Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games feature

#100 – Titanic: Adventure Out Of Time

 

If you could go back to 1912, the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic would surely be among the last destinations you’d choose. Unless you’re a former British spy, magically given a second chance to relive the terrifying night of April 15th in order to successfully fulfill the mission you failed the first time around, possibly preventing both World Wars in the process. Or if you’re an adventure gamer looking to live vicariously through the ordeal yourself – if you manage to survive, that is. In Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, CyberFlix’s 1996 alternate reality tale lets you do just that. You can admire the meticulously researched, faithfully recreated luxury liner with all the other passengers, but you do have an important task to accomplish before the night is out, some of which will be spent in a race against time as the ship begins its inevitable descent into the icy Atlantic waters. Given the tragic outcome of the journey for its 1500-plus victims, this game isn’t the next-best-thing to really being there… it is much, much better.

Digitally rendered from real historical documents and photos, the setting here is the real star of the game, offering a free-roaming virtual tour of the ship’s sights. Puzzles are fairly sparse, but you will need to perform such tasks as disarming bombs, repairing mechanical malfunctions and sending telegraphs using Morse Code. As you begin to interact with numerous other characters, each with their own stories to tell and secrets to hide, it’s important to say and do the right things at the right time. Often there are second chances to correct mistakes, but there are branching paths and multiple endings, not all of them ideal. The stakes really soar after colliding with the iceberg, as the lower levels are cut off by rising water levels and the ship begins to visibly list. Between impressive cutscenes showing the disaster from afar, you must hurry to complete your tasks before all is lost. The timed element makes the tension palpable, which is a must under the circumstances and results in a thoroughly immersive endgame. Will you sink or swim, succeed or fail? It’s entirely up to you, and if you don’t like how it turns out, there’s plenty of genuine replay value to reward going back and trying all over again. You sure wouldn’t want to live (or die) there, but this is one Titanic voyage that sure is fun to visit.

You might also like: Lost in Time, Mission Critical

#99 – Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor

 

Really we could just as easily have picked any other Nancy Drew adventure to include in this list. The mind-boggling 25 game series (and counting) has achieved an unprecedented level of success that deserves to be acknowledged, though the formula has remained virtually identical through them all. So why the 11th game of Her Interactive’s longrunning franchise? Because Curse of Blackmoor Manor most consistently nails all the elements that go into a great Nancy Drew game: tough, multi-layered puzzles that are well integrated into a story about ancient family bloodlines perhaps mixed with a bit of lycanthropy, a mysterious setting full of visual Easter eggs, lots of information to glean about a fascinating topic (in this case 17th century England), terrific voice acting for all major characters, a surprisingly non-linear pathway to the end, and quite a few scares to boot.

As always, players directly guide Nancy in interviewing a colourful cast of characters, including a wealthy second wife who fears she’s been cursed by the beast of Blackmoor manor, an oddly precocious stepdaughter, and a priggish spinster aunt who tends carnivorous plants, among others. You’ll explore the richly detailed mansion, finding clues everywhere you look, from messages hidden in a family coat of arms to sumptuous wall tapestries depicting scenes from mythology. For this outing, dynamic cutscenes and a smart phone with web search ability were added to the mix. Some enhancements, such as a task list for Junior level detectives, were so successful that they’ve remained in the games ever since. Thankfully, the make-work tasks that bog down many Nancy Drew games are largely forsaken here. Proving that this series isn't just for girls, by 2004 Her Interactive clearly had its teen detective series down to a science, though in the many new adventures since Curse of Blackmoor Manor, none have surpassed it.

You might also like: Nancy Drew series (24 more to choose from!)

#98 – The Space Bar

 

How does one spice up the classic mystery genre? Easy: set it on the distant planet of Armpit VI and get the same genius who designed the aliens of Mos Eisley’s famous cantina to draw the cast of characters. Directed by Steve Meretzky, Boffo Games’ 1997 The Space Bar casts players as Alias Node, one of the few humans on the planet working as a police officer tracking a shape-shifting criminal who captured your partner. In addition to the usual forensic equipment, your biggest tool is the ability to “mind-meld” with some of the dozens of aliens you encounter; living out a past event in their lives through their perspective.

