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A treasure map to the best adventure games that set sail in 2017
By Nathan Lawrence
Our expectations of adventure games have changed a lot over the years. At the birth of the genre, the most common type was of the point-and-click variety. While those still exist in limited quantities or remaster forms, the more common prefix for popular adventure games nowadays is another "a" word: action.
This evolution of the more popular entries in the genre hasn’t really come with concessions, either. You can still expect great dialogue, interesting characters and puzzles. But more than this, you can expect to feel like you’ve had an adventure. That’s the thing with old-school adventure games: they never really felt like they were worthy of the word, especially not when expectations back then were viewed through Indiana Jones-tinted lenses.
There are a number of adventure games released in 2017, across platforms, that didn’t make my list for a variety of reasons. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, for me, was more an action-puzzle game (with a predictable puzzle gimmick) than an action-adventure title. Similarly, Super Mario Odyssey for me is a puzzle-platformer, even though I can appreciate there’s an argument to be made for it being an adventure game (it’s got freakin’ “Odyssey” in the title).
Speaking of titles, Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure literally has “adventure” in the title, but no. Ex-Kinect games don’t make great remasters, even if you take the Kinect part away (at least not for older gamers). On the topic of Xbox One exclusives, Tacoma is good enough to make my list of best exclusive Xbox One games of 2017 , but I haven’t sprinted in to the walking simulator adventure genre like other people, so I’ve limited this list to just one of those types of new-age adventure games.
The one I’m saddest about, which you’ll already know if you read my Best Adventure Games of All Time on PlayStation 4 article, is Full Throttle: Remastered. My family computer was never powerful enough to play it, so I missed out on it. After falling in love with most of the LucasArts point-and-click adventure games, I waited years for the remaster, only to discover that I didn’t connect with it at all. I gave up after a couple of hours. RIP nostalgia.
But that’s enough about what hasn’t made the cut. Read on for my credentials and to see my pick of the 10 best adventure games of 2017.
The Secret of Monkey Island was a game-changer for me. As one of four sons and with only access to the one family computer, gaming time was more a squabble than a shared experience. Cue the entry of Monkey Island to make it so it didn’t matter who was playing, because we could all be interacting by inputting our thoughts on puzzle solutions. Peace was restored.
I remember that I cracked one of the Monkey Island puzzles by literally trying to give every item in my inventory to a particularly stubborn gatekeeper. Eventually, it worked. Who needs a guide when you only have a handful of games to play in a year? Sarcasm aside, I’ve adored adventure games since their inception, and loved them throughout their evolution into the new-gen beauties you’ll see listed below. I also happen to play them for a living. Well, not just adventure games, truth be told, but I’m a decade-long veteran of the games industry who will temporarily belay his shooter addiction to get lost in a beautifully constructed adventure game.
10. What Remains of Edith Finch
- PLATFORMS: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- RELEASE DATE: 25 April 2017
- DEVELOPER: Giant Sparrow
- PUBLISHER: Annapurna Interactive
I mentioned it in my intro, but let’s labour the point here. Walking games, a somewhat newish subgenre in the adventure game space, are not everyone’s cup of tea because they can be about as exciting as drinking a cup of tea. I’m one of those people who thinks a little bit of a walking sim goes a long way. That’s why you’ll only see one, but that one is a particularly special example: What Remains of Edith Finch.
This is an adventure title made by the same team that created the incredibly unique and BAFTA-award winning game, The Unfinished Swan. What Remains of Edith Finch is one of those games that, if the story doesn’t grab you in the opening minutes, you’re better off leaving it. If it does grab you, though – and, really, it should because it’s particularly special in a "damn onions" kind of way – you’ll be hooked from sombre start to teary conclusion.
Click to buy What Remains of Edith Finch Xbox One from Microsoft Store
Play and discover a collection of strange tales about a family in Washington state.View details
9. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
- PLATFORMS: PlayStation 4
- RELEASE DATE: 23 August 2017
- DEVELOPER: Naughty Dog
- PUBLISHER: Sony Interactive Entertainment
For a game that started out as DLC, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy sure feels like a solid standalone spin-off in the popular action-adventure series. Now that Nate Drake has hung up his fedora – I mean, scarf – The Lost Legacy proves that the franchise can have a healthy post-Drake existence with other characters. Truth be told, I wasn’t the biggest fan of merc Nadine Ross in Uncharted 4, but she grew on me a whole lot more once she was Chloe Frazer’s partner in crime (literally) in The Lost Legacy.
Let’s be honest; if anyone was going to carry the Uncharted name forward, it was going to be everyone’s favourite in-game Aussie. All the core, patented Naughty Dog elements are still there – banter, puzzles, action set pieces, great leading characters – so the fact that it’s Nate- and Sully-less doesn’t really register. It’s awesome to have more of an in-depth look at what drives Chloe and to discover that her seemingly chaotic-neutral motivations are actually closer to Nate’s. The personal connection between plight and setting is also a great touch, which ensures that The Lost Legacy sits right up there with the other classic Uncharted adventures.
