The 25 Best Adventure Games Ever Made

You know that there are adventure games, and you know that some of those adventure games are better than others. But do you know which one is best, and which one is twenty-fifth best? Well, at last you can find out, with our definitive, unimpeachable breakdown of adventure gaming’s best moments.

The joy of the adventure game is that it’s always been alive. There have been heydays, most notably the 1990s, and the present day, with a severe dip in quality during the intervening decade, but the genre has always thrived. And gosh, what gems it contains. Games that are, without doubt, among the best of any genre. Here we celebrate a small number of the finest amongst them.

The list is limited to 25, so there’s a good chance a game you love doesn’t appear and you’ll be furious about that. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, you probably wrong – you know what you’re like – and the game you love isn’t better than the ones on the list. Secondly, make sure to check out the other recommended games mentioned in the “What else should I be playing?” for each entry. A mention there is no snub.

We’ve not included Quest For Glory, because it’s been officially decreed by God himself that it’s an RPG. They were, of course, incredible. Gone Home is also not there, because it just doesn’t comfortably fit in the genre. If you’re about to complain about the lack of Myst, please staple your left eye to your right knee. And yes, wow, it gets a touch LucasArts heavy toward the top. That’s because they made the best adventure games, and while great ones have been released since, few are better than those stunning classics.

However, if you remain livid that you didn’t see Loom, or that Beneath A Steel Sky didn’t make it when Broken Sword did, then don’t just get cross – write a lovely entry of your own, making the case for why it was great, and pop it in the comments. Others will read it and be convinced by your passion. If you’re Richard Cobbett and you’re here to complain about The Last Express not appearing, look Richard, no one but you got it then, or now.

So here it is – the ultimate adventure guide. Plunge in, and then play the ones you missed, and the ones you miss.

25-21

20-16

15-11

10-6

5-2

Number One

Postscript

305 Comments

  1. draglikepull says:

    A best adventure games of all time list and Myst doesn’t even make an appearance? Who was in charge of the voting, Vladimir Putin?

    • shoptroll says:

      COBBETTT!

      (It was pretty clear either John or Richard we’re going to handle this feature. Myst and its ilk never stood a chance :p)

      • shoptroll says:

        And yes, I know John’s the one who made the list. But in my imagination, Richard’s the one ensuring none of the Myst votes make it to the ballot box at Castle Shotgun :)

        • Premium User Badge

          John Walker says:

          Oh, believe me, I was hating Myst while Richard will still a twinkle in Sierra’s eye.

          It is a demonstrable awful game, incoherently constructed, abysmally acted, and intensely tiresome. It’s the worst Power Point presentation I’ve ever sat through.

          • shoptroll says:

            :D

            I still would’ve liked to see this list as a gladiator match between you, Richard, and Leigh. Or at least a recorded debate.

            (You’re that much older than Richard? I was under the impression you were both around the same age)

          • Premium User Badge

            John Walker says:

            I’m a few years older. But people only start existing the first time I meet them.

          • Heretic7 says:

            Yeay! A man who shares my passionate hate for Myst. God it was the apocalypse of decent adventure gaming.
            Brofist John

          • Dinger says:

            Look, I get it. Snark gets the eyeballs, but nobody wants to be known as “That snarky reviewer” or work for a site that’s “All snark and no love”. And when you’re defending a genre that used to dominate, but now is down in the, ahem, “post-silver-age” pile with the military sims, you really can’t afford to splurge on negativity. I mean, what’s the point in turning people off to a genre they need to know exists and can be culturally relevant? Myst was the biggest seller, but it also did the most damage. Hell, I had a colleague who cherished lines from Monkey Island with his wife, and he was a theologian — not only that, he only spoke two languages: German and German Dialect. And the Monkey Island lines were in dialect! That game made his family. Myst made a ton of cash in a late-90s craze that everyone involved with is too embarrassed to discuss now. I dunno – maybe they licensed the game to make Lost?

            That said, yeah, you left the 80s off the list. Meretzky did some amazing work, and of it, A Mind Forever Voyaging has to be recognized as a classic: he took the genre and said, “hey, I can use this to throw bricks at that whole Reagan Revolution crap”, and only threw in a few puzzles at the end to satisfy the conventions of the genre. It stands as one of the purest explorations of how to make an “adventure game” into socially-aware literature. I used to think that they wrote a song about it.

            Excuse me while I drop out to the corner Mindex store.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Myst is the only game I have ever had a heated argument with an ex-girlfriend over that led to a broken towel rack.

            Oh and for the record, I was in the right, Myst is fucking terrible.

          • Orix says:

            Wow, here was me thinking Myst was the holy grail of adventure games…

            Is the recently remastered version any better? Its on my list of games-to-play :/

          • Faxmachinen says:

            Funny that you call it “demonstrably awful”, and yet the most damning evidence you have against it is that it can run on a Mac and you can’t determine how far you’ll turn when you click the side of the screen.

          • Faxmachinen says:

            Orix: The original Myst is not the holy grail of adventure puzzlers, Riven (i.e. Myst 2) is. Myst also hasn’t aged well, so you may skip it entirely or substitute for RealMyst. I haven’t played the “Masterpiece” edition, but I haven’t heard any praise for it.
            If you like Riven then you should also play Exile and Revelations, and you may also like Myst V and Complete Chronicles, though I slightly prefer the pre-rendered games to the polygonal ones.

        • Juan Carlo says:

          I’m old enough that I actually read the original PC Gamer review completely bashing Myst. That review is the reason I still haven’t played it to this day.

          • ribby says:

            but nobody wants to be known as “That snarky reviewer”

            Eh, I think John does actually. I don’t really mind, that’s just his thing

          • speedracerxtreme says:

            Myst was only good when you were super high. That’s when you thought you had finished the game when you actually hadn’t.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      1) Read the clear instructions.

      2) Fetch your stapler.

    • Shakes999 says:

      Myst was garbage.

      • elderman says:

        … compared with Riven, although a good game in its own right. :-p

        • Shakes999 says:

          To be fair, I thought the whole series was terrible. None of em were fit to sniff this lists jockstrap. Will never understand why people liked them.

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            John Walker says:

            Mind-altering gases released by the CD-ROMs.

          • Zenicetus says:

            “Mind-altering gases released by the CD-ROMs” might also explain the success of The 7th Guest. More of a tech demo than a fun game, but man did it look great compared to pixel art of the time.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Leave tech demos alone or i’ll be forced to mentioned the ultimate, magnificent one: Trespasser.

      • Jimbo says:

        I played Myst at an age where I liked any game put in front of me and I still hated Myst.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Of course it bloody doesn’t. It’s to adventure games what Daikatana was to shooters.

    • Twitchity says:

      Return of the Phantom was better than Myst. Rise of the Dragon was better than Myst. BloodNet was better than Myst. Noctropolis was better than Myst. The Dark Seed series was better than Myst, but that goes without saying. Hell, MTV’s Club Dead was better than Myst, for god’s sake. Basically, any video game experience that doesn’t involve driving rusty nails deep into your eye sockets (or, as we called them in my day, “blinky holes”) is going to be more enjoyable than watching a creaky PowerMac slowly blit a bunch of prerendered slides while you sit around and aimlessly click on puzzles slightly more enjoyable than the “peg in the hole” games you find at hillbilly eatin’ places.

