The year 2015 was the turning point for the adventure genre with a huge number of high quality titles fitting for players from all gaming generations. Last year seems hard to match, but as things look right now 2016 not only delivers in quantity but it seems to also deliver in quality as the upcoming titles are looking really promising.
Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting adventure games of 2016:
Release Date: January 26
The Witness is a first-person adventure game inspired by the good old Myst. The players will explore an open world island divided in 10 sections paving the way to a mountain area which represents the final goal of the game. To make progress in the exploration the players will have to solve a ton of maze-like puzzles based on similar mechanics but becoming increasingly difficult. The world design allows the liberty to put puzzles on hold moving to other locations and trying to solve other conundrums while learning how new mechanics work to help with older problems.
The island is abandoned and the story will be told through audio logs providing obtuse information which should get the players thinking.
The Witness has been in development since 2008 and it was officially announced in 2009. Due to the great success of Braid, director Jonathan Blow hired a bigger team to work on the project and the development time was drastically increased, thus the game skiped the last generation of consoles. This allowed Jonathan Blow to maintain his vision of the game leading to a robust final product that features close to 650 puzzles.
Release Date: February 9
This list of adventure games has everything, but there is no other game is like Unravel. Unravel tells the story of Yarny who is a tiny anthropomorphic creature made from a single thread of red yarn which unfolds into a line as he moves helping him solve physics based platforming puzzles to progress in his journey. As Yarny’s life unravels as he moves, the journey he has set on is much bigger than his existence but the importance of this journey determines him to reach its final destination.
Unravel tells an emotional story in which the red yarn stands as a metaphor for love and connectedness. Yarny is meant to mend broken bonds and bridge things that should be together and he is trying to do that by reaching the end of his journey before his existence reaches its measurable limits (how cute is that?!).
Release Date: February 10
Firewatch is an upcoming first person adventure game from Campo Santo. The game uses cartoonish graphics with a slightly orange tint to deliver a story driven adventure set in the Wyoming wilderness in the year 1989.
Aside of its stunning visuals and great artistic direction, Firewatch’s greatest feature stands in the dialogue system between the protagonist Henry and his supervisor Delilah. As Henry is patrolling the area uncovering clues about mysterious activities, Delilah is available at all time as a support character providing information through a walkie-talkie. A bond forms between the two characters and it’s shaped through the player’s dialogue choices which could strengthen or possibly destroy the only relationship Henry has left in his life.
The dialogues are at the quality level of an RPG with intelligently written and extremely witty conversations presenting the spoken relation between two adults.
With its beautiful cartoonish graphics, a sandbox world and a great dialogue system, Firewatch looks like one of the most promising titles in 2016.
The Walking Dead: Michonne – A Telltale Games Mini-Series
Release Date: February
The Walking Dead: Michonne is an upcoming episodic mini-series from Telltale placed between the comic book’s issues 126 and 139.
The game will present the untold story of Michonne and her journey away from Rick and the gang. In her roundtrip Michonne will fight her past and struggle with regrets while facing the ever present dangers of the cursed world.
The Walking Dead: Michonne will bridge the Telltale games with the canonic comic books of Robert Kirkman and it’s probably that the fans of both should not miss.
Release Date: March 28
Adr1ft’s story resembles much with Gravity. An astronaut is stranded in space floating through the wreckage of a space station but with the twist that he has no recollection of these tragic events. While exploring the destroyed space station, the astronaut will find information that will help him understand how things became such a mess. His goal is to find the parts necessary to repair the escape pod from the space station and safely return to Earth.
The gameplay will include solving puzzles and a survival mechanic which revolves around the need of oxygen which will limit the exploration distance while building up the tension.
Adr1ft will release date was moved to coincide with the Oculus Rift launch. The game has full support for the virtual reality device as it was part of its conception but playing without it will work just fine.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter
Release Date: Spring
Another Sherlock Holmes adventure game is coming from Frogwares. The Devil’s Daughter will have the legendary detective solve five cases in which his irrefutable logic will be challenged by family stories, emotions and occult revenge.
The gameplay will vary between puzzle-solving and reflex-based action sequences. The more interesting feature is the world design which can now be freely roamed sounding much like an open world environment, a first for the series. In a natural evolution, the graphics have been upped a notch to work better with the new design.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is due to release in spring and hopefully soon we will receive more details about the game as well as its release date.
The Solus Project
Release Date: Q2
The Solus Project is a survival adventure singleplayer game created using the Unreal Engine 4 and designed to be a spiritual successor of 2010 The Ball.
With Earth being on the brinks of destruction, a team is sent to explore a distant planet. As the space ship crashes into the planet’s surface the protagonist is the sole survivor of the expedition and possibly the last human being alive.
Despite having a beginning and an end, The Solus Project has a lot of survival elements to offer. The planet cannot be tamed but its harsh conditions can be survived through adaptation. Survival elements play a key role as the players have to make it alive to extreme climate which includes all kind of dangerous weather changes. The gameplay also features puzzles solving through 10 handcrafted areas and an upgrades system which should work in tone with the game’s survival elements.
The Souls Project sounds very promising, but we will know more about the game during its Early Access phase which should start sometimes during Q1.
Release Date: TBA
The huge leap in space travel technology made by Exo Dynamics has opened up the opportunity for courageous citizens of Earth to reach for the stars in a dangerous adventure through the farthest reaches of the galaxy. These space adventurers are called astroneers and they venture in a journey of planetary exploration for science and glory.
