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Games from the past 5 years that you feel are gems

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Joined 2009-11-10

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Inspired by the other thread by Diego “Is there any game from the past 5 years that would enter your Top 10?”

I realized that when I think about it there are plenty of games that I think are gems that came out in the last 5 years and that I’ve enjoyed tremendously. Is that enough for them to place in my top 10? No, but then again I think that my top ten is rather heavily tinted by the colors of nostalgia and it’s very hard for a game to make me feel the feelings of wonder that the younger me of 10-15 years old felt. I’ve read more, I’ve travelled more, seen more and things that would have been very innovative and great to my young mind are good now but I can see the inspirations and it’s just not as magic anymore.

So, comparing to my top 10 is tough and I think I’m probably not the only one, that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the great games from the last 5 years that touched us or were really fun to play.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of games made in the last 5 years that stayed with me:

Sumatra: Fate of Yandi:
Worth playing, very good story and characterization that brings to light real problems that people have in Sumatra. It’s one of those games that’s touching and stayed with me long after I finished it. Luhr28’s review on the site express my feelings better than I could https://adventuregamers.com/ratings/view/10294

Hero U: Rogue to Redemption:
I loved QFG games and so was very excited when a lot of new projects appeared influenced by those games but I ended up never completing Heroine’s quest, Mage’s Initiation and Quest For Infamy. Somehow, they respected the formula but the spark wasn’t there for me. Not so, with Hero U, I finished that in 2 days and really enjoyed it. It shows that even though Lori and Cole are probably not great project manager, lost a lot of time and money by changing the graphics and engine at the beginning, they are great designers and have a good sense of what makes a game fun.

Technobabylon:
As a kid, some of my favorite games were Beneath a Steel Sky and Blade Runner, so it’s no surprise that I’d be interested in Technobabylon. I was really looking forward to that game and it didn’t disappoint, it was a fun experience through and through. Puzzles were fun, pacing and story were great, maybe only criticism is that the writing could have been a bit improved with less “tell-instead-of-showing” scenes. But the bottomline is that I remember this game more fondly than Shardlight or Whisper of a Machine. Those are also good decent sci fi games but they didn’t click with me like Technobabylon did.

Space Pilgrim Saga:
Well I created a thread here after noticing that this serie of adventure game wasn’t listed in adventuregamer’s directory of games, so that should tell you that I really liked it. It’s not a very beautiful game, it has it’s flaws and being done with rpg maker is a bit clunky. But, what it does well it does very well indeed and so I loved the characterization and interactions between everyone in the game. The space opera story was also really fun if not necessarily very original. Some good creative puzzles too so I definitely recommend checking it out (it’s also rather short overall)

The Journey Down:
The shortest way to describe my feelings for the game is that playing it made me recapture the feeling of first playing Grim Fandango in a way that the actual Grim Fandango remake didn’t. I really really enjoyed that game, the story and characterization are spot on, each chapter is distinct, with new locales and feels fresh and I think it’s actually a better game than Grim Fandango. If I were to write a top 10 now it might be in there or just below it.

The St. Christopher’s School Lockdown:
That was a game I was originally very excited about when I backed it. It lived up to my expectations but it’s also a game that despite some bugginess and lack of polish has some areas where it really shines. I liked the fact that puzzles had multiple solutions, I felt that the world felt alive and that the characterization of all the different students was well done and made them feel like human beings. I normally mostly agree with reviews on the site, this is the one case where I vehemently didn’t, I feel that this game should have deserved more than 3 stars and if there’s one thing this game doesn’t have in my opinion is “an extremely linear gameplay”.

Special mention to King’s quest, I loved the first 3 chapters (mostly the first one) but I ran into a game breaking bug that prevented me from progressing so I can’t really give a complete recommendation for it but I have to say that I was very impressed with the first chapter and thought it was a very worthy successor to King’s Quest. Now that I have a better graphic card, I’ll play it soon.

     
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Gibbous - A Cthulhu Adventure
Some minor issues withstanding, a game with amazing production values in terms of art and animation. I find it a great game as well, so that helps.

