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Exploring the Lesser Known Adventure Games
Despite being a staple of PC games since the early days of DOS, it seems only a handful of adventure games are recognized by the public. While titles like King’s Quest, Monkey Island, The Walking Dead, Broken Sword, and Space Quest are all fairly well known, very few people recognize the vast treasure trove of point and click adventure games on the PC. Below the Lucasarts and Sierra classics, there is a wide variety of quality adventures to check out. These next four games are just a few of my favorites.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
It’s odd, the game that brought me to the whole adventure game song and dance wasn’t any of the well known titles I listed above. It was actually Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, one of Jane Jensen’s best games out there. With a moody plot set in New Orleans and a wonderful voice cast including Tim Curry as the titular author Gabriel Knight, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is an incredible adventure experience that is criminally overlooked. Thankfully, adventure fans who missed out on Gabe’s past exploits will be able to give the 20th anniversary remake a whirl when it releases mid 2014.
The Last Express
The Last Express feels like it shouldn’t work. The entire game is set on a train in real time with what appears to be hand painted visuals, complete with animation being limited to very choppy character frames. Despite everything going against it, The Last Express is a tense thriller with unique characters. With a murder mystery unfolding on the train, it becomes very difficult to find out who is trustworthy. The real time plot line presses you to act fast, before it’s too late.
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
Something that the next two entries should convey is that early adventure games are terrifying. Adventure games don’t have ‘combat’ in the most traditional sense, so you are given little choice but to act fast and outsmart your opponents. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream doesn’t actually have many encounters with monsters, but the atmosphere it sets up always leaves you waiting for a beast to jump out. Based off of the well known short story by Harlan Ellison, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream manages to make the already grim story even darker. Covering some extremely heavy topics, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is one of the first truly mature video games in existence.
FMV games get a bad rap among gamers in general, mostly for how unbelievably cheesy they all are. However, PC adventure Harvester takes the uncanny valley that comes hand in hand with FMV to make an intentionally uncomfortable experience. Make no mistake, Harvester is filled with hammy dialogue and a horrid blend of actor and 3D background, but below that lies an incredibly cunning use of practical effects to deliver one of the only video games that has ever made me feel disgusted by the blood and gore. However, there’s more to Harvester than the shock value. Beyond the gore lies a brilliant social commentary on the affects of violence in the media, all while including a mystery that just keeps escalating to the point of sheer horror.