Developer: Dreamers Guild
Platform: DOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
While the book to adventure game thing has been done many times, it’s rare for the original author to have so much involvement in its design. Douglas Adams had a significant hand in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, though I don’t think he can hold a candle to the creative control Harlan Ellison had here. Unfortunately, this did not cause for a great game; in fact, Ellison sued to get profits from the game he though he deserved, only to learn the game made no profit. I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream is one of the more ambitious adventure games I have come across that unfortunately couldn’t quite figure out what it wanted to be and is nearly as frustrating to play as it is to be one of Ellison’s characters.
Around 1993, Legend Entertainment decided to mostly stop developing their own ideas and started pounding out adventure titles based on best-selling novels. Shannara was probably the most high-profile of them all. I was hesitant at first as neither the genre nor Terry Brooks’s style appeals to me, but I found Shannara to be a mostly pleasant, if very simple, adventure.
An ambitious final entry into the original Zork trilogy that is a pleasure to read but a veritable nightmare to play, Zork III’s value now is mostly for posterity.
Publisher: Red Thread Games
Developer: Red Thread Games
Year: 2014, though released episodically through 2016
Platform: PS4, XBox One, Mac, Linux
After waiting six years for the second game in the series, fans of epic The Longest Journey series waited eight years (and through a massive Kickstarter campaign) to play the final entry into the saga. The first is one of my favorite games ever and I feel similarly about Dreamfall, though in my review I compared it to The Empire Strikes Back: exciting and dark, but ending abruptly with many unanswered loose threads. And I must say Ragnar Tornquist did an excellent job tying up those threads; while Dreamfall Chapters is not always satisfying on a game level, the story itself resonates so broadly that it retroactively makes the first two games more satisfying as well.
Publisher: Amanita Design
Developer: Amanita Design
Platform: PC, Mac, Android, Fire, iPad, PS3
If there was a Miss Congeniality award for adventure games, Machinarium would lap the field. Controlling a runt-of-the-litter robot whose goal is to save himself, his robot town, and his robot girl, charm endlessly abounds. Normally a game with no text or dialogue would turn me off completely, but with the exceptional use of picture thought bubbles and flashbacks, a thorough story is doled out to the player without the need for any words.
Developer: Sam Barlow
Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Regrettably as the older I’ve become, the less effort I’ve found myself willing to put into playing computer games. I prefer to blame the time constrictions of maturation: fatherhood, home ownership, Netflixing with my better half. Ultimately, however, the greatest factor is my waning patience with gratification. This extends to all forms of media; if I have to wait longer than five minutes for stimulation, my interest wanders. Thus, the piled up bin of pilot episodes (sorry Nurse Jackie), second chapters (you too The Girl Who Played with Fire), and barely played computer games (maybe later Quest for Glory 2) awaiting continuation but more likely relegated to eternally gathering dust. Despite this I’m also not looking for cheap and unsatisfying thrills (I’m looking at you Angry Birds). Her Story may be my panacea, motivating me not only to play through its story, but also to forge on and try other games that have been sitting on my virtual shelf for far too long.
Genre: Word Game
Platform: iOS, Mac
Creator: Solebon LLC
I’ve downloaded many, many word games for my smart phone and this is the only one I’ve kept for any length of time.
Genre: Text RPG
Platform: iOS, Android, Web Browser
Creator: Michael Townsend, Amir Rajan (iOS)
A brilliant minimalistic RPG that hearkens back to 80’s games made in BASIC only with the polish and creativity of today’s designers.
Genre: Physics; Arcade
Platform: iOS, Android
Creator: Noodlecake Studios
For the record, the first two games in the series are also worth playing, but since Super Stickman Golf 3 was just released and it’s also damn amazing, here we are:
Genre: Puzzle, Noir
Platform: iOS, Android
Creator: Loveshack Entertainment
Man, I get giddy every time I think about this game. In a world naturally lacking in any original ideas, I can honestly say I have never played anything else like Framed.