Wildly inventive and a little cheesy, these are the best FMV games

The best FMV games; a woman surrounded by vampires with a 70s pattern
(Image credit: Sega / Adobe Stock / Half Mermaid)

The best FMV games offer a mix of invention and technical wizardry but just what are they? For the uninitiated who do not share my multi-disc, misspent youth, I’ll first answer the obvious question: 'What is FMV?' The initialism stands for Full Motion Video (remember when that was swish, newfangled tech?), and generally refers to games that feature live action footage. It’s a whole niche that largely shuns computer generated assets in favour of live actors and physical sets.

Once upon a time, FMV games were widely regarded as ludicrously expensive, interactive B-movies. But these days you'll need to master the best video editing apps, have a good video camera (you can use an iPhone 14) and now how to out it all together in a game engine or the best digital art software. And while that’s 'cheese' is very much still part of a FMV game's charm, recent years have seen a slew of award-winning indie flicks. For instance, last year developer Half Mermaid took home a BAFTA for their game Immortality – and I’ll cover why a little ways down this list.

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Jess Kinghorn
Freelance writer

Jess is PLAY Magazine’s games editor, and is known for championing the weird, the wonderful, and the downright janky. A fan of cult classic JRPGs and horror, her rants about Koudelka and Shadow Hearts have held many a captive audience. Outside of writing about all things PlayStation, she’s also a lifelong fan of Nintendo’s handheld consoles. Having whiled away most of her college years playing The World Ends With You on the original Nintendo DS, she’s looking forward to uncovering all of NEO’s secrets too. Beginning her career as Official PlayStation Magazine’s staff writer in 2017, she’s since written for PC Gamer, SFX, Games Master, and Games TM.