      Still better than Seventh Guest, though.

      • Shakes999 says:

        I cracked up at your comment, but at least “The 7th Guest” had atmosphere, even if it did suck.

      • asmodemus says:

        I remember loving Noctropolis.

        One of those really forgotten games but played the whole thing through with a couple of school friends and loved every moment!

    • Ryuuga says:

      When I first saw Myst, it absolutely blew me away. Those graphics. I had never seen anything even remotely like it, before. The atmosphere became so intense, so mysterious, so palpable. But that was watching someone else play. When I played it later, much later, I realized how much of that first impression was just surface, and how little the gameplay underneath entertained me.

      Still, I might have loved it, had I played it when I first saw it. And then my opinion would be forever tied to that moment. I think it’s an age thing, too. I was just about that age when stuff can be insanely cool and impressive while actually mainly being surface and hustle. It’s a good age, in some ways. Easy to have a lot of fun. And who am I to say that old-age un-excitement at most things is the right way of seeing things.

    • Tukuturi says:

      I don’t think Myst was a particularly good adventure game, but it is the best horror game I’ve ever played. The nihilistic atmosphere, sparse sound design, and loneliness of it all was crushing to me when I played through it on my Sega Saturn back in the sixth grade. I would play it alone in the dark on an old TV with a fuzzy picture, bracing myself for a jump scare that never came. I’ll always carry those sad, empty worlds around inside my mind, like lost pages from a book that doesn’t make any sense.

    • jrodman says:

      To me Myst is in a different genre.

      The “Its all puzzles, and you have no idea what’s going on” genre. Perhaps this was started by 7th guest.

  2. shoptroll says:

    Huh, Police Quest 3 over King’s Quest 6 or even Larry 7? Interesting…

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      Only 2 Sierra games in the entire lot, which I feel is a little low. Mind you, John has decided to not include any QfG games (and he’s right, they are great RPGs just with an adventure-game interface) but did mention them and of course selected my favourite Space Quest game so that kinda makes it okay.

      I’d probably have included King’s Quest 3 (there are even two different VGA remakes of it available), and lots of people might say KQ6 is the best of that series. Richard Cobbett will probably say that Space Quest 5 is better than 4, and although he’s wrong it’s certainly a good adventure game. Conquests of the Longbow and Colonel’s Bequest are good too.

      And I think that’s enough ranting about Sierra for one day (this was originally intended to be a short reply…)

      • Juan Carlo says:

        The only King’s Quest I’d include is KQ3. Glad to hear someone else acknowledge it. I’ve always preferred it to 6, which I think is kind of convoluted.

    • Jimbo says:

      My only experience with Police Quest 3 was trying to guess the locker combo for hours because I could never find it in the Police Quest Collection version of the manual. As a child who had practically been raised by Police Quest 1 & 2, I could not have been more disappointed.

      • median says:

        The only thing I remember about Police Quests (I don’t remember which one) was being angry I had to walk around the police car *everytime* to check for flat tires. If you had a flat, loaded the previous save, and looked for the flat, you wouldn’t find one. You’d only have a flat if you didn’t check for one. It was some weird cross between Uncertainty Principle and Murphy’s Law.

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          Andy_Panthro says:

          It would have been Police Quest 1 (both the EGA and VGA versions have the tire inspection bit), but I’m pretty sure it’s only the first time you have to do this, but I could be wrong it’s a while since I last played it.

  3. Ejia says:

    Now do one best of list strictly for text adventures/interactive fiction. Or should that be worst text parsers?

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      This is something we’re considering.

      • jarowdowsky says:

        Please do.

        Can’t help feeling there would be much more to discover and explore with text adventures. You’d also get the shortest game to reach the top 25 with 9.05.

        A Mind Forever Voyaging, forever voyaging for the win!

    • balinor says:

      Corruption, Scapeghost and Rigel’s Revenge were probably my favourite text adventures back in the day.

      Point and clicks go:

      1. The Dig
      2. Beneath a steel sky
      3. Broken Sword

      • IonTichy says:

        Yip, The Dig was the best….especially it’s soundtrack! I used it years later as background music for Starcraft2

    • median says:

      Yanks: How many of these games made it across the pond? I’m born and raised in the States (and am not coincidentally still there), but didn’t have access or cash to play many games in the 80’s and was busy with text MMO’s in the 90’s (otherwise known as “the lost semesters We choose not to enumerate”). So many of these games are described as “very British.”

      I know PC gamers probably has a large anglophile contigence — just as likely quote Monty Python as Brannagh’s Henry V — and Discworld was huge among the nerds; I’m guessing they British games had a good reception.

  4. Andy81le says:

    And what about Blade Runner?!

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      I’m interested to know when last you played it. Nostalgia plays tricks. It starts off well enough, but quickly falls to dreary pieces.

      • Andy81le says:

        Hehe. I played through it twice, in 1997 and sometime in 2000’s, until I lost the disks during a move. I admit, the games above are playable many times without getting boring. However, Blade Runner had a fantastic atmosphere close to the original movie, its had excellent graphics and some good tough nuts to crack. Overall, I would probably place it in the 25 – 21 range, considering its competition.

        • sairas says:

          I haven’t played Blade Runner in a long while, but I loved it back then, it managed to combine the feel of the movie and the story of Do androids dream of electric sheep.

      • bill says:

        I last played it about 10 years ago and I’d say it rates a position on the list (were the list full of infinite slots) based purely on style and atmosphere alone.
        It’s flawed, and it can break down later (some of the different paths aren’t as good as others), but that’s mainly down to ambition. IMHO pretty much all adventure games are flawed in some way, but some have great humor, some have great characters, some have great puzzles, some have great story, and Bladerunner has great atmosphere and style.

  5. Cerzi says:

    The world definitely needs more DOTTlikes

  6. Dorian SRed says:

    F**** yeaaah, day of the tentacle is definitively the best adventure game!

  7. Jokerme says:

    Thankfully there is no Myst in there. What an exaggerated mediocrity it is. This has nothing to do with the message above too. I was seriously thinking this before I read that.

    Not a bad list overall, only missing a few games like Black Mirror/Scratches/Lost Crown and has a few weak additions like Time Gentleman/ Machinarium/Kentucky Route (compared to ‘best’ adventure games) in my opinion.

    Your claims of knowing best adventure games ever made is not far off according to me.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      I was about to award you a Gold Star for your opening comments, but then Black Mirror?! It was such a charmless game, with some of the worst voice acting of all time! In my review at the time I wrote:

      “The player character so rude, elitist and obnoxiously behaved that you want to slap him, not help him become embroiled in the spook-infested conspiracy behind his relative’s death.”

      • Jokerme says:

        I can accept that. I loved it mostly because of its atmosphere and story.

    • GameCat says:

      How is Kentucky Route Zero “weak”? O_O

      • Llewyn says:

        As an adventure game, of course. If that’s how we’re considering it it brings almost nothing to the table.

