12 Adventure Games Worth Points and Clicks

Adventure games were once thought dead, but it turns out they were just getting ready for a big comeback. There are now so many to choose from that we run down great adventure games recently released that will test your puzzle solving skills and your capacity for critical decision making.

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There was a time, not long ago, when people thought adventure games were dead. As it turns out, the multitude of offerings from Telltale Games, the return of Grim Fandango, and the unexpected release of Fahrenheit: The Indigo Prophecy Remastered, proves that the age of character and story driven adventure games was far from over. In fact, it's clear that the genre is primed for a big comeback. There are a ton of great adventure games available now, and we sort through some of the best ones.


The Walking Dead

Originally formed by a group of former LucasArts employees, dedicated to bringing back adventure games, Telltale Games is one of the most prominent developers around right now. Although Telltale already released a number of different episodic adventure games like the Sam & Max series, Tales from Monkey Island, and the Back to the Future , the development studio didn't make a big name for itself until it started telling a story based on the award-winning Walking Dead comic book and television series. It turns out a mature story set in the zombie apocalypse is just what audiences had been clamoring for.

The Walking Dead, a story about making hard choices that balance between survival and morality, has had two very compelling seasons and a one-off episode (400 Days) that are tied together by the player's choices. Making critical decisions that impact how both future episodes and seasons play out is one of the foundations of the series' success, and the model has gone on to inspire other episodic adventure games. Every decision has its consequences, and in a world where you're constantly surrounded by death and danger, the only question is who will live the longest?


Broken Age

Probably best known as the adventure game that launched a thousand Kickstarter campaigns, Broken Age began its development by breaking records and rules. It was the first time a well-known development studio like Double Fine Productions decided to create a game based on crowdfunding revenues. Fans were more than eager for a new adventure game created by legendary designer Tim Schaffer, and the project far surpassed its initial goal in short time. The rest is history, right?

Not quite. The overfunding inspired Schaffer to expand the project and the story got split into two parts. Act 1 released on January 28, 2014. Fans are still waiting for the second part to release more than a year later. Fortunately, Broken Age, which tells a story from two radically different points of view, but strangely similar situations, is still a pretty good experience. Despite its wonderful hand-drawn visuals and orchestral soundtrack, along with its character and puzzle driven narrative, no one will blame you for holding out until Act 2 arrives. However, those looking to evidence that adventure games are a long way off from dying should give the game a try.


The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us, another Telltale adventure, takes players to a world inspired by the Fables comic book series, where magical characters from fairy tales and lore are real and are secretly living in New York City. Bigby, formerly known as the Big Bad Wolf, is the sheriff of Fabletown, and he is pulled into a murder investigation that takes him to the town's underbelly. Bigby faces a number of different decisions, mostly between balancing between the needs of the disenfranchised with the laws of the land. In the meantime, he uncovers a web of corruption, and has to decide how far he's willing to go to satisfy his animalistic side.


Life is Strange

The five-part episodic series, Life is Strange, practically comes out of nowhere. Developed by Dontnod Entertainment, whose only previous game is the memory warping action game Remember Me. The story takes place at a private academy high-school, where an aspiring photographer named Max discovers she has the power to rewind time. This ability turns the idea of choice on its head, since players can see the short term outcome of their decisions and stick with the one they like best. In addition to dealing with everyday problems like bullies, Max reconnects with an old friend named Chloe, and together they try to figure why she has these powers and how they relate a missing student named Rachel Amber. Also, a massive tornado threatens to flatten the town in a week, and Max has to find a way to... stop it? Yes, life really is strange.