Purchase Uncharted: The Lost Legacy PS4 from ozgameshop.com
Take Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross on a journey through the Western Ghats in search of a priceless artefact.View details
8. Little Nightmares
- PLATFORMS: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- RELEASE DATE: 28 April 2017
- DEVELOPER: Tarsier Studios
- PUBLISHER: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Little Nightmares has the kind of atmosphere that feels like it’s a “quoth the raven” shy of impressing classic literary horror scribes. With a Tim Burton aesthetic, this puzzle-adventure game will regularly give you the creeps long before you confront some of the bigger scares. Hell, when it’s firing on all creepy cylinders, Little Nightmares will make you yearn for those jumpy moments so you can at least have a quick tension release.
Because unlike the recent It reboot, Little Nightmares actually has a knack for making childhood fears truly terrifying. Every environment is oozing with creepiness, yet it’s all somehow executed in a way that’s oddly charming. Inside this dollhouse-sized prison, you’ll solve clever puzzles and try your darndest to avoid the wrath of souls who have a hankering for your soul. Strap in for fighting words, but unlike Playdead’s wildly overrated Limbo and Inside, Little Nightmares actually manages to unite its puzzling, platforming and storytelling in a wholly satisfying way.
Little Nightmares Deluxe Edition Xbox One Game from ozgameshop.com
Immerse yourself in Little Nightmares, a dark whimsical tale that will confront you with your childhood fears.View details
- PLATFORMS: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
- RELEASE DATE: 26 May 2017
- DEVELOPER: Tequila Works
- PUBLISHER: Grey Box
Here’s a title that proves you don’t need to have a sprawling open world or stacks of action to offer players a sense of adventure. Rime also shows you don’t need an obvious main storyline, beyond the basic need to survive and progress through the world, to create an enticing adventure game. This offers chilled adventuring, with optional exploration to discover more about the strange island and why you’re there.
Alternatively, you can main-path it, and while there’s the occasional creepy creature to stand in your way, Rime mostly plays out at the player’s pace, instead of forcing you to play reactive catch-up. Like a spiritual successor to Journey, Rime immerses you immediately with straightforward gameplay mechanics, an unobtrusive HUD (which, outside of hints, is non-existent), a beautiful art style and a pitch-perfect soundtrack. You can rush through it all in a handful of hours, but it’s well worth experiencing as much of this mysterious island as you can on your first play-through.
Click to buy Rime Xbox One from ozgameshop.com
Start your journey on a mysterious island, with a giant tower at its centre. Explores the island, guided by a magical fox, encounters a mysterious man in a red cape on several occasions. To reveal more buy it today. It is a full package of adventure!View details
6. Night in the Woods
- PLATFORMS: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
- RELEASE DATE: 28 February 2017
- DEVELOPER: Infinite Fall
- PUBLISHER: Finji
It’s always encouraging to see a successful Kickstarter story. With crowd-funded games that disappoint on release, or seemingly never releasing (I’m looking at you, Star Citizen), Night in the Woods goes a long way to restoring faith across the board. A handful of devs, a crazy collective imagination and, assumedly, an unhealthy obsession with cats resulted in one of the quirkiest titles of 2017.
But Night in the Woods is more than just an oddball game with a cult following where you play as a personified cat. Night in the Woods may look cutesy (its art style is certainly alluring), but it explores some very mature themes in an accessible way. At its heart, Night in the Woods is a story-driven tale, but it doesn’t just rest on the laurels of fantastic characters and compelling dialogue to drive it forward, either. There’s a stack of mini-games, which are often hilarious, and the unforgettable soundtrack acts as a catchy backdrop throughout.
Click to buy Night in the Woods Xbox from Microsoft Store
Be a companion with Mae on a trip to her hometown and into the dark on the other side.View details
5. The Sexy Brutale
- PLATFORMS: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
- RELEASE DATE: 12 April 2017
- DEVELOPER: Cavalier Game Studios
- PUBLISHER: Tequila Works
Regardless of the genre, it seems to be the truism that you have to look to the indie space for truly unique ideas. Case in point, The Sexy Brutale. The idea behind the game is more compelling than the oddball title, which is a murderous take on Groundhog Day at a masquerade ball. At its core, The Sexy Brutale is pretty damn creepy, but it’s presented in such a confident and colourful way (with a fantastic sense of humour) that you don’t have to be a worshipper of the macabre to get into it.
The hook behind the game, a time-loop detective story, is the essential stitching between all of the other elements. And it makes for a damn fine game. Though you’ll wrap your head around the mechanics early on, there are some genuinely testing brain-scratchers you’ll need to best to crack the case. It all builds up to a hell of a satisfying ending, too, in such a way that you can expect Hollywood to buy the rights and make some terrible adaptation in the not-so-distant future (for the record, that’s a dis on Hollywood, but a compliment for the game).
Click for The Sexy Brutale PS4 from Mighty Ape
The Sexy Brutale is an adventure puzzle game you won't forget soon! Make it your own today.View details
- PLATFORMS: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- RELEASE DATE: 17 March 2017
- DEVELOPER: Parabole
- PUBLISHER: Parabole
This ambitious indie title could so easily have felt like a disparate mishmash of ideas, better suited to the results of a thrown-together game jam than something that should hit full release. But Kona manages to rise above its genre straddling by championing what it is at its core: a detective story. This also happens to be what keeps driving the player forward to discover more, at least on the main path.