        And no, I don’t know how we should categorise it (assuming we have to) or even if it brings anything much as a “game” at all. Of course, it (and the free interludes, perhaps especially them) is perhaps the best “game” I’ve ever “played”, but it’s a pretty weak adventure game.

        • Muppetizer says:

          Personally I rate Kentucky Route Zero as my favourite adventure game. I think it does similar things to the genre that Endless Legend did to RTSs, it’s more of a deconstruction and subversion than the gold standard of what you might expect, but those explorations/experimentations feel so much richer to me than what the rest have to offer. Kentucky Route Zero was the first adventure game that I felt was about ‘the adventure’ more than anything else, it wasn’t about puzzles or wordplay or even a clever story, instead it was about the actual experience of adventure itself.

      • Jokerme says:

        Basically what Llewyn said. It might be good, but it is nowhere near to be a good adventure game. Me hating its art style doesn’t help, neither.

      • Faxmachinen says:

        It quickly lost its appeal when the little interaction there was got replaced with even more artsy fartsy crap. If I wanted to click through a book about a guy on LSD I would have gone to Amazon.

    • Sic says:

      Machinarium weak?

      Ridiculous.

  8. Dogsbody says:

    The lack of Kyrandia in here is simply unforgiveable. Those games defined floppy disk adventuring.

    (pulls random gorgeous Kyrandia image from GIS – LOOK AT THE GODDAMN HOST)
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      “Secondly, make sure to check out the other recommended games mentioned in the “What else should I be playing?” for each entry. A mention there is no snub.”

      “If you believe a game is egregiously missing, leaving a comment like, “Where’s Zork: Grand Inquisitor?” isn’t helpful to anyone.”

      • Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

        I believe a game (or two) is egregiously missing, so I’m leaving this comment:
        “List fails without Valkyrie 17 or Robin of Sherlock”.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        Well, that’s what you say. It may not be helpful to you, but to me it at least tells me what adventure games people liked.

        Me, I really like Loom. That’s not just nostalgia, I recently replayed it. The Dig, on the other hand, is kinda meh. And The Walking Dead (and the like) are adventure games? Ehh.. isn’t it more of a different type of genre? That’s like saying Diablo is a rpg (which I will continue to argue it isn’t. No, having stats in a game doesn’t make it an rpg).

      • Inph says:

        “If you believe a game is egregiously missing, leaving a comment like, “Where’s Zork: Grand Inquisitor?” isn’t helpful to anyone.”

        Either you meant to say “Isn’t helpful to most people”, or that statement is a little narrow-minded. Yes, such comments come across as whiny, and certainly appear unhelpful, but I’ve enjoyed reading the comments for extra recommendations.

        I like to see strong opposing opinions in the comments. Your readers who you assume to be unhelpful, often give me a chuckle or some other perspective to consider.

        Don’t worry, I won’t threaten to stop reading your articles; it turns out you’re my favourite games journalist.

        • Fien says:

          Ten reasons why the incredible adventure game Zork Grand Inquisitor should have been included.

          1. ZGI is a 1st-person adventure. Only 2 (two!) games on the list are 1st-person: Spycraft and UAKM.*
          2. What’s more, ZGI is one of the very few humorous 1st-person adventures. Lovely puns. Tongue-in-cheek humor. Loads of references to the Zork text adventures. Poking fun at the entire genre as well.
          3. The Zork Underground Empire is a fantastic world filled to the brim with bizarre creatures, like the Dungeon Master’s security system, the walking castle, the two-headed monster guarding Hades, the bickering and flickering torches, and many more.
          4. The FMV actors and voices are superbly over the top, as they should be.
          5. A great variety of creative puzzles, nothing run of the mill, no boring try-every-object-in-your-inventory stuff.
          6. Magic spells. And magic spells reversed!
          7. I can’t think of another adventure where dying is so much fun.
          8. The Frobozz Electric Installer of the game is a great way to start the game with a smile on your face.
          9. Sidekick Dalboz aka The Lamp is a hoot.
          10. Lucy and Jack playing strip game water-fire-grue. :)

          *NB: the list in the Postscriptum has the Pandora Directive instead of UAKM in 23th place.

        • phlebas says:

          I fear you may have missed John’s point there – people are downright encouraged to disagree with his choices, but it’s not very helpful just to say “game X should be on the list” – if that’s all you say, it gives me no idea why you think it should be on the list and whether it’s a game I would enjoy playing. If, on the other hand, you post “Ten reasons why the incredible adventure game X should have been included”, it’s a lot more interesting, informative and generally helpful.

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      Andy_Panthro says:

      The first Kyrandia game was a bit of a mixed game, with occasional difficulty spikes and lots of time wandering around collecting gems or whatever because of the limited inventory and random distribution.

      I seem to recall the second one being much better, but I played it so long ago I can’t remember, and I could never get the third to work.

      Great art and music though.

      • Shakes999 says:

        Kyrandia was a great idea but a horrible game and execution. The first half hour was great, the next 5 hours were walking around a labyrinth, then you grind through it and finally make it out the other side and then it ends. Just a terrible, terrible game. I hear good things about the 2nd and 3rd one but the first one pissed me off so badly I refused to buy them. Its been enough time I think Ill give em a try.

        • jrodman says:

          Kyrandia lost me in the cave with the rats or whatever from the lights running out.

          It was telegraphing “jrodman, you’re not supposed to have fun in this part”. And I said, “Thanks, Westwood, for letting me know!” and never played again.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            I know the place. It’s quite doable if you draw a map. And I must say that while it’s tedious in that section to trial and error it, making maps is fun (for me).

          • Shakes999 says:

            Smart decision. The game literally ends 10 minutes after you get out of that f-ing cave. My blood pressure is going through the roof just thinking about it.

  9. surreal_pistachio says:

    I completely agree with Day of The Tentacle and The Longest Journey. And Grim Fandango would be third for me.
    Strangely, I didn’t like Broken Sword. And I would put Sanitarium for the incredible atmosphere / universe.

  10. Nero says:

    Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max is my favorite ones.

    Also Sam & Max is on GOG.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      Oh my goodness, so it is. I searched and somehow didn’t find it. Thanks!

      • Klydefrog says:

        It would seem that if you search ‘sam and max’ it only comes up with beyond time and space but if you search ‘sam & max’ you get all of them. Good stuff.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Gassalasca says:

    We in Serbia definitely got The Last Express! #team_Cobbett

    • Juan Carlo says:

      No “The Last Express” is awful. I don’t really get the opening blurb, as I thought it was universally adored by adventure gaming types (or the very few who have played it, anyway).

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      I found The Last Express to be one of the most beautiful, well-written, atmospheric and enjoyable games of all time. And I have recently been re-playing it a third time with the mobile port, so accusations of “nostalgia goggles”.

      • Juan Carlo says:

        Yes. I don’t think any other game before or since has so convincingly created the illusion of being in a living world. Just the idea that important shit will go on without you regardless of if you are there or not has rarely been done on that scale.

      • Sin Vega says:

        Agreed. One of very few adventure games I’ve enjoyed at all, let alone loved (that includes several from the above list, but that’s just me, not the genre).

