Best Non-Traditional Adventure: Portal 2
Is it, or isn't it? The argument will rage on about whether Portal 2 is really an “adventure game” until we're all past caring (if we aren’t already), but by Adventure Gamers’ own longstanding definition it most certainly is. It just happens to be one that’s utterly unlike anything we’ve ever seen before (besides its own predecessor), or may ever see again. What most adventure gamers truly value most is a decent story with memorable characters, rewarding exploration and challenging puzzles, and Portal 2 delivers all of these in a thoroughly engrossing, imaginative way. And yet none of it feels like the sort of adventure we’ve all come to know and love: there’s no people (except you), no inventory, no pixel hunting, no dialogue trees, no point-and-click look/use/pick-up verb options that have been around since the dawn of time. Instead there’s a gun(!), bouncy shoes, goo balls, and light bridges. Just what the heck kind of adventure is this??
A brilliant one, that’s what kind. Without ever emerging from the cavernous confines of Aperture Science, the story takes some delicious twists and turns, and its memorable supporting cast of two – although entirely mechanical – show more human personality and actual character development than most other adventures combined through their insightful, often hilarious dialogue. The puzzles, meanwhile, never feel like they’re there just for the sake of it, always integrated in a totally natural way as you make your way through the ruined remains of a former industry giant. And the pacing is darn near perfect. Just when you feel you’re getting the hang of the current tools at your disposal, along come a new set of obstacles and clever means to overcome them. There’s even a whole co-op segment to go with the single player campaign for even more devious challenges to solve with a friend. So no, it isn’t Monkey Island and it isn’t Myst. Instead, Portal 2 is the Aggie Award-winning best of an exceptional lot of non-traditional adventures in a year of truly innovative offerings.
Runners-Up: L.A. Noire, Stacking, Ghost Trick, To the Moon
Readers’ Choice: Portal 2
In an extraordinary year of creative adventures, one game shot straight to the top of the list (probably by shooting a portal above the rest). It was a fierce battle among all the top competitors, but ultimately Valve’s genre-defying story-driven, first-person, physics-based platforming puzzle shooter – or as we like to call it, an adventure game that focuses on puzzle solving within a narrative framework – took the cake for staff and readers alike.
Runners-Up: L.A. Noire, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, To the Moon, Stacking
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Next up: Best Traditional Adventure... the envelope, please!