Adventure Evolution

I listened a podcast about Monkey Island, but it was also a lot about the adventure genre in general. The theory was brought up, that today’s adventure games would have inventories and the like, mainly for nostalgic reasons to the old/classic games, people were used to since the early nineties (or even late eighties).
I had to wholeheartedly disagree, because the adventure genre was always about controlling some lead character in an environment full of puzzles, other characters and items. Given this setting, how could you build an adventure with a gathering of objects (claiming things is fun for itself and comes with a sense of achievement), that would make more sense and that would be much more logical, than just staying with some form of inventory? What I always perceived as evolution, were options to highlight all items, so puzzles weren’t hard because a necessary piece was lying in a niche somewhere. Or the possibility to leave a location fast, without having to wait for the character to slowly walk from one end to the other.
A Vampyre Story featured all of this, which was great, but also had a change to the classic inventory style, in which Mona “remembered” items instead of picking them up right away. Exactly this was the only tweak that didn’t feel like a positive evolution at all, because when a remembered item (visible as a transparent object in the item listing) was needed, it always triggered a longer, annoying sequence, where the characters would run back to where they left the item and dragged it all the way to the place where it was now needed. This gave the feeling, that it was only to lengthen the game, similar to puzzles, where long paths in the game world have to be walked through several times.
So my theory is, that changes that were meant as a positive evolution, shouldn’t be done careless in core parts of the genre. Creating a great handling is challenge enough. And if the stories/puzzles are bad, the game is done for anyway. Which is probably the most wide spread and successful genre in gaming today? It’s ego-shooters. No one would ever think of bringing real “evolution” to them. People stick to what defines this genre without question. The only change there, is in graphics. So why are people often so fast in wanting this for adventures?


  1. 1 Tales of Monkey Island – Chapter 1 « adrift

    […] so my last experience was with Sam & Max (was usable with mouse only). It seems like it is an evolution their games went through (they “went keyboard”). In the first second, I was really mad […]


  2. 2 SCUMM™ Stays Superior « adrift

    […] handling only mentioned briefly earlier: The SE is also a fine example that the so often promoted evolution is rarely a positive thing for the player. The SE only blends in verbs and inventory on keyboard […]


  3. 3 Taking From The Dark Side « adrift

    […] choose from. Action elements in adventure games almost always suck. Why do they always come up with such ideas? I really don’t get the logic behind that. The Monkey Island SE was selling great and was a […]


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