Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games page

Top 100 final
Top 100 final


Adventure games have been around for over thirty years! Hard to believe, isn’t it? We’ve seen plenty of classics over the decades, and new gems are still being produced today. With such a rich history, just how many deserve to make a list of all-time greats? Our previous compilation of top adventures had 20 games listed, but that was nearly ten years old itself. So what would it be this time? 25? You’d be amazed how quickly those slots filled. 50? That leaves far fewer casualties, but some series alone can easily stake a claim to three or four slots.

Why not 100?

While much of the world probably couldn’t even name 100 adventure games, those of us who cut our teeth on the groundbreaking early text titles, basked in the Golden Age of graphic adventures, suffered through the dark times and lived to see the modern-day (relative) renaissance know better. It’s not only possible to think of 100 quality adventures, it still leaves some painful omissions.

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With a number in mind, that left one important consideration. What constitutes “the best”? How do you compare games spanning decades of styles and technology? Is a now-antiquated genre pioneer from 1985 still a classic today? Does it need to be? Do new games have any right to stand alongside their forebears that paved the way and have stood the test of time? What’s really important? Longevity, innovation, production values, historical relevance? What’s more crucial? Story, exploration, puzzles?

The answer is: all of the above – or none! There’s no scientific formula. It’s a combination of factors that depends entirely on the context for each individual game. You can debate each choice, each placement, and we hope you will! The beauty of opinion lists is that there’s no right or wrong, and we argued long and hard among ourselves just to arrive at ours. Sometimes we even contradicted the site's own reviews. But we’re completely confident that our final selections are deserving candidates and a wonderfully diverse representation of the genre’s best to date. Not every game will suit every taste, but there’s plenty of must-play gaming for all in our top 100 all-time adventure games.

Can’t be bothered reading the whole article? Or just can’t handle the suspense? Click here for the complete, full-spoiler list. (But you don’t know what you’re missing!)

Agree with our choices? Disagree? A little of both, somewhere in between? Have your say in the reader comments below.

And now, let's get started!
 



The top 100 Adventure Games!

 

#100 - 96

#95 - 91

#90 - 86

#85 - 81

#80 -76

#75 - 71

#70 - 66

#65 - 61

#60 - 56

#55 - 51

#50 - 46

#45 - 41

#40 - 36

#35 - 31

#30 - 26

#25 - 21

#20 - 16

#15 - 11

#10 - 6

#5 - 1
 



First up: #100 - 96...

Continued on the next page...


Comments

Nothingman
Jan 1, 2012

@Jackal

Congrats on great work. As someone already asked, could you put the games from the list on voting, so that we have users list too? For example, let us choose top 20 games of those 100 (assigning 20 points for best, then 19 for place number 2, and so on), and then you could publish cumulative results of users voting Smile

I don’t understand people complaining on the list. They are acting like their opinion is absolute and that they are the ones who decide what others should think. So it would be nice to let us all vote and make users top 20 list as an addition to your list, so they can finally stop complaining Smile

gboukensha gboukensha
Jan 1, 2012

Thanks a lot for the list! So many suggestions for the year to come.

bevil031
Jan 1, 2012

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars….......KING

subbi subbi
Jan 1, 2012

Perhaps it’s now time to update some of the game reviews, especially those who got a very high ranking in the Top100, but not the appropriate revieuw score.
The teo that come to mind now are both # 1 and 2. The longest journey was considered a 5 star game at it’s days but was pushed back to 4,5 for lack of proper comparison…..
This Top100 proves this decision wrong!

Bobski101 Bobski101
Jan 1, 2012

I thinks it’s important to remember that this list is the work of 20+ people, who have very strong opinions on what constitutes their favourite adventure game. The fact that it ever saw the light of day is a testament to Jack Allin’s amazing skills of diplomacy (and as a hard fisted ruler of the empire…) : D. But in all seriousness if we put a vote out to the general public for a top 100 adventure games list, it would most likely come back looking like this (possibly in a slightly different order). The best part about the list, is not whether your favourite game made it on or if it was in the position that you wanted to be in, but rather all the unique opportunities you have to try games that may not have been obvious to you before. You may disagree with a position of a game being in front of your favourite title, but now you have a chance to go off and play that game and decide for yourself (and have some fun while your at it). If anything this is the ultimate Adventure Game bucket list and regardless of how you view each entry, you know the games are going to be good! : )

