I have a weakness for adventure games that dates back to my Apple II days when the height of hilarity was telling the computer to do something ridiculous and having it respond:
>SMELL BUTT I'm sorry, I don't know how to SMELL BUTT
Ok, it’s still funny.
The best part was when a game was complex enough to surprise you by anticipating your stupid commands:
>SMELL BUTT Hmm, smells like roses.
Regardless of the complexity, though, the true mark of a quality adventure game was the story. Rarely would I bail on a game with a great story line, despite how rage-quittingly difficult it may have been. This is still true with today’s point-and-click adventure games. If you get the story right, many small annoyances can be overlooked. However, no amount of radical new game mechanics, soundtrack, or quality art can overcome a boring narrative.
Whether you’re in the mood for creepy horror or hilarious wit, these two hidden-object and point-and-click adventure games are fantastic examples of quality storytelling in adventure games.
iPad / iPhone: 9 Clues 2: The Ward
This little gem from G5 was responsible for me getting about 20 hours of sleep in a week. The successor to 9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek, 9 Clues 2: The Ward is set in a creepy old psychiatric ward. The story is engaging, and the artifacts are just creepy enough to be entertaining without being uncomfortable. The game transitions back and forth between hidden object puzzles and a narrative adventure game similar to the old “you were eaten by a grue” text-based games of my youth. There are three different levels that offer varying degrees of difficulty, but playing on anything other than the hardest turns this game into little more than an animated story that you simply tap your way through. I suppose it would be useful for younger kids, but then again, why are you giving young kids a game about murderous psychopaths and homicidal arsonists in the first place?
PC / Steam: The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle
The best part of this game was the brilliant voice actors and the highly entertaining story filled with bon mots, puns, and double entendres galore (heh, Lord Arthwipe). Taken solely as an animated audio book, Bertram Fiddle is a hit. Unfortunately, it’s also an adventure game, and too often I found myself frustrated at the slow animation and long cut scenes. You can click through them, but it interrupts the story, which is the best part of the game. However, in short bursts, I find it a hilarious distraction when I’m sitting at the PC for long stretches working on photos or programming. I personally would rather see The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle as an animated series than a game. Speed up the story a bit, remove the gameplay, and Bertram and Gavin would fit right in on Adult Swim.
I was provided review copies of both of these games. The opinions above are my own.