The 5 Best Storytelling Games

Playing will leave you with a tale to tell

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Spinning a story is a surefire way to keep yourself or a group entertained, and there are several great storytelling games to help you get the adventure started. This growing genre of games offers variety and versatility in gameplay and can be a fun addition to your game collection.

When shopping for the best storytelling games, you'll see that there is no standard format. There are board games, dice games, card games, and other unique options to prompt creativity and fun. Several of the most popular storytelling games don’t require a board and are ready for camping, travel, and more. In addition, the mode of gameplay varies widely. Some storytelling games are competitive by design, encouraging you to get creative to earn points or win the round. Other storytelling games are just for fun, and everyone wins by participating in the tall tales or being entertained as a listener. Players young and old often enjoy storytelling games, but some versions may have more advanced rules and strategies that make them better suited to older players. Check the age recommendation for any game you're considering.

These top storytelling games will leave you with a tale to share.

Our Top Picks
Thanks to simple but imaginative gameplay, it has earned the spot of best overall storytelling game.
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Even with a small budget, you can have big storytelling game fun.
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This game features multiple modes of play, an array of fun game pieces, and story cards to get the ball rolling.
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This storytelling game immerses players in a make-believe world of adventure filled with decisions.
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This popular learning tool now has an educational storytelling game that is both fun for children and easy to learn.
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In This Article

Best Overall: Atlas Once Upon a Time

Atlas Once Upon a Time Game

One of the most well-loved storytelling games is Once Upon a Time by Atlas Games. It earns the spot of the best storytelling game, thanks to its simple, imaginative gameplay.

Once Upon a Time is a card-based storytelling game that allows players to select random cards that test their creative thinking skills. Various cards with plot points and endings are dealt to each player, and then one player begins telling a story with their cards. Other players can take over storytelling by playing a matching plot point card. Each player attempts to steer the story according to their plot cards and, ultimately, toward their ending card; the first player to play all cards in their hand wins.

What people love about the game is that it has clear direction and rules without being overly competitive. It’s perfect for players of all ages and entertains both kids and adults. Choose Once Upon a Time for your next game night and be entertained by the unusual, memorable, and funny tales that result.

Best Budget: Zygomatic Rory’s Story Cubes

Zygomatic Rory's Story Cubes

For storytelling fun on a shoestring budget, pick up a set of Rory’s Story Cubes.

This game revolves around rolling a set of six-sided dice imprinted with 54 images and thousands of combinations. While there are no specific rules on how to use the dice, one suggested mode of gameplay is for each player to roll all nine dice and incorporate the images into a cohesive story that earns points for delivery, humor, or creativity. For more collaborative storytelling, each player can roll a cube and add a piece of the story based on the image displayed on their turn. Another suggested game is to place the nine cubes in a square, then for each row of three, turn the dice to have a common theme. Let other players guess the theme you had in mind for each row.

This game can be played by everyone age 6 and up and is a good option for a storytelling game for travel. For even more fun and expanded storylines, you can also buy add-on cubes that feature actions, voyages, and other subjects. Even with a small budget, you can have big storytelling game fun with Rory’s Story Cubes.

Best for the Family: SCS Direct Tall Tales Storytelling Board Game

SCS Direct Tall Tales Storytelling Board Game

If you’re looking for a storytelling game to capture the minds of both adults and children alike, SCS Direct's Tall Tales storytelling board game is a great choice.

This game features multiple modes of play, an array of fun game pieces, and story cards to get the ball rolling. The set includes 50 game pieces, and many families have expanded the storytelling opportunities by incorporating small objects or toys from around the house. A simple version of the game involves drawing eight pieces at one time from the bag. Then, a player begins telling their tall tale using one of the pieces drawn until all the pieces are included in the story. Once the story ends, the pieces go back into the bag for another player to draw. 

