Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games feature

 

#60 – Another Code (aka Trace Memory)

Another Code was the first game to illustrate the potential of the Nintendo DS as a pre-eminent adventure platform, and remains one of the best to this day. This 2005 release by Cing stands out as a true gem not only for its gentle, melancholy story and characters, but also for the ingenious ways the developer utilized the handheld device's hardware. Fourteen-year old Ashley begins the game believing her parents died when she was a young child, but a mysterious letter turns her world upside down when it reveals that her father is still alive on the remote, ominously-named Blood Edward Island. Upon arriving at the island herself, Ashley ventures out on her own to find him. Soon she runs into the ghost of a boy named D, who seems just as lost as she. Together this unlikely pair explores the island and the massive Edward Mansion to discover the fate of Ashley's family and learn more about D's history.

Throughout the game, Ashley uses a DS-analogue device called a DTS to interact with the world. By exploring every object, players can unlock not only Ashley's story but D's as well. Another Code (known as Trace Memory in North America) makes use of every mechanic and feature the DS has to offer, from a variety of touch screen-based interactions to blowing on the microphone to simulate a strong breath to closing the DS lid to trigger the handheld's sleep mode in order to advance. The game’s Japanese developer would go on to create many more innovative adventure games for the system, but Another Code was the first hint of the greatness not only for them but their chosen platform as well.

You might also like: Another Code: R – A Journey Into Lost Memories, Alpha Polaris

 

#59 – Myst III: Exile

Any fears that the acclaimed Myst franchise would suffer in the move from Cyan Worlds to Presto Studios quickly proved unfounded when Exile was released in 2001.  Taking place ten years after the events of Riven, the third installment sees the unnamed, unseen stranger arrive at Atrus's house to see a new Age he has created. However, a mysterious antagonist steals the book, seeking revenge on Atrus for crimes that his sons committed. To track down the perpetrator and recover the book, there are three new Ages to explore. Each world offers its own unique flavour, including the industrial-tinged Voltanic island, the Asian theme park-inspired world of Amateria (with its own rideable roller coaster!), and the lush garden world of Edanna. The locations are wonderfully diverse and beautifully rendered, and for the first time in the series you could sweep the camera completely around you for a full panoramic view. 

Returning to the self-contained challenges of the original Myst, each Age has its own assortment of puzzle challenges.  As usual, many of them are somewhat mechanical in nature, but while not always easy by any means, they are certainly easier than the puzzles in the first two games.  To some this marked a regrettable simplification of the series, while to others it represented a more inviting, accessible experience while still delivering a solid challenge and remaining true to the spirit of its predecessors.  Brad Dourif’s (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) over-the-top live-action portrayal of the villainous Saavedro also met with mixed reactions, but there’s no denying he threw himself into the role with gusto.  In the end, Exile didn’t quite measure up to the quality of its forebears, but it was a worthy sequel in the venerable franchise that still holds up well today.

You might also like: Schizm series, RHEM series

 

#58 – Star Trek: Judgment Rites

Not only do you not have to be a Trekkie (or “Trekker” in the more acceptable parlance) to enjoy Star Trek: Judgment Rites, but this 1998 sci-fi classic may just make you one all on its own.  Although 25th Anniversary was an admirable attempt to adapt the Enterprise, the Federation, and Klingons to the genre, Judgment Rites is a nearly perfect marriage of adventure convention and all the lore and excitement of the Star Trek universe. It features all the original cast members as voice actors; in fact, it would be the last time that DeForest Kelley ever performed as Dr. McCoy in a released product. Interplay was not an adventure genre heavyweight, but they adapted the Sierra-style interface well for their purposes and spared no expense in creating an excellent inter-galactic adventure.

The story of Judgment Rites is a memorable one, with eight individual scenarios that end up tying together in the philosophical tests of an incredibly memorable final chapter. The storylines include such elements as time travel, a kidnapping of a major crew member, and a return of the character Trelane from an Original Series television episode. It is incredible fan service for existing Star Trek fans, but even for the non-fans it is an exceptional science fiction adventure game that is incredibly well written and acted, feeling big-budget and important in every way. The devastating cancellation of The Secret of Vulcan Fury the following year assured its place as the last, but greatest, Original Series Star Trek adventure game.

