In this week’s Parallax Media pocket guide to gaming, I’ll be venturing into the exciting genre of…drum roll please…adventure games! Some of the earliest video games created dawn from this genre, and the world of adventure games has evolved and expanded to include many of our most beloved games today; think of The Witness, Resident Evil and even Dungeons and Dragons. My favorite game series, The Legend of Zelda, has been a part of this genre since the ’80s and remains a key adventure classic today.
So, what exactly are adventure games and what makes them so fun? For a start, let’s look back on the very first adventure game ever created; Colossal Cave Adventure, or simply “Adventure”. This game was made in the 1970s and was a text-adventure game where the player navigated a twisty maze via text commands, such as ‘go south’ or ‘go west’. At first, the game appeared as only text on the screen, but later versions began to include images along with the text. This addition of color and higher resolution graphics first began to appear in Japan shortly after the adventure game genre gained immense popularity in the country. In order to accommodate the Japanese text language, computers needed to have better resolution and more bits to display more colors on the screen. This revolutionized game design and led to the creation of visual novels, expanding adventure game creativity and all-around gameplay around the world as other developers adopted the new computer systems. Today, a small handful of these adventure novels can be found on the Nintendo DS, such as Ace Attorney and Clannad. Thanks Japan!
Level 9 Computing, Wikipedia
Since then, games in this genre have evolved from simple text commands and graphics to full-fledged RPGs, allowing players near-complete freedom in gameplay. RPGs, or role-playing games, are often correlated with this genre because the player takes on a character and decides where they go, who they talk to and what they do on their journey. Of course, there are still objectives and goals that the player must complete in order to progress, but how and when the character completes them is up to the player. In the simplest terms, adventure games are just games where characters go on grand adventures.
In the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series’, players get acquainted with both recurring and new characters over several games and become completely immersed in the story’s complex universe. Mechanics and strategy are fairly similar with each new installment, but the story and characters are what shine and keep fans coming back. Both of these video games began in the ‘80’s and are on nearly every platform today, and although they are more closely aligned with the JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) subgenre, they have redefined Adventure games and continue to be top picks among both new and seasoned gamers.
Adventure games typically consist of several basic gaming elements that all come together and form an entertaining experience. There is the story, setting, and theme. Then some variation of item gathering, then conversation and NPC’s are thrown in. Although not all adventure games include an element of puzzle-solving, this is a popular addition that can be found in a lot of games within the genre. That being said, adventure games can also be interactive novels, point-and-clicks, narrative adventure, walking adventures or a hybrid of any of these subgenres. More recent games, for instance, Life is Strange and The Walking Dead, include newer graphics and deeper storylines that really immerse the player. It may come as a surprise, or it may not, that Minecraft has become one of the most popular and widely played games in the Adventure game genre.
This genre has also expanded to include a wide variety of indie games as more and more developers choose to unleash their artistic freedom within the Adventure game realm. If you happen to love indie games as much as I do, here’s a link where you can check out the 25 best adventure games of 2019.
Like simulation games, adventure games can be lots of fun due to the freedom and creativity associated with this genre. Adventure games include many different elements, as expressed above, therefore establishing a complex setting and a potentially perfect mix of story and strategy.
Adventure games have a rich history and have continued to grow and expand, pushing boundaries and appearing on new platforms like phones and tablets. PC’s have long been the reigning champion of adventure games, although gaming consoles are close behind. A new adventure game about to hit the market this year is Tales of Arise, an action role-playing game developed by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It is a part of the Tales series and will feature two characters from the opposing worlds of Dahna and Rena who travel together as technology clashes with the medieval world. Based on fan anticipation and the trailer at E3, this Tales of Arise looks like it will be a great addition to the adventure genre! The game will be available on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One sometime this year.
Well, that’s it for this week folks! Tell us about your favorite adventure game in the comments and come back next week for Action Games!