My wife and I pass the time by playing adventure games together. Here is a
list of all the games we've played, in the order of how much I personally liked
- Grim Fandango - Wonderful script and story, great characters and performances, very smart and funny. Truly one of the best games ever.
- The Curse of Monkey Island - Excellent cartoon-like graphics, great music, performances, and humor.
- Escape From Monkey Island - Longer than Curse, but not quite as fascinating. Still great fun though. Gameplay is very similar to Grim Fandango.
- The Longest Journey - Lives up to its name- it's the longest game we've played
so far. Very immersive and complex. Great story, memorable characters.
- Gabriel Knight: Blood Of The Sacred, Blood Of The Damned - (3rd in
series) You play Gabriel Knight adventure in real-time 3D. The graphics are
not always as lush as in modern 3D games, but in some places they're very
pretty- and there are plenty of cool places to explore. This is not an
action adventure though- Gabriel and Grace get to do plenty of good old
snoopin' and solvin'. Good (if controversial) story, music, characters, and
atmosphere- and some of the best Easter eggs I have ever seen in my life!
Also, Tim Curry returns as the voice of Gabriel.
- Gabriel Knight: Sins Of The Fathers – The first part of the famous Gabriel Knight trilogy- games that mix real history, beliefs, and places with new fictitious mysteries for you to solve. While this first game is rather technically limited compared to the other two, it has some great features. Whenever you do something right, a little tune plays, indicating that you just scored some more points. Also, whenever you inspect something, a convincingly Creole-sounding narrator describes it in a whimsical way. Tim Curry’s performance as the voice of Gabriel Knight is odd but strangely endearing. Mark Hamill is excellent as Detective Moseley. There are some timed sequences, and you can die, but overall the gameplay is relaxing and fun. This installment happens mostly in New Orleans, and makes you want to go there if you’ve never been.
- Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within - (2nd in series) After having just completed the icky Phantasmagoria, Charl and I were rather disappointed to discover that like Phantas, The Beast Within was also full motion video. It didn’t take us long to get over our hang-ups, though. Even though it was produced around the same time, The Beast Within is much better executed than Phantasmagoria, and the acting and characters are so much better that the experience was totally different. I’m still trying to figure out how The Beast Within ended up taking 2 to 3 times longer to complete even though it was on fewer CDs than Phantasmagoria. Movement was more limited in this game compared to the other Gabriel Knights, due to the nature of full motion video, and there wasn’t nearly as much descriptive information for objects. Sorely missed were the narrator from part 1 and the “good job” music. Great characters, story, and historical background made this game a worthy part of the Gabriel Knight canon.
- The Secret of Monkey Island - The original game in the excellent Monkey Island series. I was a little concerned that I wasn't going to enjoy this game because it was 10 years older than some of the other games we'd played. The graphics and sound are nowhere close to the later Monkey Island games, but this one was still inventive and laugh-out-loud funny.
- Syberia - Absolutely fantastic graphics, good music, and challenges that are just easy enough to complete, and hard enough that you feel a sense of accomplishment when figuring them out. Some of the voice perforances weren't all that great, and a couple story elements were kinda lame, but the atmosphere and attention to detail of the game overshadow its inadequacies.
- Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon - (3rd in the series) This game
brings the Broken Sword franchise into the 21st century with gorgeous full
3D graphics and the same high production values and quality writing that
have characterized these games. Be warned that this game includes a couple
of timed action sequences and a crazy keyboard control scheme. I strongly
recommend using a gamepad instead of attempting to master the keyboard
controls. If your gamepad has at least 10 buttons, you can assign buttons to
every single feature you'll need in the game. (We played with an old Gravis
GamePad Pro USB and it worked beautifully.) A lot of people complained about
the action sequences in the game... really they're not too bad. Also, the
first two Broken Sword games both had occasional timed sequences. This one's
just keeping up the tradition and introducing some new puzzles that can only
be done in 3D. (You'll be pushing, pulling, and climbing LOTS of boxes.)
- Beyond Atlantis - Wow, gorgeous graphics, great sound, really immersive environments. I really liked ALMOST everything about this game. There's one aspect of it though that really bites. You have to "record your journey" into a crystal you carry, and the process is tedious, somewhat difficult, and definitely not fun. This game might have gotten a higher rating if not for that one silly thing.
- Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror – I was impressed and surprised by the quality of this game’s graphics, story, vocal performances, and gameplay. It’s hard not to compare the Broken Sword games to the Gabriel Knight/Monkey Island series, but they are strong games in their own right as well.
- Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars - (1st in the series) We
played this game after we had already completed the second game in the
series. The first Broken Sword was no let down, though. It's a little bit
longer, and the general quality of the game is just as high- although the
cutscenes aren't animated as well in this first installment. There are also
some interface inconsistencies that can be frustrating at times. Still a
funny and enjoyable game.
- Day of the Tentacle - A very funny and inventive game where you play 3 characters in 3 different time periods who must work together in order to win. I was continually surprised by the humor and clever design of this game.
- Runaway - This game had fantastic cartoony graphics, a good story,
and some memorable characters. It was also a pretty good length and an
overall satisfying experience. Sadly, it suffered a bit from a few simply
nonsensical puzzles and gratuitous pixel hunting. I can think of three
different places in the game where there was an important item that was so
small (or even hidden) that you simply could NOT see it even if you knew
where you were supposed to look. The ONLY way to find these things was to
just sweep the mouse slowly over the entire screen and hope for a hotspot. I
do hope there's a sequel to Runaway (or at least a new game by the same
team), but they had better rethink their puzzle design.
- Atlantis: The Lost Tales - We experienced some technical quirks with this game, probably because our PC and graphics card are much faster than this 1997 title was designed for (none of them prevented gameplay though). Despite that, I was impressed by the lush 3D environments, and interesting story. There are a number of sequences where you must complete certain tasks very quickly, and without any mistakes or you will die. Charl found it very stressful (she's usually the "driver"), and I found it annoying that you couldn't choose where to save your game- the game automatically saves at certain points, and you sometimes have to repeat lengthy sequences in order to repeat a difficult and deadly challenge.
- Dracula Resurrection - Detailed 360 degree environments and beautiful, compelling cutscenes made this game a real joy to play. Other good points are that you rarely have to use the keyboard, and a very clear cursor feedback system. Additionally, the way conversations are presented shows you when to stop talking about a particular subject, and also when you’ve asked a given character everything you’ll ever need to know from her/him. Annoyances were the tiny hotspots, and the fact that you always have to place CD 1 in the drive when starting the game, even if you’re just continuing a game from CD 2. Note that the puzzles are pretty easy and the game is short. This is another one that we completed in only two evenings.
- Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge - The graphics in this second part of the Monkey Island quadrilogy are improved in the sense that there is more color and detail than in Secret of Monkey Island- however, the added detail actually makes it more difficult to notice important objects and hotspots in the game. Still definitely worth playing.
- The Cameron Files: Secret At Loch Ness - While I enjoyed the Scottish atmosphere and music in this game, the character animation was not as good as in some of this game's contemporaries. Also, like Atlantis The Lost Tales, there are some timed sequences where you can die- but worse, but here the game actually ends. And this game doesn't save automatically, so make sure you save often. This was also probably the shortest game we've played so far. We finished it in 2 nights.
- Nancy Drew: Treasure in the Royal Tower - (4th in the series)
Probably my favorite of the ND games we've played so far. A good story and
plenty of secret places to discover.
- Jazz and Faust - Despite having some rather excellent graphics (somewhere between The Longest Journey and Syberia), a good story, and some unique features, this game had some serious flaws: Painfully dreadful voice acting (probably the worst I’ve ever heard), story inconsistencies, and a couple of bugs where your character can literally get stuck on some screens- so save often! Also, you often can’t pick up or use items until your character knows what he needs to do with them (even if you already have an idea), and some hotspots are very difficult to locate.
- Nancy Drew: Message In A Haunted Mansion – (3rd in the series) This game has some interface improvements over the previous two, although in general the gameplay is very similar. Lots of fun spooky elements here, and the most compelling story so far.
- Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned For Danger - (2nd in the series) Longer than
the first game, with more fun things to do and places to snoop around. This
is the first Nancy Drew game that introduces a clock- some things only
happen at day or night, and you must be aware of the time in the game to
know when it's safe to check things out or when you can find people to
- Nancy Drew: The Final Scene - (5th in the series) While it
continues the amusing investigative gameplay of the Nancy Drew series, this
entire game happens in one building, and there aren't many rooms to
investigate. To continue in the game you basically have to keep going to the
same places and talking to every person until something new happens.
- Sam & Max Hit The Road - I really enjoyed the cartoony graphics and the writing in this game, however a number of the challenges were quite frustrating. We would never have solved half the puzzles in this game without a walkthrough.
