One of my biggest inspirations is Thatgamecompany's Journey. In this game you play a little character without a face and without the ability to speak. He or she has to undertake a Journey to reach a mountain in the distance. While travelling you visit the most wonderfull places and meet magnificent creatures. The art direction in this game is simpy stunning. I spent ages looking at the game's artbook.
This game basicly tells a story with images and locations. While travelling you learn about your past and about your people, still without spoken word or text. You can collect pieces of cloth that can be used to fly, that's about the only game mechanic in this game. Flying for brief periods of time.
You can interact with another player though. You are automaticly being connected with a random person playing the game at the same time. You don't see his name only his character walking about! So now you have a travelling buddy. But still, without spoken word.
It's magnificent to see how you can share your journey with someone you've never met before. This works best playing it for the first time though. But it's a great experience every time I play it. I believe I finished this game 7 times now.
So this game tells it's story only through the use of visuals and music, without music and text. To achieve this you need to have a very strong mood and a strong understandable shape language. Players also need to have a clear path to follow. In this case the mountain is almost always visible throughout the game so the players know where to go to.
This game is very interesting. Thatgamecompany manages to tell a story only using visuals and music and one or two very simple game mechanics. I probably won't be creating a 3D game but this is defenitely a big inspiration for me.