Since their glory days in the 90′s, adventure games have become something of a lost breed, only fitting in the tightest of niches and not getting funding by major publishers. Why not? Because their popularity has dwindled over the years, making way for the more action-oriented games that have flooded the market.
But there seems to be a growing trend recently with the adventure genre, one that has this adventure game fan getting somewhat excited.
Because I believe the adventure game is making a well-deserved comeback.
But why now? Where have they been, and what has caused them to so suddenly reappear?
Adventure games are truly unique gaming experiences. They’re much more cerebral than the typical action game, requiring players to solve puzzles and explore environments to drive the story forward. While all of their environments and storylines vary, the games are definitely a very linear, story-driven experience that has often led to the development of some very deep and fascinating narratives.
Adventure games also allow for a certain level of artistry to take center stage, whether it’s the ethereal, airy look of a game like Botanicula, or the gorgeously pixelated look of the landscape in Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery. With much more relaxed gameplay, players are allowed to take in the art design and appreciate it for what it is.
Also known as Point-and-Click adventure games, their game mechanics are typically pretty simple; explore environments using the cursor, solve puzzles, use items, and interact with the world in a much more relaxed and deep way than you might be able to in a game of any other type.
So, why are they making a comeback?
It’s mostly seen in underground movements and easily accessible platforms; probably one of the most interesting developments of the year was the Double Fine adventure game Kickstarter project that ended up being worth millions of dollars. Headed by adventure game veteran Tim Schafer, Double Fine sought to raise money on the crowd funding website because they wanted to make the game, but knew that no major publisher would give them access to it. Add to that the fact that Ron Gilbert is also working on his own upcoming adventure title, and there’s a lot to get excited about for Double Fine’s future projects.
Other platforms, such as iOS, have seen a great influx of adventure game popularity as well. The aforementioned Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP debuted on the iOS and is still considered one of the best games on the platform, having received high critical acclaim and great user reviews. The game looks to couple an interesting soundtrack with a beautiful art style and quirky fantasy-like story that even goes as far as to have integration with real-life moon cycles. It’s an interesting game well worth its price point.
The Walking Dead is another recent adventure game that completely defies all norms by coupling intense action with the familiar adventure game conventions. Made by Telltale Games, The Walking Dead has done something to resurrect a genre that was once made popular by Myst and The Broken Sword series by doing two things very, very right: using clever realism and timing to ramp up the intensity and horror of the game’s environment, and delivering a hard-hitting, choice-based narrative that forces players to not only make decisions that impact both themselves and NPCs, but also question their own morality and decision-making. It’s a formula that makes the game stay with you long after you’ve finished playing it.
So, is this recent adventure game influx something of a growing trend, or is it just a fad that will end as quickly as it begins? It’s hard to say at this point in time, but as a fan of point and click adventure games, I cannot recommend enough exploring not only these, but the rich backlog of great adventure games that have come before. You owe it to yourself as a gamer.