The Return of Obra Dinn
Overall a great detective mystery with solid gameplay mechanics. One of the best adventure games released in the past 10 years.

Beautiful Desolation
A flawed game for sure, but the art and the world-building makes it more than memorable.

Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry
Definitely a surprise for me, as I didn’t expect much, but ended up enjoying the surprise return of Leisure Suit Larry quite a bit. Decent puzzles, good animation, art and voice acting.

Argonus and the Gods of Stone
A game developed by the creators of Shadowgate, based on the Greek myths. It does have some iffy puzzle design, but overall it is well made 1st person adventure set on an island whose inhabitants have been turned to stone by gorgons.

The Procession to Calvary
In many ways, this is what I’d imagine a game developed by Monty Python-crew to look like. It might not be a game for everyone, especially if you don’t want to see humour made of religion and violence. But for me, it works like a charm.

Four Last Things
You can add the description from the Process to Calvary here, as it’s done by the same dev and Calvary is a kind of a sequel to this. 

Firewatch
Among the best story-driven walking sims I’ve played, maybe because it actually has a couple of puzzles thrown in as well. Good art style, solid voice acting and the story isn’t bad either.

 

     
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Adding few more that haven’t been mentioned:


Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today

A great dark scifi story with a very unique graphical style.


The Darkside Detective

A very strong contender for the honour of being the funniest game of all times. Also whether you love it or hate it, the graphical style is very unique.


Sidekick High

An almost perfect one (or two) room escape kind of game, which is also freeware.


Late Shift

Quite possibly the best way ever to use FMV in adventure games, even if that means no real puzzles and in a sense no challenge either as the game will even autoplay if you don’t interfere.


Kelvin and the Infamous Machine

Probably wouldn’t make it anywhere near top anything, but in its own way it is one of the best adventures from the last five years.


Tales

This one suffers from few critical design issues, like jumping from one book to another gets very annoying at some point, but otherwise it’s a very enjoyable adventure which also requires some knowledge about literature.


Bunker: The Underground Game

An acquired taste is needed here, but for those who like very bizarre stories and jokes about CCCP, this one is a good choice.


The Antidote

Far from perfect, but underneath a very oldschool (as in challenging and difficult at times) kind of game with an extremely bizarre story. But if you can talk to inventory objects, and most inventory objects have a unique response to it, the developers sure have done something right!

     

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I’m not really sure why the need for descriptions, as most of these games have reviews. Anyway here are my picks of the best of 2016-2020. I liked them all, a lot.

Eastshade
Goetia
Gorogoa
Hypnospace Outlaw
Quern: Undying Thoughts
XING: The Land Beyond
Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet
Stories Untold
Thaumaturgy
The Gardens Between
The Witness

     
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I included descriptions, because I don’t always agree with the reviews on the site (in the case of The St. Christopher’s School Lockdown for example, I really dislike the review). Descriptions help saying what the poster felt about the game and why they feel it’s a gem.

     

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In no particular order:

Eastshade
The Painscreek Killings
Xing The Land Beyond
Cradle
Unforeseen Incidents
Obduction

Some would even make it into my top 10 if I had a top ten.

     
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giom - 16 September 2020 09:51 AM

Inspired by the other thread by Diego “Is there any game from the past 5 years that would enter your Top 10?”

I realized that when I think about it there are plenty of games that I think are gems that came out in the last 5 years and that I’ve enjoyed tremendously. Is that enough for them to place in my top 10? No, but then again I think that my top ten is rather heavily tinted by the colors of nostalgia and it’s very hard for a game to make me feel the feelings of wonder that the younger me of 10-15 years old felt. I’ve read more, I’ve travelled more, seen more and things that would have been very innovative and great to my young mind are good now but I can see the inspirations and it’s just not as magic anymore.

