Tuesday 11 February 2020

Are Adventure Games Finally Dead? - Part 4 FINAL

After reviewing those 180 'adventure' games here are the final results and my conclusions.

The real and proper adventure game releases of 2019 are only six. Yes, SIX !!! Not 180, but 6 !!! Here they are in alphabetical order:

1. Argonus and the Gods of Stone

2. Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure

3. The House of Da Vinci 2

4. Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love

5. Myha: Return to the Lost Island

6. Trüberbrook

Now, if I wanted to stretch my rules and turn a blind eye on some very serious faults and shortcomings I could add the following ten games but that's all, I wouldn't even go near all the rest.

1. The 13th Doll

2. Angelo and Deemon: One Hell of a Quest

3. The Antidote

4. Disco Elysium

5. The Fall of April

6. Krabat and the Secret of the Sorbian King

7. Mage’s Initiation: Reign of the Elements

8. Observation

9. Whispers of a Machine

10. Yet Another Hero Story

So in conclusion a real adventure game enthusiast had barely twenty adventure games to play in 2019 and more than half of them are seriously lacking in one area or another. Honestly, can you still say that adventure games are still alive and kicking?

That's all for now.

Are Adventure Games Finally Dead? - Part 3

You may have noticed that not once in the whole article did I use the term 'indie', because I don't believe it is an excuse for being an amateur. Being an independent game developer with a small budget is not an excuse for making an awful game and you don't deserve special leniency when it comes to the final result. When I buy a game I shouldn't care about how many people were involved in its production and what their actual budget was.

For the next part I will write a very short description after each one of those 180 games to describe why that game is or isn't a proper adventure game release fit for gamers in 2020. 

The 13th Doll – A Fan Game of The 7th Guest
[Fan made sequel a decade in the making with obsolete graphics which managed to get the seal of approval from the IP owners and not get cancelled.]

[Amateur graphics and art design.]

3rd eye
[Horror/exploration game with casual gameplay and very small duration (1 hour only).]

7th Sector
[Action, puzzle-platformer with small duration (about 3 hours).]

Adventure Boy Jailbreak
[Zero production values, amateur game.]

Adventures of Isabelle Fine: Murder on Rails
[Late 80s graphics, awful sound & music department, amateur production.]

AI: The Somnium Files
[Visual novel.]

[Nothing to do with adventures at all, also very short.]

Alternate Jake Hunter: DAEDALUS – The Awakening of Golden Jazz
[Visual novel.]

Angelo and Deemon: One Hell of a Quest
[Almost an adventure, technically it is one, but it is more of a demo than a full release since it lasts less than 3 hours. It also has rather poor and mateur graphics.]

The Antidote
[Another 'demo' of an adventure game, decent but very short.]

Apartment 327
[Horror exploration game with very few very simplistic puzzles, less than 1% adventure.]

Argonus and the Gods of Stone

[That's the 1st proper adventure on this list!]

Arise – A Simple Story
[Not an adventure at all.]

The Beast Inside
[Horror exploration, walking simulator with FPS elements.]

The Black Widow
[Absolutely nothing to do with adventures.]

Blacksad: Under the Skin

[Unfortunately NOT an adventure game, more like an interactive movie.]

Blair Witch
[Just another walking simulator with a horror theme.]

Blind Souls
[Yet another walking sim that tries to be unique and fails.]

Blindfold VR
[VR walking sim.]

The Bradwell Conspiracy
[2hr walking sim with very amateur graphics.]

[More like a tech demo that aspires to be a walking sim.]

The Castle
[Maybe if we were still living in 1982 and still using 8bit home computers I would consider it, but not today.]

Chook & Sosig: Walk the Plank

[2hr demo of an amateur adventure game with no voice-overs.]

The Cinema Rosa
[Another average walking sim with a horror theme.]

Clam Man
[Atrocious graphics, a kindergartener could have drawn them better, less than 4hrs gameplay.]

Close to the Sun
[Walking sim with a couple of puzzles to pad the duration to the amazing number of 4 hours.]

Corpse Party: Sweet Sachiko's Hysteric Birthday Bash
[Visual novel.]

Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient
[Casual / lite / super easy 'adventure' game that almost plays itself as you walk around and click when you are prompted.]

