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Rossignol
24-06-2011, 09:14 PM
Ok, so I was just looking at this http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?516-I-am-a-tiny-man

And that game is basically just exploration. It's fun. Which led me think: are there any other games which are just exploration? There's a couple of other side-scrollers I guess, but what others? Anyone got any suggestions?

Faldrath
24-06-2011, 09:21 PM
Only one that comes to mind right now is Noctis.

ColOfNature
24-06-2011, 10:00 PM
Googling for exploration games reveals this old thing (http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/06/03/ramble-on-rambling-exploration-games/). Seems no-one was listening!

Wizardry
24-06-2011, 10:16 PM
What do you mean by "pure" exploration? Exploring environments to find unusual combat encounters would be pure exploration in my view. Do you mean exploring environments with absolutely nothing interactive to come across? No levers to pull, no enemies to kill, no items to pick up? Exploring a world in a game where movement is the only thing you can do as a player?

Rossignol
24-06-2011, 10:19 PM
@Wizardry, yes I was thinking about just movement.

Wizardry
24-06-2011, 10:24 PM
Ah, right. One more clarification. Do you mean "games" that only feature movement through a game world? Or do you mean games where you can get enough exploratory satisfaction from moving around the game world while skipping/avoiding all other interactive aspects?

vinraith
24-06-2011, 10:27 PM
Dear Esther springs to mind. In general yes, there aren't nearly enough of such things.

TimA
24-06-2011, 10:35 PM
What about civilian flight simulators?

Many, many hours I've sunk in to flight sims, picking a location in the world that took my fancy and seeing what I could. Even with combat sims I often just take off by myself and fly around to enjoy the scenery.

Suppose the same could go for railway sims or ship sims... And of course, Orbiter, which is truly wonderful for solar system exploration...

Rossignol
24-06-2011, 10:37 PM
Dear Esther is a good one, Vinraith.

TheTourist314
24-06-2011, 11:11 PM
Small Worlds is pretty fun. The music in the first area sounds like Scott Walker, the green area sounds like Sigur Ros.

The JG Man
24-06-2011, 11:21 PM
I know this gets to a case of 'Well if you do X and Y..." but what about Minecraft? Put it on that difficulty where enemies can't harm you and then just go for a wander. And obviously the best part is if you're getting bored, you can create a new world and start again. Not to mention, when you load up the world at start, you do essentially just explore.

Are there any space sims with a focus on exploration? I imagine with the right spectacles, you could have something pretty amazing.

Jae Armstrong
25-06-2011, 06:01 PM
@Wizardry, yes I was thinking about just movement.

This seems needlessly narrow to me. I'd include any game where exploration of an enviroment was the primary or sole focus. Though I suppose it's a short leap from there to including all roguelikes.

Anyway:

Seiklus (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Seiklus)
Knytt (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Knytt)
Within a Deep Forest (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WithinADeepForest)

just off the top of my head, of varying levels of purity.

dyst
25-06-2011, 06:42 PM
I feel like a scumbag for posting it, but Journey is coming out on PSN in the next year or so and that is all about exploration. It also looks fantastic. I know it's not really relevant to this forum but it's still worth mentioning I guess. Here's a thing about it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2dCU7lGbmw&feature=relmfu We need to get a petition going for a PC version.

For the PC, I can only really think of Knytt.

Oneironaut
25-06-2011, 07:14 PM
Journey looks awesome. A PC port would be a day one purchase for me.

Rossignol
25-06-2011, 08:53 PM
Journey does look awesome, but I think those dudes are part owned by Sony, so there will never be a PC release.

@Wizardry: well I don't want to lock it down to *just* movement, but I am thinking games that you can get a kick out of exploring the world and see what is out there, rather than being funnelled and channelled and controlled in terms of how you play. No linear game is truly exploration based, for example.

laneford
25-06-2011, 09:53 PM
Flower (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_%28video_game%29)

Pilotwings (N64) had a purely exploratory 'mode' within it where all objectives were removed and you could simply fly about. I remember that being lovely.

CWalker
25-06-2011, 10:04 PM
I would second a vote for flight simulators. Plopping yourself at a random airport then touring the scenery is a lovely therapeutic thing. Unless you're my dad, in which case you take off then immediately urge into the nearest mountain.