        I have detected an excuse to link to this wonderful article about some minor characters in The Last Express: link to gamerswithjobs.com

        • Guran says:

          My avatar can not agree with you more. Excellent characters, drama and historical accuracy!

  12. Bing_oh says:

    Totally unfair to call the Quest for Glory series RPG’s. They were, without a doubt, adventure games at the core with RPG elements added in (the stats being the biggest inclusion, considering you could almost totally avoid the substandard combat as a thief or magic user). Not calling them adventure games also neglects one of Sierra’s better games, QFG2.

    Also, for shame on not Including Kings Quest VI in there. While i played pretty much all of the KQ games back in the day, I’d agree that their quality was rather hit-or-miss. Not so for KQVI. Solid graphics and look, well done storyline and characterization, point and click interface in 1992…a poor omission.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      King’s Quest 4-6 are all important and wonderful classics, though 6 is certainly the best in just about every way.

      And yeah, QFG are clearly adventures first. Even up until today, no other RPG has an item system like that.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I don’t think “hit and miss” is a fair description of the King’s Quest games.

      “Miss badly and miss catastrophically” would be more like it.

    • asmodemus says:

      I really liked Kings Quest V. It always seems to get looked over but the Mac version I played had a superb soundtrack, really beautiful artwork and was overall lovely. Of course it suffered from some of the hideous grid map death deserts and whatnot that plagued games at the time but the best parts were absolutely top notch.

      • phlebas says:

        I won’t disagree that it had a superb soundtrack and beautiful artwork. But I hated actually playing it.

  13. Bobsy says:

    Impressed by the high ranking of Fate of Atlantis…. But again, nostalgia tends to gloss over some of the daftness in an otherwise stellar game. never forget that it was FoA that had Indiana Jones dress up as a ghost with a mask, sheet and torch in order to scare off an antiquities dealer.

    Also Monkey Island 2 is a hateful and bitter game that wants to stomp on and destroy the charm and whimsy of the first game.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      As you can see in the link in the entry, I replayed it just a few years ago, and it’s still stunning. And that’s a GREAT PUZZLE!

      Also, wow, gosh, re MI2, no one’s ever been more wrong about a thing!

      • Bobsy says:

        It would be a great puzzle in a Scooby Doo game.

        Also, why did we never get a Scooby Doo adventure game?

        Anyway, I love FoA to bits, as it’s an adventure which genuinely feels like an adventure, especially in it’s globetrotting scope. But there’s more thank a little shonkiness in there, mostly in the action sequences.

        • JoeX111 says:

          We did get a Scooby Doo adventure game! It was just on the Genesis, of all things. But if you can overlook that, it was distinctly charming.

          • kashwashwa says:

            Wow, I thought I was the only person to play that game… it was actually really good too.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Totally agree on both points. Guybrush a sincere dreamer single-handedly (with some help from LeChuck) keeping faith in the romance of piracy, in a world that’s grown cynical and apathetic. From the very beginning of MI1 to the very end of MI2. It’s Monkey Island 3 where he becomes a tiresome smarmy know-it-all (see my other rant) This is why it’s the perfect ending for Guybrush and LeChuck in MI2 that they’re able to escape from their world into one where pirates can be what they imagine them to be.

        And that puzzle in FoA is one of my favourite bits of adventure gaming. I think anyone who finds goofy physical comedy out of place in an Indy story, should re-watch the movies, especially the third one.

    • zapatapon says:

      Also Monkey Island 2 is a hateful and bitter game that wants to stomp on and destroy the charm and whimsy of the first game.

      For years I have thought that I was the only one on earth having that feeling.

      • Bobsy says:

        Embrace me, brother.

        Thing is, Monkey Island 1 is a game that loves pirate stories. Monkey Island 2 is like a grouchy teen that thinks pirates are just, y’know, shit.

        • Tom Camfield says:

          Monkey Island is lovely, just little things like Guybrush bellowing “I want to be a fireman” to the pirates, or later when he’s with Elaine at the end, awkwardly failing to be romantic. Just dumb things like the Key or the trampoline were gleeful. Plus, sword fights!

          It’s somewhat important to have the Amiga version as it still has the best music (filled with longing), and never play with the voice acting on, as it becomes far too ZANY and poorly delivered, it certainly reads better than it sounds. Brr, voice acting.

          Monkey Island 2 loses it’s naivety, and therefore a bit of charm too. Even just the way Guybrush is drawn, in growing up and looking a little sharper, makes him a less sympathetic character.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Yeah… I’m glad I’m not the only one who (see my other rants) prefers Guybrush without the voiceover. I think they let the voiceover for MI1 inform the writing too much in MI3. As soon as you give him a Beavis & Butthead style voiceover you remove all the sincerity and earnestness that gave Guybrush his likeability in the first first scene at the lookout post all those years ago.

            Also, Amiga music FTW, in general.

        • zapatapon says:

          I never fail to be surprised by John’s profound love for MI2, given how much he clearly dislikes stories where the main protagonist is an insufferable, arrogant, unloveable prick. Which is a pretty accurate description of Guybrush in MI2.

          • Faxmachinen says:

            I didn’t find MI2’s Guybrush very insufferable, certainly not compared to the protagonist of the Deponia series. I enjoyed both games and their series either way.

  14. Jenks says:

    Spaceship Warlock

  15. Jericho says:

    I was packing up belongings for a move last weekend and I found my CD-rom copy of DOTT, blue, oddly-shaped box and all. And now I wonder, would such a game even install on a modern PC, even with things like DOSbox?

    Hmm…

    Anyhow, I can’t really argue against anything in this list. DOTT, Fate of Atlantis, Grim Fandango, Monkey Island, and others are all such fantastic games, and I feel lucky to have been able to enjoy them all in my youth when they were first coming out.

    • thaquoth says:

      Use ScummVM.

      It doesn’t need an exe, so you don’t even need to install it. Just copy the data files from the CD into a folder, and you’re set.

    • ansionnach says:

      I’d use DOSBox – there’s nothing like playing it in its original form. Make an image of your CD or put it in, then mount it as a CDROM in DOSBox, change to the drive and install as normal. Works with the floppy versions, too.

  16. DavidP says:

    I’d like to put in my two cents for Neuromancer. Definitely older (88 I believe) but it was unlike anything else I had played at the time. Soundtrack by Devo. Also had hacking in it, although that could be a negative since it seemed to have infected Hollywood with how to show us what hacking looks like.

    Just a great sci-fi story and lots of fun to play.

  17. edwardh says:

    Ah, finally a list I can really disagree with. Nah, just kidding. Sort of. I can see why a lot of games are on there – the typical favorites of almost everyone. The only thing I find missing is Syberia and Runaway. Which I also didn’t care for.

    Personally, I only really loved The Longest Journey and Broken Sword from this list.
    The others I know I find “alright”. Except “To the Moon”. I hate that game with a passion. The at times inappropriate and at other times simply childish humor made me stop playing it after just an hour or so. Still listening to the soundtrack though…

    My favorites are the less popular ones. Like Gabriel Knight 2 & 3.
    Even Phantasmagoria 2.
    And also Broken Sword 2.

