Top 20 Best PC Adventure Games of All Time
Want to know the Best PC adventure games of all time? When you finish, read our recommendations spanning the whole adventure game genre, retro & modern, across all systems, not just the Top PC Adventure Games…
10 Best PC Adventure Games – 2 Lists
We have two adventure-loving editors and they each will list their own 10 Best PC Adventure Games. The first list has more of a classic fantasy/sci-fi vibe to it while the second list has more of a mystery/thriller/horror vibe to it. You can check out whichever list appeals to your gaming tastes more.
List #1: Menashe’s Ten Best PC Adventure Games
If you have even a passing interest in either the adventure genre or sci-fi/cyberpunk fantasy worlds, you owe it to yourself to play Gemini Rue. The best two games in the genre from the past decade are probably Machinarium and Gemini Rue. The storytelling is simply astounding, and the plot twist is one of the best in any form of storytelling- whether books, movies, or games. You’ll never see it coming. Everything just seemed to come together for this game. The art style and hand-drawn graphics are breathtaking and incredibly atmospheric, the story is almost unrivaled in its impact on you, the voice acting is top notch, and best of all, it has one of the most emotional, atmospheric soundtracks I’ve ever heard in a game. Gemini Rue is a game that only comes around once in a while and you won’t forget about for a while once you’re done.
Machinarium is my favorite adventure game since Grim Fandango. Period. It’s game that makes an air-tight case for games being art. The graphics shouldn’t be called graphics. Call them masterful hand-drawn paintings instead. The soundtrack should be called enchanting melodies. And the simple but utterly charming story of a robot who has been exiled to a scrap heap will touch you. Machinarium is a prime example of why point ‘n’ click adventure games are not dead and just how much potential is still left. It was created by people who clearly love the genre with the aim to deliver a top-notch entertainment for all those gamers who really miss the magical world of adventure games. Every element–even the smallest ones–are crafted with exceptional care and polish by people who clearly knew what they were doing and loved it. This level of detail is hard to find in most modern games that seem to be mass produced, so it is a very refreshing feeling to see a title that is made with such care and passion.
The Longest Journey
Considered one of the finest adventure games ever made, The Longest Journey is up there with LucasArts’ and Sierra’s retro classics. The plot is so epic it can even get a little confusing at times, but the storytelling is wonderful and keeps a focus on character. You’ll especially appreciate when the modern sci-fi setting suddenly meets up with a fantasy world. It’s quite an adult game too; the dialogue is mature and intelligent, there’s quite a bit of swearing and some nudity throughout. The puzzles are mostly clever and there is a ton of conversations to be had. You’ll visit 150 locations over 50 hours of gameplay. All in all, it’s a beautiful game.
This game saved the genre all by itself, in the time of dire crisis. Without Syberia in 2002, we would not have 15+ adventures per year now days. Sokal’s emotional story of Kate Walker and Automatons touched the hearts of players around the world and renewed the faith in Adventure games once again. Setting focus on the characters and letting them develop the well written story was a brilliant plan that worked. Also, featuring great and detailed 2D pre-rendered graphics with well animated 3D characters, superb sound and dynamic background music, Syberia was and is a masterpiece.
To the Moon
Has a game ever made you cry? To the Moon might just have one of the most thoughtful and inspiring stories ever conceived in a video game. Its nostalgic 16-bit graphics are intertwined with touching, hand-drawn scenes and an overwhelming soundtrack which is guaranteed to tug at those heart strings. As the player, you will assume the role of one of two scientists who are traveling backwards through the scattered memories of a dying man’s life. His life has never been particularly satisfying, so it’s up to Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts to fool his mind into believing he has accomplished his ultimate life goals. With each step back in time, a new fragment of Johnny’s past is revealed. Don’t be afraid to shed some tears of manliness.
There are many creators of new worlds and cultures in books, tv, film, and games. Usually these visionaries take some pre-established premises and throw in some new twists to make things original. It is rare to find someone with enough imagination to make a world that relies on a completely new set of rules and fundamentals. Tim Schafer, possibly the greatest mind in adventure games, threw the rule book out of the window and imagined a world that had everything new from the ground up with Grim Fandango. When you enter the world of Grim Fandango, you are entering somewhere you’ve never been before. And you will be intrigued, enchanted, cracked up, and unwilling to leave the Land of the Dead. Both the characters and the world setting make for a rich lively world full of inventive ideas, whether you’re working as a travel agent to pay off your debt, walking along the bottom of the sea, escaping from The Edge of the World, or reciting poetry at a night club.
Gabriel Knight series
Jane Jensen is one of my favorite game developers and her abilities in writing and storytelling always shine through. Right now we’re going to look at the series as a whole all three games: Sins of the Fathers, The Beast Within, and Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned. Gabriel Knight is a struggling horror novelist who discovers that his destiny is to become a Shadow Hunter. The games stray from the lighter fare of Sierra and LucasArts adventure games, and instead focus on the occult, voodoo murders, werewolf attacks, and vampire conspiracies. The series has gone from pixelated sprites, to FMV scenes, to 3D models. Despite the graphical changes with the technological advancements, the core writing and storyline were always top of the line.
Get Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers at GOG.com
Get Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within from GOG.com
Get Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred; Blood of the Damned from GOG.com
Get the Gabriel Knight Series at Amazon
King’s Quest VI
King’s Quest VI: Heir today, Gone tomorrow is an adventure game so amazing, so well-written, so artfully designed, so masterfully crafted it still holds to this day. It’s story, characters, graphics, score…. every little piece of the production has perfection written all over it! The story tells of King Graham’s son Alexander, who travels to the Land of the Green Isles in search of his love, princess Cassima. As simple a premise as it may seem, the plot quickly becomes intricate and clever, weaving mythology and fairy tales into a tale of betrayal and love. Beauty and the Beast living in the same Kingdom as the Minotaur and Hades to name a few. Designer Roberta Williams teamed up with co-designer Jane Jensen (Gabriel Knight) on this one and it shows. Their visioned combined has created a masterpiece of its time, and a classic for the ages. For many old-school adventure-lovers, it is by far the very best adventure game ever released.
The Monkey Island Series
Looked at as a whole, most adventure gamers will agree that the best adventure series of all time is the Monkey Island series. It consistently provided a certain charm, wit, and cleverness that became a model for the rest of gaming. And adventure game developers are still trying to recapture that personality in their games to this day. The complex love triangle between foolish Guybrush Threepwood, the undead Pirate King Lechuck, and their fixation, the tomboyish Elaine- has become the dynamic that the entire series hinges upon. While the more recent Tales of Monkey Island series didn’t reach the same pinnacles as the first three games in the series, they were definitely not a letdown.
The Walking Dead
The fact that so many gamers- not even aventure fans!- are saying The Walking Dead is the best game of the year so far for 2012 is really a big deal. Even if you don’t like the TV show you’ll STILL love The Walking Dead as a game. It’s that good. Once you start playing the game, some of the characters will actually start mattering to you. The storyline is complex and full of plot-twists. There is real character development. The dialogue is excellent. And there are some great scares waiting for you. Telltale Games have been making adventure games for a while now, but they’ve finally created their legacy!