You might also like: Star Trek: 25th Anniversary

 

#57 – Indigo Prophecy (aka Fahrenheit)

In 2005, Quantic Dream wowed us with the promise of Indigo Prophecy, a dramatic game with a vastly elastic storyline that would change with almost any decision the player made. While the finished product didn’t quite live up to the hype, it is nonetheless a fascinating game that explores a ritualistic murder from the opposing perspectives of the bewildered killer and the cops on his tail. Its gameplay is immersive, its art direction stylish and cinematic, and its storyline engrossing (for the first two-thirds, anyway). Long before the Wii, Xbox Kinect, and PlayStation Move, Indigo Prophecy’s tactile controls – requiring moving the mouse or gamepad analog stick in a pattern that mimics your character’s on-screen action – were one-of-a-kind. Animations and facial expressions are fluid and believable, thanks to extensive use of motion capture. And though the story is sometimes larger than life, it also touches on characters’ personal and even intimate moments, giving us an unparalleled connection to the people we’re controlling.

Set in an atmospheric New York City that’s blanketed in snow and peppered with cinematic camera angles and cuts, Indigo Prophecy (known as Fahrenheit in Europe) was the first game since the FMV era that felt like playing a movie. Its ubiquitous Simon-style Quick Time Events and nonsensical conclusion often draw criticism, but the story-focused gameplay, characters, and initial plot are so well developed and implemented that the game remains an impressive accomplishment. The story may be way more linear than it originally seemed, but tucked within this linearity are a wealth of small actions that players can experiment with to slightly change a scene. At a time when adventures were fighting for mainstream legitimacy, Indigo Prophecy proved that story-driven games can be just as compelling as action blockbusters and feel right at home on consoles as well as PC. It might be a bit too soon to truly understand its impact on the genre, but if the subsequent success of other high-profile games is any indication, the benefit is one we’ll be enjoying for years to come.

You might also like: Red Johnson’s Chronicles, Jurassic Park: The Game

 

#56 – In Memoriam (aka MISSING: Since January)

French developer Lexis Numérique has been around since the late ‘90s, crafting dozens of licensed titles and children's games. In the English-speaking world, however, they're mostly recognized for creating experimental, high-concept adventure games. Their 2003 release In Memoriam (or MISSING: Since January in North America) isn't just a zany experiment, however – it's a dense, satisfying, well constructed adventure unlike any other. Borrowing ideas from alternate reality games, In Memoriam blends fact and fiction as the player does real internet research while solving a series of riddles and arcade-like minigames to save a journalist and his companion from a deranged killer known as The Phoenix.

The game itself is presented as a CD ROM sent out by the killer, daring you to outsmart him. As the mystery unfolds it directs you to a series of dedicated websites hidden online, which begin to unweave a historical conspiracy that suggests The Phoenix might not be quite as crazy as he seems. The story is pretty stock stuff, and will be instantly familiar to anyone brought up on a diet of Broken Sword or Gabriel Knight. But the attention to detail, the careful verisimilitude and some convincing live-action handicam clips recorded by the victims help make the secret world of In Memoriam a believable and engrossing place. The riddles and minigames are challenging and inventive, and the desperate attempt to free the captives gives even the more abstract puzzling tangible meaning. The game may be an acquired taste, but it remains one of the genre’s first (if not only) forays into the emerging ARG format, and one that may never be bettered.

You might also like: EVIDENCE: The Last Ritual, The Experiment (aka Experience112)

 


 

Next up: #55-51...

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Comments

diego diego
Dec 19, 2011

Great idea, i loved the Top 20 list. Though, I’m already sad to see Toonstruck go this high, but oh well.. that’s the thing with the lists.

This would also be a good reminder for the games still to play, i’ve already got my eye on Faust from Day 1.