So, comparing to my top 10 is tough and I think I’m probably not the only one, that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the great games from the last 5 years that touched us or were really fun to play.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of games made in the last 5 years that stayed with me:

Sumatra: Fate of Yandi:
Worth playing, very good story and characterization that brings to light real problems that people have in Sumatra. It’s one of those games that’s touching and stayed with me long after I finished it. Luhr28’s review on the site express my feelings better than I could https://adventuregamers.com/ratings/view/10294

Hero U: Rogue to Redemption:
I loved QFG games and so was very excited when a lot of new projects appeared influenced by those games but I ended up never completing Heroine’s quest, Mage’s Initiation and Quest For Infamy. Somehow, they respected the formula but the spark wasn’t there for me. Not so, with Hero U, I finished that in 2 days and really enjoyed it. It shows that even though Lori and Cole are probably not great project manager, lost a lot of time and money by changing the graphics and engine at the beginning, they are great designers and have a good sense of what makes a game fun.

Technobabylon:
As a kid, some of my favorite games were Beneath a Steel Sky and Blade Runner, so it’s no surprise that I’d be interested in Technobabylon. I was really looking forward to that game and it didn’t disappoint, it was a fun experience through and through. Puzzles were fun, pacing and story were great, maybe only criticism is that the writing could have been a bit improved with less “tell-instead-of-showing” scenes. But the bottomline is that I remember this game more fondly than Shardlight or Whisper of a Machine. Those are also good decent sci fi games but they didn’t click with me like Technobabylon did.

Space Pilgrim Saga:
Well I created a thread here after noticing that this serie of adventure game wasn’t listed in adventuregamer’s directory of games, so that should tell you that I really liked it. It’s not a very beautiful game, it has it’s flaws and being done with rpg maker is a bit clunky. But, what it does well it does very well indeed and so I loved the characterization and interactions between everyone in the game. The space opera story was also really fun if not necessarily very original. Some good creative puzzles too so I definitely recommend checking it out (it’s also rather short overall)

The Journey Down:
The shortest way to describe my feelings for the game is that playing it made me recapture the feeling of first playing Grim Fandango in a way that the actual Grim Fandango remake didn’t. I really really enjoyed that game, the story and characterization are spot on, each chapter is distinct, with new locales and feels fresh and I think it’s actually a better game than Grim Fandango. If I were to write a top 10 now it might be in there or just below it.

The St. Christopher’s School Lockdown:
That was a game I was originally very excited about when I backed it. It lived up to my expectations but it’s also a game that despite some bugginess and lack of polish has some areas where it really shines. I liked the fact that puzzles had multiple solutions, I felt that the world felt alive and that the characterization of all the different students was well done and made them feel like human beings. I normally mostly agree with reviews on the site, this is the one case where I vehemently didn’t, I feel that this game should have deserved more than 3 stars and if there’s one thing this game doesn’t have in my opinion is “an extremely linear gameplay”.

Special mention to King’s quest, I loved the first 3 chaps (mostly the first one) but I ran into a game breaking bug that prevented me from progressing so I can’t really give a complete recommendation for it but I have to say that I was very impressed with the first chapter and thought it was a very worthy successor to King’s Quest. Now that I have a better graphic card, I’ll play it soon.

I think one reason I like technobabylon so much is because it actually handles switching characters well. Regis and max had the story and detective stuff down. I dont care for latha as much, but the puzzles in her section are the best to me. So I didn’t mind switching characters near as much as in unavowed or resonance. I hated the switching of characters in resonance and the puzzles that are involved in it. it just took me out of the game

     
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I just went over the games I gave a rating, and for good measure, the list of eligible games for Aggies for the last five years.

I didn’t play all that many “recent” games (I have such a huge backlog), so those I did play tended to be games that I pretty much knew in advance I would like. Which is why more than half of them ended with 4/5 in my book - which is my cut-off point for brilliance.

