Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games

Adventure games have been around for over thirty years! Hard to believe, isn’t it? We’ve seen plenty of classics over the decades, and new gems are still being produced today. With such a rich history, just how many deserve to make a list of all-time greats? Our previous compilation of top adventures had 20 games listed, but that was nearly ten years old itself. So what would it be this time? 25? You’d be amazed how quickly those slots filled. 50? That leaves far fewer casualties, but some series alone can easily stake a claim to three or four slots.

Why not 100?

While much of the world probably couldn’t even name 100 adventure games, those of us who cut our teeth on the groundbreaking early text titles, basked in the Golden Age of graphic adventures, suffered through the dark times and lived to see the modern-day (relative) renaissance know better. It’s not only possible to think of 100 quality adventures, it still leaves some painful omissions.


With a number in mind, that left one important consideration. What constitutes “the best”? How do you compare games spanning decades of styles and technology? Is a now-antiquated genre pioneer from 1985 still a classic today? Does it need to be? Do new games have any right to stand alongside their forebears that paved the way and have stood the test of time? What’s really important? Longevity, innovation, production values, historical relevance? What’s more crucial? Story, exploration, puzzles?

The answer is: all of the above – or none! There’s no scientific formula. It’s a combination of factors that depends entirely on the context for each individual game. You can debate each choice, each placement, and we hope you will! The beauty of opinion lists is that there’s no right or wrong, and we argued long and hard among ourselves just to arrive at ours. Sometimes we even contradicted the site's own reviews. But we’re completely confident that our final selections are deserving candidates and a wonderfully diverse representation of the genre’s best to date. Not every game will suit every taste, but there’s plenty of must-play gaming for all in our top 100 all-time adventure games.

Can’t be bothered reading the whole article? Or just can’t handle the suspense? Click here for the complete, full-spoiler list. (But you don’t know what you’re missing!)

Agree with our choices? Disagree? A little of both, somewhere in between? Have your say in the reader comments below.

And now, let's get started!


Table of Contents

 

Page 2: #100-96

Page 3: #95-91

Page 4: #90-86

Page 5: #85-81

Page 6: #80-76

Page 7: #75-71

Page 8: #70-66

Page 9: #65-61

Page 10: #60-56

Page 11: #55-51

Page 12: #50-46

Page 13: #45-41

Page 14: #40-36

Page 15: #35-31

Page 16: #30-26

Page 17: #25-21

Page 18: #20-16

Page 19: #15-11

Page 20: #10-6

Page 21: #5-1


First up: #100-96...

Continued on the next page...




About the Author

Comments

colpet colpet
Dec 29, 2011

Fingers crossed for Riven and GK2 in the top 5.

small dickie small dickie
Dec 29, 2011

Gabriel Knight: Sins Of The Fathers on 16th place? Really? Thats a really huge mistake. This game is easily one the five best adventure games ever created.

spiderman_0710
Dec 30, 2011

Looking foward to see DOTT at the highest place. There was not, there is not and there will never be a game like DOTT.
(Sorry about the bad english).

Nothingman
Dec 30, 2011

People complaining because The Longest Journey made its way into top 10 would not recognize piece of art even if you put them in the Louvre Museum Smile

There is really no reason to complain to anything here. All games that made it this high are very good games, and most of them can take spot 1 deservingly. It is just matter of taste. I guess some people would only be happy if you put all sequels of their favorite game on top X spots Smile

headbanger
Dec 30, 2011

what!!! gabriel knight 1 is not on the top ten? and monkey island 1 neither???damnn thats surprising for me…

i think grim fandango will be number 1, when u see the big picture, that game still stands for the epitome of what it is all we love in an adventure game…

but wait… gk1 on 14, and mk1 on 13…damn…thats weird…

Mêlée
Dec 30, 2011

I agree with the comments of ghettodog and Crix regarding Monkey Island… however the list was a great idea from Adventuregamers and I’ve been exited to see how the list turns out day by day. Smile
I’m really rooting for Grim Fandango now to make it to the top of the list, if I had to choose from one of the big names that still haven’t appeared on the list yet.
Day of the Tentacle is also EXCELLENT, don’t forget that ever!! Smile

Since each of us would have their own list of top adventure games, I would suggest on some kind of a voting to find out what is the REAL Best Adventure Game ever. If we would be able to do something like that, I would accept that winner as the ultimate adventure game.

Gonzosports Gonzosports
Dec 30, 2011

By process of elimination, you can tell what’s coming - I consider Riven the greatest video game ever in any genre so I’m hoping for a top 5 spot.

I’m glad Amber and Heavy Rain are on here. I liked PQ1 better than 2. I think this list is very solid…but…TLJ and Broken Sword (both highly overrated) are about to make me cringe.

