Top 10 Adventure Games
So I’m picking this one again because it’s one of my favorite themes and feelings in games. Also, the Dice Tower did a Top 10 list recently as well, so you can see how mine compares to theirs. But I am taking a slightly different approach to mine as they rejected some off their lists, that I’d put on mine. What I’m looking for can be some exploration, but also games where you feel like you’re going on with a journey through the game, whether it’s exploring, solving a mystery or puzzle, some sort of journey in the game. So let’s get to the list.
10 – Dead of Winter
The zombies have taken over and you need to find a cure, get enough fuel to move, or one of several more scenarios, but can you trust everyone in your midst? Probably not, and should they fully trust you, probably not. In this game you play as survivors of the zombie apocalypse who are just trying to survive against the horde of zombies in the town, but there might be a traitor in your midst. There’s a sense of adventure in this game as you feel like you’re playing through The Walking Dead or other zombie time story where it is more focused on the survivors and if you can really trust them. Plus, the crossroads cards offer you a lot of tough decisions to make as well, maybe you can save someone and add them to your team, but will there be enough food to feed them? You’ll end up having to make choices like that throughout the game, and often times with no easy answers or right choices for the colony.
9 – Star Wars: Rebellion
A massive around three hours long game, Star Wars: Rebellion pits the rebels against the Empire in a battle for the fate of the galaxy. Taking from the original trilogy, you feel like you’re playing through it but shaping it your own way. Can you crush the rebel fleets and find where there base in hidden? Or will they be able to sow enough descent around the galaxy that the Empire crumbles away. And you get to send major characters out on missions to places, maybe Han Solo will get captured by the Emperor or Darth Vader will lead troops into battle against Admiral Ackbar on Tatooine. You can rewrite the original trilogy in this adventure and you won’t know how the story will end up until you’ve played.
8 – Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
I was debating about this one on the list, is it really an adventure because it’s fairly abstracted away with trying to solve cases and fight bad guys just by putting tokens on them. But I feel like the puzzly nature of how you have to do that, and the fact it brings me back to the books and series, there is that sense of adventure for me as I get a chance to relive and play through those books myself. And there’s always a struggle to win in this game. Sometimes you can just win without getting into the final confrontation, but that’s extremely rare. Instead, so often you are hoping for a lucky last roll to take out the bad guy, which is thematic to the books, because through sheer stubbornness and sometimes force of will, Harry can prevail, and that’s how it works in the game as well. Less of a grand epic adventure than some, but still a fun one, especially for fans of the series.
7 – The Lost Expedition
Now, this is probably not a game that a lot of people would have thought of when they were thinking of an adventure game. It’s a small game, it’s only cards and very few tokens, and all you’re doing is going on a hike each morning and evening trying to make it to the Lost City of Z. However, there’s a sense of adventure to it as you are all cooperatively trying to play down cards in a way that makes sense without being able to communicate. But then, once the cards are down and your path is ready, you can all discuss as how to best go through it. It always feels like a close game and you have to decide when it’s worth it to sacrifice a guide in order to move ahead or to keep another guide alive. This game isn’t going to give you a big adventure, but it’s a fast adventure in a little package that won’t break the bank.
6 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
The first of a couple of Fantasy Flights Arkham Chronicles games, this one has a very interesting adventure feel from what I’ve played, which admittedly isn’t a ton of it yet, but you get the sense of exploring, just from the first scenario in the first box, a house that is being twisted and warped around you. Then in the second one, you get a chance to run around the town and look for cultists who might just be hiding in the shadows. And all of this builds, so depending on what you do, scenarios or perks you’ve gotten will change, so it feels like a big unfolding adventure. And I like that it doesn’t come in a massive box, it’s just cards with a few tokens and you can have an epic adventure.
5 – T.I.M.E. Stories
This one is interesting because there’s a smaller level of adventure in the game since each scenario is it’s own mystery or puzzle to solve, but it always feels like something new as you unpack what’s going on. You could be in a mental hospital at the start where a time incursion is about to happen or maybe a town that has been quarantined for some reason or in ancient Egypt. While you might know where your adventure is going to take you, you don’t know how it’s going to unfold or what body you’re going to be put into. I really enjoy this as an escape room type of engine where you have to figure out the puzzle in the box, but it’s not as straight forward as a lot of the Unlock and Exit style games are, because why they might be fairly consistent in what they do, T.I.M.E. Stories is not.
4 – Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon
I need to play more of this adventure, but what I’ve played thus far has been great. There is just so much story happening, and it gives you a different sense of adventure because it adds in such a strong survival element as well. So not only are you going out into the land of Avalon and searching for ways to keep the land from falling into the Wyrdness, you have to figure out when to fight, when to run away, what path you want to go, the fact that there’s a branching story in a game that is so long and so big is pretty amazing. It’s also a really good solo experience. When a game offers you so many choices as to where to go, what to explore there, what you might run into, who you can help and side mysteries that you might want to check out as well, it’s very much an adventure game, and it’s one of the best I’ve come across.
3 – Betrayal At House on the Hill
Now, I know this game isn’t for everyone, but I love it. And for me it’s a great adventure game because I get to see what horror film I’m in. Am I going to be the final one standing in the end or the person who betrays everyone else. Will I have to play chess with death or maybe it’ll be the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I never know. Plus, I get to explore the house and have it unfold before me, and I never know in what room the haunt might happen, so I can basically always play a new scenario. I have Betrayal Legacy waiting for me at some point in time coming up here when we can start to get together in groups again, because I want to have the adventure of playing through a house year after year and watch the house change and unfold a new adventure. Now, I know that this game isn’t for some because it’s not always the most balanced, but I like that aspect as it works well in a horror setting because some horror movie monsters are just better than the college students.
2 – Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
Adventure games don’t have to be on a super grand globe trotting scale, they can be in a small town or even in a mansion that is full of madness. But you’re unfolding a story and a mystery that gives me a sense of adventure because playing a scenario once, I don’t know what is going to happen and where cultists might show up or what my main goal is even sometimes. As the game unfolds that and explains it to you and as you unravel the mysteries, it just makes a great gaming adventure experience. And even if you play a scenario once, because of the app, you can go back and play it again and things might end the same, but the house will be set-up differently and there will be still be some adventure to the game. Mansions of Madness just really gives you that immersive experience of exploring and solving a puzzle/mystery unlike so many other games.
1 – Gloomhaven
I believe that this was left off someone’s list on the Dice Tower top 10, because it didn’t have enough exploring, though, I feel like Forgotten Circles expansion definitely has more of that feel. But I would argue that there is a sense of exploring through the story as you complete the various dungeons and you unlock more story and more places to go. Plus, even though you’re a mercenary team who keeps retiring, you still feel the progression of story and adventure that I’m looking for and love in a game. It has that RPG-lite feel to it with leveling up your characters and getting better at what you can do, so the whole thing feels like you’re taking those characters on epic adventures. While the mechanics for combat can be a bit crunchy as you figure out what tops and bottoms of cards to use and what order to play them in, the whole thing just works really well for me.
Now, I could have gone with more as well, Sword & Sorcery just missed the list. The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth or Lord of the Rings board game would work as well. Even something like Pandemic Legacy I considered for the list, but that one doesn’t give me as much sense of adventure. And I have more adventure games waiting for me to play, Apocrypha, Folklore: The Affliction, Aeon’s End Legacy and more are waiting for me to give into, plus more coming in the mail at some point in time like Oathsworn, Dice Throne Adventure (it says it in it’s name) or Frosthaven next year. So clearly I love these big epic sort of games.
How about you, what are some of your favorite adventure games? Are there any on the list that I should checkout?
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