Jackal Jackal
Jan 1, 2012

Nothingman, I’m certainly not opposed to doing a reader poll, but tabulating rankings would be very difficult. It would definitely require some kind of weighted points system. So maybe, but I’ll have to think about it. Might be best to leave it for a while. We’ll soon have this year’s Aggies to start preparing Tongue Subbi, there are some reviews on the site that I’d be happy to replace; mainly the older ones written before we developed any real editorial standards. But there are lots of games we’ve never reviewed at all, and it can be hard finding/getting older games to run, let alone finding time to review them all. So we’ll get to what we get to! But we won’t be replacing any reviews strictly for marginal score discrepancies.

natalia
Jan 1, 2012

Ahh…I meant classical, not baroque.

higgins
Jan 1, 2012

Of course, there is matter to disagree and show nerd rage, but aren’t we, adventurers, supposed to be part of the more mature and level headed demographic of the gamer population?
Plus this top 100 must have been a colossol task to make.
So thanks to the staff, and a happy new year to all!

Kasper F. Nielsen Kasper F. Nielsen
Jan 1, 2012

What a great list! While I can’t say I agree with everything (for one I hate all the video-crap like Gabriel Knight sequels and also Curse of Monkey Island is in my personal top 5) this list is a great inspiration regarding missed games I need to pick up and play - and which to replay! I loved The 7th Guest as a child - it actually scared me so much it gave me nightmares - but I forgot its name and just now rediscovered it due to AG. Thanks for an EXCELLENT article - and a happy new year! May 2012 bring forth a lot of great adventure games.

thejessmister
Jan 1, 2012

I was surprised and happy to see a good deal of these games that I knew were available on console and handheld on this list:

#77 Silent Hill, Shattered Memories (PS2, Wii)
#73 Discworld 2 (PS1)
#68 Shadow of Destiny (PS2, PSP)
#65 Hotel Dusk, Room 215 (DS)
#60 Trace Memory (DS)
#59 Myst III, Exile (PS2, XBOX)
#57 Indigo Prophecy (PS2, XBOX)
#55 Syberia 2 (XBOX)
#52 Dreamfall, The Longest Journey (XBOX)
#49 Sam and Max, Season 2 (PS3, Wii)
#47 Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS)
#41 Ghost Trick, Phantom Detective (DS)
#40 Myst IV, Revelation (XBOX)
#39 Last Window, The Secret of Cape West (DS)
#37 Stacking (PS3)
#33 L.A. Noire (PS3, 360)
#31 Portal (PS3, 360)
#29 Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney (DS)
#26 Heavy Rain (PS3)
#20 Still Life (XBOX)
#18 Myst (PS1, DS)
#17 Machinarium (to be released on PS3)
#15 Syberia (XBOX, DS)
#14 The Secret of Monkey Island (PS3)
#10 Portal 2 (PS3, 360)
#8 Monkey Island 2, LeChuck’s Revenge (PS3)
#5 Riven (PS1)
#4 Broken Sword, The Shadow of the Templars (PS1, Wii, GBA, DS)

I’ve only finished 11 of these! Time to get adventure gaming! Smile Thanks for making this list AG!

Randwulf83
Jan 1, 2012

I have a number of disagreements regarding the games included on this list, yet I say KUDOS! You included my top three AGs in the Top 10 (GK2, BS1 and GF, in that order) and many more of my favorites, giving top place to my beloved Grim Fandango.

That’s what matters. As an adventure gamer of 23+ years, I think this is a mighty list that will serve as a good guide for future adventure gamers.

immortalwind
Jan 2, 2012

Worst thing about the lists of any kind, is that kinda “force” the reader to try the items (games on this occasion) which scored very high on that ranking, while his or her favorite-to-be game might be hiding on the bottom of the list, even out of it..

Yes, that happens to me all the time with best-of lists, and that sucks.

Still, when we’re talking about adventure games, this list might be a nice guide for a newbie because there aren’t like thousands of adventure games out there, but much less I guess.

But when we’re talking about music or movies for example, man I DO hate lists.

My advice on a newbie adventure gamer: Just pick a theme you like FIRST (for example horror, mystery, exploration, puzzle etc) and THEN forget about the rankings and just skip randomly through the appropriate games on that nice list. You might be surprised!

