The first game that I really, truly remember passionately loving as a child was Space Quest II: Vohaul’s Revenge. Sierra Online, along with LucasArts, represented the heart and soul of the Adventure game genre for nearly two decades until the bottom fell out of the market, leaving a vast desert of mainstream adventure gaming… until now. The adventure game is back, and there are some incredible experiences that you need to be playing RIGHT NOW. Read on to learn about the best Adventure games you should play this year.
The origin of the adventure game
For me, the adventure game genre began in Coarsegold, California in the mid-eighties, with a classic game put together by Roberta and Ken Williams; The King’s Quest series began with a young knight named Sir Graham (any wonder why I liked it??) questing through the kingdom of Daventry in an effort to find three treasures needed to free a beautiful princess in a land far away. Before that there were plenty of other adventure games like the classic Wasteland, Zork, and Ultima–but King’s Quest took things to a new level with a stunning world built on EGA graphics along with immersive audio and music (by which I mean it had sound and music at all…).
What are adventure games?
Adventure games have the hallmark of telling an interactive story; they generally begin with an Avatar on-screen who lives and moves about in a world, influencing the story by their actions and with an inventory of items they find in the world around them. Some of these games, like Sierra’s famous Quest for Glory (once named “Hero’s Quest until a lawsuit renamed it) included roleplaying game elements.
The modern adventure game has evolved and changed, with one company leading a renaissance that has reignited interest in adventure gaming in general. That company is Telltale games, and they’ve paved the way for others like DoubleFine and the newly relaunched Sierra (under Activision, care of The Odd Gentlemen) to release fantastic new games themselves.
Top 3 favourite Adventure games of 2015 to date
That said, here are three adventure games I think you need to play right now.
3. The Wolf Among Us
Telltale games pioneer a new style of adventure game marked by a few hallmarks: strong lead characters, a beautiful cel-shaded art style, and an episode release format. With each episode having between 2-5 hours of gameplay and most games ringing in at roughly five episodes, you can expect a lot of gameplay for your $25–which is what most of these games ring-in at when they first launch.
The Wolf Among Us is based on a comic book that shows that the world of fantasy stories is real, and the characters live among us everyday, hiding in plain site. Your character is a reformed, very-human-looking Big Bad Wolf (he goes by Bigby Wolf now); he’s a private eye who rapidly becomes embroiled in a mystery involving murder, blackmail, and a woman that he once loved… who you might know when you hear her name. Characters that make an appearance include the Magic Mirror from Sleeping Beauty, Bufkin the winged monkey from the Wizard of Oz, Ichabod Crane, Beauty from Beauty and the Beast, and Mr. Toad care of the Wild Ride.
Make no mistake, this one’s not for the kids; language and situations are for adults, so if you’re playing with younger players be prepared for that and to explain what is going on. Better yet: wait til they’re older before exposing them to situations like the ones depicted in this game.
2. Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
As I mentioned above, there’s some crossover between game genres, and Diablo is a big one for that. It’s an Action RPG, but there’s a strong streak of adventure in it too, especially in the story mode. While the first Act is pretty good (until about halfway through) and Acts 2-4 are forgettable, the fifth act is the Diablo game we were promised when Diablo 3 was announced, and “Adventure” mode allows you to romp around the world with dynamically generated terrain, completing quests in any order that you please. Add in the new feature of greater rifts and you’ve got a game with a lot of replay-ability.
The PC version has one extra feature that hasn’t come to consoles yet: Seasonal ladders. Every few months a season begins, giving you a limited amount of time to grind a character to level 70, finding the best gear, to make the fastest times through the greater rifts listed above. This mode is the most compelling, in my opinion, though I love the way the game plays on PS4, so I personally play it on both types of system.
Play it on PC
1. The Walking Dead Season 1 and 2
The Walking Dead Season 1 and 2 aren’t just great adventure games, they’re on my top list for best games of all time. The team at Telltale created a story and a host of characters who are living through events in parallel with The Walking Dead TV show (and, one would presume, the new Fear the Walking Dead TV show). The game begins by following convicted murderer Lee as he’s being taken to prison outside of Atlanta, just as the outbreak is hitting. Waking up after a car crash in the game’s opening moments, he encounters Clementine, a young girl who needs his help to find her parents… who may or may not have survived the outbreak in Savannah.
The Walking Dead Season 1 and 2 are challenging games with adult situations. I’ve rarely had a game produce such a strong emotional reaction from me; the fact that it did so consistently means you should probably play it if you haven’t; it’s a masterpiece.
Upcoming Adventure game in 2015 to watch out for
King’s Quest: Your Legacy Awaits
Release Date: Fall 2015
Platform: PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Adventure / platforming
The Odd Gentlemen announced that, along with the rebirth of Sierra Online, that they would be resurrecting the King’s Quest series with Your Legacy Awaits–a game that lives in the gaps between the existing King’s Quest games, told as an aging King Graham (played by Christopher Lloyd) tells the story of his adventures to his curious granddaughter Gwendolyn. Notables include Zelda Williams as a blacksmith, and the endorsement of both Roberta and Ken Williams as this game carried on THEIR legacy, bringing a whole new generation of gamers into the King’s Quest fold.
Long story short: from the initial stuff we’re seeing on the game it’s a must-buy.
My Favourite Adventure game of all time
Don’t get me wrong. I love the Monkey Island series. I think Loom is amazing. I loved Quest for Glory (4 is my fave there) and King’s Quest, and Police Quest, and the Kyrandia series.
But for me, it’s always going to be about Space Quest. The Two Guys from Andromeda are bringing a new game to market called “SpaceVenture”, but my favourite will always be Space Quest V, wherein Roger Wilco, our plucky hero, fails upwards through StarCon academy to become the captain of a garbage scow named the SS Eureka (yes, it’s shaped like a vacuum), pursued by the killer Android WD-40, and out to solve a mysterious spree of toxic mutations while he vies for the affections of the beautiful Beatrix against the dashing and ultimately slimy StarCon superstar Captain, Rhames T. Quirk.
Yeah, it’s rammed full of bad puns, cheesy lines, and weird scenarios (ever blow up a killer android by shoving a banana in the tailpipe of her jetpack?) but it’s one of the greatest games of all time. Go find it and play it. Then go pre-order King’s Quest when you can. You owe it to yourself… because yes, it’s going to be that good!