Wednesday, August 6, 2014


I've always enjoyed logic puzzles.  Teasing out answers from incomplete information is my idea of fun.  So it should be no surprise that one of my favorite genres of PC game is the adventure game.  When I was in elementary school, oh so many years ago, one of my teachers had a number of text adventures for the class computers (an Apple IIe, a Commodore 64, and a Commodore Pet.)  In particular, I remember Infocom's Wishbringer (one of the few Infocom adventures I finished without hints) and The Pawn by Magnetic Scrolls (never did finish that one).

Playing those was my introduction to the puzzling and sometimes arbitrary world of adventure games.  When I got an Apple IIgs for Christmas, the first games I recall buying for it were Planetfall and King's Quest IV.  Trying to outrun the giant in King's Quest IV is still one of my most frustrating gaming memories.  Later, I discovered the much more forgiving adventures being created by Lucasarts.  Day of the Tentacle is still my favorite adventure game of all time.

Over time, though, the adventure game genre began to wither.  Sierra lost their touch and faded away.  Lucasarts stopped making anything that wasn't Star Wars.  Independent developers kept making games, and some of them were great, but the big studios focused on flashier fare.  You can't blame them, impressive graphics sold games and adventure games were never about the graphics.  Shelf space was limited, and games like Doom, Quake, or Half-Life were where the big money lay.

In recent years, the adventure game seems to be having a resurgence.  I think digital distribution is a large part of this; shelf space is no longer at a premium, so lower budget games with smaller audiences still have a place.  The massive success of Double Fine's Kickstarter didn't hurt either, of course.  Now we have Telltale Games releasing more story-focused adventures like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us.  Lucasarts' last great hurrah, Grim Fandango, is getting a well-deserved re-release.  And me, I couldn't be happier.  I've played and enjoyed games of all genres over the years, but adventure will always be my first great love.

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