The Reports of Adventure Games’ Death…

…are greatly exaggerated. Yet you can hear them over and over again. People reminisce how the genre was so popular in the 90ies and is completely dead today. They speculate how the genre may be able to be revived and so forth. Even I wrote my final thesis initially coming from a similar point of view.

But after playing a modern adventure such as The Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, I think one can hardly uphold that image anymore. The evidence has reached critical mass. Let’s face it. Point & Click Adventures are alive and doing quite well.

Monkey Island

See? It’s just like you haven’t even left.

Consider companies like Telltale games alone. They successfully resurrected two Lucasarts franchises. The games have an excellent quality of writing, superb puzzles and the games appear very polished. And they aren’t just milking the old franchises, they also work on their own IPs.

Consider Heavy Rain. Sure it may have it’s flaws. Sure, it may be not even a real adventure game. But it is definitively related and it shows that there are people trying out new things. And that publishers are taking these experiments very seriously.

Consider all the re-makes of old adventure games like the recent Monkey Island 2 Special Edition. Sure it’s not a new game but the re-imagining alone is worth trying them out. Not only because you get better graphics and sound. Not only because you can also play the games on modern platforms such as the iPhone. It also because let’s admit it: most of us haven’t even played all the old classic adventures anyway. What better place to start?

Consider all the European titles. Lots of small companies have been developing adventure games for the last 8 years or so. There are some really cool titles like Secret Files Tunguska, Syberia, The Moment of Silence, Overclocked, Still Life and many, many more. They are all fresh, new franchises and each one comes with a unique, surprising approach. You just need to look for them because the developers rarely have enough budgets for big international marketing.

Consider all the Japanese influences such as Hotel Dusk, Another Code, Phoenix Wright or Zack & Wiki. Again because those games come from entirely different cultures, they bring a whiff of fresh new ideas and approaches. But make no mistake. They are all classic point & click adventures deep inside.

Consider the über-long tail of web-based point & click adventures. Sure there is a lot of crap. But there are also a lot of really imaginative new ideas. It a huge, thriving culture. It’s so big it has it’s own sub-cultures. Escape the room anyone? And where would we be without masterpieces like Don’t Shit your Pants?

Finally, consider the Indies like Wadjet Eye Games, Amanita Design and yes, even yours truly.

Of course, if you expect adventure games to be the dominating cutting-edge AAA titles like in the 90ies then yes – that won’t happen. But that’s not adventure games’ fault. They are the same as always, even better. It’s just that the entire industry changed. The technology is more accessible. The technology adventure games require isn’t cutting-edge anymore. It’s easier and cheaper to produce adventure games now. Also, the budgets for today’s AAA productions are WAY higher than in the 90ies. The budgets for adventure games have been left behind. That’s why adventure games are mostly small and portable today. But that’s ok. Because that means that they are more nimble and easier accessible. That means that they can experiment and that they can surprise.

Adventure games are dead. Long live Adventure games.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

6 responses to “The Reports of Adventure Games’ Death…”

  1. Tadej

    By far my favorite genre. Thanks for the links, cool post

  2. DFA

    Loved playing Sam & Max season I.

  3. GhostLyrics

    You should definitely try the flash based Trapped – The White Rabbit if you don’t already know it.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      I heard about it but never tried it. Thanks! I will take a look!

  4. Kimari

    What, no mention of Professor Layton? For shame!

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Haha, good call! I was struggling with this one. My reasoning for not including it was that it’s more of a new breed between a point & click adventure and a puzzle game.

      But you might be right, people who like point & click adventures probably like games like Professor Layton as well. I’m certainly looking forward to the iPhone version of Puzzle Agent!


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


follow Krystian on Twitter
follow Yu-Chung on Twitter
follow Daniel on Twitter