The Cult: Marduk's Longest Night
[Another game with super amateurish graphics and bad overall production.]

The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets
[This one has absolutely nothing to do with adventure games so there is no point to write anything further.]

Cursed Roots
[Maybe if it was released on the Amiga in the early 90s I would count it as a release, but not today. An amateur production that hides under the retro label.]

[Again this looks like an adventure game that should have been released 20 years ago. Everything in it is outdated although technically it is an adventure game.]

Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey

[At first I thought we had a winner, but then I realized the 'game' was just another interactive movie without any real gameplay.]

Dark Hope
[Yet another horror walking sim.]

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan
[An interactive movie with almost zero gameplay.]

[A side-scroller walking simulator that lasts less than an hour.]

The Death of Erin Myers
[Walking simulator that wants to be an adventure game but lasts only one hour.]

Demons Never Lie
[Just awful graphics, amateur game.]

Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders
[Super-low resolution and graphics from the early 80s.]

[Yet another horror walking simulator that lasts only 4hrs.]

Disco Elysium

[This is an isometric RPG, although you mostly walk around speaking to everyone.]

[Amateur graphics, simple puzzles and lasts only one hour. Is that even a game?]

[A horror walking sim that pretends it isn't.]

[This is 'intentionally' bad which somehow is supposed to make it good, but it does not.]

Don't Escape: 4 Days to Survive
[Another game with super-low resolution and graphics that you wouldn't touch even in the early 80s.]

[This one tries to be different. It is a mystery walking sim that lasts about 3 hours! At least it has modern graphics.]

Drawn Down
[The graphics are just so bad! Even 40 years ago it wouldn't have seen a release! It's as if a 5 year-old kid in the 80s decided to make a game!]

Dry Drowning
[Visual novel. No gameplay mechanics at all. You just read text.]

[Walking sim. At least it has decent graphics.]

[That's a horizontal scrolling walking sim with pixel graphics from the early 80s.]

[Amateur production, average graphics, not real puzzles or anything to do really, but at least it tries to do something different.]

[Amateur first-person puzzle game that lasts about 2hrs.]

Escape Lala 2
[Puzzle game with 8bit graphics.]

Exorcise the Demons
[Walking sim with horror theme and graphics from 20 years ago.]

The Eye of Borrack

[Text adventure from the early 80s that mimics Magnetic Scrolls' user interface. The images are photographs that have gone through a filter on purpose to make them look BAD!]

The Fall of April
[The 14th Carol Reed game. I want to add this to the list but in 2020 this is just another amateur game with production values from 20+ years ago.]

Felix the Reaper
[A 2hr puzzle game that has nothing to do with adventures.]

Feria d’Arles
[Pixel graphics from the early 90s and duration of a demo.]

A Fisherman’s Tale
[VR walking sim with mediocre graphics.]


[3hr puzzle game. Its major problems are the simplicity and the duration.]


[Isometric puzzler in black and white that has nothing to do with adventures.]

Fractured Minds
[This is NOT even a demo! It lasts only half an hour and has awful graphics.]

Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard

[It lasts barely more than half an hour and has childish graphics.]

Gangsters 1920
[Isometric with black and white graphics walking sim. Another game that you almost do nothing but walk around although just not in 1st person.]

Ghetto Conspiracy
[Tries to mimic adventure games of the 90s with amateur graphics and bad, bad results. Amateur with capital A.]

Ghost Giant
[VR walking sim for kids with cutesy graphics and no gameplay.]

Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure
[Finally! An adventure game!]

Golden Treasure: The Great Green
[Visual novel.]

The Great Perhaps
[Side-scroller walking simulator that barely lasts an hour.]

Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son

[VR interactive movie with very simple graphics.]

Guard Duty
[Early 90s pixel graphics with simplistic gameplay and 2hrs duration.]

[Nothing to do with adventures.]

Heaven’s Vault

[Not an adventure game at all.]

The House of Da Vinci 2
[Yeah! I found another adventure!]

Hypnospace Outlaw
[This is a "90s-Internet simulator" so it is obvious that is has nothing to do with adventure games.]

Interactivity: The Interactive Experience
[Just another barely 1 hour walking sim with bad graphics.]

Interrogation: You will be deceived
[That's a conversation simulator with black & white graphics.]

