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Modern adventures (which aren’t Monkey Island)

Thanks to a Sunshine Blogger award from TriformTrinity last month, yesterday I got to talk about some of my favourite classic point-and-clicks. Surprisingly, the list I offered didn’t feature The Secret of Monkey Island – although regular Later Levels will clearly recognise this as, quite simply, one of the finest titles ever made and the yardstick against which all future games shall be measured (he he).

So here’s a bonus post: I enjoyed writing that piece so much that I’m back again today with another list, this time focusing on more modern adventures. This one was a little harder to put together because the definition of the genre has changed significantly over the years; it now spans a wider variety of releases than just point-and-clicks and so it has been tough narrowing down the selection. Hopefully the following titles will provide something for everyone.

2011: To The Moon

One of the first indie titles I ever played after being introduced to this side of gaming was To The Moon. It absolutely broke my heart and I was genuinely in tears by the credits; and it taught me that video games are much more than entertainment and pixels. Here’s a storyline that shows the player that life is too short to have regrets so if there’s something you want to do, get out there and do it.

Chris from OverThinker Y and I played the follow-up, Finding Paradise, earlier this year and has a lengthy discussion about our thoughts. Freebird Games smashed it again: there was more sobbing along with the life-affirming realisation that sometimes we have everything we need right in front of us. To steal a quote from Chris, it’s a title which tells a story which feels as though it’s about real people and lets the player decide how to feel about it.

2012: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

Featuring an FBI agent whose ‘psion’ powers enable her to see the past, it would have been all too easy to resort to using them to complete every puzzle and push the plot along. But instead, Erica’s skills aren’t the solution to every problem: they don’t always work as intended and cause her a great deal of trauma. She’s wonderfully portrayed as a real person who’s struggling with a stressful job, tragic past and powerful secret.

I’ve participated in the GameBlast marathons for SpecialEffect for a number of years now and during a our first event in 2014, our team decided to play Cognition. Kevin from The Mental Attic kindly put us in touch with Katie Hallahan from Phoenix Online who agreed to chat to us about the game as we worked through it on air – which turned out to be both an awesome and nerve-racking experience, all at the same time.

2014: J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars

This is a title I haven’t yet completed so why am I including it in my list? I started it a fortnight ago when I had some time off work and ended up sitting in the same position for the entire day after becoming completely hooked from the start. Although it takes place in a completely different setting, there’s something about J.U.L.I.A. which gives me the same feeling I had when playing Myst for the first time – a game included in yesterday’s post about my favourite classic adventures.

So if it’s that good, why haven’t I finished it? The thing we all dread: a fatal crash. I’ve been in touch with the team at CBE Software and have sent them my save file in the hope they can fix it, because I really want to find out what happens. Unfortunately I haven’t yet heard from them but I’m guessing they’re busy working hard on their next release – the website for Someday You’ll Return teases that there’ll be more in a few days and I can’t wait.

2015: Her Story

Hannah Smith may not be the most likeable video game character, but she’s definitely one of the most interesting. During the summer of 1994, she reports her husband as missing to the Portsmouth Police Station and it’s now a number of years after the event. It’s up to you to use video clips held within an archive database on an obsolete computer to assemble this woman’s story and answer the burning question: did she murder Simon?

Before going to the Rezzed expo in 2015, I’d found out quite a lot about Her Story through the bigger gaming websites and its premise, along with its unique central mechanic, had piqued my interest. It was therefore great getting the change to play the title at the event before meeting Sam Barlow and watching Ben interview him. Although this isn’t something we routinely do any longer, thinking back on the experience makes me want to reach for the camera.

2017: Stories Untold

Maybe it’s nostalgia talking or perhaps I’m becoming jaded in my old age, but it seems as though a lot of current text adventures are missing the thing that used to make them so special. At least, that’s what I thought until I completed Stories Untold in October last year, after receiving a recommendation from Bradley over at Cheap Boss Attack when he referred to it as one of his favourite games of 2017.

Advertised as ‘four stories, one nightmare’, this experimental title manages to bend the genre into something new and unique. It cleverly combines text adventures, point-and-clicks and psychological horrors into a rather remarkable experience which is likely to stay with the player for quite a while. If you’re a fan of series such as The Twilight Zone and Stranger Things, of 80s throwbacks and retro games, then you need to take a look at this one.

A huge thank you to TriformTrinity for his Sunshine Blogger award, and for allowing me to take an indulgent look back at some of the best entries in the adventure genre. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve ot some pointing-and-clicking to do…

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