Kurufinwe Kurufinwe
Dec 19, 2011

I Already Hate[TM] this list… Tongue

Seriously, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I can’t help but see how inherently silly it is to try to rank things as wildly different as Faust and Toonstruck on the same scale—- and no amount of handwaving in the introduction is going to change that. But on the other hand, I’m already getting caught up in the horse race, glad to see that the Runaway series ended up with the dregs where it belongs, hoping that Day of the Tentacle will join it soon (rather than being at the very top of the list as it was last time), hating that The Dig is at such a low spot, wondering what I would put on the top spot (I guess Monkey Island 1 is, for better or worse, the quintessential adventure game), etc.

In any case, this list has already given me ideas for good games I haven’t played yet and that I should give a chance to, and I’m sure there will be many more in the coming days, and for that I am grateful. Smile

Cellardoor
Dec 19, 2011

Awesome, this’ll be something to look forward to each day! :-) Nice to see that Gold Rush! made the list.

ghettodoghammer
Dec 19, 2011

Why don’t you review some of these games, like Space Bar and Gold Rush? I would love to read your take on them, but they’re conspiciously absent from the review boards.

Jackal Jackal
Dec 19, 2011

We reviewed Gold Rush, but yes, there are some we haven’t, and revisiting these older games for the list has motivated us to get those covered. Really it’s as much a matter of availability and compatibility at this point. We don’t all still have 20-year old games on hand anymore, or have success getting them to run. But we’ll try! Kurufinwe, that’s the spirit! Grin

Arial Type Arial Type
Dec 19, 2011

Finally, the TOP 100! Every thematic website should have one of those) I remember earlier TOP 20s on AG, but they weren’t that fulfilling, and they were really only one man’s point of view.

So far I’ve only got one big complaint - The Dig. It is not only a great adventure game on its own, but it is also one of the best sci-fi games, with an original, developed story and universe. It is one of the earliest and most organic adventure/puzzle mixes that overshadow Myst. And I’m not even talking about the music, which is arguably one of the best scores in gaming history. The game is at least TOP 50 material.

And I’m also with Kurufinwe with hopes for DoTT. It has seen enough first places already Smile

dekaneas297 dekaneas297
Dec 19, 2011

Won’t there be a vote for top 2011 adventure games?

Jackal Jackal
Dec 19, 2011

That’s the Aggie Awards Totally different animal. And yes, that’ll happen in February, as usual, including the reader vote.

inm8#2 inm8#2
Dec 19, 2011

I think the last Top 20 list was in April 2004, so this Top 100 list is long overdue. There have been some great games in the last 7 years so it’s natural to expand the list. Plus, it helps people like me who like to organize lists of games they’ve played, plan to play, etc.

ncf1
Dec 19, 2011

already have to disagree, strongly. Toonstruck is far better than The Dig, for starters, yet precedes it. Runaway is just tripe not worth revisiting.. not sure I will bother with the rest to be honest.

gray pierce gray pierce
Dec 20, 2011

Bugger the fact you allready went through the ***1/2 section probably means no BS3, SF: Tunguska or Lost Horizon on the list. I never expected them to end up very high but not at all? Shame. Also imo: Runaway 2 wipes the floor with Runaway 3 whom I consider to be the least good of all installments.

Oscar Oscar
Dec 20, 2011

I’m not looking at the rankings at all. Already half the games posted are ones I haven’t played, and that’s why I read these lists. I don’t really care whether my favorite game is at #1 or #100 if it’s on the list.

zane
Dec 20, 2011

Looks good so far. Iv played half of these first 10 games and i agree with their positions. Iv never been a big fan of the dig, despite its nice production values. The puzzles are boring and tedious and the story goes real flat imo. The atmosphere is nice though and its certainly worth a look for anyone who considers themself an adventure-gamer.

Rolandesch Rolandesch
Dec 20, 2011

The first snow fell yesterday and now THIS! I cant believe that 2 of my wishes became true on the same day! I have to quote the great Homer on this because I am at a loss for words. “Tramampoline! Trampopoline!”
I have to put this list on my Top 100 things that happened this year Smile

tsa tsa
Dec 20, 2011

Woot, this is so much fun! I can’t wait to see how many of the games in the list I have played! And it’s a perfect opportunity to find out what games I missed but really must play. And yes, of course I already hate this list but of course when composing a list like this you are like a politician in the sense that you never do it right. One request: when everything is published, can you then make a list of links to the descriptions of all the games?

