Top 10 PlayStation 4 adventure games
The Playstation 4 has a great library of fast-paced shooters and nail biting sports games, but sometimes you want something a bit more cerebral to unwind with, like some good old PlayStation 4 adventure games.
Luckily, they’ve seen a resurgence in the last few years meaning there are plenty to choose from. We take a look at the best ten on the console, taking in time travel, the afterlife and a pig called Colin.
Day of the Tentacle
The follow up to Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle is seen as something as as classic, up there with Monkey Island and Sam & Max Hit the Road. The game has had a makeover for 2016 with an updated graphical style and interface, but its tough puzzles remain intact which is most definitely a good thing.
Sprawling across three different time periods and with seemingly a thousand items to pick up and stuff in your pocket, this isn’t a game for those who are easily frustrated. There’s no hand holding or large arrows on screen telling you where to go – just you and your brain cells. Oh dear. Puzzles range from ‘fair’ to ‘total bastard’ and there’s every chance you’ll be reaching for a walkthrough when you get to the bit where you have to… oh, you’ll find out.
Still, it’s a rewarding experience and, even better, its famous humour has largely stood the test of time. You can even play the original prequel, Maniac Mansion, inside the game itself. Now, how’s that for value?
If you fancy a light hearted romp, Valiant Hearts isn’t the game isn’t for you. Yes, the design is charming with its hand drawn comic style, but the story gets darker than the inside of Darth Vader’s pockets, and by the end you’ll have got through more tissues than when you used to play Sam Fox’s Strip Poker. Not quite a traditional adventure game, more an adventure/action hybrid, it’s a great achievement from a studio that usually focuses on quantity over quality.
Valiant Hearts is more focused on narrative than puzzles and tells the story of several protagonists caught up in The Great War. It takes its source material seriously, and along the way various collectables unlock short snippets of historical facts, in fact the game is dangerously close to being educational.
Perhaps the last great point-and-click game of the 90s, Grim Fandango takes place in the Mexican afterlife, with a Day of the Dead theme that makes it stand out. The remaster isn’t quite as big a sea change as Day of the Tentacle, but there is an improved lighting system, and the option to use traditional point-and click-controls instead of the originals god awful tank controls.
Like most other LucasArts adventure games, it has a wry sense of especailly dark humour appropriate to its setting. Once you hit your stride the puzzles becaome fairly straightforward, though there is the odd one here and there that will have you tabbing through to GameFaqs. On the whole Grim Fandango is yet another LucasArts classic and the developer commentary in the remaster (a much overlooked feature in games) is a great way of getting to know how games like this are created through the words of its developers themselves.
The product of a high profile Kickstarter campaign, Double Fine’s Broken Age was always pitched as a good old fashioned adventure game. In many ways, it delivers, creating a weird and wonderful story that is filled with equally weird and wonderful characters. In doing so, it really does bring to mind the LucasArts games of old.
Some of the puzzles are painfully obscure, which you might see as a positive or negative, depending on your passion for the genre. Released originally in two parts, there’s a very definite split between the two chapters, and in the second, the game takes a bit of dive in quality. A lot of the environments are reused, and it’s just not as satisfying or interesting to play. Despite this, it’s probably still the closest to a LucasArts game that you’ll see today that isn’t a remaster.
The Walking Dead (Seasons 1 & 2)
Telltale may have created similar games in the past (Jurassic Park, anyone?), but the Walking Dead games were the ones that really caught the attention of gamers. Setting the template for modern adventure games in the process.
They’re impressively cinematic, but the trade-off is that they’re incredibly limited in scope. There’s no huge inventory system here, or complex verbs to deal with – just click on something, walk through a door, avoid a zombie, win the game. Hurrah! In fact, a zombie could probably beat the games, tapping away at the X button with a severed finger (held in its other hand, naturally). The Walking Dead games are a world away from traditional point-and-click style adventure games, but they do tell a damn good story, even if you’re not interested in the franchise.
Life is Strange
Dontnod Entertainment were clearly inspired by the Telltale formula with Life is Strange – an episodic, cinematic adventure game set in small town America. Playing as a student studying photography at the local college, the game introduces some interesting twists in the first episode, and keeps them coming thick and fast right up until the end.
Part Twin Peaks, part Breakfast Club, part Donnie Darko (that’s a lot of parts), the setting of the college and small town works well and brilliantly reflects the diverse breadth of people who live there. The cast is mainly made up of teens, who have been given some slightly clunky dialogue – at times it seems it was written by a thirty something guy imaging how teens speak – but that’s all part of its charm. Like, hella…
The Wolf Among Us
Another Telltale game, and another property that had nerds everywhere foaming at the mouth. Based on DC’s Fables comics, the game takes the fairy tales we know and love, and gives them a gritty, noir twist. Playing as the Big Bad Wolf, (aka Bigby Wolf), you investigate a series of grizzly crimes happening on the dark streets of Fabletown.
Don’t let the presence of Red Riding Hood and one of the three little pigs (here called Colin) mislead you – this is a dark game that doesn’t pull any punches. Within five minutes of the first episode you’re painting the walls with some guys blood, as the Wolf-side of Bigby takes over. Suffice it to say that if your kids are in the room when you’re playing this one, expect a call from social services.
The King’s Quest series has an impressive pedigree, with a rich back catalogue of classic point-and-click adventures originating in the early 80s. Unexpectedly, it got a re-boot in 2015 with a new “does exactly what it says on the tin” King’s Quest game. The traditional style got a makeover so that it now, inevitably, plays like a Telltale game. Don’t worry though, the game old formula hasn’t been sanitised entirely.
There are moments when it feels like something of a throwback, such as when you’re exploring the world without a map or onscreen marker, and getting totally lost. Also, while Telltale focuses mainly on dialogue trees, King’s Quest throws a fair amount of puzzles at the player, so you don’t feel like you’re simply jabbing at a button to progress. Already two chapters in, the game has been a pleasant surprise so far, and hopefully it can keep up the pace for the remaining three.
Tales from the Borderlands
On the surface, an adventure game based on Borderlands seems like a particularly odd fit. It’s probably fair to say that the series is known more for its gunplay and looting than complex dialogue, and Telltale took it on all the same. As it turns out it was the right decision, with Tales from the Borderlands standing on its own two feet, even if you’ve never heard of the series before.
The story rattles along at a nice pace, and the humour hits home, relying on actual wit rather than the series usual over reliance on meme references. Of course, the game includes some shooting sections, but these are of the quick-time event variety rather than actual first-person running-and-gunning.
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2
While there may have been something of a drought of adventure games before Walking Dead breathed new (undead) life into the adventure genre, it never really went away. PC gamers will tell you it was alive and well and living in Europe, where the scene was very much thriving. The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 from German publisher, Nordic Games, is a fine example of a point-and-click game of old. With its comedy fantasy setting it brings to mind classic titles, like Simon the Sorcerer and the Discworld games.
Not only does it look stunning, and have a glorious orchestral soundtrack, it’s funny too. Genuinely funny. For a game made in Germany, that’s quite an achievement (oh, how we jest). It lovingly pokes fun at gaming, Harry Potter, Back to the Future and a whole host of other nerd staples, and the jokes nearly always hit. The fact this came to the PS4 in the first place was something of a surprise (and as a boxed product, no less) and hopefully it will open the floodgates for more traditional adventure games.
So there you have it, ten adventure games on the Playstation 4 that we heartily recommend. And no, we didn’t include Broken Sword 5. And yes, it was just to upset you. Sorry about that.