I've had a rocky history with adventure games, I really want to like them, but I just can't. The only adventure game I've ever loved has been Botanicula and I've already written about that
I bought Sword & Sworcery last year because I had heard lots of reviewers saying how amazing it was, how it would reinvent modern adventure games and how revolutionary it is. Itís really not that good.
Adventure games have a very simple structure, explore around a place by walking very slowly, talk to people, find items, combine items in ludicrous ways to solve puzzles. Adventure games are one of the oldest genres because people used to have much more time for games, they had fewer games, and spent more time on individual games than getting new ones. The puzzles were usually about, combining items that you find by clicking randomly on the scenery and using them on a switch half way across an island. This seemed like a good way to make people spend more time on the game and people used to do that. My friendís dad has a notebook that he used when he played Myst, with codes and maps that he had drawn out himself. In my opinion this is what more games should be trying to replicate, the feeling of true exploration, discovery and documentary. When playing through Monkey Island for the first time last year (Iím young, get over it) I decided to keep a notebook like my friendís dad did. I got to the end of chapter 1 before I stopped out of boredom. The puzzles just donít make sense, itís a good idea to keep track of what youíve seen, in a sort of Nathan Drake way, but this was absurd. Maybe Iím missing something.
I tried more adventure games in the hope of capturing the wonder that those gamers of old had. In ĎBen there Dan thatí I did not keep a notebook, because I thought it would take up too much time. Itís basically a love letter to Monkey Island and as a result the puzzles were stupidly obscure, the walking was slow, and the verb selection system was annoying. The redeeming factor however was the dialogue. Itís a very funny game, not laugh out loud funny, but witty enough to make me smirk. Humour is meant to be one of the mechanics in an adventure game, such as the insult sword fighting in Monkey Island, but donít other games have that as well. In ĎMachinariumí I used the notebook to help me, making a map on gridded paper was fun and jotting down codes and item locations was very useful. Perhaps this is what itís all about, but still, some puzzles were just illogical, some puzzles I could not solve with the help of my notebook. This is what letís adventure games down, the puzzles that only the designers could solve.
Now onto Sword & Sworcery. In an interview on the Double Fine Adventure documentary one of the Superbrothers said, Sword & Sworcery was created to be an adventure game without the puzzles. Sounds good to me, maybe Iíll finally see what all the fuss is about. Sadly, I didnít. Sword & Sworcery is a good game, definitely for the art and music alone. The story was interesting and the mythical landscapes were actually stunning. But even without the puzzles it maintains the adventure game qualities. I just donít understand, maybe when I inevitably play the Double Fine adventure game Iíll find the answer, but to me, adventure games are a thing of the past that we need to forget about to move on it the future. Adventure games donít make good games, good games make good games.
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