Sinusoid
Dec 30, 2011

Oh, I forgot to mention brilliant game Little Big Adventure. It also deserves to be in top 10.
So I guess it have to be more than 10 games (at least 11). So maybe there will be 2 first places in this list.

Tropicalia
Dec 30, 2011

Really, really interested in seeing what games made it to the top ten now because in my opinion Gabriel Knight should have been ranked so much higher for so many reasons and i cant really see 15 adventure games out there being “better”.

As a matter of fact I would say GK easily finds it way it into my top three adventure games of all time and perhaps my top ten of all time.

Better be a reason for this Wink

 

 

inm8#2 inm8#2
Dec 30, 2011

No huge gripes here, as I can imagine it’s quite difficult to make such a list. My major differences would be:

- Replace Black Mirror with one of the sequels.
- SQ IV higher, possibly add SQ V to a lower position.
- Portal 2 is a great game but since it’s not a pure AG I would have it lower.
- GK1 is a Top 5 game of all time (my personal favorite)
- SOMI and KQ6 would be Top 10

Looking forward to the final 10 spots!

immortalwind
Dec 30, 2011

Some of all time favorite adventures are not in this list, and I seriously doubt that they will be in the Top10. Ohh, I guess that’s always the case with lists….

Opinions, opinions, opinions….

immortalwind
Dec 30, 2011

Ok, let’s make a guess:

In no specific order:

1) Riven
2) The Longest Journey
3) Monkey Island 2
4) Grim Fandango
5) Day of the Dentacle

What I would like to see (but know I won’t)
6) URU: Complete Chronicles
7) Complete Rhem Series
Cool Schizm
9) Riddle of the Sphinx

Did I see Lost Crown or Gray Matter on that list? I need to check this again.

Tiago
Dec 30, 2011

Not a single game of the Atlantis cycle up till now.. maybe it’s just my nostalgia making them transcend the standard adventure game. I would place Machinarium, Grim Fandango and Atlantis 2 in the top 5.

Toefur Toefur
Dec 30, 2011

Obviously Monkey Island is not in the top 10 because Monkey Island 2 will be. I know (2) is considered by many to be the better of the two and pretty sure it’s been the preferred of the editors here but I’ve always found Monkey 1 to be just so perfect and charming in so many ways, moreso than #2. But I’m not going to complain.

What I’d really love to see after this Top 100 is a Top 100 of ALL games of ALL time, just to get an idea of where the top adventure games fit within a top 100 when compared against everything out there. That would be interesting Smile

Fuz
Dec 30, 2011

The Secret of Monkey Island and Indiana Jones 4 not in the top five.


Incompetents.

kelmer
Dec 30, 2011

This top is surreal. You can argue that “it’s our opinion”, and it would still be ludicrous.

ghettodoghammer
Dec 30, 2011

“It may not have the most incredible graphics, the funniest lines, or the cleverest puzzles”

Then why put Grim Fandango at the top of the list? It was not the greatest game of all time, surely not. I played it and it was fun, but only for a little while, then I forgot all about it. I believe The Last Express, Monkey Island 1 or 2, or Blade Runner were much better. Or Sam and Max or Day of the Tentacle. In fact, I agree more with your old list, that Day of the Tentacle was the best game ever. Definitely not Grim Fandango. If it was such a great game, why didn’t the control scheme catch on in adventure games? How can you put it at the top when the keyboard control of the game was so frustrating that players hated it when it came out, demanding a return to point and click. No, I didn’t like moving Manny around with the keyboard and having to watch his head focus on items, plus some of the camera angles left much to be desired. It was an experimental game to be sure, but I don’t think the experiment worked.

aimless
Dec 30, 2011

This is silly but…YES, YES, YES!  Grim Fandango!

lostwolfe
Dec 30, 2011

thankyou, folks, for a wonderful, intriguing list.  it has been a pleasure to watch unfold.

as for you guys going BAWWWW.  THIS IS UNPROFESSIONAL AND AWFUL AND WRONG!

being footstompy is just silly.  it’s their list, they’re allowed.  taste is pretty much a subjective thing.  of /course/ you’re going to feel differently to what the adventuregamers staff is going to feel about particular games.

just relax and enjoy.

Cellardoor
Dec 30, 2011

Ah, Grim Fandango. Agreed, it is probably the best choice for #1.

Great to see GK2 in the top 3!

Thanks for putting the list together, AG staff!

small dickie small dickie
Dec 30, 2011

The top 10 really ruins the whole thing. GK 2 better than 1? Hah? Thats appaling. Beast Within is easily the worst in this great series. Broken Sword and Riven better than Day Of The Tentacle? Well thats really something.

