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The games of 2019
I did a quick check and couldn’t find any topic about the adventures games of 2019. I know that these topics are usually reserved for the end of the year when we go over our GOTYs, but I’ve played quite a few of this year’s releases and I wanted to get my thoughts down now so I don’t forget, and so I can check back in here at the end of the year and again next year when it’s time for the Aggies.
Here’s my thoughts on some of this year’s releases in chronological order (though not necessarily in the order I played them):
Hypnospace Outlaw: Adventure Gamers Review
I was originally skeptical of this game when I saw the campaign on kickstarter because it didn’t seem like a traditional adventure (which it isn’t) and I also didn’t really like Dropsy because I don’t like wordless adventure games (wordless puzzle games on the other hand I have no problem with) so I didn’t end of backing it. However, I did eventually come around to it and ended up getting it on release and it ended up being a really unique experience. I really love the 90’s style web page designs and the whole vaporwave aesthetic. Also the music in this game with the band that is supposed to sound like Linkin Park has this game on lockdown for the best music in a video game category.
I was impressed with how they executed uncovering the mystery of what happened with hypnospace through navigating websites. It was a really novel mechanic. There were times when I got stuck, but luckily the in game hint system was there to help. It’s also just so enjoyable “surfing the information super highway of the world wide web” in the game, that there was always something to do even when you were stuck. It was a truly special game, and I can’t believe that a game so specific to my tastes was created.
Trüberbrook: Adventure Gamers Review
This was a kickstarter game that I backed because I was so impressed with the hand-crafted visuals. Unfortunately that’s kind of where the positives ended with this game. I played it on Switch in handheld mode which may have had something to do with it, but in the end I didn’t end up caring for either the characters or the plot. Luckily the visuals were all very impressive throughout and the puzzles weren’t too annoying which always made finding a new screen rewarding, but it wasn’t enough to carry the game.
Whispers of a Machine: Adventure Gamers Review
I was really looking forward to this game because I loved Kathy Rain and the Samaritan Paradox, but ultimately this game came up short in comparison to those two. The post-apocalyptic Scandinavian setting was cool and the ability to gain different powers depending on your character’s personality were nice way to add variety to play throughs. However, once again the characters and plot just didn’t click we me at all. The voice acting was of course great for Vera, but something was just off. Maybe because I played her as analytical she came across as not having much personality, I’m not sure, but the rest of the characters aren’t interesting enough for me to want to replay this game any time soon.
Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders: Adventure Gamers Review
Another kickstarter game I didn’t back, mostly because I wasn’t impressed with the simplistic visuals. However, in the end the game turned out to have a pretty interesting plot with some good twists to the mystery. I also really enjoyed the puzzles in this one and had some nice logic and password puzzles that were really rewarding to solve. However, what really carried this game for me was the setting. I loved that it was based on actual historical characters and the setting in the Zhou Dynasty was super interesting. It definitely delivers on its promise of a solid detective game.
Guard Duty: Adventure Gamers Review
Another kickstarter game I didn’t back. I think my hesitation at the time was not really being into the humor despite really liking the visuals and potential time traveling storyline. In the end the time travel part felt really disjointed and the humor did not connect with me so I was right to have been skeptical. The puzzles were pretty easy, so the game moves quickly but the story doesn’t really go beyond the standard damsel in distress and hero’s journey, so it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but the visuals and point and click mechanics are done right so it is competent.
Sumatra: Fate of Yandi: Adventure Gamers Review
This game really surprised with me with how good it was. I wasn’t really expecting much because the visuals were so simplistic, but so far it’s my favorite traditional adventure game of the year. I love that the setting is modern Indonesia where the main character is Indonesian and deals with real world issues (logging) and the relationship between the main character and his wife felt genuine. The puzzles were all implemented really well, where most puzzle center around a different animal. The second half is stronger with keeping you interested in wanting to uncover more of the mystery. The close ups are great, but it would have been nice to have more detailed faces to help make the characters more distinct.
I have a few more games to write about, but I’m reaching the maximum character limit. Please share your thoughts or recommendations on these or other games this year. It has definitely been one of the better years for adventure games for me in awhile.
Continuing on from my first post:
Irony Curtain: From Matroyshka with Love: Adventure Gamers Review
This game started off strong for me. The satire was funny, the puzzles were enjoyable and the art was nice and clean. The set up showed potential for an interesting story, but when I got to the middle of the game, things started going downhill. In the second chapter a puzzle involves going through a bunch of hoops to make fun of bureaucracy. I thought it was funny at first, but then it hurt the pacing of the game. I was hoping that things would speed up a bit more in the third chapter, but you were once again tasked with a huge chain of do this for one person to get an item to give to another person, that also made that section drag on.
