Two decades ago, adventure games were considered a dying medium. A decade ago, they had some signs of life but still existed on the fringes of gaming. In this day and age, they’re some of the most consistently entertaining titles, delivering excellent storylines and compelling gameplay mechanics whether they’re 2D platformers or first person titles. Let’s look at the nominees for best adventure game of 2016.
A journey full of conversations, conflict and teenage drama, Oxenfree combines side-scrolling with meaningful interactions and fun exploration. The story, centered on Alex and her friends on an eerie island, excels in its treatment of time lapses and loops when it’s not making your decisions matter (and progressively more terrifying). Likeable characters and stellar pacing make Oxenfree an odd yet satisfyingly addictive narrative.
The Last Guardian
Trico finally arrived in our lives and turned out to be…much harder to manage than we thought. Like,seriously, we could do with less being eaten. The Last Guardian, for all its faults, brought about an interesting new way to interact with one’s companion when it wasn’t delivering atmospheric visuals and an emotional narrative.
When we talk about non-verbal narrative, it’s hard to top The Witness. There is a method to the madness in this first person adventure as you solve puzzles littered across an island, unmasking secrets and generally exploring your surroundings. Even if it seems all for naught,The Witness is oddly cathartic and leads you on a journey to epiphany. Don’t worry – it all makes sense eventually.
Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma
Spike Chunsoft’s incredibly underrated 3DS/Vita/PC adventure focuses on the dangerous “games” so common in Japanese manga like Liar Game and Kaiji. The players here are fighting for survival, each moral decision highlighting the strong drama between them when the plot isn’t twisting your mind into knots. No matter the platform, Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma definitely deserves your attention.
We can’t praise Inside enough for what it does with its story and themes despite being so monochromatic and diabolically mysterious. The game utilizes the same platforming and puzzles that made Limbo famous but honed to perfection. Inside is a sublime roller-coaster that captures your attention and doesn’t let go, even as you’re left with more questions at the ending.
“What is Firewatch?” goes the meme but even all these months later, we still find ourselves wondering the same. What was Firewatch? It was an arc centered around Henry and the decisions he made that brought him to Shoshone National Forest. However, Firewatch felt like so much more, like the relationship one shares with the world, with expectations and life in general. In a way, it was about you but without being patronizingly obvious.
The Last Guardian
We know. The barrels can be a pain. Trico can be a pain. In many ways, The Last Guardian is just painful. However, in that pain there’s great meaning to be found. When Trico – who feels like a real animal rather than a gameplay element – responds to you, things start falling place. As the bond grows between the boy and Trico with the stakes rising ever higher, The Last Guardian starts to unfold with its whimsical yet mysterious atmosphere. And there’s no denying it’s beautiful art style and visuals. For all its gameplay quirks, The Last Guardian is a solid adventure title.
Note: GamingBolt’s Game of the Year categories, nominations and awards are selected via an internal nomination, voting and debate process. You can check the rest of categories and the respective winners here.