NOTE: this Top 20 dates back to 2001.
For more current lists of top adventure games, please visit:
- Top 100 Adventure Games Of All Time (posted 2012)
- Top Adventure Games - Staff Picks (regularly updated)
- 2011 Aggie Awards
- 20: Full Throttle
- 19: Pepper's Adventures in Time
- 18: Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
- 17: Beneath a Steel Sky
- 16: Quest for Glory I: So You Want to Be a Hero?
- 15: The Pandora Directive
- 14: Maniac Mansion
- 13: Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
- 12: The Last Express
- 11: The Longest Journey
- 10: King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown
- 9: The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes
- 8: Sam & Max Hit the Road
- 7: Grim Fandango
- 6: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
- 5: Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
- 4: Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars
- 3: King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
- 2: The Secret of Monkey Island
- 1: Day of the Tentacle
So how does one come up with a list of the Top 20 Adventure Games of All-Time?
Would you believe darts and a bulletin board?
Okay, maybe not. But I would be foolish to think that this list in any way represents some sort of objective truth about the greatest adventures ever. It is simply one hardcore adventure purist’s attempt to somehow come up with a fair ranking for the truly great games.
What factors are at play here? Well, there are really multiple attributes that a Top 20 Adventure must possess. There is a historical quality attribute; at the time this game came out, what kind of score did it deserve? There is an innovation factor; how much did this game contribute to the progress of the adventure genre? There is a progress of time factor; in the years since the game has come out, how well has it held up? And of course, there is the all-important fun factor, which needs no explanation. These factors are taken together in an attempt to assign each game one overall “greatness” number, but don’t think this is a completely mathematical process. Sometimes, I just look at a game and say, “You know what? Game X should be ranked over Game Y, because I say so.”
I attempted to compile a similar Top 20 list in 1999. This list is different in a very important way: this time, I played through each of these twenty games within the five months prior to writing the countdown, which I did not do last time. I also played through the games that were contenders for the list, just to be sure I was ranking everything properly. I believe this list is more fair and balanced as a result, but I don’t expect it to be disagreed with to any lesser extent.
It is important for me to emphasize that these are the opinions of Evan Dickens, and only Evan Dickens, and do not represent the opinions of any other AG staff member or the site as a whole. In fact, the rest of the staff will be publishing a rebuttal article to my countdown in January.
Please join in the debate! Each day, there will be a new poll posted in the Site Feedback forum, where you can vote and discuss each day’s ranking to your heart's content. Remember, all the feedback I get makes a difference. Some of these games have moved up (or down) from the last countdown because of a deluge of feedback that forced me to reconsider some things. You can also feel free to e-mail me with any of your thoughts and/or comments.
Doing this countdown is the most enjoyable thing I have ever done for the site, and it is my hope that it will be equally enjoyable to read. Thanks for joining me, and happy adventuring!