Investi-Gator: The Case of the Big
[NOT an adventure game. In my opinion not even a game!]

Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love
[Yipee! Found another adventure game and it looks like a good one!]

Jenny LeClue – Detectivú
[Casual game with some puzzles and super-stylized graphics.]

Journey for Elysium
[VR walking sim.]

Jupiter & Mars
[VR dolphin simulator. Nothing to do with adventure games.]

Krabat and the Secret of the Sorbian King

[This seems like an adventure, but I can't find a single video or review anywhere to be sure!]

[Amateur text adventure with childish graphics.]

The Land of Crows

[Side-scroller interactive movie with black & white graphics.]

Last Labyrinth
[VR puzzle game that lasts only an hour.]

The Last Letter
[VR interactive movie with some light puzzles.]

Layers of Fear 2

[Another horror walking sim without any actual gameplay.]

Leprechaun Shadow
[Amateur adventure game with production values from the late 90s.]

The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince

[Visual Novel.]

Life Is Strange 2

[Interactive movie. Simple as that.]

Lightstep Chronicles
[Interactive movie that lasts 100 minutes only.]

Little Misfortune
[Amateur stylized childish graphics, duration around 3 hours and no real gameplay.]

[Side-scrolling horror walking sim with casual interactive movie elements.]

Lost Ember

[Amateur graphics on a walking sim that barely lasts 3 hours.]

Mage’s Initiation: Reign of the Elements
[That would have been a great adventure game if it was released in 1993. Unfortunately now it is 2020.]

Mars Underground
[8bit NES graphics in a game with no gameplay.]

[Platform game with pre-N64 3D graphics.]

[Dry puzzle game with no background or story and graphics from the previous decade.]

Monkeys & Dragons

[Short, simple, amateur game with early 90s graphics and animation.]

Moonrise Fall
[Top down wordless adventure with pixel graphics.]

Moons of Madness
[Horror walking simulator that lasts about 3 hours.]

[3rd person waling/stalking simulator that barely lasts 2 hours.]

Mr. Maze
[Walking sim with interactive movie elements and duration less than 3 hours.]

Murder Mystery Machine
[Interactive movie with casual gameplay and rather average graphics.]

[Interactive movie with graphics made by a 4-year-old.]

Myha: Return to the Lost Island
[Ok, here's another real adventure game!]

The Mystery of Woolley Mountain
[Very amateur graphics and animation. Feels like a game that was made in the late 90s.]

Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem
[Casual gameplay with little to no challenge. More like an interactive movie.]


[Basically a submarine simulator.]

Night Call
[Visual novel in black & white.]

Night Lights
[Puzzle game with awful amateur graphics that barely lasts an hour.]

NITE Team 4
[Hacking simulator. Nothing to do with adventures.]

[Amateur game with casual gameplay.]

[Amateur adventure game with childish graphics that barely lasts an hour.]

Now You See
[Dungeon crawler with adventure game elements and awful graphics. Amateur game.]

Nubla 2

[Side scroller walking sim that barely lasts 2 hours.]

[I was willing to give this a pass but then I saw it lasts only about 3 hours.]

The Occupation
[Half walking sim and half interactive movie. No actual gameplay.]

Odysseus Kosmos and His Robot Quest
[Low resolution amateur adventure game that lasts an hour.]

Outer Wilds
[Graphics from the PS2 era. Amateur production. At least it has a decent duration.]

Over the Alps
[Nothing to do with adventure games.]

Pendula Swing

[Isometric game with casual gameplay and zero puzzles.]

Phoenix Tales
[Amateur fan game with production values from the late 80s.]

[Amateur pseudo-puzzle game with pixel graphics from the 80s.]


[Card based game. Simply not an adventure game mechanic.]

A Place for the Unwilling
[Interactive movie with stylized cartoon graphics.]

Platonic Paranoia
[Amateur game with simplistic game mechanics.]

[VR Escape-the-room game.]

[Interactive movie with awful 2D graphics.]

Reality Incognita
[Amateur adventure with very low production values.]

[Amateur black & white puzzle game with awful graphics.]

ROOM 208

[Horror walking simulator.]

Sally Face
[Amateur side scrolling 'adventure' with little gameplay and very low production values.]

Sea of Solitude
[3D platform game with no puzzles at all.]