After all, it would really suck if you “had” to try 84 other games first, to experience the unique yet unorthodox “The Dark Eye” , for example.

small dickie small dickie
Jan 2, 2012

What a bad advice from immortalwind! If you are a newbie adventure gamer you should definitely try the top ranked games in this top. You will have little to lose. You will try the best games of this genre and in the meantime you will develop your tase in adventure gaming as you play.

Acher
Jan 3, 2012

That was a really great ride down memory lane.
I approve (most Tongue ) of the list. But in the end, this isn’t so much a list of the best, but a list of games we loved and still love.
Thank you for making this and creating a new list after the so old one.
*11 thumbs up*

immortalwind
Jan 3, 2012

Totally disagree with you small dickie. If I were newbie and the first adventure game I tried was Broken Sword which ranked 4 on this list, I would probably never try another one.

But I didn’t. Instead, for me it was Riven and Grim Fandango that really got me into adventure gaming.

It all comes down to taste… and luck.

Mark1976
Jan 3, 2012

A lot of talk about Grim Fandango.

It is a great game (like most on the list), but it did come with a few flaws.

I hope Telltale will make a remake, just without the (awful) keyboard control and with (like any other game) hotspots.

Then it will be number 1! (or at least near number 1)

PS Machinarium higher than Myst, the mother of the 1st person adventure game? Ouch!

Lord GaianOrlanthii
Jan 3, 2012

Very pleased to read such a comprehensive awards list. You were right to commit to 100, and not just 20 or even 10.
Also happy to see ‘Feeble Files’ on the list although I’m sad it was placed so low. I loved that game and very nearly completed it.
However there was a bug which made it possible to be unable to finish the game.
Without spoiling anything, the problem was that late in the game Feeble was in a location where he could leave without picking up a crucial item needed later. After leaving that location, he couldn’t return.

I played the original 4 CD version of the game so this bug might have been fixed but in any case, the solution is to just backup your save every time you finish.
Which you should do out of paranoia anyway. It’s a looooong game Smile

Advie Advie
Jan 3, 2012

Hi There,
there is no doubt about this order which was verified between classic games until the least very new ones, but i wonder does anyone here really agree that (the beast within) should take more credits the (sins of fathers) ..? How??
and one thing;
how come i didnt notice any LSL’s at this list at all ? , i Believe the 2 and 3rd parts should have been somewhere from 1-100 Adventures !
 

Jackal Jackal
Jan 3, 2012

I can’t answer why you didn’t notice any LSL’s on the list, since there is one.

Advie Advie
Jan 4, 2012

yea u r right its 71 , thanks.. i must have missed it

immortalwind
Jan 4, 2012

Mark1976 “PS Machinarium higher than Myst, the mother of the 1st person adventure game? Ouch!”

Well, agreed but… who knows, maybe Machinarium will be the mother of a new adventure era. At least, I hope so.

Kovaelin
Jan 4, 2012

Excellent list. I think I have a set to-play list for the next long while.

Advie Advie
Jan 4, 2012

immortalwind i it really hurts ! agree…, but i see also lots of other “OUCHs” around , we should have the chance to another round ,lol , something like a Poll for those Hundred

Sonny-Bonds
Jan 5, 2012

The list has now been linked at Kotaku, on their front page, which is pretty cool!

Tramboi Tramboi
Jan 5, 2012

I don’t really care about lists normally, and this one is decent even if I disagree with lots of things.
But seriously Fahrenheit… better than Toonstruck or IHNM?

huupawel
Jan 5, 2012

Why Portal is listed as an Adventure game? In that case Metroid Prime should be listed it has more adventure elements than Portal.

Jackal Jackal
Jan 5, 2012

And a whole lot more combat. Apples and oranges. Portal is eligible for all the reasons we’ve specified since we started covering it. You’re welcome to look them up.

skeeter_93 skeeter_93
Jan 5, 2012

I enjoyed this list very much! Thanks for all the hard work put into it. I’m sure I’ll be referring to it when I need a game recommendation Smile

subbi subbi
Jan 6, 2012

Any reason why Machinarium (runner up in 2009 AGGIES) nails #17 on the list and Tales of Monkey Island (Winner 2009 AGGIES) is not mentioned at all?
Was it because of the hype that Tales won the 2009 AGGIES? Or the fact that Monkey Island was already featured 3 times in the TOP100 that Tales didn’t make it?
Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the fact that Machinarium should be in the TOP100 and Tales not, simply because it’s really something different and therefore rightfully deserves a spot in the TOP100, but should Machinarium also not have won the 2009 AGGIES aswel then?

