Aggie Awards
Aggie Awards

The Aggie Awards - The Best Adventure Games of 2014


Best Traditional Adventure: The Blackwell Epiphany

While not without their own distinctive elements, including dual playable characters, research-based puzzles, and notes serving as inventory, the Blackwell games have always been the epitome of traditional adventure game design with their low-res pixel art graphics and point-and-click interface right out of the golden age. In the eight years since The Blackwell Legacy, though, designer Dave Gilbert has been honing his craft, with each installment coming out longer, meatier, and more ambitious. He’s at the top of his game with The Blackwell Epiphany and this grand finale represents the best this series has to offer: masterful storytelling; clever, well-integrated puzzles; characters we can care about; and a powerful ending that’s both surprising and exactly what we should have seen coming.

Its visual style may be sparse compared to games that max out the latest and greatest hardware, but Gilbert and artist Ben Chandler have a knack for cramming detail and atmosphere into every pixelated scene. In Epiphany, a well-placed animation is truly worth a thousand polygons. The game also gets Rosa and Joey’s evolved relationship just right: they banter like longtime partners, finish each other’s sentences, and when one is in trouble you hear the other’s worry. That’s a testament not only to the solid script, but also to the performances of veteran Blackwell voice actors Rebecca Whittaker and Abe Goldfarb. Last but not least, a story that all too easily could have ignored questions and plot points raised in earlier installments instead does justice to the long game Dave has been playing all along, addressing Joey’s past, pushing Rosa’s legacy to its inevitable conclusion. Many of the classic adventures Blackwell emulates were multi-game series, but few (if any) had as thoughtful an arc or such satisfying closure.

Players are put in a bittersweet spot this time around: it’s so good that you can’t wait to find out what happens, but knowing it’s the final act you don’t want to reach the end too quickly. These games have always been about deaths that come too soon, and playing The Blackwell Epiphany feels sort of the same way: Rosa, Joey, it’s too soon to say goodbye. But just like letting go of the past lets its ghosts move onto better things, the silver lining for us is that after eight years tied to this series, Dave Gilbert is now free to explore new game ideas. A Best Traditional Adventure Aggie might be a hard act to follow, but we’re eager to go wherever he decides to take us next.

Runners-Up:


Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse

Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure

Hadean Lands

The Journey Down: Chapter Two
 



Readers’ Choice: Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure


The irony of a Tex Murphy game winning the readers’ Best Traditional Adventure award is that back in the series’ heyday it may well have headlined the non-traditional category. The games have always progressively pushed the envelope: real-time 3D navigation, extensive use of full-motion video, dialogue choices leading to alternate paths and endings, plus occasional stealth sequences and timed challenges. In 2014, many of the trails it once blazed have now become accepted adventure conventions. Of course, Tesla Effect didn’t win just for being traditional: it also contains a cast full of unforgettable personalities, an intricate plot, cunning brainteasers, and outlandish locations, while its updated interface, hint system, and skip feature accommodate players of all types, showing the series is still evolving, still adapting with the times. 

Runners-Up:


The Blackwell Epiphany

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse

The Journey Down: Chapter Two

Memento Mori 2: Guardians of Immortality
 



Next up: The moment you’ve all been waiting for – Best Adventure of 2014... the envelope, please!

Continued on the next page...

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Related Games

The Blackwell Epiphany

Platform(s): iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, PC

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse

Platform(s): Android, iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Mac, PC, Playstation 4, Vita, Xbox One, Linux

The fifth adventure of George Stobbart and Nico Collard in the acclaimed series from Revolution.

The Wolf Among Us

Platform(s): Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

An episodic adventure from Telltale based on the popular FABLES comic series.

Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure

Platform(s): PC

A new adventure in the acclaimed Tex Murphy series.

The Talos Principle

Platform(s): Mac, PC, Playstation 4, Linux

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Eight different cases with increased player freedom in the latest adventure from Frogwares

Tengami

Platform(s): iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Mac, PC, WiiU

Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Platform(s): Android, iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, PC, PlayStation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Set in WW1, Valiant Heart tells the story of five characters whose destinies are linked.

The Journey Down: Chapter Two

Platform(s): iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux

FRACT OSC

Platform(s): Mac, PC

Detective Grimoire

Platform(s): Android, iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Mac, PC, Linux

J.U.L.I.A. Among the Stars

Platform(s): Mac, PC, Linux

Hadean Lands

Platform(s): iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Mac, PC, Linux

The Dream Machine: Chapter 5

Platform(s): Mac, PC

The Fall: Part 1

Platform(s): Mac, PC, WiiU, Xbox One, Linux



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Comments

lobo pampeano
Feb 18, 2015

Can you please let us know how many readers voted? I’d like to have an idea how many active memebers we have.
Thank you..

threerings threerings
Feb 18, 2015

I totally agree with the Best Story choice.  The Blackwell Epiphany is one of the few (only?) games this year to make me cry.

Skywalker333 Skywalker333
Feb 19, 2015

whoa, huge community love for Tex Muprhy! I must say I didn’t expect it even if i loved the game Smile

gamrgrl gamrgrl
Feb 19, 2015

Really loved the video! Wonderfully edited to some super-haunting music.

DrFrankenstein DrFrankenstein
Feb 19, 2015

What’s with the Tex Murphy domination of the reader awards? Feels like a prank of sorts.

Jackal Jackal
Feb 19, 2015

It’s not a prank, and there’s no sign of voter fraud of any kind. (We looked.)