Dreamfall Chapters

Dreamfall Chapters finally became a reality after a successful crowdfunding campaign, driven by a huge group of dedicated fans. The episodic series follows-up after the point-and-click adventure game Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, which in turn is a sequel to 2000's The Longest Journey. The five-part series picks up shortly after Dreamfall's cliff hanger ending, and features two characters in two parallel worlds - one of science, and the other of magic. Players spend most of the first episode exploring a cyberpunk world through the eyes of Zoe Castillo, a woman with the ability to travel across dreams. Although she doesn't realize it yet, she must use her abilities to balance out the two worlds before they threaten to destroy each other. Marked by stunning visuals and an emotional story, Dreamfall Chapters promises to conclude the Dreamer Cycle storyline, pleasing fans while introducing new players to the fantastical world of Dreamfall.


The Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure

You'll have to look pretty far back in gaming history to remember the Tex Murphy point-and-click adventure games from the 1990s. The series, which featured an sarcastic old-school private detective working out of a beat up post World War III office in 2050 San Francisco, included a mix of dark humor, puzzle solving, and sci-fi mystery. Not to mention all the full motion video that gave the games much of their character and charm. Its last game, Overseer, released in 1998 and ended with a huge cliffhanger.

Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, Tex Murphy fans could finally get closure on that sixteen year old mystery. The Tesla Effect brings back all the classic adventure game mechanics, including puzzles, an open world to explore, and plenty of full motion video for both old and new fans to enjoy. Tex, having lost his memory of the last several years. In trying to regain his memory, and in turn figure out what happened to his love interest Chelsee, Tex delves into a series of unsolved murders that are somehow tied to the lost technologies of Nikola Tesla. If you've ever wanted a window back in time, when adventure games and full-motion video were the biggest games in town, then The Tesla Effect certainly fills that role.


Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition

Regarded by many as one of the best point-and-click adventure games of all time, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition completely remasters the 1993 classic with all-new graphics, voices, and sound. It even streamlines controls and rearranges areas for a smoother gameplay experience, making it easier for new players to enjoy the game. The story, which features a down-and-out New Orleans novelist and book store owner (and womanizer) named Gabriel Knight, involves a series of ritual killings dubbed "The Voodoo Murders." It is in researching the Voodoo murders that Gabriel discovers that he his family is part of a line of Schattenjägers (shadow hunters), who are charged with combating evil supernatural forces.

Sins of the Fathers stands out as the premiere adventure game that made Jane Jensen's reputation as a game designer. Using a new design, but keeping the classic story, along with using New Orleans as a backdrop, this is one point-and-click adventure that's worth checking out.


Tales from the Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands is the adventure game that nobody asked for, and probably nobody was expecting, but one that every Borderlands fan should treat themselves to. Set on Pandora right after the events of Borderlands 2, Tales from the Borderlands tells a story that isn't about fearless vault hunters. Instead, it focuses on two people trying to get by in a world filled with insanity, chaos and violence. First, there's Rhyse, a member of Hyperion looking to become the next Handsome Jack. Then there's Fiona, a con artist looking for the big score. Both are after a briefcase full of cash that they each believe rightfully belongs to them, and they get caught up in a crazy adventure.

The adventure game fully captures the signature humor of Borderlands while telling a character driven story. Decisions in the game aren't always morally driven, but more of reactions that gets you from one crazy situation to the next. Only one episode has been released so far, which means there's plenty to look forward to on Pandora.


Grim Fandango Remastered

If there were ever a classic game that deserved a second chance, it's Grim Fandango. Set in Mexican mythology and featuring plenty of humor and an excellent cast of characters, Grim Fandango recently made a fully remastered comeback. With its updated graphics and controls, a whole new generation of fans can meet Manny Calavera - travel agent to the deceased - as he stumbles into a huge afterlife conspiracy.


Gemini Rue

At a time when point-and-click adventure games were becoming increasingly rare, 2011's Gemini Rue stands out as among the best modern adventure games around. The tough and gritty cyberpunk story takes place in the 23rd Century, in the Gemini System. It involves an ex-assassin named Azriel Odin, who must seek help from his former employers. On the other side of the galaxy, Delta-Six awakens in a hospital with no memory, and vows to escape before completely losing his identity. Fate brings these two together, and their stories could change the whole galaxy, while bringing into question the nature of free will.