Jackal Jackal
Jan 6, 2012

Different criteria. Tales was thoroughly enjoyable at the time, but it’s part of an already impressive series that’s well represented, and it doesn’t really distinguish itself above the others as an all-time achievement, whereas Machinarium is far more memorable even a couple years later. There are other possible factors too. New staff turnover since then that hold Machinarium more highly, more people having played the game than had at the time, etc.

Prisoner
Jan 6, 2012

Good top (it’s rare) but I think you have forget games that should be in top 100 before nancy drew for example: Prisoner of ice and Kyrandia.

subbi subbi
Jan 6, 2012

@Jackal,
That makes sense. I was just suprised by the relatively high ranking of Machinarium and not winning the Aggies of 2009

Prisoner
Jan 6, 2012

Also why not Zac mac Krakhen?

trib
Jan 8, 2012

Guys !

Where are the :

- Dracula series ?
- Necronomicon
- The Legend of the Prophet and the Assassin
- The secret of alamut

Comeonnnnn

Shnubble
Jan 8, 2012

Leaving away the ranking would take some fun away.
But then again the numbers really hurt more than they do good, imho.
I wouldn’t mind having a top ten or twenty and the rest presented more equally.
Because really, any kind of ranking can only be arbitrary and will lead to arguments. Which brings us back to the fun part and brings me here. Wink
Nonetheless:  Thank you for the list and here is a suggestion for the next time, in case you want to do a ranking again. (Most probably.)

Perhaps make two lists. One where historical importance for the genre and innovations in gameplay are taken into account, (perhaps not ranked, simply a timescale) and one where every jurymember can shove that thought overboard and simply rate by fun/fear/headaches/immersion/whatever. Ok, Nostalgia will always play a part.

Even keeping one list, but openly showing two ratings could help understand the decision better. You already did a decent job, though, showing us the reasoning behind each decision.
Even so I got the feeling that the historical importance of some games was acknowledged or got them into the list in the first place while the one of others seemed to be neglected.

As for Portal: I haven’t played the second game but really enjoyed the first. I understand your reasoning for covering it here and applaud that.
Still I have to agree with those who say it doesn’t really fit into this list.

metzomagic
Jan 10, 2012

A very well thought-out list from the AG editorial team. The quality and consistency of writing in each of the entries is superb. And it can’t have been easy making a lot of those agonising decisions that inevitably push some personal favourites out of the list altogether.

Funnily, I had read through all the way to the top 10 (on the eve before it was published), then just got caught up in other things and didn’t read the final entries till just this evening. I was delighted to see most of my all-time personal favourites there, including Pandora Directive which is my #1 (IMO, it often doesn’t get the credit it deserves). And The Last Express!

As an aside, I was mightily chuffed to see that your screenshot for Gabriel Knight 3 (with Gabe in silhouette in the church) was from my original Games Domain review of the title when it first came out (though in retrospect, my review was… a bit over-exuberant. But, hey, we live and learn). Wherever did you find it? I recovered the review text and most of the screenshots from the Wayback Machine, but that was the one shot I couldn’t retrieve. I might just grab it back :-)

Tsugirai
Jan 11, 2012

WHERE. THE. HELL. IS. SHENMUE?!?!?!?!?!

Jackal Jackal
Jan 11, 2012

Probably hanging out with all the other action-adventures that weren’t considered for this list.

subbi subbi
Jan 12, 2012

Was “Lost Eden” considered and did not make the Top100 or does it fall outside the Adventure category?
I remember playing this many years ago and it was quite nice

Jackal Jackal
Jan 12, 2012

Lost Eden was definitely eligible for the list; just didn’t make it.

lmiller5
Jan 12, 2012

What a fun list! I was delighted to see Riven and The Longest Journey in the top ten, especially since neither game received the popular recognition it deserved. The Longest Journey sold well in Europe but not in the US (which is why the sequel took so long to produce), while Riven never approached the number of sales it deserved. The Longest Journey is still wonderful to play; I play it at least once a year and am playing it again now. About Riven, people need to know that it’s available for the iPhone/iPod, and it’s a wonderful iPhone experience. I play it all the time on my phone and it’s great to always have it in my pocket. If it sells well, Cyan might be persuaded to create an HD iPhone/iPad version.