    Huh. This just made me realize that I probably only ever really loved 6 adventure games. But I REALLY loved those. They were enough to make me feel like I love the whole genre.

    • edwardh says:

      Reading my post I just noticed… Can you tell that I’m full of love? ;)
      Jeez…

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      Syberia was a decent game, released when adventures had become truly terrible. I think people overrate it as a consequence of the surrounding dearth. Runaway is a genuinely revolting game that would do well on a Worst Ever list.

      You really must go back to To The Moon though, to see what all that was setting up.

      • orient says:

        I thought Syberia I & II were wonderfully atmospheric, with a real magical quality to them. They really should be played back-to-back as the second game is a straight-up continuation of the first.

        Runaway on the other hand…yes, a genuine abomination.

        • Premium User Badge

          G-Lord says:

          An abomination? That is a bit harsh. But it is clearly style over substance. Some German reviewers even started to use the term “Runaway-syndrome” for adventures that had objects suddenly appearing during second visits of previously cleared rooms.

        • Jac says:

          I picked siberia up a year or so back and didn’t get very far with it. My initial feeling of “oh this is going to be quality” was quickly replaced with a feeling that it was all a bit barren and the tone was too dry to make up for it.

          Enjoyed this list though and agree wholeheartedly with the top spot. I’d have sam and max next followed by Kentucky which is shaping up to be a masterpiece.

      • Jokerme says:

        I starting to fall for you, sir. Are you free tonight?

        It’s refreshing to see people who are not on Myst/Syberia bandwagon. They are just alright, dammit, not masterpieces.

      • edwardh says:

        Which is why I not only tried out Syberia but basically blindly bought it. Figured it would surely be worthwhile.
        But… I found it so… empty. I found myself walking around the admittedly beautifully designed sceneries for hours and nothing was happening. Even Dear Esther felt more “alive” to me. At least there, you had those beautiful sounding text passages and the narrators nice voice to keep you company and tell a story. And there was always a sense that something MIGHT happen. With Syberia, I didn’t get that sense and so I stopped after a couple of hours. Because I was afraid it might just say “The End” at some point, without a story ever getting told.

      • edwardh says:

        As for To The Moon… I appreciate your enthusiasm but there is no way in hell. (Also not in heaven or any other material or immaterial realm)

      • Faxmachinen says:

        I would have to disagree: To The Moon doesn’t get any better the longer you play. There are no plot twists and the ending isn’t very good.

      • Stragman says:

        I prefer the starkness, quirkiness and slow pace of Syberia games, than the pretentious, overrated story of the Longest Journey.

    • ansionnach says:

      You really loved GK3? Really? Wow. Thought I was the only one! In my mind it did the 3d adventure game properly in that you actually had to consider the three dimensionality of your surroundings to solve puzzles sometimes. Can’t remember specific examples.

      I haven’t played To the Moon. At first it sounded essential but the more I read about it, the more I thought that it sounded like animé-style contrived emotionally manipulating tripe masquerading as something “mature”. Maybe I’ll play it one day and be pleasantly surprised but to be honest I’m not particularly pushed about the style of the game in the first place.

  18. wisnoskij says:

    Yo, John Walker, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but Myst is one of the best video games of all time! One of the best video games of all time!

  19. subedii says:

    Would’ve liked to have seen Gemini Rue in there somewhere. A small game in its scope (largely takes place between two locations, a sterile secret prison / training facility, and the rain-slicked streets of Gemini) but what it presents is enough to give it atmosphere and doesn’t outstay its welcome. Logical puzzles which I didn’t need a guide for whilst still being interesting, and good pacing. But really it’s all about the setting and the atmosphere, and the way the characters are almost a part of it.

    If you liked Cowboy Bebop, you’ll probably find a lot familiar here, in a good way.

    • Bostec says:

      I rarely play adventure games but I played Gemini Rue till the end. A rare feat for that type of game to sucker me in. I really love the title screen for some reason too. The rain and the random light switching on and off. I’m a weirdo like that.

      • subedii says:

        It’s a sort of fitting vignette for the whole game.

        • Bostec says:

          Indeed! Shame theres not more games with a good title screen to get you in the mood. I think maybe one other I remember that does it, Spec Ops: the Line. The further you you go into the game the more the american flag becomes ragged and the music gets a little screwy. Brilliant.

          • subedii says:

            Can’t say I noticed that, although that’s probably because I once I started I played through the entire thing in one thoroughly messed up weekend.

            Man I needed a stop and break after that game.

            Back to Gemini Rue, I’ll also say it’s a game I prefered to play with the Voice Acting switched off. It wasn’t particularly bad as such, but the dialogue worked so much better in my head where I was filling in the characters and the intonations.

    • Ooops says:

      Yes, the absence of Gemini Rue would be my only gripe with this list. It’s been my favourite post-LucasArts adventure game. For the rest, I completely agree about DoTT being number one and I’m very glad John hasn’t forgotten the otherwise severely under-rated The Dig.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Mr Walker! There’s no reporter called Miranda in Full Throttle (unless this is some clever joke I didn’t get). There’s a mechanic called Maureen. Also a trucker called Emmet.

    Apart from that, this is a great list. I would have placed the Blackwell games in the top 10, because I love those games so much, but that’s the only thing I didn’t like about it.

    • subedii says:

      There most certainly is.

      She’s the reporter that finds Ben and takes him to Maureen’s place in the first place.

      Well, after taking some photos anyway.

      • Premium User Badge

        Bluerps says:

        Damn it! Yes, and NOW I remember her. I even googled a list of Full Throttle characters before writing my comment! You betrayed me, Internet! *shakes fist*

  21. Juan Carlo says:

    I’d personally put “Last Express” top 5, and kick “To the Moon” off entirely, other wise this list doesn’t give me much to complain about.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Wait I missed “Fahrenheit.” Monumentally awful game. Placing it one rank above GK is…..bizarre. Like, I’m not sure how any rational sentient being could justify that.

      • alw says:

        I started Fahrenheit some years back. I didn’t get very far though – if I remember right, my HDD died, taking my save with it. That might have been lucky in a way, as I’ve heard it goes downhill pretty sharpish after some point, but I have to say the early scenes were some of the most atmospheric I’ve played in any game.

  22. Leafcutter says:

    Bladerunner?

  23. Capt. Swayworn says:

    I’m appalled that not only are there no text adventures on this list but there’s no “graphical adventure games only” caveat at the top.

    Obligatory: Curses?! by Graham Nelson

    • Premium User Badge

      Slarnos says:

      My thoughts exactly, although my initial reaction included A Mind Forever Voyaging and Trinity in addition to Curses.

  24. philosoaper says:

    No Myst!?.. any respect for RPS or the people who work there is now gone.. You can argue it’s a slideshow until you’re orange with blue pinstripes in your face, but it created a whole new definition of gaming.. a sensation of adventure and exploration that took place in the upper troposphere as opposed to many of these ground clinging fog games..

    • Sin Vega says:

      It created a new definition of mind-alteringly tedious dreck.