Jackal Jackal
Dec 20, 2011

Oh yes, there will be a complete list of all the games at the end, with links to their respective article pages, if that’s what you mean.

Agustín Cordes Agustín Cordes
Dec 20, 2011

Kudos for giving respect to The Dark Eye! That said, I will very disappointed if there are no Legend Entertainment titles featured.

sordy-wordy sordy-wordy
Dec 20, 2011

It would be nice to have the year of release next to each title.

But nice work! , i love these lists although you can never agree 100% with them.

Interplay Interplay
Dec 20, 2011

Some great choices on Day 2!  Good to see Laura Bow.  Also, very pleased to see Dark Fall 1 - a classic I only recently played.  The 7th Guest absolutely had to be included on this list.  It’s hard to overstate how exciting it was when my brother and I got a CD-ROM drive and loaded up this game.  It was so different and exciting.

Jackal Jackal
Dec 20, 2011

Sordy-wordy, the release year is listed in each and every write-up. Have to give people some incentive to actually read them. Grin

rtrooney rtrooney
Dec 21, 2011

So far I can’t agree or disagree with any selection. When it gets closer to the top ten or twenty is where my hackles might rise.

Arial Type Arial Type
Dec 21, 2011

It’s nice to see Spycraft and The Dark Eye made it to the top. While not mainstream or well-known, they fully deserve it.

Focused
Dec 21, 2011

What a fun feature! Several of these games bring back fond memories. I also see quite a few classics I haven’t played, some of which I had completely forgotten. I’m enjoying those informative write-ups as well.

I’m very excited to discover the remaining 80!

zane
Dec 21, 2011

List continues to look very good. Quest for glory 2 is a favorite of mine and would definitely rank better on my list (especially if you count the drastic improvement by the agd remake), but still a solid write-up of the game.

Fien Fien
Dec 21, 2011

I already love AG’s top hundred! I’m surprised and delighted to see The Space Bar and Spycraft included. So what if nobody agrees with the ranking. I bet not even the staff members themselves agree with it. Smile And this is undoubtedly the most interesting part. When we’ve reached 35-40, the territory will become all-too familiar: Syberia, Still Life, MI, more LucasArts, the Gabriel Knights, more Sierra, TLE, TLJ, etcetera

Emin
Dec 21, 2011

Awesome list, I’ll save it for future reference!

subbi
Dec 21, 2011

Should the Quest for Glory series even be nominated for the TOP100 Adventure game?
These games are clearly RPG’s in essence. If these are featured on the list, then also “The Elder Scrolls” series (and maybe others) should be featured aswel…

Jackal Jackal
Dec 21, 2011

In our books, they should. QFG is a breed all its own, but clearly as much adventures as RPG, unlike Elder Scrolls or any other RPG series.

diego diego
Dec 21, 2011

QFG is definitely “adventure” with “RPG” elements more than the other way around. It also helps they come from Sierra.  Wink

Vel
Dec 21, 2011

I just hope Day of the Tentacle does not retain its #1. =)

gray pierce gray pierce
Dec 21, 2011

Yay SH: The Awakened made it to the list! You might wanna review that review though considering you placed right in the middle of 4 star territory. Plus I think it deserves that extra star.

gray pierce gray pierce
Dec 21, 2011

Oops, actually that’s not correct. The further I get the more the ratings drop. That can’t be right, can it?