Kurufinwe Kurufinwe
Dec 30, 2011

What?!?! GRIM FANDANGO?!? I’m FURIOUS!!!!!!!!! You people are really a bunch of COMPLETE . . .  Oh wait. Actually, I think it’s pretty good choice. I’ve never really understood the cult of Tim Schaffer, but Grim Fandango is clearly a very good game, and it’s a nice, uncontroversial choice for #1. (I haven’t replayed it in ages; I really should do that!)

Well, that’s it then. I may have some gripes here and there, but it’s a good list with a very solid Top-10. It has already made me play Gemini Rue, and there are more games it’s made me want to try or to replay, and ultimately that’s what really matters. Big thanks to all involved!

Scuotivento
Dec 30, 2011

Why are not there in the top 100 the following games?

Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders,
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,
Discworld,
Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror,
The Legend of Kyrandia,
The Legend of Kyrandia II: Hand of Fate,
The Legend of Kyrandia III: Malcolm’s Revenge,
Runaway - A Road Adventure,
Hollywood Monsters,
Fable,
Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azimuth,
Touche: The Adventures of the Fifth Musketeer,
Flight of the Amazon Queen

Jackal Jackal
Dec 30, 2011

Um, because we liked these hundred better.

Sinusoid
Dec 30, 2011

I was pretty sure that LBA and Goblins 3 (or maybe Gobliins 2) would be in top 10. And they are not even in top 100! There are no words to describe how disappointed I am.

immortalwind
Dec 30, 2011

3 of my all time favorite games are on the Top5 (Riven, Grim and Journey).

I haven’t played Gabriel Knight (shame on me, I know) so I can’t judge, but Broken Sword??? Seriously guys??? Oh come on…. Would barely had a place in my Top30, let alone Top5.

Oh whatever, opinions, opinions…

dekaneas297 dekaneas297
Dec 30, 2011

I don’t agree with many rankings. And this is normal. But the worrying thing is that most members knew exacltly what the top10 would be from the very start of this countdown.

aaroncarney
Dec 30, 2011

Why isn’t Gabriel Knight 3 in the top 20 Frown Wah! Thats one of my favourite games.

veruncheek veruncheek
Dec 30, 2011

@ Sinusoid: I am sure they would make it, especially Little Big Adventure, but I guess they were not considered adventure games - I mean pure adventure games. There is an RPG aspect in LBA, but I always thought about this game as an adventure. Great game with lots of fans. I love the second LBA, the first one was way too difficult for me. (Well, not only for me… :-)

inm8#2 inm8#2
Dec 30, 2011

People, it’s a list of games. If it doesn’t agree with your personal rankings, that doesn’t invalidate your enjoyment of those games or diminish their quality. It’s a collected opinion of a group of AG fans/writers and a solid list. Sure, I’d move a couple of things around a bit, but the hardcore complaining is a bit much.

small dickie small dickie
Dec 30, 2011

LBA games dont even have a single review on this site so i expected these games wont be in this top. Funny thing is a lot of publications (the great and defunct PC Zone being one of them) and a lot of people acknowledge these games as adventure games because these are truly adventure games more than anything. The term “ACTION” really doesnt suit them. This site has a non-flexible policy about LBA and this top 100 was a great idea but the top 10 was a disappointment.

Veovis
Dec 30, 2011

Thx for the list! Very entertaining and interesting read. I pretty much agree with the top 5, although I would have put Riven on top and replaced The Longest Journey with Gabriel Knight 3 and put it in second place.

graphicsgriffin
Dec 31, 2011

It is strange that there is no Grim Fandango 2. When your game is rated the best adventure game ever for more than 10 years, it means that it deserves a sequel.

Interplay Interplay
Dec 31, 2011

Once again, thanks to the AG staff for this tremendous effort!  (Best. Feature. Ever.)  I can’t wait to play some of these that I have overlooked over the years(TLE,GK2). 

@graphicsgriffin: Please don’t give them any ideas.  All we need is Telltale making an episodic Grim Fandango game.

aimless
Dec 31, 2011

@graphicsgriffin: How would you make a sequel to Grim?  Derail the #9 before it gets to the Ninth Underworld?  Somehow, I don’t think so.  This is a masterpiece, leave it be. 

Like just about everyone else I have my disagreements with the list but the AG staff did a great job of it: very entertaining, very well thought out and written.  Thanks to all of you!