These got 4/5 from me:

- STASIS
- Whispers of a Machine
- Return of the Obra Dinn
- Florence

These got 4.5/5 from me (which puts them in my all-time top 20 18):

- Anna’s Quest
- Disco Elysium

     

Last played: Anna’s Quest (CPT) - 4.5/5 | Simon the Sorcerer II: The Lion, the Wizard and the Wardrobe - 4/5 | Florence - 4/5 | Alice Trapped in Wonderland - 1/5 | The Hunt for the Lost Ship - 1.5/5 | The Talos Principle - 4/5 | Tex Murphy: Martian Memorandum - 3/5 | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - 3/5 | Simon the Sorcerer (replay) - 4/5 | Portal 2 - 4/5 | Murder By Numbers - 3.5/5 | Heavy Rain - 3.5/5 | Disco Elysium - 4.5/5 | Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse - 3/5 | Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds - 3/5 | Whispers of a Machine (CPT) - 4/5 | Beneath a Steel Sky (CPT) - 3/5 | 3 in Three - 3.5/5 | Puzzle Gallery: At the Carnival - 2.5/5 | The Fool’s Errand (replay) - 3/5 | The Dig (replay) - 4.5/5

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Jdawg445 - 16 September 2020 02:30 PM

I think one reason I like technobabylon so much is because it actually handles switching characters well. Regis and max had the story and detective stuff down. I dont care for latha as much, but the puzzles in her section are the best to me. So I didn’t mind switching characters near as much as in unavowed or resonance. I hated the switching of characters in resonance and the puzzles that are involved in it. it just took me out of the game

Great point, it’s the same with novels, some novels are able to have multiple character viewpoints and it combines seamlessly to form something greater than the whole (a song of fire and ice for the most recent great example, god emperor of dune, ...) but it’s hard to do this right. I definitely feel that Technobabylon does this very well, it’s seamless and it improves the story.

TimovieMan - 16 September 2020 04:04 PM

- Florence

I actually just played that yesterday. I’m in two mind about this, as a game I’m not sure I’d rate it highly since some of the mini-games are frustrating (but some are absolutely brilliant metaphors). The story in itself doesn’t break new grounds and is very reminiscent of romcoms but the way it’s presented is special and I’d definitely qualify it as art. Somehow, I feel it might have been better had there been more meat to the story or if it were possible to actually impact the story but I guess the simplicity is also part of the charm.

     
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We’ve actually had a huge amount of excellent games these past five years.

Technobabylon:
As a kid, some of my favorite games were Beneath a Steel Sky and Blade Runner, so it’s no surprise that I’d be interested in Technobabylon. I was really looking forward to that game and it didn’t disappoint, it was a fun experience through and through. Puzzles were fun, pacing and story were great, maybe only criticism is that the writing could have been a bit improved with less “tell-instead-of-showing” scenes. But the bottomline is that I remember this game more fondly than Shardlight or Whisper of a Machine. Those are also good decent sci fi games but they didn’t click with me like Technobabylon did.

Technobabylon would be on my list also, one of the best SF adventure games of all time. A true classic.

Heart

     

I enjoy playing adventure games on handheld systems- PS VITA, Nintendo DS and ipad mini.

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giom - 16 September 2020 09:51 AM

The Journey Down:
The shortest way to describe my feelings for the game is that playing it made me recapture the feeling of first playing Grim Fandango in a way that the actual Grim Fandango remake didn’t. I really really enjoyed that game, the story and characterization are spot on, each chapter is distinct, with new locales and feels fresh and I think it’s actually a better game than Grim Fandango. If I were to write a top 10 now it might be in there or just below it.

That’s a great description, it’s just sad that it seems like The Journey Down will be never voted for a community playthrough.

I’m currently half-through Dark Fall 4 (Ghost Vigil), and it’s a very solid adventure. In fact it’s so old-fashioned in every way possible that I feel like I’m playing a game from the early 2000s. For some reason I thought it would go 3D, but no, the same old slideshow. No big scares, no impossible puzzles, no “lost in the woods” situations, and yet plenty of adventure gaming. Counts as a gem to me, although no near my top.

Speaking of other gems, I’d like to bring up Dropsy which is criminally underrated at this website - an emotionally charged game with a powerful message and a metroidvanian gameplay rarely met in adventures,
Quern which is among my favourite Myst-like games ever
and Inner World 2 which I enjoyed way more than the original game.
There’s was also this little ambitious gem Karma Incarnation - in fact only the first half of it that got a low rating at adventuregamers which likely killed the whole project despite it was much, much better than the late Amanita games imho.

     

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