I’m surprised “Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon” didn’t make it. It was not only an excellent game but was one of the few adventure games with a full, exciting, well-rounded ending. And, I’m surprised Dreamfall was on the list, and at as high a rating as 52. The sequel to The Longest Journey was delayed for lack of funding and it shows. Despite implementation of a 3-D environment, Dreamfall’s world seems far smaller and much more constricted than the world of The Longest Journey. And, it’s notorious for its spectacular lack of an ending. Dreamfall is not really a game; it’s a quarter of a game that leaves the impression it was never finished because Funcom stopped funding its development.

subbi subbi
Jan 13, 2012

I agree that The Sleeping Dragon should have gotten a spot in this Top100. Probably somewhere in the lower half. It had excellent production values and I remember that Charles Cecil really tried to re-invent the Adventure genre with this game. We can all agree it was not a full success, especially due to some repetitive puzzles, but the gameplay felt more physical also due to some nice QTE’s. This was before Heavy Rain or Fahrenheit.
Coincidently Tornquist also tried to “re-invent” the genre a couple of years later with Dreamfall.
I think that both games, though they did not fully achieve their objective, deserve a spot in the Top100.

lmiller5
Jan 13, 2012

I know “Sleeping Dragon” was criticized for the box-moving puzzles, but I’m probably the only person who actually enjoyed those.

Also, I just downloaded “Broken Sword: Director’s Cut” to my iPhone and it’s fantastic! I’m almost shocked at how well the game works on the iPhone and how much fun it is, especially considering all of the detail and animation. If anyone wonders why I’m taking hour-long coffee breaks, “Director’s Cut” is the reason.

Speaking of “Broken Sword,” what’s the consensus on “The Angel of Death?” I thought it was so uninteresting that I never finished it. Should I give it another try? I enjoyed “Sleeping Dragon” so much that I was really looking forward to it and was disappointed when it came across as gray and dull, almost the opposite of the lightness and brightness of “Sleeping Dragon.”

Tsugirai
Jan 14, 2012

@Jackal: Oh, I see. lol. xD My bad.

Vel
Jan 15, 2012

Are we going to get a list of honourable mentions who didn’t quite make it? The biggest surprise for me is the omission of the Kyrandia series.

Jackal Jackal
Jan 15, 2012

Just about every game that got serious consideration has been included in the alternate recommendations. Not in any kind of order, obviously, but that was one of the reasons for including them. Fun fact: Kyrandia did actually make the list before Book of Unwritten Tales was released and bumped it.

Vel
Jan 16, 2012

Ah, I’d choose Kyrandia over the Book of Unwritten Tales any day, but I do admit that it hasn’t aged that well, especially the first game. Is this list final or are there going to be occasional alterations to it eventually?

Jackal Jackal
Jan 16, 2012

The plan is to revisit the list every year-end to keep it updated. Not with a big countdown like this, but each year a new list replacing the current one.

iqzulk
Jan 18, 2012

Okay, I’ve just finished “Azrael’s Tear”.

First of all, how in the name of seven hells it may be considered even remotely similar to “Amnesia: Dark Descent”?

Secondly, while I by no means state this to be a perfect game… why isn’t it in top100? I mean, it’s definitely NOT WORSE (and I personally consider it to be quite a bit better) than “Zork: Nemesis” (which is as high as being right in the middle of the list), for all it matters.

Tl;dr: Any chance it might get a closer examination by your team for the next year’s corrections to this list?

Jackal Jackal
Jan 18, 2012

Who said the games are similar? As I pointed out already, the heading says “You might also like”. And the same people who like free-exploration 3D games with a touch of danger and action may well like both. The secondary recommendations are really a way to get other good games some exposure they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Are the associations a reach sometimes? Maybe. The alternative is to leave them out entirely. Would that be better? Revisiting AT isn’t a priority for future updates, but it is one I want reviewed on the site, so I hope to get to it at some point. We’ll see if it makes the cut if/when we do.


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