ASTRONEER is a singleplayer and multiplayer adventure survival in which the players will explore harsh planetary environments digging for materials and mysterious artifacts and building working facilities to improve their exploration and survival capabilities.
The game will first launch through Steam Early Access and while building and exploration will be part of the game’s core mechanics, not much is currently known of what other features the Early Access will bring.
Batman: A Telltale Game Series
Release Date: TBA
Another high profile comic book lands in the hands of Telltale to be transformed in what can be described as a very gritty adventure game. Batman: A Telltale Game Series will present the double life of Bruce Wayne as the man and the antihero he is.
Currently there aren’t many details about the game but knowing Telltale Games’ style we know what we can expect from this cinematic adventure. It would be interesting to see how the developers will tackle such a complex and challenging subject as Batman but I sincerely hope their source of inspiration will be A Death in the Family or Detective Comics.
Dreamfall Chapters - Book Five
Release Date: TBA
The two year journey of the Kickstarter crowdfunded game is coming to an end sometime in 2016 with the release of Book Five. The story of the three protagonists: Zoë Castillo, Kian Alvane and Saga will come to a conclusion that is hard to predict.
The story so far has been presented in eleven chapters and three interludes, with the action taking place between the two parallel worlds Arcadia and Stark with each of the three protagonists playing an important role.
The forth book has been released in December and like the previous Books it has received positive reviews from both journalists and fans alike. The hopes are pretty high that Book Five will deliver on the same level of quality but we shall find out this year if the wait was worthwhile.
Layers of Fear
Release Date: TBA, Currently in Early Access
Layers of Fear is a psychedelic adventure horror in which the players will take the role of an insane painter in a quest to finish his life’s greatest work.
The action takes place in a house inspired by the architecture and décor of the XIX century with the twist that everything is changing as you move. The more you progress the more you will uncover clues about the horrible things the painter has done in his alcoholic madness leading to some terrifying moments worthy of a quality horror video game.
Layers of Fear Early Access launched in August 2015 and was a big pleasant surprise receiving an overwhelming positive score. As a gamer recently reacquainted with the horror genre, I’m looking forward to the full release of this game.
Silence: The Whispered World 2
Release Date: TBA
As in the past years Daedalic Entertainment has something stored for the adventure games enthusiasts, Silence: The Whispered World 2.
This sequel will take the players back to Silence the world of dreams as they help Noah, a teenager, to find his sister Renie in this magical world after she was lost in a bombardment over their hometown.
The Whispered World 2 will feature the return of old characters in a humoristic yet emotional story with a narrative tremendously helped by new stunning 3D visuals. The gameplay has undergone through an overhaul with puzzles now being part of the story experience but without holding the players back from moving forward within the game’s story.
Silence: The Whispered World 2 seems like one of the most ambitious and interesting projects Daedalic Entertainment has developed so far and feels like a gateway between the older adventure style that the studio has preferred and the more cinematic driven style of today. I’m excited to see how this game will turn out.
Release Date: TBA, Currently in Early Access
Launched in November 2014 through Steam’s Early Access, Soul Axiom is a first-person sci-fi adventure from the creators of Master Reboot.
The story takes place in Elysia, a digital paradise where souls can be uploaded and their memory and dreams become reality. The players will venture through this world in a soul searching journey to unlock their identity, story and the mystery behind their existence.
Soul Axiom will feature a compelling narrative with multiple outcomes set in a Tron-like cyberspace. The game is full of logic puzzles spread over 6 chapters and 40 different explorable locations that should sum up between 8 and 12 hours of gameplay. While the graphics don’t seem to hold up to the standards of today, the concept behind the game’s story is interesting as it’s something hardly seen in video games.
Release Date: TBA
After a 10 years break the writer and designer Benoît Sokal is back in the lead to rekindle the life of the slightly steampunk universe of Syberia and bring back to our screens the lovely ex-lawyer Kate Walker in her search for truth.
Syberia III was on the upcoming adventures list of last year, probably more out of blind hope than anything else but the game’s launch has been confirmed for this year. Despite not having many details about the game this can only be interpreted as good news as this sequel to the legendary adventure series seems closer and closer to reality.
The Walking Dead: A Telltale Game Series – Season Three
Release Date: TBA
Telltale’s The Walking Dead series needs no presentation. The first Season took the gaming industry by storm with its shocking and emotional storytelling and Season 2 continued on that note and didn’t disappoint. The Walking Dead sold over 28 million copies worldwide in 2014 and it is Telltale’s biggest success and a defining series for the adventure genre.
Season 2 ended on a pretty grim note with Clementine having to choose between two important characters in an unpleasant confrontation that didn’t end too well. Clementine found herself running away from people and zombies protecting an infant as she was thought back in the day by Lee.
The third season will most likely pick up things from where they were left, but we don’t know for sure and according to Job Stauffer no news will be given until Michonne miniseries concludes.
Still, The Walking Dead Season Three is one of the most anticipated games of 2016 and while it doesn’t seem realistic to think that all the episodes will be released this year it’s most certain we will at least get to play some of them.
The adventure games of 2016 are high in numbers and intriguing and I’m only hoping that the other genres can keep up with them. We shall see in the upcoming articles what other promising games the year 2016 has in store for us.