    • Doc Revelator says:

      I can’t understand the blind hatred for Myst, from either RPS or the commenters. I love point-and-click adventures and agree with a lot on this list, but the anti-Myst mentality is a genuine surprise to me. Riven in particular is a work of great beauty and astonishing cleverness that has yet to be matched, requiring complete understanding of the plot and setting, not to mention some genuine detective work, to best. There’s a clear line between the Myst games and the likes of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and The Talos Principle, not to mention the promising wonders of The Witness. Anyone who likes head-scratching but logical puzzles and great atmosphere should give them a concerted go, and if there misgivings about the ‘Powerpoint’ nature of Myst there’s always the still pretty RealMyst to have a wander round in.

      I’ve tried Police Quest, thanks to this list,and it’s pretty neat. But there’s very little excitement to be found in the opening hours of those games, unless fannying around in a locker, or trying to switch a computer on, or trying to find which arbitrary corridor or street to go down next, is some nebulous gold standard in for immersion gaming.

      I suppose from a certain angle then Myst may be construed as boring to people with no patience or imagination, but the same could be said for reading.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        I liked playing Myst way back when. It was really engrossing. I think, though, it’s one of those games in which the first time you play it is so much better than replaying it.

  25. Simbosan says:

    All goes to show how different people experience games, Sam and Max was the last adventure game I tried and put me off the genre for life. Random inventory clicking and combining with zero logic is probably the main reason I can’t stand adventure games.

    Gahh!

    Never found one that didn’t make me hit exit after an hour or two of nonsensical puzzles.

    • kalirion says:

      I tend to agree about Sam & Max – gave up on that one in frustration back in the day.

      But there are adventure games with far more logical puzzles – give the Blackwell series a try.

    • HidingCat says:

      There is a logic to Sam and Max, just that they’re a bit bizzare.

  26. kalirion says:

    Before you reflexively click on #25 Dragonsphere’s Steam link and buy it at 50% off, you should click on the GOG link and get it for FREE. Yes, this game has been free on GOG for ages, long before it was added to Steam.

  27. MugiMugi says:

    Really good list however I miss quite a lot of good adventure games who really should be in this list, specially mist Ace Attorney, And easily my favorite game from last year Danganronpa, quite a really good adventure game.

    • Ejia says:

      Those are visual novels, which for some reason occupy the limbo between interactive fiction and adventure game. Also, as far as I know they weren’t released on PC.

      I would tentatively classify Ace Attorney as a point-and-click, though.

      • MugiMugi says:

        Yet both are as much adventure games as any other adventure game, sure they are quite story and text heavy, but both games have massive amonth of gameplay like any other adventure game.

  28. rapchee says:

    i’m not a massive adventure game fan, i get frustrated with them far too often, because i’m dumb
    also, i’ve played a demo of an sci-fi adventure game (maybe 3d?) around 2000, where the main character is reading mail and news in his home, i think he wants to meet someone, and the someone knocks, looks out through the peek hole and he has to go out to a square and that’s where the demo ends, and i have no idea what the game was, anyone has an idea?

  29. Midnight on the Firing Line says:

    Created an account to say good list although there are some omissions.

    I have played through most of these again recently and they do still stand the test of time, so I would argue for places for games such as

    The Last Express (I would have this in first place, I have yet to come across a game that has such a feeling of a time and place, the voice work, the beautiful art design that still holds up today and all the small asides that one can spend days listening in on conversations and lurking outside compartments)

    Bladerunner (It still looks beautiful and really should be held up as an example of how to make a film tie-in)

    Darkseed (although I have only played the Amiga version so can’t account for the then PC downgrade but it’s one of the most perverse and strange experiences I’ve had playing games. It also introduced me to H. R. Giger)

    Beneath a Steel Sky (along with Lure of the Temptress probably the best thing Revolution made, great humour, setting and art work by Dave Gibbons.)

    Discworld (I know it tried to cram every book into the one game and vast parts of it don’t work but the parts that do are hilarious and the voice work is great)

    Also I would also move the original Gabriel Knight into the top 3, not much comes close to it’s writing, voice work, setting and story.

    • Midnight on the Firing Line says:

      I almost forgot

      Starship Titanic ( it’s seriously a mixed bag but anything by Douglas Adams even his worst stuff is funnier than most other people’s best stuff)

      And lastly Star Trek: A Final Unity (It’s the only Star Trek game that comes close to recreating an episode, it’s plodding, rather dull and makes you wish for Babylon 5 but it does feel like you’re controlling an episode of TNG)

      • ansionnach says:

        I loved A Final Unity. Wasn’t going to suggest a game belongs in there but it’d be hovering near my top twenty-five. I’d probably have to write a load of games down and see if it’d make it first.

        The two original series adventures were good as well. Maybe only above average as adventures but the voice work really made them special. Recreates the magic of that Kirk-Spock-McCoy banter.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      I know I’ve done nothing but rave about Last Express on this thread, but the voice work and writing really are very good. It’s so rare that games get mundane dialogue between NPCs correctly, in that it sounds like stuff people would actually say, but LE nails it. Which is all the more impressive, since it’s a period piece. It really is like LARPing an Agatha Christie novel.

  30. cyrenic says:

    It’s Botanicula. Not Botanicular

    • Premium User Badge

      Skabooga says:

      He’s spelling it with a British accent.

      • theapeofnaples says:

        Ah yes, that famous ‘British accent’ spoken by every single person in these isles, from Redruth to Inverness

  31. mpOzelot says:

    This was a roller-coaster of a read, entry 16 felt like a knife in the back, and 4 got me confused.
    Also, could anyone explain me why nobody cares about ZAK MCKRACKEN? It might have flaws, but I haven’t seen anything even close to it’s openness or allowing to solve puzzle in multiple ways.

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      I played it a little while back and didn’t really see the charm. There are a few maze sections which never sit well with me, and a couple of the puzzles caused me grief. It’s not bad, but wouldn’t get into my top 25.

  32. tobecooper says:

    So John used reverse psychology to taunt someone into explaining why Zork: Grand Inquisitor is a brilliant adventure game, and no one did? Come on, people! My memory is too fuzzy to describe it in enough detail. I only remember that the game was genuinely funny and unabashedly silly. I also really liked the puzzles and their unconventional solutions (there was some “punch a puzzle in the face -> puzzle solved” logic that I found quite charming and refreshing).

    • phlebas says:

      I preferred Nemesis, but Grand Inquisitor was definitely more Zorkian in flavour and some of the spell-based puzzles were superb. But then I liked Myst (The first game was flawed, certainly, but it did something new, I liked the central metaphor and the fourth game in particular is one of my favourites ever), so I was never going to agree 100% with a list by John.

  33. blastaz says:

    This is the first of these lists where I’ve had disagreements.

    Indy and fate of Atlantis. Best game.
    Monkey island. Way higher. Then again I’m a deviant who liked 3 as well.
    And your memory betrays you old man. Disc world 1 was stupid hard, but funny. Disc world 2 was just funny…

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Eh… Monkey 3 is a lovely game and it got a lot right in terms of what I wanted at the time. It feels so long ago now but when it came out it was probably my first experience of waiting a long time for a sequel. I was 11 or 12 when monkey 2 came out and 18 when I got my hands on Monkey 3. 7 years is a very long time to wait when you’re a teenager. Games from 2008 seem like they just came out just yesterday to me now.