Also, that freeware pioneer alpha thing that came out, with spaceflight and planet surfaces and such.
http://pioneerspacesim.net/

Icarus
25-06-2011, 10:09 PM
@Jim, Metroid Zero Mission and Super Metroid might fit that criteria. Sure, there's combat, but apart from the minibosses or bossfights, the games are more about navigating the environment with the tools you're given and unlocking new ones as you go. By that vein, what about Batman Arkham Asylum- you're basically handed a whole island and when you've finished the storyline it's yours to explore as you will.

Edit: Didn't include Metroid Fusion because it seems to be much more linear and fight-y than the previous games.

Unaco
25-06-2011, 10:14 PM
Endless Ocean on the Wii.

Icarus
25-06-2011, 10:21 PM
Oh, I forgot Aquaria, but I've only played a little of it, so I don't know if it gets very fight-y later on.

Kelron
25-06-2011, 10:28 PM
I haven't played many games that are solely about exploration, but some of my favourite games have exploration as a driving force.

There's Love (http://www.quelsolaar.com/love/index.html), which I'm sure many people here are familiar with from RPS coverage. A small scale MMO set in a procedurally generated world that is constantly rebuilding itself, inhabited by potentially hostile AI tribes.

Lesser known is Shores of Hazeron (http://www.hazeron.com/), an incredibly ambitious space MMO that's like Spore grown up (and regressed 15 years graphically). You design your species, build up Sim City-style and produce higher tech goods until you're ready for your first space launch. Jetting off from your planet (and probably crashing a few times) in a chemical rocket, you can set up a moon colony to mine materials for proper spacecraft construction. You then design your own ship (tile by tile, very flexible) and begin exploring your solar system and the gigantic galaxy. You can chart the wormhole network, which can take you to distant space quickly, or you could construct a giant colony ship and manually set a course for other stars in the sky.

There's a hell of a lot more to it than exploration, but it all hangs together on the exploration. You want to find more resources to build bigger and better ships. You want to find other civilisations to invade or trade with. Maybe you want to settle as many planets as you can, or find one of the elusive ringworlds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn7BRf7XSsU.

Wizardry
25-06-2011, 10:29 PM
Journey does look awesome, but I think those dudes are part owned by Sony, so there will never be a PC release.

@Wizardry: well I don't want to lock it down to *just* movement, but I am thinking games that you can get a kick out of exploring the world and see what is out there, rather than being funnelled and channelled and controlled in terms of how you play. No linear game is truly exploration based, for example.
In that case, Ultima VII has more stuff per square metre than any other game I've played. It's just full of content to find while being completely open world. I can't think of a more fun exploration game than Ultima VII. You can find to-scale renders of the entire game world here (http://ian-albert.com/games/ultima_7_maps/), though the full image is 84mb. You can download each quadrant of the game world for ~25mb per image.

squirrel
26-06-2011, 11:04 AM
Afrika for Playstation 3. Sadly no PC version though.

Very rare genre I guess, I am also interested in. I may have entered my middle age that I start to be more keen in documentaries about exploration. Look forward to a good safari simulation that would be published for PC.

Skalpadda
26-06-2011, 11:15 AM
Shamus Young is making a thing (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=12123) that might be of interest to explorers. Supposedly it's going to be a game eventually, but for now it's just a program that procedurally generates a (very big) world. Worth taking a look at, and reading about the development process is fascinating.

agentorange
26-06-2011, 11:24 AM
The Path, and most other Tale of Tales games are comprised mostly of exploration.

Lambchops
26-06-2011, 12:26 PM
Oh, I forgot Aquaria, but I've only played a little of it, so I don't know if it gets very fight-y later on.

It has plenty of boss battles and areas which (I found at least) that you couldn't really progress through safely without having upgraded your abilities.

It's definitely exploration heavy, but not purely exploration.

dyst
26-06-2011, 12:33 PM
The Path, and most other Tale of Tales games are comprised mostly of exploration.

but they're also unbelievably pretentious to the point where I can physically no longer play them.

Spacewalk
26-06-2011, 01:26 PM
There's Proteus that you wrote about on the front page Jim if I'm remembering correctly.

mrpier
26-06-2011, 02:25 PM
Excel (97?) "Flight Simulator", I don't think there was anything to do in it except fly around the landscape :-)

Megagun
26-06-2011, 02:29 PM
Only one that comes to mind right now is Noctis.
Yes, Noctis is one of the few games that is purely about exploration, without having anything that's not exploration. The game never ends, and there are no goals other than exploration and writing about the things you've explored.

