Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games

#45 – The Curse of Monkey Island

Series creator Ron Gilbert may have parted ways with LucasArts, but that didn’t stop the company from continuing the Monkey Island franchise, and in 1997 The Curse of Monkey Island marked a welcome return to the wacky world of Guybrush Threepwood. Helmed by the team that brought us Full Throttle, the third game changed the look, sound, and feel of the series considerably, but kept the familiar humour that we’d all come to love. The stunning graphical overhaul was evident from the get-go. Gone was the darker, more realistic pixel art look of LeChuck’s Revenge and in its place was a more vibrant, hand-painted cartoon style that still looks great today. It also managed to build successfully on the established brand, introducing excellent new additions like Murray the talking skull and some exotic new locations.


The most important addition to the series, however, was the inclusion of voiced characters for the first time: Guybrush, Elaine, and LeChuck were now brought fully to life by the likes of Dominic Armato, Alexandra Boyd and Earl Boen. Suddenly there was new depth to characters we already felt comfortable with and all proved immensely popular, the actors continuing in their roles even to this day. The game was not immune to criticism, mainly focused on its short length and abrupt ending, and it never quite achieved the heights of its predecessors, especially by those who questioned its place in Monkey Island canon. Still, it’s undoubtedly an excellent continuation of the series and a fantastic adventure game in its own right.

You might also like: Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island, A Vampyre Story, So Blonde

 

#44 – Simon the Sorcerer

Simon the Sorcerer is a very British game. It takes a certain sense of humour to truly enjoy everything it has to offer, but for those who share it (and there are many), this is a wonderful game. Released in 1993, Simon was AdventureSoft’s breakaway property after a string of minor successes. A full-blown parody of fairy tales and fantasy tropes with a particularly dry sense of humour, a Disney classic this is not. From the pig-faced Rapunzel to the drunken dwarfs, few beloved children’s characters survive unscathed. Simon himself is an obnoxious youth with few redeeming features, and the supporting characters are equally repellent. All the elements are wrong, and yet the finished result is not only charming, it is extremely fun to play.

The young apprentice’s first journey into the vast and vibrant magical realm made use of revolutionary technology at the time, sporting some beautiful living backdrops that kept the forest perpetually alive. The soundtrack was similarly lauded for its accomplishments, offering tunes you could easily identify even now if heard out of context. The script is chock-full of fantastic put downs and witty one-liners brilliantly voiced by Chris Barrie from Red Dwarf, and although Simon is thoroughly vile to everyone he meets, you can’t help but love the guy. The save-the-world-from-evil-sorcerer story is thin, and the puzzles are often odd inventory combinations that make little sense, but Simon’s first adventure qualifies as a bona fide classic that went on to spawn four different sequels and a couple of spin-off games. Not bad for that other British teen wizard.

You might also like: Simon the Sorcerer series (yes, even 3D)

 

#43 – John Saul's Blackstone Chronicles

Another underrated (though not by us) adventure from Legend Entertainment is John Saul’s Blackstone Chronicles, a chilling 1998 adventure that takes place entirely in a former insane asylum.  Picking up several years after the serialized stories of John Saul left off, the asylum is now a Museum of Psychiatric History that Oliver Metcalf must explore in search of his son, who’s been kidnapped by his own father, the last superintendent before the asylum closed down.  The problem is, his father is dead, and he isn’t the only ghost lurking within these walls.  Accurately billed as an “adventure in terror”, it’s not because the game uses cheap scare tactics and gory images. There is no observable violence, bloodshed, or gore. The horror in Blackstone Chronicles is purely psychological – only ever implied, and 100% human. It's subtle, clever, and insidious, and though it's less frightening than it is disturbing, the more you invest yourself in the story, the more alarmed you'll become.

The true heart of the game is delving into the experiences of those who suffered through torturous treatments in the name of mental "health care." Reading about abominable real-world historical treatments is made all the more horrific when you listen to the first-hand accounts of ghostly former patients. If you aren’t touched by the heart-rending fate of the little boy who simply liked playing with dolls, you don’t have a heart. You’ll even get up close and personal with such actual devices as the electroshock chair, a coffin-like heat chamber, and the fever therapy device where patients were cut open and bled.  A few timed puzzles only add to the frightening atmosphere, requiring quick thinking rather than reflexes, though that’s hard to do when your pulse is pounding a mile a minute. All the while, Oliver’s father Malcolm provides one of the most impressive acting performances ever – his voice, tone, and delivery all perfectly conveying the arrogant, calculating, emotionally disconnected sociopath he clearly is. Combined, these factors make Blackstone Chronicles an overlooked revelation among adventures, proving once and for all that true horror begins in the mind.

You might also like: Shivers series

 

#42 – Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood

Robin Hood is one of those legendary characters who has made a lasting impression, forever imprinted in our collective imagination. In the second (and sadly final) adventure in the short-lived Conquests series from the pen of Christy Marx, one of Sierra's finest designers (if often forgotten among more recognizable names), Conquests of the Longbow put players directly into Robin's leather boots in 1991 to embark on a classic cloak-and-dagger adventure. It's a powerful tale, backed by copious details about Druidic folklore and English history, in a world populated by iconic characters like Little John and Will Scarlett, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Maid Marian, here in the imaginative role of a Druidic priestess. The gameplay also proved to be incredibly fun, full of innovative puzzles and challenging riddles flawlessly integrated with the storyline.

The real pièce de résistance of The Legend of Robin Hood, however, is the player-guided nature of the gameplay that allows for branching paths and multiple finales. Depending on the choices made and actions taken at pivotal moments, the game plays out a little differently, and there are four possible outcomes that take into consideration how successfully Robin worked against Prince John and his sycophant, the Sheriff, to restore England's rightful ruler to the throne. The lavish graphics and beautiful, fairy tale-like soundtrack significantly add to the mood, creating an exciting adventure that offers just the kind of entertainment one would expect of a Hollywood movie about the Prince of Thieves (and much better than the ones we usually get).

You might also like: Conquests of Camelot: The Search for the Grail

 

#41 – Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Rather than continuing to milk the safe gameplay formula of the successful Ace Attorney series, in 2011 Capcom’s Shu Takumi created Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, a non-sequel with an entirely new gameplay mechanic. The result was a unique and satisfying experience that shows the risk taken was a thoroughly worthwhile one. The ghostly Sissel has just one night to solve the mystery of his own death, and interacting with the world comes solely through possessing items and using his supernatural will to operate them. Using these “ghost tricks”, Sissel accomplishes tasks from simply getting around to foiling assassinations and escaping sinking submarines. The variety of tricks available provide diverse and interesting puzzle challenges, further increasing in complexity when a second spirit with different abilities is later added to the mix.

Thankfully, having broken away from the pack with an interesting new gimmick, the designers did not just rest on their laurels. The game also boasts gorgeous anime-style graphics with a wealth of detail packed onto the small Nintendo DS screens. All scenes, from an opulent office to a junkyard set against a cityscape backdrop, are a pleasure to the eye and filled with a variety of interesting and beautifully animated characters. The ghost trick control system is also developed far beyond its basic premise. When encountering a dead body, your spirit self can travel back to four minutes before they died, rewinding time as often as necessary to prevent their sad fates. Topping all this off is a plot that twists and turns, constantly changing the player’s understanding of events. The combined result is a one-of-a-kind game that deserves to be in any adventure gamer’s collection.

You might also like: Ghost in the Sheet, Gast: The Greatest Little Ghost

 


 

Next up: #40-36...

Continued on the next page...




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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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