13 Best FMV Games of All Time

Marvellous what they can do with modern technology.

Best FMV Games
Best FMV Games

With the advances that have been made in gaming technology over the years, you’d think that full-motion video games would be a thing of the past. The art of using real-life footage and actors to portray characters, cutscenes and even gameplay within games has been around for decades, but the genre has seen a resurgence of sorts over the past five to ten years. Various indie developers have used the medium to create some genre-defying masterpieces.

The beauty of FMV is that developers can use it to create games based on any genre they want, and while most of the time, FMV lends itself to horror, that’s not the only use for it. With that in mind, we’re celebrating the best FMV games ever made, though we’re trying to focus on games that use more FMV than in-game assets. Just because Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 has a cutscene of Tim Curry being a weirdo doesn’t mean it should be on this list.


The Best FMV Games

13. Night Trap

Night Trap game
Night Trap game

Developer: Digital Pictures
Publisher: Digital Pictures, Sega, Virgin Group, Virgin Interactive, Acclaim Entertainment
Platform(s): 3DO, Sega Genesis

While it’s not exactly brilliant, with its camp B-movie aesthetic being an acquired taste, we couldn’t make an FMV article without talking about Night Trap. You control an agent in charge of a series of traps in a household, and you need to use them in order to protect a group of girls from being devoured by a family of vampires. It’s a game about as silly as the premise would suggest, but its legacy is undeniable.

If you’re looking to get hold of Night Trap these days, you’ll be better off going for the 25th Anniversary Edition on Switch or Steam, which includes the original game with remastered visuals, plenty of behind the scenes content and more. It’s about as daft as games can get, but if you’re looking for a memorable FMV experience, Night Trap is a solid bet.


12. Phantasmagoria


Developer: Sierra Entertainment, Kronos Digital Entertainment
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
Platform(s): PC, SEGA Saturn

The FMV genre has been very popular and effective for the point and click genre, and one of the most legendary of them all is Phantasmagoria. While it could easily be considered dated by today’s standards, both in terms of gameplay, special effects and footage, the legacy that Phantasmagoria has cultivated has made this game completely worthy of being placed on this list.

The game sees players controlling Adrienne Delaney, a novelist who has moved into a remote mansion in New England with her husband Don. If you’ve seen any haunted house story ever, you’ll probably know roughly how Phantasmagoria ends up, as Don gets possessed by a demon who previously possessed the magician who lived there a century ago. Untold gore, violence and horror quickly follow.


11. The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story

The Centennial Case
The Centennial Case

Developer: h.a.n.d., Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch

Solving a 100 year old murder mystery sounds like an impossible undertaking, but impossible is nothing in the world of video games, as The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story showcases. On top of that, you’ll even be attempting to solve three other murders along with it. Lead character Haruka Kagami is certainly going to have their work cut out for them, but with the right clues and proper leads, the truth will reveal itself.

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story follows Haruka Kagami, a mystery novelist, who visits the Shijima family in 2022. At this point, she ends up taking on four separate murder cases which occurred at three different points in history. Solving these cases plays out in three separate phases, as you move from the incident, the reasoning and the solution phases to try and piece together the killer’s identity.


10. Erica


Developer: Flavourworks, London Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): PC, iOS, PS4

Using FMV is one way to add a dose of realism and immersion to a gaming experience, but Erica goes the extra mile by introducing touch controls for various in-game actions, making for a game unlike many others. It might not be the most well reviewed FMV game ever made, but Erica is definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of FMV games.

Erica sees players controlling the titular character, a young woman trying to deal with the trauma related to her childhood and her father’s occult past. A combination of Erica receiving visions of her father’s murder, along with a severed hand being delivered in the mail forces Erica to return to Delphi House, an asylum where her parents previously worked. Together with the people she meets, she’ll slowly begin to unravel the secrets behind her father’s death.


9. Late Shift

Late Shift
Late Shift

Developer: CtrlMovie, Wales Interactive
Publisher: CtrlMovie, Wales Interactive
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Truthfully, we could probably do an FMV list on just Wales Interactive games alone, as they’ve been huge pioneers for the format for the past few years. Expect to see their name on this list a lot, but for now, let’s focus on one of their more underrated games: Late Shift. If you like heist stories with high stakes and plenty of tension, Late Shift is the FMV game for you, even if the game doesn’t always end well for you.

Late Shift follows lead character Matt, a college student working as a parking attendant who just happens to get involved with London’s criminal underworld. With a daring heist planned, Matt finds himself in the eye of the storm, and his split-second decisions will decide the fate of him and others too. Bonus fact: the guy who plays Matt, Joe Sowerbutts, played Harry Potter in the Philosopher’s Stone video game.


8. Contradiction


Developer: Baggy Cat Limited
Publisher: Baggy Cat Limited, Tim Follin
Platform(s): PC, iOS

One of the biggest tools a detective has in their arsenal when investigating a murder is the power to catch people in a lie or a contradiction; to present new or alternative evidence that tears to shreds everything a suspect is saying. That’s the basic appeal of Contradiction: Spot The Liar!, which is also known by the much cheesier and enjoyable name “The All-Video Murder Mystery Adventure”.

As Detective Jenks, you’ll travel to the village of Edenton to investigate the death of a young woman by the name of Kate Vine. Her death was immediately ruled to be a suicide due to her death by drowning, but as Jenks investigates the situation, there’s more to meets the eye. Eventually, a grand conspiracy involving a group known as ATLAS begins to reveal itself, and it’s up to the player to solve it.