The Secrets of Jesus
[Amateur game. Everything about it is so amateurish. Graphics are especially atrocious.]

Shadow Point
[Amateur VR game with bad graphics.]

Shadows and Dust
[Amateur walking sim with very bad graphics.]

She and the Light Bearer

[Interactive movie with a few very simple puzzles and simple cartoonish stylized graphics.]

A Short Hike

[Pixelated graphics in a game that has nothing to do with adventures.]

Silver Chains
[Horror walking sim that barely lasts an hour.]


[Smartphone simulator. You play with another person's phone and that is all.]

The Sinking City
[AAA game that tries to appeal to as broader audience as possible. Not an adventure game.]

Smile for Me
[Completely amateur game. Bad graphics. Bad gameplay. And lasts only 3 hours.]

[Walking sim with very simple graphics.]

Some Distant Memory
[Not an adventure game. Besides walking around and watching cutscenes you do nothing else. And it lasts only 3 hours.]

The Sojourn
[Walking sim with a few puzzles, simple graphics and duration around 4 hours.]

Spirit Hunter: NG

[Visual novel.]


[Interactive movie with a lot of walking around.]

[Side-scrolling platformer that barely lasts 2 hours.]

Still There
[Nothing to do with adventure games.]

Sumatra: Fate of Yandi

[Pixel graphics from the early 80s in an AGS 'adventure' that barely lasts 2 hours.]


[1hr walking sim.]

Tangle Tower

[Interactive movie with casual gameplay, a few simple puzzles and childish stylized cartoon graphics.]

Telling Lies
[You just watch Full Motion Videos for about 4 hours and that's it. You'd better stick with Netflix.]

Terror in the Atomic Desert
[Your average horror walking sim.]

Through Abandoned: The Refuge

[Amateur puzzle with very simple graphics that barely lasts an hour.]

Tick Tock: A Tale for Two
[Amateur puzzle game with simple graphics that lasts about one hour.]

Time, Space and Matter
[3D puzzle game with no story and graphics from 20 years ago.]

Trails and Traces: The Tomb of Thomas Tew
[You wouldn't play this game even if it was still 1992. Completely amateur game.]

[Yeah! This is an adventure! Although it has many, many flaws, at least it is an adventure!]

Twin Peaks VR
[VR walking sim.]

[3D platformer with no puzzles and 90 minutes duration.]

[It can't get more amateur than this! Graphics hand-drawn by a 3-year-old probably.]

The Walking Dead: The Final Season

[Interactive movie.]

The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature
[Surreal walking sim with no gameplay.]

Wanderlust Travel Stories
[Visual novel.]

We. The Revolution
[Strategy game with RPG elements.]

We Were Here Together

[3D casual escape-the-room game.]

[Casual puzzle game.]

Where the Bees Make Honey

[Arcade platformer that barely lasts half an hour.]

Whispers of a Machine

[If it had been released in 1992 it would have been an amazing adventure game. In 2020 it's just another sad attempt at nostalgia. Also it doesn't have many actual puzzles. Everything is solved by talking to people.]

Witch Loraine’s Death Game

[RPG-maker-style graphics. Enough said!]

[Kiddie game with simple graphics and even simpler puzzles.]

Yet Another Hero Story

[Decent amateur adventure but it lasts only about an hour. More of a tribute to the classic adventure games of the 90s.]

Your Future Self
[Nothing to do with adventures at all. It also lasts about one hour.]

YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world.

[Visual novel. A great one though.]

Yuppie Psycho
[Pixel graphics straight from 1981.]

[Just another walking sim with no puzzles or anything else actually.]

Are Adventure Games Finally Dead? - Part 2

The second big issue with duration is the immersion I mentioned before. In order for a game to be enjoyable and therefore memorable you need to invest in its characters, its world, its puzzles. When it ends after a couple of hours, no matter how good it was, it will just be forgotten and will leave you with an empty feeling like you wasted your time instead of having fun. If you went to the movies and the movie you chose only lasted 5 minutes you will feel unsatisfied. If the latest book from your favorite author only had 5 pages you probably wouldn't bother to read it.

Oh, how I wish Blacksad was a proper adventure game...

