The Room: Old Sins
Fireproof Games’ fourth installment in the Room series, Old Sins, has its own special kind of magic. It somehow manages to capture the essence of both the the original The Room that took place entirely on a table, and The Room Three that had you exploring a huge mansion. They did this by putting a dollhouse on a table! Instead of freely walking around the mansion, you rotate the camera around the dollhouse and then choose a room to enter. Like any adventure game, you’ll pick up items in one room that need to be used in another. But it doesn’t waste your time, as once you complete a room, you can’t go back. So there’s no wondering whether you missed something. The graphics are the most impressive of the series, and the attention to detail here is astounding. Each room also has its own theme, keeping things fresh as you unlock new areas. I also love how the eyepiece is used here, as it sort of shrinks you down into a miniature to go inside the objects in the dollhouse. We saw that in The Room Three, as well, but I think it’s used more creatively here, and it also fits the overall setting better. The main reason it wasn’t my GOTY is that sometimes I wished the puzzles were more challenging, an issue I didn’t have with The Eyes of Ara. Even so, it’s great to see that Fireproof can still be innovative four games in, and I can’t wait to see what they bring us next. If you haven’t played The Room: Old Sins yet, you can read my full review here and get some help from my walkthrough guide here.
Gone Home is basically what you get if you take The Room Three or The Eyes of Ara and remove almost all the puzzles, replacing them with a heart-wrenching and relatable story. It’s already been out on other platforms for several years, but finally made its way over to iOS this month. I played through it in a few days and found it to be a rollercoaster of emotions mixed with nostalgia. I still think about it, as the writing and voice acting is that powerful. I’m fully aware that the game is not for everyone, so I recommend at least reading the App Store description before buying it. But it is groundbreaking in that it showed games don’t always have to provide a challenge. They can just be about immersing you in an experience. And I think an iPad is the most intimate way to get to know the Greenbriar family. You can read my spoiler-free review here if you still need convincing.
Cube Escape: Paradox
Rusty Lake is known for their bizarre point-and-click adventures, the free Cube Escape games and paid Rusty Lake games. You’ll often talk to strange animal-faced people, witness countless murders, and might even have to make a poop sandwich once in a while. Some games are weirder than others, but they’re all tied together loosely through their characters and and story, assuming you can follow it. Paradox is their tenth Cube Escape game and thirteenth game overall. It is meant to be the last Cube Escape game, tying up loose ends and explain Dale and Laura’s story once and for all, albeit in a cryptic way. What sets it apart from the others is that it comes with a companion live action movie. The short film recreates with immense detail the room Detective Dale Vandermeer wakes up in. The movie Dale and hand-drawn game Dale also communicate with each other through a television screen. But what’s really fun is the way you look for well-hidden clues in the movie to unlock achievements in the game. It’s all quite ingenious and incredibly impressive how they pulled it off so flawlessly. The game is a bit differently priced than their others — the first chapter is free, but the second chapter costs a few bucks. So you can play the first chapter without committing, and then decide if you want to pay for the second. If you haven’t played it yet, I highly recommend doing so, whether you’re a a point-and-click adventure fan or not. And if you get stuck, I have a walkthrough guide here.
Bring You Home
I’m not sure whether Bring You Home fits in the adventure category, but you play as a blue alien named Polo who travels the galaxy looking for his kidnapped alien pet. So it is quite an adventure. But unlike Alike Studio’s previous game, Love You to Bits, it’s not a point-and-clicker with an inventory. Instead, it’s a series of puzzles similar to FRAMED, where you swap the panels to get Polo safely through the next portal. The real fun is in your mistakes, though. So many different silly scenarios have been programmed in so that no matter how long it takes you to get to the solution, you’re guaranteed to smile. Its such a delightful game for all ages. I gushed more about in my full review, so read that if you still need convincing. But I recommend just buying it and enjoying it.