7. The Shapeshifting Detective

The Shapeshifting Detective
The Shapeshifting Detective

Developer: D’Avekki Studios
Publisher: D’Avekki Studios, Wales Interactive
Platform(s): PC, iOS, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

You could argue that being an FMV game is enough of a unique selling point in its own right to help stand out from the pack of other games, but offering something else does help. Developers D’Avekki Studios specialise in FMV games that think outside of the box, and The Shapeshifting Detective is no exception. If you need to know what the game is all about, the clue is in the title.

After the murder of Dorota Shaw, you’ll investigate the three prime suspects – tarot readers who all have the ability to predict murder. However, you won’t know which has committed said murder as the villain is randomly chosen at the start of each game. In order to get to the truth, you’ll need to use your shapeshifting ability to swap personas, uncover new pieces of evidence and ultimately catch the killer before you become the next victim.


6. The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker

The Infectious Madness Of Doctor Dekker
The Infectious Madness Of Doctor Dekker

Developer: D’Avekki Studios
Publisher: D’Avekki Studios, Wales Interactive
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

If The Shapeshifting Detective is up your street, The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker will probably be just as appealing considering it’s from the same developers and features the same randomly selected murderer mechanic. You control a psychiatrist trying to solve a murder (what is it with FMV games and murder?) by interviewing the patients of the recently deceased Doctor Dekker, but nothing is what it seems and your choices could have dire consequences for both yourself and your patients.

If FMV alone isn’t enough to convince you, The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker features a unique mechanic where players can ask the patients questions by typing them out, instead of just picking from set responses. Obviously, not all questions will have proper answers, but the game does an excellent job of trying to point you in the right direction when you ask wrong questions, making it one of the best FMV games you can play.


5. Telling Lies

Telling Lies

Developer: Sam Barlow, Half Mermaid, Furious Bee Limited
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Platform(s): PC, iOS, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Following up a smash hit like Her Story must have been an incredibly daunting task for Sam Barlow, but he managed to do an excellent job with Telling Lies. It might not live up to the incredible legacy of his first game, but there’s a captivating story here that stands up in its own right. Plus, it’s got Logan Marshall-Green from Upgrade in one of the lead roles, so that’s an automatic win right there.

Telling Lies focuses on a group of four individuals linked together by one shocking incident, but the only way you’ll be able to find the truth about what happened is by combing through a stolen NSA database and watching privately recorded videos of each character. Like Her Story, you’ll scan through the videos by searching for keywords, and slowly the pieces of this two year long story will begin to reveal themselves.


4. Simulacra


Developer: Kaigan Games
Publisher: Kaigan Games, Neon Doctrine, Wales Interactive
Platform(s): PC, iOS, Android, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

In horror, the most terrifying scares are often the most realistic, so a found footage, horror FMV game about looking through someone’s phone seems about as realistic as horror can get in this day and age. Simulacra takes that premise and runs with it to create one of the most haunting and scary horror games you’ll ever play. It also happens to be one of the best FMV games ever made.

Simulacra sees the player character discover the phone of Anna, and it quickly becomes apparent that she’s now a missing person after you find a video of her in distress. Using her phone, you’ll need to piece together the clues of how she ultimately disappeared, leading to one of several different endings. With several fully realised apps to explore within the game, Simulacra is about as close to rifling through a missing girl’s phone as you can get.

Please do not do that in real life.


3. Her Story

Her Story
Her Story

Developer: Sam Barlow
Publisher: Sam Barlow
Platform(s): PC, iOS, Android

The FMV game that captivated the entire gaming community, Her Story was like nothing else of its time when it launched in 2015, but it could have only been made as an FMV game. The creation of Sam Barlow, the man responsible for Silent Hill: Origins and Shattered Memories, Her Story was his first game as a solo indie developer. There have been few debuts as groundbreaking as that before or since.

Her Story sees the player manning a computer, using keywords to search through video clips of different police interviews with a woman called Hannah Smith, a prime suspect in the disappearance of her husband. As the police continue to question her, the truth, or at least Hannah’s version of it, will slowly become apparent, but the beauty of Her Story is that it’s up to you to draw your own conclusions.


2. The Bunker

The Bunker
The Bunker

Developer: Splendy Games, Wales Interactive
Publisher: Wales Interactive
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Wales Interactive have launched plenty of FMV games over the years, but in the eyes of many, The Bunker stands out as the most memorable and enjoyable, even if the premise is probably the most grim of all the games on this list. You control John, a man born in an underground bunker on the day the bombs fell on England. A few decades later, John is all alone, kept sane by his strict routines.

Naturally, those routines are disrupted by an alarm within the bunker, which shatters John’s fragile grip on his sanity. In order to survive, he’ll need to venture into the long forgotten parts of both the bunker and his own psyche to discover the truth about what happened all those years ago. While there’s not as much choice in The Bunker when compared to other titles on this list, the end result is just as compelling.


1. Not For Broadcast

Not For Broadcast
Not For Broadcast

Developer: NotGames
Publisher: tinyBuild
Platform(s): PC

Turning on the TV and checking out the news these days often feels like you’re in a parody, so playing Not For Broadcast is a great way to feel right at home. If you’ve ever wanted to be in the live broadcast station, editing what goes live for the viewers at home, Not For Broadcast is the game for you. Just don’t be surprised if you spend the entire time struggling to contain your laughter at the ridiculousness on screen.

As the broadcast manager for the National Nightly News, you get to decide what the viewers at home experience, editing the silly celebs and shady politicians however you see fit. You’ll choose the camera angles, alter the headlines and choose whether or not to toe the party line or stir the pot. So long as people are tuning in every single night, that’s all that matters, right? With its scathing political satire and compelling gameplay, Not For Broadcast is undoubtedly the best FMV game on the market.

READ MORE: Developing An FMV Game During Lockdown

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