So, let's get back to adventures and the problems of the scene today that caused it to die. Another major problem that must be addressed is how people involved in the genre refuse to accept that their favorite genre is dead so they try to include as many an possible games as they can in order to... do what exactly... mot feel sad? They simply refuse to accept a real problem and in the end they alienate the real fans of the genre. Look to what has happened to all those sites dedicated to adventures all over the world. Almost all of them have either closed doors or been abandoned. Every European country used to have at least 2-3 sites dedicated to adventures. Now there are only 3-4 left in the whole world. As for the big ones, the international ones, as far as I'm concerned there is only one left. And people still ignore and deny the death of the genre. When you go to a site that was supposed to be about adventure games and all you see is news and reviews and forums about visual novels, interactive movies, walking simulators, horror exploration games, puzzle platformers etc, you lose interest and stop visiting. It's simple as that. When you go to a site that is supposedly about the games you love and find nothing about them, or you have to dig very deep to find it, you simply don't visit any more. Web-masters refused to accept that simple fact flooding their sites with everything they liked just to keep them current and alive to the point that the real fans abandoned them completely. Instead of focusing on the real adventure games and keeping their core audience they started accepting any game where you don't kill anyone or anything as an adventure game to please them all. When you go to an adventure game forum and read posts about games like Zelda, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, The Walking Dead etc you simply leave and don't come back.

A decent tribute to classic adventures, but it forgot the most important thing: Duration!

Now we come to the other big issue of the Adventure game scene. Are there any real fans left? Are there adventure game enthusiasts the way they existed twenty, thirty or even forty years ago? Again this is an issue of perspective and definition. What is an adventure game enthusiast? Well, first of all you have to be a gamer. That's important. You have to play the actual games. Not buy them only for your digital collection (is that even a thing?), not watching videos on YouTube and Twitch but actually playing them. Also, being active on a forum about them and not playing them doesn't make you one. Being a person who used to like them but for whatever reason doesn't play even a single adventure game in a year certainly doesn't make you one. I'm starting with this point because I read recently in a forum dedicated to the genre a post that rapidly disintegrated into why we don't play more adventure games. And the answers, or should I say excuses, were ridiculous. People claimed they outgrew them, they find them difficult (current games?), they don't like to think when playing games because they think enough at school and work, or they don't like puzzles altogether and their 'anachronistic' gameplay mechanics. And the excuses kept coming. And the weird thing is that THEY are supposed to be the core audience of the adventure games, the few that are left. Again, that discussion was in a forum dedicated to adventure games only! Some reasons I could understand, like the quality of today's games but I will get back to that later. The bottom line is if a manager from a video game company read this thread he would surmise logically that there are no real fans of the genre any more and therefore no point in making a commercial adventure game. And that's simply wrong. The fanbase didn't just disappear, it simply refuses to visit those kinds of forums for all the reasons I mentioned before. My point is that by allowing talk about games that are strange to the genre and then saying that you don't even play real adventures anymore you harm what you claim to love.

Whispers of a Machine would have been a great game if it was released in 1992, but not today.

So, are there still adventure game enthusiasts? I believe yes, although very few and their numbers are declining. Also those few tend not to be active in the scene, like joining sites dedicated to adventures and communicating in forums. They simply keep to themselves because the scene made them feel ostracized. After the 10th time a guy opened a thread about how TellTale's games were not adventure games and shouldn't be included in the site only to be ganged upon by the other forumites telling him he doesn't understand 'modern' adventures and that puzzles are the worst thing that happened to adventures and they are so glad that mechanic went extinct, it's obvious that the guy would feel that this place isn't for him and simply leave. The first couple of times somebody tried to express his opinions in a mild and respectful manner nothing happened. But then people started getting put down by the administrators for trolling and stirring flame wars to the point it became taboo to even talk about what is and is not an adventure game. Nowadays when someone mentions in a thread politely that the game they are talking about is not an adventure and has no place there he automatically becomes a target.

In Moons of Madness you don't shoot the monsters, so it must be an adventure right?

