I am an adventure gamer. This does not mean that I exclusively play adventure games and refuse even spending a buck on the occasional rpg or shooter. I do not sit alone in a corner mumbling something about cancelled Full Throttle sequels while my fellow gamers discuss the new class featured in Diablo 3. I am simply one of the lycky people grew up with masterpieces like Monkey Island, Day of the tentacle, Broken Sword and other games that ignored the 3d-hype for many years. I am simply one of the lucky people who today can walk around with a big, ridiculous smile on my face knowing that we finally got our fifth Monkey Island game (kind of).
Sure, we adventure gamers are now finally getting our sequels and remakes we deserve, but still not everything is right in the universe of point-click-and-huge-pockets. I have a confession to make. I sometimes use walkthroughs. THERE! I SAID IT! The first step towards getting help is admitting that you have a problem, right? But am I really the one with the problem? I talk to a lot of cigarr-smoking, whiskey-sipping people in their 40's who play nothing else than adventure games. Even these people, people who grew up playing the Zork-games only dreaming of seeing their actions acted out with graphics, used a strategy guide when playing Gabriel Knight 3.
Get a mustasch to get past this guy!
In a sense, this is a problem pretty unique to the adventure game genre. I play a lot of shooters, and there is mostly only one reason to use a strategy guide or walkthrough while playing these games - design flaws. The designers simply did a bad job of hinting where you should go next. This is mostly resolved by throwing yourself at every door you can find, resulting in you finding either an item that will open that locked door in the other room or an area you missed where you will be greeted by random henchmen or minions screaming "SURPRISE!", but with bullets. If you get stuck somewhere else in the game it is often simply because of an enemy or boss, which is often resolved by trying different tactics until you successfully exploit the flaws in the coding of the AI by camping in a constant blind-spot.
The only way to get stuck in an RPG is to encounter an enemy that you simple cannot defeat. The solution to this is hours and hours of grinding through hordes of nameless enemies either resulting of you sailing through the rest of the game without any challenge or you throwing the disk out the window.
My point is simple. Most adventure games have only one solution, meaning there is only one way to proceed to the next part of the game. On paper it is hard to understad why adventure games are as popular as they are when presnted with this fact. Luckily, this fact have never stopped the genre. You could compare this to a crossword or a puzzle - yes, the kind your grandma solves on the kitchen table, not the digital ones. There is only one solution there too, but people all over the world still enjoy these kinds of puzzles every day. It's because of the satisfaction you get when finishing the puzzle, it makes you feel smart.
You and your grandma.
This is the reason adventure games have survived all these years. But what about us that never got to experience that feeling in Gabriel Knight 3? What about us that never got off the first island in Myst? Will we never get to experience the rest of the story? Just because we couldn't read the developers mind?
There are a lot of obsicles that stand in the way of me and finishing these games, but one bothers me the most - new areas. Developers, on the other hand, seems to love these, because they fill them with everything in the WORLD. Ten thousand new rooms, each filled with fifty thousand items and one million characters with ten billion lines of text each. This often results in information overload for me. I talk to all the characters, examine all the rooms and pick up all the items - what now? I am now presented with about one million puzzles, all right - lets stop the exaggerations to get this in perspective. I am presented with three to five different puzzles and problems. I probably picked up about ten items and discovered six new locations and talked to four new characters. Where do I start? Where is the first piece of this puzzle? These situations often result in me trying to give every item in my inventory to every character I meet hoping for a positiv reaction.
I don't know what to write... DAMN i just got the munchies for cheese!
I am not asking developers to delete the situations all together and present you to puzzles room by room, that would be boring. These situations simply need adjustments. A good example of this made right is the recently released Tales of Monkey Island chapter 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. After solving the first puzzles on the boat you arrive on an island. After talking to a couple of characters it becomes very clear what you have to, and after picking up a few items you can even figure out in what order. Some people argue that the first episode was way too easy but I disagree. It was simply very well designed.
Don't get me wrong. I love a challenge. I have finished a lot of adventure games without the help of a walkthrough, I don't consult Gamefaqs everytime I hit a little bump in the road. I am simple asking you, my fellow gamers - should I rather leave a game unfinished than consulting a guide? Should I have to consult a guide? Are adventure games too hard?
Let me know what you think. read