There are just a boatload of people who love Tex and Tesla Effect, it seems.

after a brisk nap
Feb 19, 2015

Thanks for clarifying that, Jack. The list did look a little fishy. Guess I should try to get around to Tesla Effect at some point!

SunshineSlayer
Feb 19, 2015

So happy for Tesla Effect.  Well deserved.  Here’s to hoping that wasn’t the end for Tex.

zane
Feb 19, 2015

haha…. For a change im agreeing with the site choices more than the reader. Tesla effect was not an awful game… i backed it, i had fun… but geez… not understanding the votes here.

zane
Feb 19, 2015

And the one that really boggles me: best gameplay for tesla effect. Those puzzles… i dont know… and a large part of the game was dungeon crawling in a straight line… just eh…

Conditional Love Conditional Love
Feb 19, 2015

I feel the same DrFrankenstein. I liked Tesla Effect a bit, Tesla Effect probably deserves an award or two, but to give Tesla Effect the Best Setting award is almost ironic. The quality of Tesla Effect’s background art is often shockingly poor.

ChronoWolf ChronoWolf
Feb 19, 2015

From what I understand: “Setting” refers to the universe in which the game takes place, and how encapsulating it is in terms of story, relevancy and delivery. Graphic design is probably a more accurate category when talking about “background art”, presentation or graphics, in which case Tesla was not even a runner up.

thom-22
Feb 20, 2015

Excellent awards presentation! Your efforts are much appreciated—both the decision-making and the fun and informative write-ups. I like the inclusion of the Silver Aggies. I thought it was a great year for our genre and this year holds great promise too.

Majsan Majsan
Feb 20, 2015

A little question about the extras you write about for Blackwell. Is the bloopers and the deleted scene a part of every version of the game? I have the gog version and haven’t found those two, and they only list wallpaper as extra material… Or maybe I just haven’t been “clicking” around enough Wink

smulan smulan
Feb 20, 2015

I guess Blackwell Epiphany i s the right game for best adventure ( _guess_ has to do with me playing far from all of the competitors), especially if you consider it a price for the whole Blackwell series. Tesla Effect, altough a decent game -but far from as good as its predecessors - has a ring of fanboy choice to it.

Jackal Jackal
Feb 20, 2015

Majsan, the bloopers and deleted scene are accessed in-game (via icons) at the appropriate time if you have the developer commentary turned on (which you can do through the main menu “Options” screen).

Thom-22, thanks very much. The Aggies are always a lot of work, but we hope people have fun with them.

DaveGilbert DaveGilbert
Feb 21, 2015

I don’t want to add much to this discussion for obvious reasons, but had to at least leave a message saying thanks. So… thanks!  This made my week.

incometrader
Feb 21, 2015

Odd to find so many votes for Tex Murphy when with the exception of this site and one other, the game reviewers gave it a meh 6-7 out of 10. I don’t blame people for doubting the voting.

I personally hate FMV so I’ll miss out, happy everyone else enjoyed it so much.

Ahenobarbus Ahenobarbus
Feb 21, 2015

I`m just happy for the results. Epiphany and Tex Murphy totally deserved to be in top here. They were both great but Epiphany was especially epic top quality game! Thanks for the whole Blackwell series Dave!
I`m happy to see that The Wolf Among Us and Broken Sword got prices at some categories too. In my books, they were 3. and 4. best games after Epiphany and Tex.

I hope Big Finish Games guys check these results, we need more Tex Smile

Simon_ASA Simon_ASA
Feb 21, 2015

Thanks for your work with Aggies. Once again, you somehow convinced me to check several games that I missed.

lobo pampeano
Feb 22, 2015

Hey Jackal, about my question… you know…  how many voted???

Phaid
Feb 22, 2015

I’m not at all surprised Tex won a lot of these awards.Tesla Effect was a huge surprise to me on many levels - it’s hard to bring the adventure magic of yore back to life, especially on a shoestring Kickstarter budget, but Tesla Effect 100% pulled it off. It was a grand return of Tex - funny, atmospheric, clearly a labour of love. Puzzle-wise, the final acts of the game were weaker than the preceding one, agreed, but that’s the only complaint I have.

I kind of wish The Journey Down:Chapter 2 got more love however, it was absolutely amazing, yet seems to have flown under everyone’s radar.

itseme itseme
Feb 22, 2015

guess i am the only one that voted for the goat as best character…

Jackal Jackal
Feb 22, 2015

Lobo pampeano, I forget the exact number but there were several hundred people who voted.

lobo pampeano
Feb 22, 2015

Ok, something around 400-700 votes, (less than 1000)?

Jackal Jackal
Feb 22, 2015

Definitely less than 1000, and probably closer to 400 than 700. I never actually counted them all up together, and I don’t have direct access to the data at the moment.

Plenty to determine a consensus, anyway.

lobo pampeano
Feb 22, 2015

Ok, thanks!

GreatBird
Feb 22, 2015

Why was CONSORTIUM not considered amongst all those games considered for awards in all those categories?!  Seriously, how is this game THAT over-looked??

It is often referred to as an adventure game (among other genres), and has over 20 voice actors and 4000 lines of recorded dialog as part of it’s fabric….

Jackal Jackal
Feb 23, 2015

Because the game described by its own developers as a “role-playing experience” is not considered an adventure at the only place that matters to the Aggies.

rsommerer rsommerer
Feb 24, 2015

By the way, for the next year I would like to suggest a new category - for best make up: Grim Fandango will be up for voting, as well as maybe a new episode of the Journey Down… Maybe also a new category for worst jokes would be a good idea Smile

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