Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Adventure Games

Why don't we see Adventure Games much any more?
Admittedly I've seen and played some damned boring Adventure Games, but I've also played some which were the most atmospheric, funny and well-plotted games I've played.
Right now I'm playing the Adventure games by Ben 'Yatzee' Croshaw of 'Zero Punctuation' fame. Despite the extremely simple graphics, music and sound, they are really involving and scary. Some of the puzzles are a bit...hmm, well, one gripe I have with adventure games is that they seem to expect you to read the mind of the person who made them, another is that nothing works except usng the exact right item on the exact right object at the exact right time and another is that you don't always get a journal like you would in an RPG (also a problem with Japanese RPGs, and in fact, pretty much any narrative game that doesn't give you a journal or similar list of objectives. If you blink and miss part of a coversation, or don't remember from last session, or you failed to pick up every item that wasn't nailed down, you're stuck!

Adventure Games seem to have merged with other genres in recent years. Survival Horror, partcularly Resident Evil (except 4, blegh. Not a fan of 4) are pretty much adventure games with occasional added monster shooting, Action Adventure, oddly, is often not so close to Adventure as Survival Horror or RPGs often are, but does often contain elements of 'item A to slot B gameplay'.
Excepting the ridiculous 'moon logic' some of them ran on, I don't think Adventure games deserve to die. In fact, I really hope the new 'Strong Bad' Adventure will remind people why they're so great. Anybody can play them, they're simple, slow paced, so no problem for people who aren't so great at button mashing or have poor reflexes or just aren't tech-savvy, they can be extremely clever and funny, and since they're the closest thing to 'interactive movies' you can get in gaming, I think they should stick around a while.
They'd work really well on a Nintendo DS for a start, with the stylus, and I'm sure you could utilise the two screens somehow. Another idea would be using the Wii. I saw there was a game out a little while back called 'Zack and Wiki' which was essenially an adventure game in which you used just a few key items with different wiimote gestures to solve puzzles. You could, feasibly, combined Adventure gameplay with a lot of other genres. Combine it with a shooter and you'd get something a bit like Deus Ex or Halflife, but with more puzzles, combined with a platformer you'd get something like Cave Story, many RPGs contain some adventure style gameplay, often not as much as they could...But you get the picture.

Now I think of it, it's funny but all Adventure games I can think of seem to revolve around a single character with lots of items. Maybe a small ensemble cast with different abilities would be a more unusual and interesting approach. So we have a party, like many RPGs have, they all have interesting personalities and interact and banter with each other, and each has abilities which are useful for different situations. In some cases, this will be knowledge of a subject, while in others, an actual physical skill, item or even supernatural ability, depending on the setting.
This sounds like a game I'd really enjoy actually. The depth of plot, character interaction and development of a good RPG, without the pointless, repetitive fighting, which is, instead, replaced by clever puzzles and exploration! If I wanted to add a bit of action, could throw in some platforming or even the stealthy running mentioned in an earlier post.
Hmmm. I think I may be onto something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you're thinking about Adventure Games then I'd suggest getting hold of 'Rogue Leaders'. It's a book about Lucas Arts , there's a bit about the design of the games as well as the reason they stopped making them.

If you're thinking about Multi-character adventures then check out Maniac Mansion & Day of the Tentacle..