Toddling off now to find out why DoTT rates so highly with nearly everyone.

after a brisk nap
Dec 31, 2011

Meh… that Top 10 (and particularly Top 5) is pretty WTF-y. Really makes me wonder about the judgments going into the ranking. Disappointing.

bevil031
Dec 31, 2011

I’m very happy that Broken Sword made it to #4, as it is (in my opinion) the best adventure ever)...but, The Longest Journey at #2 and Broken Sword at #4….I don’t think so : / - It was a good game, but not as good as Broken Sword 1…I would have put the second….maybe third, but probably not…to the list, but I understand (judging by the review), AG doesn’t really like the second game… : ) - I think, even though BS1’s my favourite, you should atleast put some Monkey Island game, or, Sam & Max infront of in, instead of Grim Fandango or The Longest Journey….oh, and I think Gabriel Knight 1’s better then GK2, but they’re both great games!

Ascovel Ascovel
Dec 31, 2011

I’m very happy you included Black Dahlia - one of my favorites. The old AG review bizarrely gives it only 2,5 stars while the text speaks rather highly of it.

Overall, I like the list - the fact it includes such a variety of games and series and some lesser known gems (It would be easy to fill it all with sequels and hits).

On the other hand I feel you went overboard with the inclusion of so many newer games. I’m not really sure they’ll stand the test of time. Also, I find it difficult to accept you consider the Portals to be adventure games, yet no other puzzle games - feels inconsistent to me.

markerr
Dec 31, 2011

Wow..oh wow..I tried the top two games some time ago and didn’t like either of them! ah well, each to his own I guess. Lovely to see Gabriel Knight Beast Within rated high as it was a truly wonderfully written game. Thanks so much for this list. It’s a keeper.

loserloser
Dec 31, 2011

Definetily Longest Journey is not better than Pandora Directive - my personal favorite of all time Smile

Interplay Interplay
Dec 31, 2011

Well, this has prompted me to dig around in my closet and find my old original CD-ROMs for Grim Fandango.  Time to give it another spin.

Murdara
Dec 31, 2011

Even though I enjoyed both, The Longest Journey and Grim Fandango, I think they aren’t anywhere near the best adventures of ‘‘ALL-TIME’‘, My personal favourite is the first Broken Sword game (“Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars”), and the second was a great game too, the third wasn’t as nearly as good as the previous two, but still “awesome”. After ‘‘The Shadow of the Templars”, and maybe the second BS game, I would have to say, that my favourite games are…The Special Editions of the first two Monkey Island game - because, I loved the first two MI games, but when I played the Special Editions, I couldn’t go back to the originals!....ooh, and, how could I forget, Sam & Max Hit the Road. But as I stated above, Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars is, in my opinion much better the both, The Longest Journey and Grim Fandango… Broken Sword ftw!—But, overall, I enjoyed the list :-D

lackesse
Dec 31, 2011

I’m glad to see Broken Sword in top 5(easily the best adventure IMO) Grim Fandango?really? To each of its own I guess. Never finished Gabriel Knight (I know, kill me w / fire) but now it’s the perfect time to start the game from scratch. I simply love classic point&click; adventures from 90’s (best era)
Thanks AG staff for making this list. Happy new year’s eve, everyone.

ghettodoghammer
Dec 31, 2011

I’ve been playing adventure games since the days of Colossal Cave, the old text adventures, and I have NEVER played a game better than the first two Monkey Island games. They will always be the best adventure games of all time. Your list is like saying Chopin is the greatest composer, while Mozart is about number 15 of the top 100. No way that’s true, Grim Fandango is a good game, but it isn’t a work of genius. Monkey Island IS a work of genius, it will be remembered as the greatest by most people and future generations.

Jackal Jackal
Dec 31, 2011

I think we’ll let “most people” think and speak for themselves.

natalia
Jan 1, 2012

Heh, I personally prefer Chopin (and Brahms) to Mozart (give me the romantics over the baroque composers any day). To each his own, as they say.

Peter254 Peter254
Jan 1, 2012

If you were to remove the numbers from this list, it would be the most perfect and most varied list of adventure games I have ever seen compiled on the internet.

With the numbers and hierarchy, it is still a good list. While I don’t agree with everything, I certainly don’t disagree with most of their reasoning. Also: viva Grim Fandango.

lackesse
Jan 1, 2012

I like this thread, I’m feeling 90’s again.Smile)))

orient orient
Jan 1, 2012

Well, my no.1 made it to no.4, and most of my favourites made the list so I can’t complain.

I wish people would give up claiming that *insert extremely popular game here* is overrated. Overrated to you, perhaps, but the fact that it has made the list is a good indication of it’s stature amongst other adventure gamers. I guess it’s more about having the ability to view a game from a different perspective and appreciating that others don’t always share your opinion.

inflikkt inflikkt
Jan 1, 2012

i could never get into grim fandango


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