Unfortunately modern times demand generic gamers. Companies try to mix as many genres as possible to attract as bigger audience as possible. They try to mold a gamer that plays everything and has no genre that specifically loves. They prefer it when between an Assassin's Creed and a Call Of Duty you play an adventure game. That way you are never bored so you can get back and back again to their latest installments, year after year. And that's where adventure games lose because they are small productions, made with low budget and they can't compete with the big AAA games. When a 10-year-old plays an adventure game between two AAA games the chances are he won't play another adventure in his life. Let alone become an adventure game enthusiast. Most of us who love the genre grew up in the 80s and 90s when adventure games were the at the top of the food chain. They had the best graphics, the best sound and music, the best scenarios, the best of everything and on top of that great gameplay. It was easy to fall in love with them. It was natural. And with so few releases back them everyone who played PC games happened upon them for one reason or another. Nowadays with the digital distribution you have to specifically search for them and search hard to find them, and when you do almost all the time you are disappointed. Unfortunately digital distribution reduced the quality control of the released games to practically zero. You can even release a 'game' without an executable to run it and it is acceptable. The point I want to make is that it is impossible in our times for adventure games as they are now to make new fans, new enthusiasts, to make new and especially young people fall in love with the genre. And I mean the 'real' genre, the good ol' adventure games that required thinking, that were slow and didn't require reflexes, not the passive experiences that people nowadays try to force us to accept as the 'modern' adventures, the 'non-traditional' ones. Adventure games died because there are no young people playing them. And everything we do just makes it harder and harder for the new generation to learn and fall in love with them.

The Walking Dead games are the definition of interactive movies. Even if you don't press a button the story will continue...

The final result is that even people who claim to love adventures don't play them any more or just re-play the classics. The reasons vary from person to person and everyone has an excuse when forced to explain why, but the bottom line remains the same. If the self-claimed fans don't play the current adventures how are they expect the new generation to play them when they can choose from any of the hundreds of AAA games released every year instead? And if they don't play adventure games how can they convince the new generation that adventure games are worth playing?

The Sinking City is a decent AAA game that will appeal to the masses, but it has nothing to do with adventure games unfortunately...

Now, to get back to that list of 180 games I mentioned before. I checked that list. I didn't play them but I read reviews and saw YouTube videos about each and every one of them to see how many real adventures were actually released in 2019. And I was mortified. I didn't expect the number to be so low. I asked myself the question "Which of those games should I show to my 10-year-old nephew in order to make him fall in love with the genre?' as the basis of my research. The results were disheartening. I counted all those adventure games that fitted my criteria even if the game was bad. As long it was a proper release I counted it. I would love to see the results of a poll asking the fans of the genre how many of those so-called 'adventure' games first they bought, second they played and finished and third they actually enjoyed. That would be very interesting and informative.

To be continued...

Monday 10 February 2020

Are Adventure Games Finally Dead? - Part 1

I know we have been asking that same question for the past twenty years or so and the answer has always been a loud 'NO'. But, I'm not so sure nowadays. As an avid adventure gamer I find almost nothing to play or be excited about these days. Everything has been watered down for the casual and console crowd or simply stretched to fit the label. Honestly I'm starting to believe that adventure games are not made any more. Not by real software companies at least. I know many of you will disagree with my assertion but it all depends on what 'you' define as an adventure game and what are your standards for an adventure game 'release'.

Are those the graphics we want in 2020?

Now, by the term 'release' I mean a finished product that matches today's criteria for a game production. Or to make this more clear I mean a game that is an actual 'product' and not the result of a guy spending one hour with an existing engine and putting his 'game' on Steam for fun and kicks (and the occasional buck). Because that's what the scene has stooped down nowadays. We either have AAA games, which you have to stretch the definition to its limits to include in the adventure genre, or we have completely amateurish productions that no one ever will care about. Not even YouTubers who are desperate for unique content would go near them and that's saying something.

Man Of Medan. Nice to watch, but is it even a game?

That's exactly the problem today. There are no big, or even decent to average, companies making adventure games any more with production values that match today's standards. Companies would claim that there is no audience, no scene, any more to support those games, but that is a vicious circle. There are no adventure game enthusiasts exactly because there are no adventure games, NOT the opposite. I happened to check the list of the 'adventure games' released in 2019 posted on the website AdventureGamers as part of their annual Aggie Awards. They list 180 adventure games released in 2019! Yes, 180 in 2019! That's completely crazy and obviously false! And that's what has prompted this article because the actual adventure games released in 2019 are less than 10! Let me be clear because I may have different standards than you. In order to consider a game as a proper adventure game release it must fulfill three criteria. 

