Adventure Games Live, Dammit!

(Adapted from this post on the GameDev forums.)

There’s a persistent misconception among the gaming community that classic-style adventure games—long considered dead after genre standard-bearers Monkey Island and King’s Quest went straight down the Chron-O-John in the late ’90s—are still festering relics from a time most gamers today are too young to even remember. Let’s set the record straight; they’re not even mostly dead anymore.

Through the efforts of companies like Telltale Games, Daedelic Entertainment and Wadjet Eye Games, the classic adventure game genre is not only back from the dead—it’s thriving. In the last three years alone we’ve seen:

  • Yesterday
  • To the Moon
  • Blackwell Deception
  • The Book of Unwritten Tales
  • The Next BIG Thing
  • Edna & Harvey: The Breakout
  • Gemini Rue
  • Back to the Future: The Game
  • The Walking Dead
  • Jolly Rover
  • A New Beginning
  • Gray Matter
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • The Whispered World
  • Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse
  • Hector: Badge of Carnage

To put that into perspective: From 1986 to 2000, LucasArts—arguably the company most associated with point-and-click adventure games—released a total of 15 games in the genre. The past three years alone have exceeded LucasArts’s entire library. They don’t all have point-and-click controls, but they’re still very much in the vein and in the tradition of old-school adventure games. At least half of them reference Monkey Island right there on the box art*.

What does this mean for the genre? There isn’t necessarily a huge mainstream interest in these games (e.g., you might not recognize most of those game titles, unless you’re some kind of adventure game hipster), but it does mean there’s a niche. Companies are making these games, and people are buying them. Adventure games are a thing now, and they have been for a while. To say the classic adventure game genre is dead is at best an outdated concept, like marbles. Who the f**k plays with marbles anymore?

* This statement is not intended to be factual, although boy do adventure games nowadays like referencing Monkey Island in their promotional materials.

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