What we’re seeing with the new King’s Quest and Broken Age is a return to the point-and-click adventure genre. This is a revered format amongst players active in the nineties and a staple in developing the way story and progression is presented in games. How far has the adventure genre evolved since then and what will it mean for the gaming populace to return to this form?
Stalwarts of the point-and-click genre stand behind the game environments encouraging a sense of exploration by making voice quips and descriptions for almost every aspect in a given scene. There was a moment in a Space Quest game where you can access an in-game computer with a copy of Space Quest on it, because everyone loves tongue-in-cheekiness. Telltale Games has offered a converse idea of exploration and interaction with its recent forray into adventure spearheaded by The Walking Dead series. With a heavier focus on character interaction and set pieces akin to quick time events the face of adventure gaming at present is more about branching story paths based on conversation-not on bumping into the perfect pixel. As any classic adventure game fan about trying to piece together the items and locations necessary to progress. It’s usually a set and arbitrary path made to pull the player from set to set. The new formula is waning away from this; later Walking Dead chapters reduced the inventory and search elements to favor more exposition and dialogue. But the influence of this search and experiment formula can still be felt in modern titles.
Look at the bottle search in Life is Strange; it’s a tedious little timesink, but it serves a purpose for the main character (popping caps with Chloe). Moments like these can be reminders of the point-and-click formula or a minor nuisance; it all depends on fondness for the days of old. As well, the pacing and detail of the world in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture evoke the classic, expansive worlds previously in adventure games. While it is easy to critique the slog pace in Rapture, is it so different from the screen after screen scrolled by in Space Quest? What adventure game devs and consumers have to consider is that careful balance between the influence of past series and the trends set by current titles. Will this nebulous and large genre be a stalwart playground for the nostalgic, or an evolving front for storytelling and gameplay?
It is my hope that both can occur and even blend as much as possible from both camps. The people behind and consuming these games are the first to champion a well built and immersive world- two boilerplate bullets on a good game in my books. The ability to create said worlds is no longer about how many objects and people there are in each scene; it’s about the ability to craft enough setpieces and write enough dialogue to keep the plot moving. In an industry moved by tech and spectacle it is good to see fans new and old still interested in stories.