As with many other storytelling games, there is not a clear path toward winning the game. Instead, the tale itself is the prize for all participants. Of course, you can always craft your own point system to award each story for creativity and humor. One thing to note about this game is that no reading is required, making it a good option for families with children too young to read. It's appropriate for ages 4 and up.

Best Adventure: Red Raven Games Above & Below Board Game

Above and Below Board Game

For a storytelling game that immerses players in a make-believe world of adventure filled with decisions, Red Raven's Above and Below board game is a top choice.

Above and Below allows each player to embark on a mission to build a village and explore caves while managing resources and assigning tasks in a way that earns rewards and points. Each player manages their own game board and is presented with different story scenarios that require decisions to further the adventure. At the end of the game, the winner is the player with the most points.

This game has been described as a “choose your own adventure” type of game, and each time you play, you’ll experience a different story. The game can be played with up to four people and usually lasts about 90 minutes. Because of some of the more intricate gameplay, it’s recommended for children 10 and up and adults. Reviewers praise its beautiful artwork and interesting stories. If you like a storytelling game that immerses you in a world of make-believe, you’ll like Above and Below.

Best Educational: Looney Labs Mad Libs the Game

Looney Labs Mad Libs the Game

Mad Libs has long been popular for teaching grammar while spinning silly stories. This popular learning tool now has an educational storytelling game that is both fun for children and easy to learn.

The game of Mad Libs includes 200 cards with words and 42 sentence cards. Players are dealt seven word cards, and then a sentence card is turned face up in the middle. Each player selects word cards from their hand to complete the sentence with the various parts of speech needed. Players then take turns reading the sentence, and everyone votes for the funniest sentence. The first person to have their sentence chosen three times wins the game.

The game gets mixed reviews for the level of fun it provides. Some people say they thought the sentences weren’t as funny as the stories created in the original form of Mad Libs. But most younger children seem to especially enjoy the game, and parents comment on how it helps to teach the parts of speech. The mix of words seems to be reasonably challenging as well, with words like "gibberish" and "haste" that will expand your child’s vocabulary. Mad Libs delivers the classic card game experience while teaching your children and making them giggle.

What to Look for

Format

Storytelling games are available in many different formats, including board games, card games, dice games, and more. The format you choose will impact how the game is played, as well as how portable the game is. The simplest storytelling games that rely on just a few dice or tokens are a good choice for travel or camping, while more elaborate storytelling board games might be easier to use at home.

Age

Most games offer a recommended age range to ensure that everyone participating will understand the rules and gameplay. Since storytelling games generally have few rules and aren't overly dependent on strategic gameplay, players of a wide age range can usually take part in the game. However, storytelling games that require more reading or have more advanced rules may have a higher recommended age for players.

Gameplay

To find a good match for a storytelling game, consider what type of gameplay experience you prefer. Many storytelling games are collaborative without a firm point system or clear winner. This type of gameplay works well for families with young children or a casual group game designed to be fun rather than competitive. However, some storytelling games have a more defined objective, such as being the first to put all of your cards in play or to score the highest for your narrative. This type of gameplay is usually a hit with players that like a challenge and the thrill of victory.

FAQ
  • What are storytelling games?

    Storytelling games have the objective of developing a creative narrative. There is no standard format, but the main goal is to use imagination and creativity to build a story or scene.

  • How do you play storytelling games?

    The actual gameplay mode depends on the specific storytelling game you choose. However, most of these games begin with a cue, card, or token. One or more players may be directed to use this starting point to begin or contribute to a story. Some storytelling games award points to an individual player's story, while others allow the game to progress with no clear winner.

  • What features do storytelling games have?

    These types of games have few rules and can be enjoyed by a diverse group of game players, despite a range of age and experience levels. Other than this quality, there are very few other typical features shared by storytelling games. However, it has been noted that most of these games include a prompt. It may be a card, token, dice, or object. Players use this prompt, along with their creativity, to tell a story or contribute to a collaborative tale among the group. Many storytelling games include a board or cards featuring rich imagery. These illustrations are designed to be a springboard in developing a fun narrative.