Jackal Jackal
Dec 21, 2011

Review scores have nothing to do with this list. Obviously most will be highly rated in both, but not all. For one thing, a review is ultimately just one person’s opinion, and this is a full staff effort, and a review is also frozen in time. It doesn’t factor in legacy, subsequent enhancements, etc. The Awakened, for example, was considered at least in part because of its remastered version, which did something no other game has ever done.

smulan smulan
Dec 21, 2011

Steam just now has an excellent offer of the Frogware Sherlock series including Awakened. Bargain prices.

aimless
Dec 21, 2011

I’m really enjoying this list, too.  I know the greatest game of all time probably won’t make the pinnacle but I can live with that…I guess.  It’s entertaining to read what seem to be well considered opinions about so many games I haven’t played and might like to one day.

gray pierce gray pierce
Dec 21, 2011

@Jackal: I see, that makes sense. Thanks for clarifying that.

headbanger
Dec 22, 2011

Maniac Mansion should be in the top 20 the least…

cashif
Dec 22, 2011

IMHO it’s very dangerous to make all-time lists. But i think this list is very successful and useful so far. or was until #64, The Book of Unwritten Tales. it musn’t be in top 100 (imho again.)

rottford
Dec 22, 2011

Loom is No. 61??? It would be a sin to not include it in the top 25.

Arial Type Arial Type
Dec 22, 2011

Agreed, Loom is one of the most unique and wonderful adventure experiences, way ahead of its time. And BoUT, Drawn, The Awakened might belong to the “Top decent adventure games of the last 5 years”, but Top 100… Well, at least Shadow of the Comet made it. Now my soul can rest in peace.

inm8#2 inm8#2
Dec 23, 2011

I like Black Dahlia’s inclusion. It’s a great game, apart from some extremely difficult puzzles and a silly ending. The first 2/3 or so of the game are fantastic AG storytelling.

It’s funny that this site’s review is 2/5 stars, but the game made it onto this list. Huzzah!

Xsiah
Dec 23, 2011

I would have liked to see Toonstruck and Loom a little higher. They’re both very charming. I’m hoping to see The Curse of Monkey Island near the top.

cygma
Dec 23, 2011

from other comments here too, i see that the Loom is the first miss in this nonetheless great list..keep on giving them!as you may say the list depends on the staffs views on each game but still the readers show otherwise. i didnt expect it to reach #1 as it is in my own list (And yes im playing adventure games for 20+ years now) but it should be among t he 25 best titles based on story, MUSIC, interface ,g raphics (For its age)...

markerr
Dec 23, 2011

I just recently started playing Black Dahlia again so I’m really happy to see that it made it into the top 100.  It’s a wonderful game!

I found an installer that extracts all 8 cd’s into one neat bundle on your HD so you can play if from there with no cd swapping.  Also had an option to remove those lines from the FMV sequences and to slow it down on dual core machines so it runs really well on XP.

So it’s like playing for the first time…all over again :-)

JanaBanana JanaBanana
Dec 23, 2011

Nice idea I can’t wait to see top games. My favorite games so far are not on the list Smile)) Also this list is going to help me find out about games I missed to play.

MoonBird MoonBird
Dec 23, 2011

Syberia II: you might also like: “A New Beginning” *tries to clean up coffee that slpashed around the screen*

gray pierce gray pierce
Dec 23, 2011

You guys did tremendous work here so one really shouldn’t complain but…Dreamfall on #51? I mean in terms of gameplay it might not be perfect but storywise it’s by far the best game ever made! Imo it deserves a place in the top 20 but then again it’s not my call. Still I think not even in the top50 is very harsh on such a magnificent and awe inspiring game.

aimless
Dec 23, 2011

Hand me that rag, moonbird.  My monitor’s dripping, too.

Jackal Jackal
Dec 23, 2011

Sharing one’s lack of motor control doesn’t tell us anything contructive. I stand by the Syberia 2/ANB recommendation 100%.

MoonBird MoonBird
Dec 23, 2011

The only linking thing between the two is that they are 3rd person adventures. Even if I think my brain to breakpoint, I can’t see anything else in common. Even the gameplay is totally different. Syberia is uninteractive, ascetic and includes a lot of running, while on the other hand ANB is a crystal clear oppisite: Rich in hotspots, detailed and no running at all. I really would like to hear an explanation for this recommendation. I’m not trying to brag, i’m really just curious, because I can’t find the point there.


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