(Disclaimer: I was one of the two main developers of the Noctis IV CE mod, and have also been one of the two main developers of the Noctis IV Plus modification that backported popular features from CE into a more vanilla, bug-free version of Noctis IV)

Noctis IV has a fully procedurally generated universe. 70 billion stars, each containing up to 128 planets and moons (if I recall correctly; it's been a while). There's planets containing life, planets that resemble Mars, planets that resemble Venus, gas giants, planets resembling Io (one of Jupiter's moons, Noctis IV CE only), and various types of rocky/icy no-atmosphere worlds. Best of all, all of this is rendered in an amazing screen resolution of 320x200. :)

Every planet and star you find can be named and commented upon through a console aboard your ship. Once you're done, you can compile a list of changes and send a file to the Starmap maintainer to get your comments included in a next release of the Starmap. The current starmap can be browsed over at the GOESXNET (http://www.neuzd.org/noctis/GOESXNET/) website. Do search for Felysia and Suricrasia to read some of the notes people have written over the past few years.

Noctis has notoriously difficult controls. For one, there's no WASD+mouse. Instead, you just use the mouse to move, and hold the right mouse button to look up and down. Furthermore, most of your ship controls are located within the ship itself. You'll have to walk over to the main console and (somewhat) push a button, in order to move towards a star. Noctis IV CE and Noctis IV Plus somewhat improve upon this, luckily.

Noctis is also notoriously difficult to start up. It's a DOS game, and the recent improvements in technology have made it nearly impossible to play on a modern Windows 7 system. DosBOX is just a bit too slow.

There are currently two ways to play Noctis effectively and painlessly on a modern PC: VNoctis (http://anynowhere.com/thread/4522), a virtualized environment for Virtualbox, and The Noctis USB Bootdisk (http://anynowhere.com/thread/4390). VNoctis should work nicely with vanilla Noctis IV and Noctis IV Plus (as long as you have hardware virtualization acceleration; AMD CPUs usually have them, with Intel it's unfortunately a shot in the dark). The USB bootdisk should work well with Noctis IV CE, too, but it has the significant disadvantage that you can't open up a webbrowser to read the manual as you're playing. :)

Here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_FUVvSzBN0) is a neat Youtube video showing off some random scenes.

squirrel
26-06-2011, 02:45 PM
Oh, since you guys count the flight sim in, you shouldn't miss the infamous X-Plane. The X-Plane 9 has kind of stupid advertising that it has 60GB data. What the hell why would one desire larger disk space being occupied?

Veracity
27-06-2011, 12:14 AM
The Path is the only thing I've played I can dredge up that more or less qualifies.

I don't think Metroidvanias or Zelda clones work. They have fail states and goals, right? Anyway, a bit of sequence breaking aside, I've never been clear at what point "exploration" becomes dominant enough to stop a game being a stabby platformer or action-RPG, or some such. The progression gating in most of these things is just blue, yellow and red keys made a little less blatant and requiring a bit more attention.

vinraith
27-06-2011, 01:15 AM
Oh, I forgot Aquaria, but I've only played a little of it, so I don't know if it gets very fight-y later on.

Sadly yes, it does. Those first 30 minutes or so when it appears to be a pure exploration and puzzle solving game had me so excited, too.

Mihkel
27-06-2011, 09:14 AM
I don't know about pure exploration games or something like that but I always liked all sorts of space games alot (Homeworld, Freespace, Freelancer, X series) and this Infinity: Quest for Earth seems to have the exploration on a very big scale.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO7XhaTGDYg

Icarus
27-06-2011, 09:50 AM
Sadly yes, it does. Those first 30 minutes or so when it appears to be a pure exploration and puzzle solving game had me so excited, too.

*buys a ticket for a ride on the what-a-shame train*

J-snukk
27-06-2011, 04:09 PM
Needs more star trek-esque exploration games, Star Quest Online would have promise if the devs weren't trolls (oh think the devs have actually removed themselves from the project though) and it was free to play (doesn't have enough players). Also Shores of Hazeron is good, but the lag is really, really bad.

Cooper
27-06-2011, 05:36 PM
Knytt Stories, definitely.

Aquaria gets really combat-finicky later on. I gave up aboutb half way through. might try again now I have a pad.

And another shout for Noctis. Amazing thing that is, even if it looks pretty dated now.