Primordia

In Primordia, the age of mankind is long over. What remain are cast-off machines, left behind after a catastrophic war, and a mystery behind humanity's disappearance. The main character is Horatio Nullbuilt, a robot that values solitude and independence. His world is disrupted when someone steals his power core, the only thing that keeps both him and his ship going. Horatio must travel to new parts of the world to recover what has been lost, and in doing so, discovers information about his origins and the humans that once walked the world.


Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series

Another production from the very prolific Telltale Games, Game of Thrones is based on the hit HBO television series. It uses the same setting and events, and its overlapping characters use both the likeness and voices of the original actors. This story involves House Forrester, a small but powerful noble house that were once loyal bannermen to the Starks of Winterfell until the events of the Red Wedding. Now House Forrester stands on the brink of ruin. Caught up in the War of the Five Kings, it struggles to survive in a world of horror, intrigue, and revenge. Told from multiple points of view, spanning the far corners of Westeros and beyond, and featuring decisions that could be a matter of life or death, The Game of Thrones adventure game is an excellent companion to the television series.


These are some recent adventure games, but there are still plenty that didn't make the list. However, curious adventurers looking for a good start should check out these games. With Day of the Tentacle Special Edition and a Minecraft adventure game coming over the horizon, there adventure game fans have a lot more to look forward to.

Managing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 9, 2015 2:00 PM

    Steven Wong posted a new article, 12 Adventure Games Worth Points and Clicks

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      February 9, 2015 2:23 PM

      Every Tell Tale Game thats on here shouldnt be. They've made shit games after "Tales Of Monkey Island" & "Back To The Future" Where are the Puzzles? All I did in walking Dead was walk forward and Watch Cut scene after Cut scene, half the shit the NPCs "remember" Barley effect the story at all. And the Animation is god awful....I'm Disappointed

      http://i.giphy.com/R1sIadPan02Dm.gif

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        February 9, 2015 2:34 PM

        Look how wrong you are, Greg.

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        February 9, 2015 2:34 PM

        I agree with you, I don't get the love the TellTale games get here and elsewhere. They are pretty much just movies where my involvement is just barely above clicking a button to continue. The choices you make barely matter, to the point they might affect a single line of speech. Overhyped big time.

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        February 9, 2015 2:47 PM

        Agreed, I don't much care for their "interactive" story style.

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        February 9, 2015 3:06 PM

        I tend to agree, sadly. I don't have anything against interactive stories (unless from an academic perspective, because then I might), but the idea of an "adventure" game without one of its major tent-poles - puzzles - is an odd thing to me. Something inspired by the genre for sure, but actually a different beast.

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          February 9, 2015 3:08 PM

          That said, props for putting Gemini Rue on here. A lot of those telltale slots would be better served by wadjet games, and I see no mention of the Whispered World.

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          February 9, 2015 3:29 PM

          The puzzles in popular adventure games were rarely their strength, though. I would say that they succeeded in spite of them, for the most part. They were good games because of their stories, and the direction Telltale has gone in since The Walking Dead has been an evolution on the genre. Walking Dead was a landmark game because solving problems through dialogue is way more interesting than what adventure games had relied on and harkens back to the best puzzle in any adventure game, the swordfighting in Monkey Island.

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            February 9, 2015 3:37 PM

            I think its a step Back you basic take out Puzzles for a, 1 of 4 talk options that mostly have very little Impact on the story, sometimes none what so ever.

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              February 9, 2015 3:49 PM

              the impact puzzles have on a story is "now I am stuck and the story cannot progress"

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                February 9, 2015 3:58 PM

                You have to be smart enough to figure them out...ZING!!!!!! o.O :P

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                February 9, 2015 4:00 PM

                I totally agree. Back in the adventure game heyday, some games went completely overboard with arbitrary puzzles. Phantasmagoria 2, anyone? Personally, I liked the interactive story elements above all else, and I don't really get a thrill out of having to keep a walkthrough on hand to get through various game puzzles.

