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Adventure Time: The Return of a Great Gaming Genre

If The Walking Dead’s garland of Game of the Year awards and $40m of revenue prove anything, it’s that there is an appetite – a massive appetite – for games that tell a good story, ideally one that’s more sophisticated than Big Impressive Men Save World From Interchangeable Threat. This is hardly news. For years games tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to meet this need by trying to reproduce movie storytelling, but many creators have found a way out of the cinematic cul-de-sac and are increasingly finding their own way – by looking for new rubrics to tell a story, by learning from film and TV without aping them, and by drawing on gaming’s own history.

At the heart of this movement is a genre that’s existed for almost as long as video games: the adventure game. Born as text adventures on the earliest home computers, this genre became a showcase for cutting-edge writing, animation and voice performance in the early 90s as it evolved into the point-and-click adventure, before losing traction as consoles rose to prominence and other games – first the platformer, then the first-person shooter – became the mainstream genres of choice.

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