Yu-No is an amazing visual novel, but it is not an adventure game.

 First, their core gameplay must be the gameplay of an adventure game and must abide by the mechanics and rules as those have been established in the last 40 years or so. Having a slider puzzle after 2 hours walking around and 'exploring' doesn't make a game an adventure. Second, it must have decent graphics. I am not talking about AAA graphics but it has to at least have graphics similar to games made in the last decade or so. So all those retro and pixel-art game are by definition out. No kid today will play a pixel-art adventure game after the latest AAA game and say 'I love this. I want to play more like that.' Having pixel art just turns away all new gamers and therefore they  are aimed at 40+ guys which lived this era and now are filled with nostalgia but that is a crowd that is declining rapidly due to real life.  Third it must have a decent duration. The limit for me is 4 hours. Anything below 4 hours I consider it a demo and not a proper release. I know many will disagree with that rule but if you think about it, you have also your own rule. Would you consider an one hour game as a proper release? A half-hour game? How about a game that lasts 2 minutes, has one screen with one hot-spot and one inventory item? So you seen you do draw the line somewhere yourself. It's just probably at a different limit. I'll get back to that later. So with that criteria the above-mentioned list shrinks a lot, it almost disappears. Instead of a great year with 180 releases we end up with a miserable year with less than 10 releases. 

Trüberbrook is just so easy and finishes right when it starts to get interesting.

Now it is time to explain why I am so focused on duration and how it directly affects the overall quality of an adventure game and whether it is a real and proper adventure game or not. The gameplay of an adventure game is based on two pillars, obstacles and rewards. First the game sets you in front on an obstacle, then the player uses the environment, the items and the characters around him to overcome this obstacle, then the game rewards him and sets in front of him the next obstacle and so on. What I call obstacles are what most people call puzzles. Now, the rewards have changed over the decades but there are still an integral part of the adventure game experience. Once upon a time when adventure games used to have text parsers a reward could be a verbose and funny reply on a weird action you performed. Later it was replaced by a narrator that made quirky comments on everything you tried even if it didn't advance the plot. Sometimes you gained score, sometimes an extra animation or a cut-scene was played. The important thing is that the game had a lot to offer besides the main plot and it had various ways to reward your experimentation and involvement with the game. We used to say that if you played the game using a walkthrough you missed more than half the game. 

Even the unfinished Warcraft Adventures had more animation than all 2019 adventures put together!

The modern games have forgotten that and worse removed from their gameplay the rewards system therefore making them very short. Now there is only one correct next move and everything else usually does nothing. There is no reward for trying. The developers also usually give away what your next move should be in order to avoid 'unnecessary' experimentation so that you won't feel how empty their game is. That's why I don't consider as adventure games the ones with very small duration. Because half of the game is missing. They don't have any rewards. It's not so much about immersion, although it is very important. It is about the missing rewards on every move you make. An adventure game that doesn't regularly give you rewards is simply an incomplete product. I know nowadays games have those trophies and achievements and that is some kind of reward but most of the time are not part of the game experience but something outside that forces you either to replay the game or try on purpose to do something weird or wrong on a specific time in order to unlock it. Rewards should be rewarding the involvement you have with the game and not be 'outside' of it. By telling you need to investigate this desk 20 times in order to unlock this achievement the game forces you to try doing the same pointless move again and again instead of letting you enjoy the game. It doesn't promote involvement. Especially if you know what you need to do in advance. But achievements and trophies in today's gaming scene is a topic for another time. 

To be continued...

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Custom Game Covers - Part 10

Zak McKracken - Between Time And Space
D4 - Dark Dreams Don't Die
Blackwell Epiphany
The Last Door - Season 1
The Last Door - Season 2
Puzzle Agent 2
RealMyst Masterpiece Edition

Thursday 6 October 2016

Custom Game Covers - Part 9

Day Of The Tentacle - Remastered
Warcraft Adventures - Lord Of The Clans
Kathy Rain
Grim Fandango - Remastered
A Golden Wake

Monday 12 September 2016

Warcraft Adventures - Lord Of The Clans

Warcraft Adventures - Lord Of The Clans. The once highly sought after adventure game from Blizzard has finally been unofficially 'released'. This is the almost-finished beta version of the game from 16.02.1998!

You can download the game here.