                I also think Red Thread Games' decision to go in the direction of decision-based gameplay to cap off The Longest Journey / Dreamfall trilogy says a lot about the direction of adventure games.

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                  February 9, 2015 4:23 PM

                  I think there's still a place for puzzles in SOME adventure games but I agree, I'm glad that it no longer feels like a requirement to shoehorn puzzles into games where they don't belong.

                  Although even removing puzzles from Phantasmagoria 2 wouldn't save it.

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                  February 9, 2015 8:18 PM

                  It's interesting as Dreamfall was already heading in that direction back in 2006. I have come to think that Dreamfall and the Quantic Dreams games were the parents to this new style of adventure game that Telltale has given form to.

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            February 9, 2015 4:23 PM

            Pull the puzzles from Monkey Island, DOTT, Myst, Freddy Pharkas, The 7th Guest, Leisure Suit Larry, Simon the Sorcerer, Quest for Glory (etc.etc.) and tell me with a straight face you just made a better game. There is a craft to how older adventure games are put together.

            The evolution of the genre shouldn't have been to simply replace logic-based puzzles with emotional "choices" (which is what telltale does), but to open the doors on the logic puzzles and give you more tools and solutions, incorporating emotional cues where needed. Too much gets lost. Environments lost meaning and there's no longer any sense of exploration, of adventure.

            Current adventure games are like bowling with inflatable tubes in the gutters, and at the end everyone gets a lollipop and a tiny train to take a victory lap in. God forbid you have to think about the content long enough for it to make sense. That goes for both designers and players.

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        February 9, 2015 3:10 PM

        As a fan of tell tale I agree. The tell tale game and life is strange barely qualify as interactive media. I really miss puzzles in my adventure games.

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        February 9, 2015 3:37 PM

        I hate adventure game puzzles :(

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        February 9, 2015 5:03 PM

        Gemini Rue and Primordia are fucking fantastic! I really feel they captured and improved upon the adventure game genre in a huge way. I wish they were held just as high as the new WD series because not only do they have great stories/characters behind them, they have logical puzzle solving that ties extremely well into the world they created.

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          February 9, 2015 5:13 PM

          Wadjet Eye Games is a fantastic adventure game publisher and their other stuff is worth checking out as well!

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            February 9, 2015 6:45 PM

            Blackwell was a lot of fun too, but those two really stood out to me.

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            February 9, 2015 8:25 PM

            Yeah, Wadjet Eye has a good collection of Neoclassical Adventure games, those two, Resonance, and the Blackwell series are the standouts for me. Though I've not played the final Blackwell game nor the newest release, A Golden Wake.

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        February 9, 2015 7:28 PM

        Greg prefers his adventure games with chicken doors.

        http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/215480117_f9YUB/0/1050x10000/215480117_f9YUB-1050x10000.jpg

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        February 9, 2015 10:13 PM

        I like all of Telltales games and they scratch the same itch as traditional adventure games. That being said I classify them as interactive fiction rather than adventure. Potato poh tah toe I guess

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        February 9, 2015 10:18 PM

        Puzzles? You mean pixel hunting against static backgrounds with no emotional connection to the story at hand? Oh this skeleton hand unlocks the gate by pressing it against the fountain but only after rubbing the gem against the special trap door that was revealed by copying the third letter from the first line of the note you found in the observatory.

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          February 10, 2015 12:32 PM

          Yes, i miss those games, In "Wolf Amoung Us" a door was locked and the Key was literally sitting right next to it on the floor. Fucking lazy,

      • Zek legacy 10 years
        reply
        February 9, 2015 10:32 PM

        Telltale games focus entirely on what I like about adventure games, and leave out all the crap I don't like.

