Adventure Games: Immersive Stories, Puzzle Solving and Interactive Experiences

Adventure Games

From the earliest text-based choose your own adventure games to today’s 3D worlds, Adventure Games are immersive stories and puzzle solving at their core.

King’s Quest, Mystery House, Enchanted Scepters and Day of the Tentacle are among the classics. Graphic adventures and escape the room types are also part of the genre.


The term adventure game is often used to describe games that emphasize narrative and characterization over gameplay. This is in contrast to roguelikes, which rely heavily on character progression and combat to tell their story.

One common element of adventure games is a back story, a history that the protagonist experiences prior to taking control of the world. This can be revealed in the introductory sequence or fleshed out through interaction with non-player characters.

As the genre developed, the clumsy basic vector graphics that typified early adventure games began to give way to more aesthetic imagery drawn by professional artists. A few pioneering games such as Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace incorporated full motion video, but it was the 1991 game Myst that ushered in a new era for adventure games with its advanced 3D computer graphics.


Adventure Games are a popular genre of video game that is characterized by a mix of exploration, storytelling and puzzle-solving. They often feature a more interactive experience than other games, and are less demanding on computer resources than action games.

The genre dates back to Colossal Cave Adventure, developed in 1976 by Will Crowther and Don Woods for the Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-10 minicomputer. The game, which used text to describe the player’s actions and a parser to accept commands, inspired developers of later games such as Zork.

In the 1980s, graphical adventure games began to appear. Roberta Williams and her husband Ken founded Sierra On-Line in 1979, which released a number of successful titles that combined storytelling with visual elements such as vector graphics and a two-word parser. Later, games such as Mystery House, King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry allowed players to use a mouse to interact with the characters and environments and utilised bitmap graphics.


Adventure games can be differentiated by their styles. The most common styles are western and Japanese, with the latter embracing non-linear branching narratives. Other distinctions include the use of character development, whether to allow the player to unlock new abilities or to make the character more adept at solving certain types of puzzles.

The genre also encompasses action-adventure games, which incorporate the exploration and puzzle-solving aspects of the genre with action and reflex-based gameplay elements like fighting, running, climbing or jumping. A notable example of this type of game is the first Myst game, which popularized the graphic adventure style developed by the team at Cyan using Apple’s HyperCard software and Macintosh hardware.

Another style of adventure game is the “puzzle adventure”, which emphasizes self-contained logic puzzle challenges that can resemble children’s logic puzzle toys or games. These games typically have few or no non-playable characters, and their story may be conveyed only through interaction with the puzzles. These games are often played from a first person perspective and may present still pre-rendered 3D images combined with short animations or video.


Puzzles are the cornerstone of any adventure game. They can be a source of satisfaction when solved, but they can also be the cause of tremendous frustration. Everyone can recall a time when they quit a captivating game because of an insurmountable puzzle.

The most effective adventure games feature puzzles that support and enhance the story’s world and setting. For example, an adventure set in Victorian era should include objects that evoke the time and place: hidden drawers, cryptic writing on paper, etc. This kind of characterization adds depth to the experience and prevents players from becoming disengaged or annoyed by a lack of progress.

Many adventure games mix a variety of genres, including action and hidden object gameplay elements. This results in a sometimes incoherent design. For instance, Drawn features inventory challenges and standalone pattern analysis puzzles while also containing crime scene investigation mechanics that are more typical of the casual action game. In these cases, designers should be careful to ensure that all genres work well together and that the player never feels like they are being pushed between genres.

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