The method of constructing a scenario in video games. The non-linear plot allows players to change the course of events in the main threads of the game, which usually results in a greater sense of agency and works well in cRPG productions and some action, strategy and FPS games.
The idea of a non-linear story structure has been developed since the 1980s. The first games that offered several ways to complete the game appeared in the 8-bit era. In the 1990s, technological advances, as well as greater expenditure on game production meant that this solution was used more and more often. One of the breakthroughs was Fallout (1997), which set the standards for constructing this type of scenarios.
In modern games, a non-linear plot most often allows players to make decisions at key moments – be it by choosing a specific dialogue option, or by performing a specific action (or even refraining from doing anything). The further course of events is the result of the choice made. As a result, this leads to different endings of individual threads and the entire story, which encourages players to play again in order to learn about other variants of the story – which in turn increases the so-called game replayability.
Open-world games and sandbox games constitute a separate category, in which the story goes to the background or is completely irrelevant. They give players a lot of freedom of action, allowing, inter alia, unlimited exploration of the area or performing randomly generated missions commissioned by NPCs.