The revival of the adventure game genre is here and I couldn’t be happier. I grew up with the hilarity of monkey island, the Insanity of Sam and Max, the charm of Grim Fandango and the pure immersion of Myst as well as many more and I miss that unique brilliance. It was a genre that challenged its players to remember, problem solve and adapt; and they were able to tell some damn fine stories in a way no other genre could.
It is a genre that has some incredible strengths that no other genre is able to do as well and yet. with the last couple generations it has fallen out of vogue. The Fps has near taken over, rpg’s have seen increased, and multi-player titles have had a recent rise to popularity; adventure games, at least in the traditional sense have been forgotten.
Last night I found myself staring at my computer monitor, watching some credits roll by and smiling with tears running down my face. It felt like I had just run an emotional marathon; a tale so warm, rich, and at times heartbreaking that I couldn’t help but feel pained towards the story unfolding before me.
This is why I love to game. Yes, I adore those moments of absolute exhilaration and adrenaline inducing combat moments but it is these moments, the ones that punch you right in the feels that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and remember fondly as in some way the slightly change you as a person. I’ve read the rare book like this, even a piece of music from time to time but rarely if ever a game.
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I have had Deponia from Daedalic Entertainment in my steam library for some time now, as is the case with many many other games. It released last near the end of last year and I had to get it in the subsequent Christmas steam sales because the art style of it looked really quite wonderful. The Penny Arcade report even had an interview with some of the developers about their remarkable hand drawn 2d style because it really is something quite unique. Everyone seems to be going further and further towards the computer generated aspect of backgrounds and characters, and yet, here is one company re-imagining the styles of old and invoking a really strong sense of nostalgia.
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And here I am being once again transfixed to a game because of it’s story and emotional experience. A year or even just six months ago I would never have said there wasn’t a game that could compare itself to a book in terms of story elements and deep characters, even comparing games to movies is a stretch as you often don’t feel that emotional invested when your playing which is odd in a way as you are far more apart of the situation then either media. It’s probably because in any game of whatever genre you want to throw a stick at the gameplay and mechanics are nearly always the priority in development with story elements and characters getting a quick treatment mainly just to bind it all together in some sort of mildly comprehensible way.. story, like pvp in an mmo, is the afterthought.
But here in the Walking dead it is woven so well throughout the game you can’t help but marvel at their wonderful imagination and understanding of the human element as well as how well it is crafted to be part of the game. Every part of the story has been well planned and the mechanics present have been made to revolve around the situation and as a way to progress the story and elicit your decisions. As far as adventure game mechanics go The Walking Dead is actually quite light on them, and what’s there is often rather simplistic. It still employs the item find type gameplay you may be used to but it’s not some type of play where your searching through many frames for what you need with the chance to miss them, no, everything is clearly marked. The game doesn’t employ adventure game reasoning, it is straight forward pick up item and use when given the option and most times your companions will spell out what is needed in general conversation and then put you off in the right direction.
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