Adventure Games Resurrected

I’ve been lamenting the death of adventure games since 1999 or so, after the last Gabriel Knight game came out. I’d just discovered the joy of PC adventure gaming in 1996 and was living in a fool’s paradise, thinking the genre would go on forever. Little did I know it’d be stomped into the ground by the Great Console Uprising.

Once people got themselves a taste of the ol’ plug-and-play, it was all over. No one wanted to spend half an hour installing 8 CD’s and that impatience was reflected in the types of games folks wanted to play. No longer were people satisfied with moving along at a point-and-click snail’s pace or using every single object in their inventory in random, nonsensical combinations to solve a puzzle–they wanted action! Fire and gunshots and heads exploding everywhere! What could Myst offer in comparison to that?

I remember denying the trend, thinking if I closed my eyes, the 800-pound platform gorilla would just go away. But it didn’t. Even when faced with a burning desire to try the original Halo on Xbox, I fought to maintain my allegiance to the adventure game. I went so far as to email Jane Jensen, the designer of all three Gabriel Knight games, hoping she might give me some insight into why no one was making adventure games anymore. I was such a fan of the Gabriel Knight series I think I’d harbored the hope that as a result of my email, Jane would become my friend. We’re both women, right? We both love games. There still aren’t that many women out there who love games so I thought that alone might make give me some cool points in her book.

It didn’t play out the way I hoped though. She was polite enough but she had no comfort to offer me. All she said was there was no perceived market for adventure games anymore and that was why she’d left the game industry. Harsh news to deliver up cold. And she didn’t even soften the blow by offering to take me out for a latte. Jane, if you’re out there somewhere, I miss you!

Anyway, it was a sad 6 years or so trying to find something to fill the adventure game void. In the process, I played some godawful adventure titles, just horrid things with third-string graphics, exercises in frustration masquerading as puzzles and sophomoric storylines. You could say for me they were adventure game methadone. Eventually I gave up and got pulled into the world of MMO’s and never looked back. And then came a little game called Hotel Dusk.

Hotel Dusk is a DS game developed by japanese company Cing (who also developed another game I hadn’t heard of called Trace Memory). I was skeptical about playing it since I wasn’t too impressed with other handheld games–I just can’t get past the tiny screen–but when I saw that you hold the DS vertically like you would a book, I decided to give it a go.

It wasn’t the greatest game ever but it did have great characterization, interesting dialog, and a story so compelling it kept me playing long enough to fall asleep with the DS in my hand. Wait one minute…what does this remind me of? It’s right on the tip of my….that’s IT! It reminds me of my favorite PC adventure games! Yeahyeahyeahyeahyeah!

Over the top? Yes. But that’s how excited I was. I’m just saying Hotel Dusk made me realize the handheld is likely to give adventure games a new lease on life and that’s great news for those of us who love them. Impressions of other handheld adventure titles forthcoming…

No comments yet.

Leave a comment

XHTML– Allowed tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>