J Arcane
27-06-2011, 05:54 PM
Starflight and Starflight II are my first thoughts for this type of thing, though I personally prefer the Genesis version for the better visuals.

The Uncharted Waters series is pure classical exploration. It's possible to get into combat but it's so completely rare that I think I only ever fought a ship once in the whole time I played those games. They're on PC too, and Mac I think for the first one, though I don't recall much about the quality of the ports.

I personally pretty much played San Andreas solely for the exploration. I can't stand the stories in GTA games, the missions are always awful and frustrating, so I'd just download a completed save and drive around exploring and looking for cool stuff to jump off of.

sk2k
27-06-2011, 06:10 PM
Hmm, i remember Below the Root from the C64 era. I LOVED and played it to death.

http://www.lemon64.com/games/details.php?ID=255

Maykael
27-06-2011, 07:47 PM
Minecraft on Easy? I'll confess I haven't played that much of the game.. I've been waiting for the Adventure Update. But, from what I remember on Easy there was no combat and you can easily ignore the crafting and just go wandering about. I hope the adventure update is not centered only on combat, but also on some sightseeing of sorts.

Also, Jonathan Blow's The Witness seems to be centered on exploration and puzzles, but it's still in development.

There are truly to few games that emphasize exploration.

J Arcane
27-06-2011, 07:58 PM
I would also add Ultima VI to the list. It's technically an RPG and there's technically a story in it, but I spend absolute hours and hours on that game and only ever got one rune. I also spent a good amount of time exploring Ultima III on the NES as a lad.

Ultima VII was where it really started to lose it's roots. The world just felt so damn cramped and small compared to the previous games, and unfortunately it set an awful precedent for the genre that to this day only Bethesda seems to overcome at all.

jwise
07-07-2011, 08:10 PM
Just Cause 2.

Come on, lets forget the "story" and the "missions", that game is about the world itself and the many, many gifts the developers sprinkled across those vast islands.
I just dipped into it for the first time in about 6 months to try out a 360 controller, left 2 hours later and had to post on this thread.

Its staggeringly beautiful. So utterly overwhelming that I find myself letting go of the controls to sit back and look at it.
We all know the graphics are impressive, but we've been spoilt and that doesn't do much for us anymore. Its how it all comes together, the gently falling snow, the volumetric clouds clinging to the opposite mountain, the vast river gauge beneath you and the gargantuan viaduct spanning the gap further down. This game is breath taking, and despite its many other flaws, for this it deserves a place in the pantheon of great games.

Play it again, or buy it if you haven't. It deserves your time.

Untitled
07-07-2011, 09:54 PM
LSD is a first person exploration game based on a lead-developer's dream journal. The game is played a dream at a time and when each one ends, you get a light/dark, static/dynamic rating based on what you played.

If you can get yourself a PS1 emulator, this little known game (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62IR-bs4hNo) is simply fascinating. It's absolutely crude and looks like the old windows 3D maze screensaver at times, but if you can forget about graphics the gameplay is really rewarding (if you like exploration of course). The guy in the video explains it pretty well, but I wouldn't watch too many videos before playing it because it can ruin the surprises.

Rii
07-07-2011, 09:58 PM
Endless Ocean on the Wii.

Just bought the sequel. =)

vinraith
07-07-2011, 10:04 PM
Play it again, or buy it if you haven't. It deserves your time.

It's huge, it's beautiful, but it's so completely empty. The missions are sparse and finicky (and usually involve escorting someone), the shooting is unsatisfying, and for all that territory there's absolutely nothing to do. I really don't understand all the praise.

Christian
07-07-2011, 10:25 PM
It's huge, it's beautiful, but it's so completely empty. The missions are sparse and finicky (and usually involve escorting someone), the shooting is unsatisfying, and for all that territory there's absolutely nothing to do. I really don't understand all the praise.

And that's the point. It gives you a fine opportunity to just take a moment and just watch the world around you. After playing JC2, I now tend to slow down and stop in games just to see what the developers and artists have designed. In most games, you stop to see the environment after you're in the game for a few minutes, they could just as well turn down details, normally you wouldn't even notice because you're always just focused on the action.
JC2 always gives you a reason to just look and explore.

But I do agree a bit, as the gameplay itself is nothing too great (if still fun for an hour or two). But alone the amount of effort spent on the weather system and the feeling of 'wow, this is big' is great and astonishing.