Unfortunately, the jokes stopped landing with me as well. Maybe it was because I was hoping for more subtlety, but as some point I was no longer invested in the plot. It’s too bad because outside of those two puzzles I mentioned, most of the rest of them were very satisfying and the overall gameplay and presentation felt really polished.
Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure: Adventure Gamers Review
Yet another kickstarter adventure that released this year. This one I was a backer for. I was really excited during the campaign to back, the art and animation looked amazing, there was a talking cat and it was probably one of the best run campaigns of any of the kickstarters I backed and I was so happy to support them.
When the game finally came out I was immediately struck with how great the animation and art was and the overall attention to detail put into the game. It has so many awesome features that we never see from adventure games from much larger teams with bigger budgets. The ability to zoom in on the background, having multiple voiced descriptions for objects on the screen and unique replies for interactions, the way Kitteh’s eyes follow the cursor around the screen, and the beautiful animations and cut scenes. That all this could be accomplished with such a tiny budget and team should be commended.
The less impressive parts are the puzzles and story. Many recent adventure games have featured pretty straightforward puzzles, which is also the case of this game. It’s not necessarily a problem, but I noticed it more with this game, because I was never in the use every object on every other object scenario, I didn’t get appreciate the full extent of the unique responses and I didn’t need to go to Kitteh for help either. I know that’s partially one me, because Kitteh is an awesome character, and in the running for my favorite for the year, but a lot of dialogue with her is optional that I’m pretty sure I missed.
Life is Strange 2: Adventure Gamers Review
I’m still working my way through this one, but so far it has been a really great experience. I just finished Chapter 2 and I’m excited to see where it’s going to go. I know a lot of people were disappointed at the lack of Max and Chloe, but I’m glad they’re focusing on different characters. I really liked the characters of the first game and the time reversing mechanic, but the high school setting made a lot of the character interactions in the first game were over the top high school drama.
In Life is Strange 2 it feels like the emotional stakes are much higher and so far the game is managing to mostly stick the landing when they attempt to tackle serious issues. I also like that since the setting is changing each episode it feels like more of an actual adventure this time around. There is less gameplay this time around, but so far I am not missing it because the plot and characters have been so compelling.
I know there have been a lot of games released so far this year, but these were the main ones I was interested in. I’m also interested in Eliza and Telling Lies which I will probably pick up on sale at the end of the year, Little Misfortune and the Switch port of Return of the Obra Dinn, since I’ve been waiting to play that on hand held. There is also the possibility that Kentucky Route Zero might actually release the final chapter this year too, which would make this one of the strongest years for kickstarter games.
With so many of the games I played being dependent of kickstarter funding, makes me a bit worried for the future now that less games are getting funded, but 2020 also looks to be a strong year, so there will definitely be no shortage of games to play.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
Xenoblade Chronicles X (There is a free wii u emulator that works if you have strong PC)
Fire Emblem games (There is also a free 3ds emulator that works if you have strong PC)
Final Fantasy 12 The Zodiac Age (Imo the greatest FF game of all time)
These are all some pretty good single players games, give them a try.
^^^ Those aren’t adventure games.
And neither is Outer Wilds, which is my GOTY 2019, but it’s much closer. (An exploration/adventure game)
I really liked both Irony Curtain and We, The Revolution (my reader review for the latter). Haven’t played many others, partly due to middling reviews and Epic exclusivity, partly from spending huge amounts of time on Oxygen not Included and Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
The golden age of mathematics - that was not the age of Euclid, it is ours. -Cassius Jackson Keyser
I haven’t played many games released in 2019 yet, but all of the ones I have chosen so far - Whispers of a Machine, Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders and Sumatra: Fate of Yandi - were excellent! It’s been a stellar first half of the year for me I’ve already posted my thoughts on them in What game have you just finished, I just wanted to take the opportunity to give them a well-deserved shout-out and I’ll post my final opinion at the end of the year, with more perspective.
Outer Wilds indeed has a special place aside - it is excellent, enthralling to the point of being infuriating, however its game mechanics rely quite heavily on agility and proper timing, even more so than puzzle solving, so yes I admit to struggling a lot with it I think I will finish it extremely slowly, not because of disinterest, just that I have to keep a healthy balance between slow-paced adventures and more dexterity-testing games (and I already spend enough time on Watch Dogs 2, which is not nearly as engrossing as Outer Wilds but I do love me a nice open world and only recently have I upgraded to the kind of specs that allow it).
