Adventure is one of the oldest and largest genres in video games, which includes any game that primarily focuses on telling a story by asking the player to explore and solve puzzles. Since these games are story-driven, the gameplay is often simply a tool to help the player immerse themselves in the story and progress through the plot.
With the breadth of this genre, there are plenty of adventure games that have been overlooked and lost in the sea of new releases, but many of these obscure games have interesting aspects worth checking out.
1,000 heads among the trees
While there are plenty of great indie horror games on Itch.io, none of them are as mysterious and challenging as 2015’s experimental game, 1,000 heads among the trees. Based on the developer’s experience living in Cachiche, Peru, the player controls a photographer who explores a virtual recreation of this real-life desert town at night.
In order to find the answers the player is looking for, the player will need to take pictures and show those pictures to the townspeople, who will all react differently. It quickly becomes clear that mysterious things are happening in the city. Although the main character is a tourist, this game teaches the player that there is no such thing as a passive observer.
One of the many cool free experiences available on Itch.io and Steam is off peak, which is a surreal exploration game that seems inspired by 90s 3D adventure games. In the future, the player gets stuck in a big train station and needs to find a ticket to be able to travel out of town.
In this station, the player can encounter various strange characters, hidden rooms and intriguing secrets. Instead of being driven, the player can choose where they want to go and how they react to the world around them.
The shadow of memories
Known as shadow of fate in North America, The shadow of memories is a mystery game originally released for the PS2 in 2001, but it was also later ported to Xbox, PC, and PSP. Set in the fictional German town of Lebensbaun, the player controls a 22-year-old man named Eike Kusch, who gains the ability to time travel.
After Eike is stabbed in the present by an unknown murder, a supernatural being known as Homunculus resurrects Eike and gives him a time travel device. Using this device, Eike travels back in time in an attempt to prevent his own murder. As he explores the different time periods, he encounters different characters and solves various puzzles that change the course of history. But, he eventually discovers that there is more to his journey than he originally thought.
Similar to previous eras, the seventh generation of video game consoles had their own aesthetic. In an attempt to look more futuristic and mature, colors were dull, textures looked oddly damp, and screens were filled with tons of different video effects to mask the fact that programming still needed more time to create 3D environments. realistic. Even though visuals from this era tend to be looked down upon, some games were able to use this style to their advantage, notably the PS3 game Rain.
Original title lost in the rain, the game follows a young boy who tries to find a young girl in a big city inspired by Paris. The catch, however, is that the young boy, young girl, and weird enemies in the game are all invisible unless they’re standing in the rain.
The longest trip
Developed by Norwegian studio Funcom, The longest journey is a series of adventure games that focus on two parallel universes and the protagonists who can travel between them. Our universe is called “Stark” and is dominated by science and technology, but there is also a parallel universe called “Arcadia”, which is dominated by magic and has a medieval setting.
The main protagonists must travel between the two worlds to help maintain the balance, while various antagonists attempt to upset it. While the first game follows a young woman named April Ryan and is a point-and-click game, the sequels focus more on Zoë Castillo and are third-person exploration games.
From the 1989 game wicked streets, the tex murphy franchise is a series of detective games that had a total of six entries with the latest installment, Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure, released in 2014. Similar to other mystery games where the player can solve cases, the player controls the titular character, Tex Murphy, as he solves mysteries as a private investigator in a post-San Francisco apocalyptic.
The series combines the film noir aesthetic of well-known stories like The Maltese Falcon and The big sleep with cyberpunk decor. Besides the intriguing plot, the games are notable for being generally ahead of their time in terms of graphics, sound design, and gameplay elements.
From the 2002 murder mystery game Post mortem, the Still life The trilogy follows several different characters as they attempt to solve gruesome murders. In Post mortem, the player controls former New York detective Gus McPherson as he accidentally stumbles upon another mystery in Paris.
The following, Still life, swings the player between Gus in 1920s Prague and his granddaughter Victoria, who is an FBI agent, in 2004 Chicago. They both attempt to track down a serial killer, and the two cases seem connected even though they occur several years apart. Then, Still life 2 continues this aspect of the gameplay by having the player switch between Victoria and a reporter named Paloma Hernandez as they uncover the truth about the previous game’s killer.
Flower, sun and rain
Freely connected to the 1999 PS1 game The silver case, the 2001 game Flower, sun and rain is one of the more obscure titles from famed video game creator Goichi Suda. While the original PS2 version remains one of many Japanese games that were never officially translated, the Nintendo DS port was released internationally. In this game, the player controls Sumio Mondo, who is a “seeker” or a person who makes a living by finding things that people have lost.
At the start of the game, Mondo has been hired by the manager of a hotel called “Flower, Sun, and Rain” on the Micronesian island of Lospass to defuse a bomb. But Mondo fails in this mission and finds himself in a groundhog day situation where he continues to relive that same day. While in this time loop, Mondo must use his skills to help local residents and eventually stop the bomb.
Strongly inspired by The Legend of Zelda influential horror series and game Yume Nikki, the Calming the duology makes the player explore Zelda-like dungeons in a surreal world. Released in 2013, the original Calming is an action-adventure inspired by the 16-bit era where the player controls the protagonist named Young as he explores Young’s dream world, solving puzzles, defeating enemies and collecting cards.
In 2019, the sequel Anodyne 2: back to dust was released, which allows the player to explore PS1-style 3D environments as well as 16-bit dungeon sections. For this episode, the player controls a young woman named Nova, tasked with saving the island of New Theland from a substance known as Dust.
428: Shibuya Scramble
Originally released exclusively in Japan in 2008 for the Wii, but later released internationally in 2018 for the PS4 and PC, 428: Shibuya Scramble is a visual novel adventure game that combines text, live stills, and video footage. Set in Shibuya, Tokyo, the game follows five main characters who must each work together to solve a mystery in 10 hours. But the problem is that these characters each act separately without knowing each other.
While the main characters each follow their own side stories, their actions directly affect the other characters. This means the player will have to switch between characters and figure out how each choice will affect the others. Since each character has their own plot and choices, there are hundreds of different paths and 87 possible endings.
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