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      February 9, 2015 2:45 PM

      Not really sure what your standards of impact are. A decision could mean someone, a very specific someone, or everyone dies. If you choose to cut Lee's arm off, his zombie conversion goes a little slower. If you go to one location over another in The Wolf Among Us you end up saving someone or dooming them. Sure, the experiences might be linear, given the emphasis on choice, but one of the few games to feature multiple endings is Tesla Effect. And even that can be reduced to saying, "well, I traded one cut scene over another." That's the nature of adventure games, folks. Especially when the story needs to carry over from one episode to the next.

      I'm not saying that Telltale is always successful with its choice based systems, but I think its games do them pretty well.

      It's not like any of the Monkey Island games had open-ended choices or multiple endings, or dynamic dialogue paths. The Tales of Monkey Island games were very much inventory driven, linear, stories. You could make every statement in any order and go on until you've exhausted all dialogue paths.

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      February 9, 2015 4:13 PM

      Worth mentioning are both the Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton series. They go different directions with "puzzle solving", but are strong, recent adventure games. I'm just disappointed that the story in their cross-over game was so weak.

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        February 9, 2015 4:21 PM

        Those are adventure games with genuinely good puzzles (Layton especially).

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      February 9, 2015 4:16 PM

      I really disagree with the Gabriel Knight remake being on there when the original game is better. The original has better voice acting (Mark Hamill and Tim Curry), better art and animations, and I don't like the puzzles that they added and there's some other little weird design decisions I don't like.

      But I'm happy seeing Tex Murphy being on the list and it's a good list for people new to the genre that want to check out some newer games. I just wish that some other stuff like Botanicula, Kentucky Route Zero, and the Blackwell series was on here and maybe some less Telltale stuff. It's been a really good time for adventure game fans.

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        February 9, 2015 5:20 PM

        I was really excited to see that there was a remake of Gabriel Knight (how did I miss that?!) but I did not know that they changed the voice acting - this lowers my excitement somewhat =(

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          February 9, 2015 5:35 PM

          It doesn't turn it into a bad game so I get why it's on the list but it just feels very unnecessary.

          But I liked the little comic that was released around the same time that takes place a few months after Gabriel Knight 3. First new Gabriel Knight material by Jane Jensen in 15 years!

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          February 9, 2015 8:28 PM

          Apparently the original recordings were lost so they decided to recast to provide, technically, higher quality audio. I can't imagine it would have been anywhere near in their budget to get Hamill and Curry back.

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        February 9, 2015 8:01 PM

        Gabriel Knight 2 is my favorite adventure of all time, and possibly the only good FMV game ever made.

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          February 9, 2015 8:40 PM

          Do the Wing Commander games count?

          I would also say the Tex Murphy series counts because they embraced the cheesiness that comes from low budget FMV scenes and had a lot of fun with them. You'd think that casting the co-creator as the lead actor would be a huge disaster but he did a great job as Tex.

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          February 9, 2015 8:52 PM

          Then you should check out the new Tex Murphy game that's on the list. I haven't played the new one yet, but Under a Killing Moon was a classic FMV game.

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      February 9, 2015 6:09 PM

      WHERE IS KENTUCKY ROUTE ZERO??

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        February 9, 2015 7:47 PM

        Maybe because it's not finished? Based on the previous release schedule Act IV should be here by now!

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          February 9, 2015 8:29 PM

          Life is Strange, Dreamfall Chapters, Tales from the Borderlands, and Game of Thrones are also incomplete as of this article.

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        February 9, 2015 10:20 PM

        I love Kentucky route zero. So insane.

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      February 9, 2015 8:09 PM

      The inclusion of Primordia as well as some classics cinched this as a relatively solid base of Adventure Games.

      Really though, everybody should play Primordia!

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      February 9, 2015 10:10 PM

      I desire a remastered Full Throttle. It was badass. Stop.

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