Alleys is yet another first-person 3D adventure game, though it aims to simplify the experience by doing away with most traditional puzzles. Instead, you unlock new areas using keys you find. It does keep the inventory aspect that every point-and-click adventurer is used to, though. Everything is in the form of cards, but they work the same way as objects would in other games. For instance, a ladder card will allow you to reach a high shelf, while a shoe card needs to be traded for another item. The whole game takes place in a sort of abandoned theme park, and there’s a tranquility to it. Even though I don’t normally enjoy looking for hidden objects, it was exciting to realize I missed a key hiding behind a bush and could now open a new door. The game especially opened up when I realized I could climb ladders up to the second story of buildings. The game world is quite large, so there’s a lot to unearth. There’s even a labyrinthine treasure hunt that heavily tested my terrible sense of direction. The only reason I gave up on the game was because I hit a point where I couldn’t figure out where the items I needed were, and running around in circles was giving me motion sickness. I truly enjoyed the time I spent with the game, but without a better map, I found it too easy to get lost in places like the sewers, where path looks the same. I still got around four hours of entertainment from it, and I think it was well worth the investment. If you don’t mind a little pixel hunting, give Alleys a try. I also have a partial guide here.
CHUCHEL, from the makers of Samorost 3, reminds me a lot of Bring You Home, in that rushing to the solution will cause you to miss out on a lot of the fun. You play as an orange dust ball (he used to be black until about a week ago) who just can’t seem to catch a break. He just wants his yummy cherry and things keep getting in the way. You’ll meet tons of strange creatures on your journey, like a jello monster, a pool monster, and even a little mouse named Keke who starts off as your enemy but eventually joins forces with you. It’s another family-friendly game that’s less about challenging the player and more about about simply entertaining. If your looking for a difficult game, this is not it. But if you want some innocent, playful fun, you’ve come to the right place. You can read my full review here to learn more and try my achievements guide if you’re missing any of them.
Isoland 2: Ashes of Time
I never finished the original Isoland, as I got stuck and just lost interest. But the sequel, Isoland 2: Ashes of Time, was one of the best point-and-click adventures I played this year. The main reason for this is that it uses time travel as a mechanic. I’m a big fan of games that use weather changes or time travel to alter the scenery. The Silent Age did this, and The Lost City is another. For the first part of the game, you need to figure out how to activate the time machine. And once you do, you can use it to go back in time and access things that you couldn’t in the present. The puzzles are also satisfying, and some of them change when you replay the game, giving it a bit of replay value. I’m not the biggest fan of the artwork, but the game was enjoyable enough that I could overlook it. If you’re looking for a solid point-and-click adventure with some personality, this is a great choice. And I have a walkthrough here if you get stuck.
Four Last Things
I didn’t realize how much I needed something like Four Last Things until I saw it already existed. It’s a very irreverent and Monty Python-esque point-and-click adventure that takes place inside well-known Renaissance paintings. The puzzles are part of the story and fit the game well, so they don’t feel stuffed in just for the sake of having something to do. But the ridiculous humor and seeing these paintings come to life are the real highlights of the experience. I’m also thrilled that the developer is working on a sequel! You can read my full review here, where I cover everything I liked and didn’t like about the game.
Donut County as it’s a puzzle adventure that’s almost a parody of itself in some ways. You play as a hole in the ground that wants to suck everything up. Early on, that just means eating smaller objects so you’ll grow bigger and be able to consume the bigger objects. But you get more tools at your disposal later, forcing you to think a little bit. The game never gets too tricky, but it is impressive the way developer Ben Esposito managed to work in so many different mechanics using such limited controls. My only complaint was that the final boss battle was too demanding after the rest of the game was so relaxed. I found it very stressful, especially using a touchscreen to navigate around the obstacles. Still, there’s so much humor and heart in the game, it’s hard hard to get upset over one section. I still enjoyed my time with the trash bandits, and the Trashpedia was especially entertainin. You can read more about it in my full review and if you get stuck, I made a walkthrough as well.
Bonus: Unavowed (PC only)
I know this is a list of iOS games, but there was only one PC game this year that I wanted to play badly enough that I got over my dislike of playing on PC. After playing the demo of Wadjet Eye Games’ Unavowed at a games conference last year, I knew it was something special. Since there was no plan to bring it to iOS anytime soon, I decided to suck it up and play anyway. And I’m so glad I did. There’s a ton of great stuff to say about the game, but I already said it in my review here, as well as my interview with developer Dave Gilbert. The short of it is that if you like point-and-click adventures and can stomach playing on a PC, Unavowed is a must-have experience.
And that’s all for my favorite Adventure games of 2018. Click here to see my favorite Puzzlers or select another genre below.