It is this ability that gives the game so many memorable moments. One minute you’re a business tycoon negotiating a ridiculously complicated deal; the next you’re a highly intelligent alien confined to a jar, whose only method of interacting with the world is getting through to your dim-witted alien partner. Later you’re a drug-running alien trying to escape the authorities and get off planet despite your laryngitis, and THEN you’re a robotic sports star trying to get over last night’s hangover in time for the big game. All this comes in between solving the mystery of which of the many aliens surrounding you is the shape-shifter in disguise. The game features a fairly unforgiving time limit combined with puzzles that require a good amount of trial and error, but those who are up to the challenge will be rewarded with a hilarious array of characters and a truly unique adventure. The Space Bar isn’t as famous as most of the games on our list, but it deserves to be remembered as the true classic it is.

You might also like: Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2

#97 – Runaway: A Twist of Fate

 

The first two Runaway installments earned many fans due to their slick cartoon art, comedic road-trip storylines, and catchy techno/pop soundtracks, but niggling gameplay issues prevented them from realizing their true potential. Not so with 2009’s A Twist of Fate, which closed out the trilogy with equally high production values and improved gameplay to match. With striking hand-painted artwork, Pendulo Studios delivered a host of colourful, stylized locations, distinct character designs, and TV-quality cinematics. The finale’s in media res storyline is creatively told, and with chapters alternating between the past and the present, has strong momentum and narrative flow.

In a series first, control alternates between feisty ex-stripper Gina Timmins and her boyfriend Brian Basco, who has apparently gone off the deep end thanks to the increasingly ridiculous events he endured in the previous games. The tongue-in-cheek, fourth-wall-breaking humour afforded by this premise makes Runaway’s often unbelievable scenarios much easier to swallow, while its sardonic tone pokes fun at many genre conventions we’ve come to accept but (let’s face it) don’t make a whole lot of sense. Brian’s incarceration in a mental institution, along with the series’ inherent wackiness, combine to make for unusual, outside-the-box puzzles, and the welcome additions of a hint system and hotspot finder mean you’re less likely to be stumped by pixel hunts or nonsensical puzzles. Overall, Runaway: A Twist of Fate is a solidly entertaining experience that puts its own spin on traditional adventure gameplay, and it wraps up a popular but uneven trilogy on a high note.

You might also like: Runaway: A Road Adventure and Runaway: Dream of the Turtle

#96 – Gold Rush!

 

Usually we play adventures because they have a great story or offer challenging puzzles – preferably a combination of both. But some we play as much for their appealing interactive settings and detailed research that can teach us about a certain period, a particular event, or a distinctive culture more than any dry history book ever could, all the while entertaining us as the lead character in our own adventure. “Edutainment” may be a dirty word these days, but that wasn’t always the case, as Sierra’s 1988 Gold Rush! is just such a game. Sure, like many games of its day it's full of dead-ends and the gameplay can be incredibly unforgiving, but as you follow the heartwarming journey of Brooklyn newspaperman Jerrod Wilson in his cross-country trip across America, you can't help but have a good time discovering a mine full of secrets and interesting facts about the real California Gold Rush of 1848.

From the moment the game starts, virtually everything you see can lead to a comprehensive description about nineteenth century customs, and when given the choice of three distinct paths to reach California (in-land stagecoach, ship through Panama or ship around Cape Horn), the amount of evident research that went into detailing the life conditions of the time is simply staggering. It certainly helps that, if you're willing to forgive its now-antiquated graphics and some repetitive gold-panning sequences to reach the grand finale, it’s also a lot of fun to play. Especially when creative use of the text parser is involved, like when Jerrod has to figure out a way to prevent a carriage from tumbling down a slope. It's this ability to strike just the right balance between learning and enjoyment that earns Gold Rush! its place among the all-time genre gems.

You might also like: Dr. Brain series, Cryo historical adventures (Jerusalem, Versailles, Crusaders, etc.)


Next up: #95-91...

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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