Looking forward to playing Gibbous, as well as Hypnospace Outlaw and perhaps Irony Curtain too this year.
I have only played about half a dozen from this year, but the most enjoyable for me were certainly Sumatra: Fate of Yandi and Hypnospace Outlaw. The others were also enjoyable - Night Call, Whispers of a Machine, Detective Di and there were no outright “stinkers”.
So overall a good year, and I still have a few on my wishlist to play including Telling Lies, Draugen and Epistasis.
I used to play some games during the first half of this year, but don’t remember enjoying any of them that much. I was eager to play a really funny traditional adventure, but was let down by Guard Duty, Irony Curtain and probably something else…
There was this option at adventuregamers to track down your rating history which I also used to track down all the games I played, but it’s gone now and I can’t recall everything I played. At least I’m looking forward to playing Sumatra and Detective Di, maybe Hypnospace Outlaw since I’m the biggest fan of Dropsy (but not the biggest fan of internet browsing).
PC means personal computer
There was this option at adventuregamers to track down your rating history which I also used to track down all the games I played, but it’s gone now and I can’t recall everything I played.
Now Playing: Hitman 3, Injustice 2, Supraland, Beyond a Steel Sky, Baldur’s Gate, The Interactive Adventures of Dog Mendoça and Pizzaboy
Recently Completed: Dragon Quest XI, The 13th Doll, Chicken Police, Cloudpunk, Hypnospace Outlaw, Cyberpunk 2077, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Twin Mirror
Anticipating: Beyond Good and Evil 2
Backing: Asylum, Psychonauts 2
Yes, many thanks! Too bad you can’t access it from your profile.
Turns out there weren’t many new adventures I played this year. One game I forgot is Mage’s Initiation - another big disappointment.
PC means personal computer
For me so far it’s got to be Heaven’s Vault. It’s flawed, but it’s the only one that really impressed me.
Although I’m currently Mutazione ... well, not entirely sure that can still count as an adventure game; more like one of those casual games. That’s got a lot of great things, too, if only it had a bit more on the gameplay side
Decided to try out Hypnospace Outlaw… and spent the whole day playing it. Quit only after I tried to search the virtual Internet for something and realised I was in a game Addictive and very engrossing experience, not to mention hilariously funny. Finally, pure comedy after 4 or 5 failed attempts (the last one being Gibbous which I really wanted to like, yet the writing felt cliched and unispired, a lot like Irony Curtain for that matter). Outlaw is both freshly unique and uniquly nostalgic, even though I didn’t have Internet back in the 1990s and missed a lot of this zaniness. Now it’s my number 1 for the game of the year.
PC means personal computer
Little Misfortune: Adventure Gamers Review
I loved Fran Bow, and even though I was at first surprised that this isn’t a classic adventure, but an interactive story, I was still very much drawn to the game, as it shares a lot with FB (child protagonist, serious themes presented in a dark, horror setting, morbid humor).
Since FB had good puzzles and Killmonday hadn’t yet released an interactive story adventure, I was skeptical if the story will keep me hooked enough. Well, I finished LM in an uninterrupted 4-hour session. Writing is top-notch, as is the art of the game. This game is much more colorful and bright than I expected but that’s why the contrast is so effective at time.
I agree with most of the observations presented in AG review, except for the (of course, subjective) assessment that the game sometimes goes over the top. In fact, this was one of the best, most memorable and funniest scenes from the game for me:
“But then the protagonist would drop an F-bomb, and the voice would dole out facts about menstruation in great detail to the child, and I’d sit agasp at the screen wondering what would happen next to this very young but also very old eight-year-old.”
Recently played: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons 5/5, Bioshock 2 4/5, Tomb Raider (2013) 3/5 Looking forward to: Gibbous, Saint Kotar
Hypnospace is clearly a 10/10 on the originality/novelty alone. Is it perfect? No. Is it even perfect for anyone? Probably not. BUT, nobody could say with a straight face that it’s not at least INTERESTING.
It’s one of those rare games that anyone could play and either love it or at least find it a rewarding experience.
PS. The only objection I have, is with part of the fandom saying or implying that the game is an honest recreation of the past of the web in the late 90s/early 00s. Nah, that’s not true. There were silly websites like that but more users compared to now were nerds back then and technically savvy, so that kind of silly website design was mostly ridiculed. That’s not the game’s fault of course, it doesn’t literally show the past, just a dystopian alternative of it.