      The cartoony style is forgivable, the ending isn’t, but it isn’t enough in itself to kill the game because the whole Blood Island act is one of the best bits of adventure gaming ever – on par with Tentacle and anything else you can name. What did more damage for me was Guybrush’s character “development” into a smarmy, cynical and sarcastic little oik.

      Ok, I know a lot of people read Guybrush this way in 1 and 2 but I played the first two before there were talkie versions of them and in my 11 year-old head Guybrush was quite a serious young chap who earnestly wanted to be a pirate and believed in the romance of it all in a way the world-weary pirates he looked up to actually didn’t.

      The only other character in the game who takes pirating as seriously as Guybrush is LeChuck, which is why they’re perfect together. It’s almost as if they’re two kids running riot in a theme park. They’re each equally humored by the people around them, LeChuck out of fear, and Guybrush because hating him would be like kicking a dog.

      So, no. The smarmy chap in Monkey 3 is not my Guybrush.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Tangential rant aside, I also count myself among the shunned crowd that likes Monkey 3 – it’s just that its flaws are too big to ignore, and they really do spoil it… Not completely, but to an extent that’s regrettable. If I had to, I might even rank it as my 5th favourite Lucasarts adventure after Tentacle, Monkey 2, Indy4 and GF

        • blastaz says:

          For me the awesomest bit was the sea battle and rhyming sword fight section.

          Pure gold and such a nice interlude.

          • Premium User Badge

            Andy_Panthro says:

            Monkey Island 2 might be my favourite, but I also like Monkey Island 3. It has good art, and voice-acting, introduced Murray the talking skull, and has some really great moments (EL POLLO DIABLO!).

            Also I love this song: link to youtube.com

      • ansionnach says:

        Guybrush is certainly different in the various games. He’s quite straight-laced in the first. In the second he’s a mischievous, kleptomaniacal force (my favourite Guybrush). In the third one he’s closer to the original, but with some added worldliness. In the fourth one he’s back to being a mischievous parody of himself (yay!). I thought this one was the most laugh-out-loud funny of the lot. Anyone else Like it at all? In the fifth one… I can’t really remember. Probably mischievous again.

        Wasn’t a big fan of the third game. The Blood Island bit was the best part but I didn’t like Guybrush’s voice and he wasn’t really that funny. Maybe the highlight was the sea shanty and getting to shoot something-or-other. In my mind:
        MI2 >>>> MI4 > MI5 > MI >> MI3

        I did enjoy all of them but I’d only pick the second one as being so good that it’s still bloody good.

  34. Hellraiserzlo says:

    Why Sanitarium isn’t included?

  35. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Great list – I also have a soft spot for Beneath a Steel Sky and Blade Runner but it’s quite true that neither game really maintains its standards after a strong opening it. Another one guilty of that is space Quest III – the first act of which promises a lot more than the rest of the game manages to deliver.

    Which brings me on to The Dig… Yet another game which I feel starts strong and falls apart towards the end – still a personal favorite but it can’t beat Full Throttle for me.

    Bit sad to see Discworld 1 missing, it’s a great game with some fantastic writing and voice acting… Ok, ok I know “that doesn’t work” etc, but still, it’s arguably the most Discworldy of them all and you certainly get your money’s worth in terms of hours of play and volume of content.

    At the top, I simply can’t choose between Indy4, Monkey2 and DotT… Tentacle taught me everything I know about American history.

  36. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    You know, I am actually happy with the list except for some lityle points

    – Fahrenheit is a pile of rubbish in game design, narrative, ambitions, everything that makes either an adventure, game or experience. It is absurd, boring, unplayable and has no sense of humour.

    – the walking dead is just how to put a little girl to make emo gamers cry. Shameful piece of narrative.
    – to the moon is even worse. Its level of subtlety is like pornography, extremely fake, and one of the worse examples of gamer journalism trying to show the world they are sensitive and intelligent with a game so full of over exposition and even violent cringe worthy “sentimental” scenes.

    The rest is ok.

  37. Laurentius says:

    It’s solid list no doubt BUT…

    Farenheit ? – Histerical lough

    The Dig – it was shit back then it is stull shit.

    Dragonsphere ? Well it was stale on release, even if you don’t like Rex Nebular at least it was fresh.

    Now what it missing ? Well i know, opinion and such but WHERE IS The Course of Monkey Island ? Seriosly, this is tragic omission.

    Personally I would give Goblins 3 a spot, love that game. Alone in the Dark was pretty rad too. Kyrandia- Hand of Fate ?

    • Laurentius says:

      and the obvious one as well, I know it was mentioned: Beneath a Steel Sky.

      Maybe Bloodnet or Dreamweb ?

    • ansionnach says:

      The Hand of Fate is a really enjoyable game, in spite of the off red herring and that towers of whatever puzzle. It’s got great voice acting and it’s pretty funny as well. I’d say if I removed the games I really dislike from the list I’d probably add one or two others in there before HoF, though. It might be hanging about in the second half of a top fifty, maybe?

  38. james___uk says:

    This has been one of the most enjoyable reads so far on this site, and that’s saying something! The DOTT anecdote about the jumper made me laugh, I’ve gotta play that sometime.

    Criminially I only got into adventure games a few years ago, so I’ve only played a small few of these but I can safely say that Machinarium is the most charming game I’ve ever played, I just love it, the world, the funny robot characters, the animation, everything. It’s absolutely brilliant and I wish it was longer! XD Highly recommended over here.

    As for The Longest Journey I got a bit sad that I can’t play it for the first time all over again (and I only completed it a couple years back), I’m really stoked for each new episode of Dreamfall Chapters because I just love the series, I think Ragnar Tournquist is as talented as Joss Whedon *holds up riot shield*. I was also fortunate enough to meet him at Rezzed one time after a Dreamfall Chapters reveal, I asked him about a reference in the first game to my town because it’s just a regular town in the UK and here I am playing the game and there’s this mention of it in one scene that confused the shit out of me with this being a Norwegian game from the 90s XD Anywho yeah, The Longest Journey is my definition of adventure, it’s truly epic, not just a typical use of the word but it really deserves that. As for the second game that too, is actually pretty dam good, so I recommend each game, although you’ll have to wait 7 or 8 years for a sequel to Dreamfall Chapters when that comes out (no really, look up the release dates of each game!).

    As for the infamous Grim Fandango I tried playing it years ago but it didn’t like my PC at the time so now I have it on PS Vita but shamefully I’ve yet to actually complete it, I’m at the forest and I’m loving it so far but as with me and adventure games sometimes I can leave it for ages and then pick it up again (maybe I’ll play it tomorrow though). I’ve also got Broken Sword to play but I kind of don’t end up playing it because as with my Vita I neglect handhelds too much…

    Sorry for my wall of text but adventure games, despite me not having played many, are probably the most memorable and well loved of all games to me

  39. Bernardo says:

    Two games I legitimately don’t understand why they are considered good adventures: a) Machinarium. It has some truly horrible puzzles, Discworld-level absurdity. The cute style just enhanced my feeling of wanting to punch some robot guts after a while. b) Kentucky Route Zero. Yeah, its really good at atmosphere, but there’s basically no gameplay beyond clicking on the next hotspot to advance. And the story felt just bland to me after a while. There’s much better surrealist literature which I’d rather read and listen to some blues in the background.