At first, I thought the film noir voiceover was tacky, but it took all of five minutes for it to win me over. More than this, it’s a great way of keeping you focused on the task at hand and is a warm way of reminding you of the story beats. This is important because Kona isn’t just a murder-mystery detective story; there are some much bigger mysteries to be found and survival elements to consider. Just when you think you have it figured out, Kona continues to throw curve balls at you with grander mysteries, all of which work to distract you from what you thought you were fascinated in moments before.
Buy Kona Xbox One from Microsoft Store
A strange blizzard ravages Atamipek Lake is your set. Play as a detective to explore the eerie village, investigate surreal events, and battle the elements to survive.View details
3. Thimbleweed Park
- PLATFORMS: PC, Mac, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Linux, Android, iOS
- RELEASE DATE: 30 March 2017
- DEVELOPER: Terrible Toybox
- PUBLISHER: Terrible Toybox
This is where adventure gaming comes full circle. It’s X-Files meets Twin Peaks with the classic LucasArts point-and-click adventure sensibilities. That latter bit is likely because it’s made by two of the minds behind some of those: Ron Gilbert and Garry Winnick. Thimbleweed Park looks and plays like those old front-on, 2D, third-person puzzle-adventures of old, and in no way is that a bad thing.
In fact, if you’re a gamer who missed or was too young to have played those older point-and-click adventures, Thimbleweed Park is a fantastic place to start. For the old-school fans, much like the beloved Day of the Tentacle was a sequel to Maniac Mansion, this is a spiritual sequel to that original game, too. Gilbert and Winnick expertly weave puzzles that are challenging enough without proving frustrating (Full Throttle) or illogical (L.A. Noire), and when you do crack the tougher ones, the logic is always clear. The characters are also a big part of the endearing humour, even if it’s a bit liberal with fourth-wall breaking, and the wacky story is all kinds of fun.
Click to buy Thimbleweed Park Xbox from Microsoft Store
Love adventure and puzzle solving! Here is your game, Gamer! Purchase it now.View details
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- PLATFORMS: Nintendo Switch
- RELEASE DATE: 03 March 2017
- DEVELOPER: Nintendo EPD
- PUBLISHER: Nintendo
It’s easy to make jokes about how much Nintendo likes to rehash its core Mario, Kirby, Metroid and Zelda IPs. Sometimes these iterations feel lazy. At other times, they feel sublime. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild slots effortlessly into that latter category, borrowing liberally from popular open-world games that have come before it, while stamping its own mark on a truly epic Zelda adventure.
Zelda games have always been challenging, but Breath of the Wild is positively punishing in parts. If you’re anything like me, you’ll remember this at the most inopportune time: in an impossibly tough boss battle. And you last saved half an hour ago. As frustrating as that sounds, it’s also a testament to the skill of Nintendo EDP’s crafting of this addictive open-world adventure. You forget to save because you’re so engrossed in the world.
There’s so much to do in Breath of the Wild that it’s easy to regularly forget what you last intended on doing, as you’re tangentially distracted by some shiny thing in the distance. Then another. And another. The gameplay loop is so addictive and perfectly executed, this is the kind of console launch title that made the Switch a must-buy for fans of Zelda and open-world adventure games.
Purchase The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Nintendo Switch from ozgameshop.com
Go! Get your game now from Ozgameshop!View details
1. Assassin’s Creed Origins
- PLATFORMS: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- RELEASE DATE: 27 October 2017
- DEVELOPER: Ubisoft Montreal
- PUBLISHER: Ubisoft
Confession time: I’ve included Assassin’s Creed Origins in a lot of these best-of lists. Prior to its release, I wrote about it a bunch for other outlets. You’d think I’d be so sick of writing about it that I’d artificially drop it from this and future lists just to not have to write about it again. The thing is, I’m still not sick of raving about it and I don’t think I ever will be. Here’s why.
Assassin’s Creed has long been an open-world action-adventure game with plenty of promise. While Assassin’s Creed II added more variety, and Black Flag distracted from the less-than-stellar recurring sins of the series, the core elements of each entry have always felt imperfectly executed. Until now. Assassin’s Creed Origins, ironically a prequel (in terms of the core historical story) to everything that’s come before, delivers on the promise of the series. Finally.
It may have taken 10 core entries to get here, but now that we’re here, it’s glorious. Whether you’re main-pathing it, chasing down side quests, hunting, exploring or fighting, Assassin’s Creed Origins is engrossing. Here’s the kicker: it’s not just the greatest Assassin’s Creed game ever made, it’s one of the greatest open-world action-adventures ever made.
Click for Assassin’s Creed Origins Xbox One from Microsoft Store
Takes the role of a Medjay named Bayek and protect the people of the Ptolemaic Kingdom during a time of widespread upheaval. The game also features revised combat mechanics. Order it now from MS Store!View details
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