People who have been following this site for some time probably know that point-and-click adventure games are the reason why I started Games Retrospect and some of my favorite games of all time are graphic adventures. That said, there are multiple things about the genre that I have some really strong opinions about. The adventure genre isn’t as homogeneous as it used to be and now that multiple developers focus on adventure games, I realized that this is a new era for the genre. With that in mind, I worked on a list with some of my least favorite aspects about adventure games (by the way, here’s the link to part one of this article.) What do you think about adventure games? Do you agree with this list? Which is your favorite adventure games of all time? As usual, leave comments below.
Difficulty ranges from remarkably easy to impossibly hard
Difficulty has always been a problem for me personally when it comes to point-and-click adventure games. Back in the day, Lucas Arts games used to include some really difficult puzzles that were hard to solve without using a detailed walkthough or clicking on everything. Needles to say, this wasn’t the case for most people, but that’s definitely how I felt back then. Nowadays though, developers like Telltale Games have focused on storytelling so their games are easy as possible so that everyone finishes them.
Obscure puzzles or puzzles that lack logic
Like I mentioned above, I’m not very good at some of the most convoluted puzzles. When I get frustrated and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do, I tend to click on everything. Believe it or not, you’d be surprised how often this works and allows me to make some progress. Also, do you remember in Sam & Max when you needed to combine a string with a chicken to make a weird contraption that solved a puzzle? That wasn’t fun…
Lack of a hint system
I’m pretty sure you’re seeing a trend here: most of my complaints are related to difficulty. Well, one of the main characteristic of the genre is that you need to solve puzzles that punctuate your adventure and since many people play their games, developers are aware that a lot of them might get stuck at some point. Actually, they are hoping that happens. So why not include a hint system instead of forcing them to look for an external resource like a guide? Or worse, what if they get too frustrated and leave the game to never come back.
Adventure games can be too slow
I know that the slow pace is deliberate in most cases, since this encourages reflection and paying attention to everything around you. But sometimes this can be too much. Telltale does a terrific job of not wasting your time and modern adventure games like Broken Age have fixed some of those problems, so this should become the norm.
Unskippable cutscenes or dialogue
As a way of allowing more control to the players, cutscenes and lines of dialogues should be skipped whenever you wanted to. You never know what’s the intention of the people playing the game, but if they are speed-running through the game, they are hunting for achievements or simply trying to finish a given game as fast as they can, you should allow it.
Menus should be as simple and clean as possible. After all, this is the heart of adventure games and most of your time playing the game will be spent looking at those menus to find items, combine them or simple look at them. To be clear, this is probably a thing of the past and most developers have learned their lesson by now, but this is also the reason why I’ll never play any of the classic Quest games.
Infinite lines of dialogue or loop puzzles
Have you ever noticed that sometimes you have no idea what to do and that the characters keep repeating the same lines of dialogue over and over. That’s never fun. Just tell me what I’m supposed to do so that I can move on and do something more fun.
Do you remember how in the original Maniac Mansion to escape from the prison you were supposed to pull a brick in a room that had hundreds of them? That wasn’t particularly fun and I still hate that puzzle to this very day. While we’re at it, I realized that I was supposed to do that in a guide because, believe it not, I can’t communicate telepathically with the developers of the game.
Layout of the levels
Items that are important to solve a given puzzle should be highlighted somehow. Sometimes you just enter a room and you can click on dozens of items and only one or two of them are useful. This is boring and infuriating. Come on, I don’t want to look for Waldo, I just want to finish a puzzle so that I can progress with the story.
If there’s one thing that’s worse that getting stuck in an adventure game that’s death and that’s something that luckily, hasn’t been used in a long time. When you were playing some of the older adventure games (Quest series) you could die automatically and without warning. I typed that violently just because I remembered it.