  40. RuySan says:

    This list is much more akin to my tastes than Richard’s. I salute Joh for including some more modern games and not being stuck in nostalgia. We’re living on a new golden age for the genre, and we should enjoy. I actually think that Machinarium and Ben There/Time Gentleman are better than almost every other adventure game.

    Too bad you didn’t find space to include Primordia and The Whispered World there somewhere. Life is Strange will certainly be among the greats when is finished.

  41. Stevostin says:

    I think Telltale Sam & Max are better than the original, or at the very least the 3rd season which is just incredible.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      My list has Season 3 and Hit the Road sharing the top spot, Season 2 in second and Season 3 in third.

      I mean, my list of best Sam & Max games, not my full list of Best Adventure Games Ever. That has at the very least Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island 2 squeezing in above Sam & Max Season 2.

  42. horrorgasm says:

    Fahrenheit? It was certainly memorable, but I could never call it a great game, personally. Ambitious and interesting, but way too flawed still. It really showed in the last few hours too with how blatantly rushed they were in finishing it on time.

    • Continuity says:

      Agreed its far from perfect, but it was seminal in the evolution of the Adventure genre away from puzzles and toward a more story and experience based focus. Frankly I think it saved the genre.

  43. horrorgasm says:

    Also, bro, no Gabriel Knight 2?

  44. rustybroomhandle says:

    Myst was not great, but Myst IV: Revelations was lovely. Granted, the little “massage Peter Gabriel’s cosmic multi-coloured baubles” minigame was a bit on the cheesy side.

  45. Tom Camfield says:

    I think Beneath the Steel Sky should be on there. It’s a great sci-fi tale that I found very interesting and involving, it actually goes somewhere and develops the central mystery and gets you to participate in some ethical quandaries. It has one of the best characters in point and click history in Joey, who is just such a douche, and his non-human nature throws up some interesting puzzles.

    I also think the way they use instant death really gets to you when the tale turns darker, and you start feeling a little scared of what’s down that corridor, or what’ll happen if you enter that next room. While it’s frustrating to die in a modern tale, it’s far more in keeping with the themes of the game than, for example, any time Larry dies in one of his games where it doesn’t really fit. After all, this is a game where your tribe is killed in the opening cut scene. Plus the amount of gore and inhumanity, it really has a different feel, quite mature, quite playful, without becoming preachy or juvenile.

    Anyway, I think it’s worth checking out. Just don’t turn on the voice acting. Ever. Probably for any point and click, really.

  46. Pazguato says:

    More buzzfeed lists (high fidelity i you want a kinder reference). Ok Monkey 1 is out, but Walking Dead is in… O_O

  47. JamesTheNumberless says:

    I think in 20 years time, game critics will look back and agree that the best adventure game of all time was Cookie Clicker.

  48. airmikee says:

    I love articles like these. Always brings out everyone mooning each other trying to prove that their butthole doesn’t stink and that everyone else’s stinks. Oh wait, not butthole, I meant opinion. Same thing in the end though. Lots of chest thumping and expressions of incredulity that someone else doesn’t share the exact same world view and aesthetic preferences.

    • zapatapon says:

      The exaggerated chest thumping is of course mostly theatrical, tongue-in-cheek, and a silly and fun collective game.
      That is, until a sanctimonious prick comes around, and spoils the fun.

      • Shakes999 says:

        Ouch, Total destruction. Don’t bother checking for survivors.

  49. Robin says:

    The way that ‘adventure game’ has been defined here is very odd. The set of qualifications that applied to the genre in the late 1980s and early 1990s don’t reflect some unchanging design principle. They were a mishmash of technical limitations and marketing shorthand as much as a design discipline.

    Why are there no text adventures in here? Why are there no modern games that hybridise the point of what an adventure game was (exploring a place, telling a story, rewarding lateral thinking to some degree, etc.) with other gameplay styles to make the experience more rounded, accessible and impactful?

    When you’ve done these lists for other genres, you’ve been able to pick things that are old but still play well (or are at least historically interesting) and modern things that are the state of the art. A lot of the entries in this list seem to only have the quality of the writing still going for them, in a sea of horrible design and craft.

    You’re free to wallow in whatever nostalgia you like of course, but I don’t think this paints a broad enough picture of what adventure games can now mean. It’s like someone saying they’re going to list the top pieces of songwriting craft from the whole of the last 100 years, with the unspoken assumption that you know that they just mean pop music, and only in the jazz tradition – oh, and only trad jazz with acoustic instruments and megaphone vocals.

    Machinarium should be much, much higher.

    • Continuity says:

      Yep, I agree with everything you’re saying here, I would now include games like Murdered Soul suspect and alan wake in the Adventure genre, lets face it there is way more “adventure” in either of those than all the lucas arts puzzle games in this list put together.
      Frankly “Adventure” now means something quite different from what it meant in the 80’s and 90’s, when it was pretty much strictly point and click puzzles strung together with a thin plot line.

    • tnzk says:

      @Robin, there was inclusion of the ‘modern’ adventure: Telltale games are quite hybridized at this point, and Farenheit/Indigo Prophecy too. I’ve had friends who liked The Walking Dead and Heavy Rain completely lost as to why I showed them a 90’s adventure title.

      Can’t comment on why text adventures were excluded

      @Continuity: There’s nothing to face. Alan Wake does not have “way more adventure than all the lucas arts puzzle games put together”. Murdered: Soul Suspect shouldn’t count on the account of it being mediocre. Furthermore, adventure games from the late 80s and early 90s had a ton of plot compared to today’s action titles. Even today a series like Blackwell is revelation in contrast to AAA titles.

      • Robin says:

        @tnzk – My revised definition would push the boat out much further than this. I would class a lot of ‘action-adventure’ games that make more than a perfunctory effort to tell a story as adventures. LA Noire, Dishonored or Bioshock being obvious ones. DX:HR (at least, the parts of it they had time to finish properly). Certainly Shenmue and by that token Mafia. What is it doing by having driving or shooting other than what Indy Atlantis was trying to do to give the whole experience of ‘being’ Indy? And The Last of Us is probably the game I’ve played that has most upheld what people like Brian Moriarty and Hal Barwood were trying to do in the last five years.

        Incidentally, all of these games piss all over Fahrenheit(!) from outer space. Its inclusion should be the first clue that something is wrong with your methodology.

      • Continuity says:

        @tnzk I wasn’t suggesting they should go on the list, just pointing out how the genre has changed and broadened.

        @Robin I think you’re straying to into the realm of RPG with the likes of Bioshock, Dishonoured, and DX:HR. Though i’ll give you LA Noire.