adventure games.
Frequently, these games allow for branching narratives; with choices made by the player influencing events throughout the game.

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors999: The Novel
A recent acclaimed example is 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, where nearly every action and dialogue choice can lead to entirely new branching paths and endings.
The player's decisions result in one of six branching storylines, each with a unique ending.

Dialogue tree

conversation treedialog treedialogue choices
A recent acclaimed example is 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, where nearly every action and dialogue choice can lead to entirely new branching paths and endings.
Certain video game genres, such as visual novels and dating sims, revolve almost entirely around these character interactions and branching dialogues.

Cosmology of Kyoto

Another approach to non-linear storytelling can be seen in Cosmology of Kyoto.
The game lacks a clear goal, but is instead nonlinear and emphasizes open exploration, giving players the freedom to explore the city and discover many pathways, buildings, situations, stories and secrets.

428: Shibuya Scramble

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Chunsoft sound novels such as Machi (1998) and 428: Shibuya Scramble (2008) develop this concept further, by allowing the player to alternate between the perspectives of several or more different characters, making choices with one character that have consequences for other characters.
Depending on the player's choices, a number of new scenarios become available, which ultimately lead to different outcomes and endings.

Machi (video game)

MachiMachi'' (video game)Machi: Unmei no Kousaten
Chunsoft sound novels such as Machi (1998) and 428: Shibuya Scramble (2008) develop this concept further, by allowing the player to alternate between the perspectives of several or more different characters, making choices with one character that have consequences for other characters.
Depending on what decisions the player makes during the course of the game, several different endings, both good and bad, can be reached.

Non-player character

NPCNPCsnon-playable character
The game lacks an overall plot, but it instead presents fragmented narratives and situations in a non-linear manner, as the player character encounters various non-player characters while wandering the city.
More advanced RPGs feature interactive dialogue, or branching dialogue (dialogue trees).

Role-playing video game

role-playingRPGrole-playing game
Branching storylines are also often used in role-playing video games (RPGs) to an extent.
In more recent years, several writers have criticized JRPGs as not being "true" RPGs, for heavy usage of scripted cutscenes and dialogue, and a frequent lack of branching outcomes.

Open world

sandboxopen-worldsandbox game
Some games feature both linear and nonlinear elements, and some games offer a sandbox mode that allows players to explore an open-world game environment independently from the game's main objectives, if any objectives are provided at all.
An open world is a level or game designed as nonlinear, open areas with many ways to reach an objective.

Action role-playing game

action role-playingaction RPGaction role-playing video game
A similar type of conversation system later appeared in a more recent action role-playing game also published by Sega, Alpha Protocol.
It was also an early example of open-world, nonlinear gameplay, and introduced new features such as battery backup saving.

SimCity

SimCity'' seriesSimCity BuildItSimCity series
A sandbox mode is an option in otherwise goal-oriented games and is distinguished from open-ended games that have no objectives, such as SimCity, and Garry's Mod.
SimCity is an open-ended city-building video game series originally designed by Will Wright.

Fate/stay night

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade WorksFateFate/stay night Réalta Nua
Fate/stay night is another example that features multiple perspectives.
In 2011, the writers Chris Klug and Josiah Lebowitz in their book Interactive storytelling for video games praised Fate/stay night as a strong example of branching storylines and interactive storytelling, comparing its depth and complexity to that of a traditional novel.

C's Ware

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C's Ware's EVE Burst Error (1995) introduced a unique twist to the system by allowing the player to switch between both protagonists at any time during the game, instead of finishing one protagonist's scenario before playing the other.
The game featured a branching narrative where two different protagonists, one male and one female, provide different perspectives on the story.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

Tactics OgreTactics Ogre: Wheel of Fate
The PSP version of Tactics Ogre featured a "World" system that allows players to revisit key plot points and make different choices to see how the story unfolds differently.
The game was innovative in its nonlinear branching plotline inspired by sound novels and gamebooks at the time.

Super Mario 64

Mario 64スーパーマリオ64
Super Mario 64 is an example where the main stages are free roam, while the levels where Bowser is encountered follow a straight path to the end.
Super Mario 64 is notable for its sense of freedom and non-linearity.

Video game

video gamesgamevideogame
A video game with nonlinear gameplay presents players with challenges that can be completed in a number of different sequences.

Quest (gaming)

questsquestside quest
For example, a nonlinear game may permit multiple sequences to finish the game, a choice between paths to victory, different types of victory, or optional side-quests and subplots.

Subplot

sub-plotB storyB-Plot
For example, a nonlinear game may permit multiple sequences to finish the game, a choice between paths to victory, different types of victory, or optional side-quests and subplots.

Fiction

fictionalrealistic fictionfictitious
Many video games use a linear structure, thus making them more similar to other fiction.

Narrative structure

linear narrativestory structurestructure
However, it is common for such games to use interactive narration in which a player needs to interact with something before the plot will advance, or nonlinear narratives in which events are portrayed in a non-chronological order.

Nonlinear narrative

nonlinearnon-linearnon-linear narrative
However, it is common for such games to use interactive narration in which a player needs to interact with something before the plot will advance, or nonlinear narratives in which events are portrayed in a non-chronological order.

Black Isle Studios

Black IsleBlack Isle Compilation
For example, Black Isle Studios' Fallout series of role-playing video games features numerous quests where player actions dictate the outcome of the story behind the objectives.

Fallout (series)

FalloutFallout'' seriesFallout'' video game series
For example, Black Isle Studios' Fallout series of role-playing video games features numerous quests where player actions dictate the outcome of the story behind the objectives.