- Salammbo: Battle for Carthage - This is an odd game based on a
French comic book about the Carthaginian wars, with an immersive atmosphere
and bizarre, fantastic graphics. The story is interesting and the interface
and general game design are pretty innovative. For example, as the game
progresses a sort of journal is updated that narrates the progression of
your journey in comic book form. There are a couple of pretty cool
characters in the game, but unfortunately yours is not one of them... your
character is a wimpy, creepy slave. The gameplay is in first person, which I
usually don't like too much, although the environment is a little more
"alive" than in most first-person games. It should be noted that a
large part of the game occurs within the city of Carthage which is really
one big maze. It's rather difficult to navigate, even though there are
little maps scattered around, so beware.
- Beyond Atlantis II - This game is really odd. Despite the name, its story doesn't have anything to do with the first two Atlantis games. Also, the vocal performances are pretty bad, and there's this part of the game called "the membrane" which you must go through numerous times, that is incredibly difficult and frustrating to navigate. There are actually two phases in the game which I thought were pretty cool- one where you're a young thief in and Arabian fantasy, and another where you're a cave woman, but that darned membrane! This game also seemed sort of short. Oh- and the options menu, while looking really cool, is utterly obtuse- none of the controls are labeled, or even look like they do something useful. You basically just click and pray that you didn't accidentally just end the game. Oh well.
- Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill - (1st in the series) This introduces
many of the features that distinguish Nancy Drew games: They are
first-person games where you investigate rooms by panning around (and
sometimes up and down) and searching for hotspots and items. You can call
Nancy's friends for hints when you're stuck (although sometimes even they
are at a loss.) When you start a new game you can choose between different
skill levels. The skill levels determine how much time you have in timed
sequences, how many hints you get within the game, and the difficulty of
some puzzles. (Honestly, we've always played at the junior/novice levels and
the games are plenty challenging at these settings.) Also, you can make
"fatal" decisions that will end the game. Luckily, all of the
Nancy Drew games have a "Second Chance" feature that immediately
takes you back to the point where you made the wrong choice. This particular
game wasn't as good as the others, mostly for design reasons. First, it
comes on 2 CDs and there's no "Full" install option, which means
you have to swap CDs a LOT throughout the game. This was a huge hassle.
Also, there is a bug where if you say the wrong thing in one particular
conversation, you'll accidentally prevent something from happening that's
crucial to continuing the game- and you'll have to revert to a saved game in
order to continue. This one is also pretty short, and while there are tons
of secret messages to be found and decoded, not many of them help you to
finish the game; there aren't many actual puzzles to solve. Oh, and I'd just
like to note that while the Nancy Drew games are marketed as "3D
Interactive Mystery Games," they're NOT real-time 3D games. What they
really mean is that the pre-rendered images that make up all the locations
were designed with 3D graphics software, but the navigation is actually
similar to 2D first-person games like the original MYST.
- The Last Express - This is the first game we ever started that we never
completed. I know that The Last Express is one of the most loved of all
adventure games (which is why I got it), but I think the things that many
people liked about it are the reasons we gave up: It's very easy to make a
decision that ends the game immediately... you can get killed or arrested
just a minute or two into the game. While the weird cartoony animated
characters where better than FMV, they don't make up for the stilted
slide-show nature of the cutscenes. Also, if you're not in the right place
at the right time, you won't overhear or see crucial details, so you're
often just wandering around with no idea what the heck you're supposed to do
next. I hear that the game has one of the best endings ever, so someday I
might try going through it with a walkthrough (actually we tried that once,
and still got stuck!) just to see the end, but it's not high on my list of
- Odyssey: The Search for Ulysses - It was a challenge just to
install this game. I had to go to the publisher's support forums to discover
that you can only install it on Windows XP when you run the installer in
compatibility mode. Anyway, almost immediately after we finally got the game
running, we started to regret having gotten that far. The graphics were
actually very nice, but the controls were kinda crazy. We got killed 3 times
within the first 10 minutes of the game. That was quite enough for us.
- Phantasmagoria - Yuck. Full motion video. Terrible over-the-top
acting. Seven CDs and yet rather short. Graphic violence, gore, language,
and sexual abuse. One very long, stressful, and un-fun timed sequence in the
final chapter. The game had a convincingly eerie atmosphere, but it was
eerie in a gross and unpleasant way. And I hear the sequel to this game's