While FMV games have been around since the early 1980s, the genre didn’t really come into its own until the 1990s as controversial releases like Night Trap became headline news.
Since then, the genre has become more diversified, with new FMV games upping their cinematic presentation while doubling down on choice-driven gameplay.
In this list, we’ll shine a spotlight on the best FMV games on Steam, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and mobile that define modern interactive fiction.
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Platforms: Windows, Xbox Series X/S, Mac, iOS, Android
If you’ve played a lot of new FMV games, there’s a good chance you recognize the name Sam Barlow, as he’s one of the most respected writers/directors in the arena.
Immortality is his latest project and combines hidden object gameplay with noir-style storytelling and a tantalizing mystery at the center of it all.
In it, players sift through lost footage from three films to determine what happened to a movie star that mysteriously disappeared before any of her films could be released.
Unknown Number: A First Person Talker
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Developed and published by Godolphin Games, Unknown Number is one of the most innovative takes on FMV games we’ve seen released in recent years.
Played through a series of interactive phone calls, the game sees you participating in a high-stakes heist that involves hacking, puzzle-solving, and social deception.
This is all done by issuing voice commands via your computer’s microphone while contextual images and atmospheric visuals appear on-screen.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, iOS
Next up is Erica, a live-action FMV game with a branching storyline that puts you at the center of a thrilling mystery and comes courtesy of Flavourworks.
In this game, players follow the titular character Erica, a young lady tormented by nightmares of her father’s murder when she was just a child.
Faced with grisly new clues, she sets out to uncover the truth behind her trauma with help from the player in this gripping narrative with multiple endings.
At Dead Of Night
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Blending live-action FMV footage with in-game graphics, At Dead of Night is a one-of-a-kind horror game experience that fans of the genre won’t want to miss.
The story centers on a student named Maya who ends up trapped inside a remote hotel run by a psychopathic murderer whose victims now haunt its halls.
To free her friends and get out alive, she’ll have to use an ancient voice receiver to communicate with ghosts from the past while avoiding her maniac pursuer.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Her Story is the game that put Sam Barlow on the map as far as FMV games are concerned and offers a fresh take on investigative gameplay.
In it, players are tasked with searching through a video database to gather information about a woman thought to be involved in her husband’s mysterious disappearance.
This requires searching through the database for clues using key terms as well as watching clips and listening to interviews where bits and pieces of the story are revealed.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Mac
Described as a “high stakes FMV crime thriller,” Late Shift reels players in with a gripping narrative spanning over 180 decision points.
The plot follows a security personnel worker as he’s forced to participate in an elaborate heist to rob a lucrative London auction house.
Throughout the game, players will have to choose to either comply with their captors’ demands or reject them, with either having grave implications.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch, Mac, iOS, Android
Simulacra is a popular FMV game series that spans three main entries and one spin-off developed and published by Kaigan Games, the same studio behind Sara is Missing.
The original Simulacra is a spiritual successor to Sara is Missing and sees you untangling a web of mysteries using the contents of a missing woman’s phone.
To retrace her final steps, players will have to navigate various smartphone apps analyzing photos, videos, and messages to piece together what happened before it’s too late.
Contradiction: Spot the Liar
Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS
Billed as a live-action murder mystery adventure, Contradiction: Spot the Liar is another fantastic FMV game that comes from Baggy Cat Ltd., the same studio that made At Dead of Night.
In it, we follow along as a detective is summoned to solve a strange case of murder by inspecting objects and interviewing persons connected to the victim.
One of the core mechanics in this game is being able to tell whether or not someone is lying by picking out inaccuracies during character interviews and using them to help crack the case.
Not for Broadcast
Part FMV game part simulation, Not for Broadcast tasks you with managing a news station where you’ll have to decide what content is or isn’t appropriate for viewers.
This includes cycling through different cameras to find the best angle, bleeping out swear words in real time, and pairing the right advertisers with your programs.
Things aren’t always cut and dry as you’ll find yourself having to make increasingly tough calls to appease celebrities, sponsors, and audiences or risk the consequences.
Press X to Not Die
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Parodying B-movies, video game QTE sequences, and FMV games as a whole, Press X to Not Die is an unforgettable interactive experience with over-the-top humor.
The premise is simple: everyone in your town has gone crazy and turned to violence, prompting you to fight for survival by pressing “X” whenever you find yourself in danger.
Along the way, you’ll encounter scenarios that require you to pick from different choices that shape the narrative and more often than not, lead to bizarre outcomes.
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Mac, iOS, Android
To wrap things up, we’re including The Complex, an interactive sci-fi thriller coming out of Wales Interactive, best known for FMV games like Late Shift and The Bunker.
Much like the studio’s previous outings, this game sets up a rather intricate plot involving a bio-weapon attack on London that causes two scientists to become trapped inside a lab.
Short on both time and oxygen, players will have to make challenging decisions regarding who lives and who dies across the game’s 8 unique endings.