Adventure games have thrived due to an emphasis on narrative and character. That, plus a few challenging cognitive puzzles, as opposed to violence, set the genre distinct. Characters typically get by talking or reasoning instead of resorting to violence – however, Full Throttle protagonist Ben may have a few things to say about it.
We regularly return to our lists to make sure they are as up-to-date as possible and reflect the absolute best the genre has to offer, so you can be assured that what we include below are nothing less than masterpieces.
Its story, characters, and setting place Grim Fandango among the best role-playing adventure games ever. Set in the Mexican Land of the Dead, where everyone’s a skeleton or a demon, the recently deceased have to work off any crimes they may have committed before taking the treacherous four-year journey to get into the Ninth Underworld. It’s a well-crafted world full of crime and corruption, with nods to film noir.
The game has some of the best characters ever created, such as Manny Calavera, the protagonist, attempting to rescue Mercedes Colomar, the lady he believes he wronged. In the greatest Disney/Pixar movies, friendly, car-obsessed demon Glottis would be right at home, and Manny is one of the most effortlessly cool and charming characters in an adventure game that you will ever meet. Some frustratingly tricky puzzles slow down the action, but the sheer joy of exploring and interacting with this gorgeous environment more than makes up for it.
Tim Schafer’s trip through Mexican mythology still marks the peak of good movie-quality narrative in video games —don’t mention those awful monster beavers.
BENEATH A STEEL SKY:
The word “cyberpunk” is one that any game may use to get our attention. This, together with the best UK adventure game company and artwork by renowned comic artist Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), makes us easy prey. Fortunately, Beneath a Steel Sky is already out there, and it’s a fantastic PC game.
Watchmen was never meant to be an adaptation of Revolution founder Charles Cecil’s novel, but we’re happy he tried. Instead, they worked together on this venerable old-school point-and-click adventure. Play as Robert Foster tries to escape the apocalyptic Union City in hand-drawn cutscenes and beautiful pixel graphics. There are shades of Blade Runner, Dredd, and Mad Max in the setting, which tackles themes of tyranny and corruption in society. There are fart jokes in this dystopian Orwellian nightmare. While it might have been a dismal grind, Revolution has turned it into an engaging point-and-click adventure.
This is one of the greatest adventure games ever because of the surprising narrative twists, great character moments, challenging puzzles, and visually appealing environment. Not to mention that it’s available for free on GOG, so there’s no reason not to. If you like the first book, Beyond a Steel Sky is an excellent sequel.
You can get a good idea of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars by imagining Uncharted without the leaping and shooting and a storyline that suggests an intriguing Dan Brown book. It’s hard to choose between the first and second games in the Monkey Island series, but the first one comes out on top.
George Stobbart, a laid-back American on vacation in Paris, has his break cut short by a bomber disguised as a clown, and he’s soon drawn into the shadowy world of the Templars. Despite the game’s darker parts, the tone is kept light by creators Revolution. The backbone of the series, though, is George Clooney’s relationship with French photographer Nico Collard.
Broken Sword is still one of the greatest PC adventure games because of the excellent narrative and voice acting. Despite this, it does include the now-famous “goat puzzle,” which has been parodied in several adventure games since then, including all four Broken Sword sequels itself. At the very least, being conscious of one’s shortcomings is half the fight won.