Far from describing a game with adventure in it (that would include a lot of games!), the adventure genre is loosely defined as one that emphasizes narrative and exploration over action, which may also rely on light puzzle mechanics. In other words, a game that doesn’t have enough simulation to be a sim, action to be an action title, puzzle-solving to be a puzzle game, and… you get the idea. Despite the nebulous classification, games in this genre are unambiguously incredible experiences, often exploring refreshing and fascinating concepts. Shooting for games that are rolling around in the zeitgeist right now, some of the genres’ towering giants are not listed here. However, for anyone looking to check out today’s great experiences, feel free to peruse our alphabetical list of the best adventure games to play right now.
Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition
Bizarre, dreamlike, and all too real, Kentucky Route Zero will stick with you for a long time after you put the controller down. It examines the broken promise of the American dream as delivery man, Conway, makes his way along the enigmatic, titular road. Just trying to finish his last task of the day, Kentucky native Conway strays onto Route Zero, meeting strangers with hard lives battling hard issues, including substance abuse, poverty, and corporate expansion. These issues are all wrapped up in a surreal, point-and-click package, where you are just as likely to encounter the unbelievable as the mundane. The gameplay unfolds through a series of choices – like where to go, what to say, or what to believe – which advance the narrative and sometimes alter aspects of the journey, if not its final destination. |Our Review
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods recently released onto iOS, allowing a new crop of players to discover the shadowy secret lurking in the cozy-seeming story. Initially launching in 2017, our review calls it a game “about mistakes, recklessness, and friendship, all wrapped up in a colorful adventure.” The cartoon-like character designs, vibrant palette, and simple mechanics could fool a player into thinking the game’s narrative will be on the lighter side, but Night in the Woods touches on a variety of difficult themes. The story begins as Mae, a recent college dropout, makes a reluctant return to her hometown. While dealing with her failure, she reconnects with old friends, community members, and her own family before stumbling on an insidious mystery. |Our Review
The first and last DLC for Outer Wilds, called Echoes of the Eye, debuted only a few days ago, placing the game back on many gamers’ ‘to-play’ lists during this busy release season. Developer Mobius Digital, insists the new content, revealed at publisher Annapurna Interactive’s first self-produced showcase, fits in seamlessly with the original game’s narrative while offering brand-new mysteries to seek out in the Dark Bramble. The base game is a time loop experience built around space exploration and a quest to stop the destruction of the universe. It would be a tough task even if you didn’t have only 20 minutes to complete it. Death is an eventuality and will come for you in a bewilderingly large amount of ways, like having all the oxygen ripped out of your lungs, colliding with a planet, or a good, old-fashioned tumble of a cliff. Consequentially, the experience can be a little frustrating even for all its cosmic beauty. |Our Review
Whether you’ve played it before or never got the chance, it’s a good time to catch up with Night School Studio’s eerie adventure. Why? In April, the team took the stage at Nintendo’s Indie World showcase to reveal Oxenfree II: Lost Signals. In the first game, teenager Alex finds herself on Edwards Island with her stepbrother and a few friends. Their plans to party on the mysterious island are cut short when Alex inadvertently stumbles on the supernatural. Navigating through the cascade of strange and unnerving events will require you to examine some of Alex’s most painful memories and make choices that will influence the story’s outcome. The sequel is set to take place on the same island, but five years after Alex’s adventure, and follows a new set of characters. It’s currently in development and is slated to release sometime in 2022, so there’s a little time left to jump into the first game. |Our Review
What Remains of Edith Finch
Though it initially launched in 2017, What Remains of Edith Finch has maintained a constant stream of releases on new platforms and devices. It came out on Switch in 2019, joined Game Pass in January, found a place in publisher Annapurna Interactive’s PS4 Box set in February, and even hit iOS in August. So, this game is hard to miss. A brief, contemplative walk through an unusual family home, What Remains of Edith Finch weaves together several vignettes varying in design and mechanics that slowly reveal a narrative overflowing with sorrow, nostalgia, and family legacy. Each section of the story reveals how members of the Finch household have died – which range from horrifying to fanciful – due to a family curse. In his review, Joe Juba called it “the next major step forward” in adventure games where the plot unravels as the player inspects the surroundings and places it alongside some of the greatest games of the genre. |Our Review
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