Is There Life Left In Adventure Games?
I’d like to think so, but perhaps that’s probably because I never got the full mileage out of Adventure Games like most people did. I can easily say that I’ve only beaten two Adventure games prior to Telltale Games taking flight and resurrected the genre like a phoenix from the ashes. Those, for reference, were Space Quest 1 and 6. I have the remaining five but Space Quest 2 is… rather hellish at one point. It’s so bad that I couldn’t beat it and I don’t think I’ll ever….
What? There’s a fan remake? FOR FREE? Gimme a sec, would you?
I’m not kidding I was actually during research on this article and had to stop mid-sentence to go download it.
Now I’ve referred to the problem with adventure games in the past. Specifically I referred to a now infamous article detailing the flaw of adventure games which I’ll summarize that it complains about the sheer leaps of logic one had to take to simply get through a puzzle.
And if the writing wasn’t good enough to motivate you to continue forward then why make the effort?
I recently played the Back To The Future adventure game and adored every second of it. The hint system helped a great deal with some of the tougher puzzles though I’ve heard criticism that the puzzles were too easy so maybe I’m just no good with these things. And I don’t think that I can do a journal on adventure games without referring to rampant runaway success of The Walking Dead game; though while I`m not a fan of zombie stories the idea of having a divergent storyline in an adventure game is so brilliant that I wonder why it wasn’t used more extensively early on.
Especially since visual novels have done it for ages.
Personally I’m just surprised there aren’t more adventure games on mobile devices but I guess I’m crazy like that.
But back to the question; do I believe there is some vitality in the genre? Actually yes.
Adventure games focus on storytelling and I think that the inclusion of decisions beyond the simple acquisition and use of items is a great way to facilitate that. The core problem with Adventure games as a whole is really based on how important you feel the core mechanic should be compared to the story. Now, I have often argued that the core mechanics of a game are more important than story (Legacy of Kain is the only game I give a mulligan to on this one and even then it’s not much of one) and if that’s the case then Adventure games would need to focus on how the player interacts with the world rather than the story. That focus on mechanics means that since the majority of games dealt with the use of inventory items and movement as the main mechanic that leads to a focus on inventory puzzles and … well you know where that goes. So obviously an exception must somehow be made or the genre be revitalized.
Many have argued that that Adventure games saw new life in Action games with great writing being implemented and items having more use then simply being rubbed against something to perpetuate the story. Though, in this case, I would say in the current era of videogames we have less instances of items acquired that add new abilities to the player and instead of just more ways of dealing combat offensives. But when game developers use that kind of inventory people start accusing them of copying Legend Of Zelda like a pack of idiots.
The thing is, I’ve also commented on an inherent problem with sequels in video games and how they often de-power the protagonist to a starting point or outright boil out old story elements to allow for new players to enter in easily. This makes it really hard to build momentum from one game to the next. Adventures games and especially now thanks to existing engines and stronger processing power can easily bypass this problem by producing more ongoing games in less time. In fact, they need to if they wish to stand out amongst other genres. Episodic gameplay is one way to do it but that to me feels like one game broken up rather than instalments with a fixed beginning, middle and end before a new adventure. The King’s Quest series is probably best known for this among the genre by taking the player through the lives of the Royal family of Daventry starting with the rise of the king and the adventures each member of the family undergoes. In addition, new lands are explored with each adventure and a little corner of the world is made safe as a potentially larger plot is revealed.
Of course, none of that is relevant if you can’t get through the puzzles in the games. Now, unlike a lot of fans of adventure games I suck at them. A lot. My first real foray was King’s Quest 5 at my uncle’s house and I was unable to get much beyond the opening. I can recall playing Space Quest 3 with some friends and despite our collective efforts we simply kept plummeting to our deaths in the opening trash compactor level. Regretfully I would have similar success with Full Throttle and it would only be King’s Quest 7 where I’d make any headway. Of course I’d learn years later how that game was criticized harshly for how simple it was dashing aside my minute moment of adventure game glory in my youth.
I want to try and take these games on now as an adult… well relatively adult person. Just to see if I was really just not born at the right time to take these games on proper. I have a Space Quest 2 copy burning a hole in my hard drive and three King’s Quest remakes to give me a good introduction to the series. All of them free to play.
Who knows? Maybe I may find a new life in Adventure games.
So too does this work exist.