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29 August, 2016

Top 10 Upcoming Adventure Games

Grab It counts down its top 10 most anticipated adventure games coming out in the near future.

The fast paced and ever changing nature of the gaming industry means it can be pretty easy to overlook quality titles on the horizon. Throw into the mix the sheer quantity of games released every year and a serious lack of time to even make a dent in your pile of shame, it's no wonder not all games get the attention they deserve. 

Here at Grab It, we're quite fond of adventure titles. Enough so that we've put together a list of our top 10 most anticipated adventure games coming out in the near future. Many of these titles may have flown under your radar, especially as they come from smaller indie developers. But that shouldn't scare you off because the quality of these games is shaping up to be on par with anything you might have played. Like all things in life, keep an open mind and you might just be surprised at how much you enjoy yourself.

Without further ado, here are our top 10 adventure game "diamonds in the rough" to be on the look out for.

10. The Homecoming (Shane Foreman)

Set in the early 1500s, a letter arrives with grave news that your grandfather has gone missing. With very little information at hand, you must pack your bags and return home to The Kingdom to unravel the mystery. Naturally, not all is at it seems...

For indie developer Shane Foreman, The Homecoming is a passion project 27 years in the making. Having conceived the idea as a teenager, Foreman is finally ready to breathe life into his creation now that technology has caught up to match his vision. Similar in style and substance to classic choose-your-own adventures, Foreman describes The Homecoming as a piece of “interactive fiction” without the clunkiness of those old school titles.

Having managed to get some hands on time with The Homecoming at EB Expo 2015 (Sydney, Australia), I am excited at how the game is coming along. With very few details about the story known, the standout feature was the gorgeous art style reminiscent of a classic hand-painted waterbrush masterpiece. I also came away quite impressed by the modern and streamlined UI. As it stands, The Homecoming is shaping up to be one of those good news indie developer stories that we love to get behind. 

The Homecoming is coming soon to iOS, Android, PC and Mac.


9. KOMRAD (Sentient Play)

In a world in which Pokemon Go has become a runaway phenomenon, KOMRAD is looking to tap into a similar market. Set against a James Bond-esque backdrop of The Cold War, the best way to think about KOMRAD is as a cross between an old-school text-based adventure and a gamebook, updated for the on-the-go mobile world. Gameplay unfolds as a real-time conversation (via text message push notifications) with an all-knowing computer mind. This means that the story (which can change based on player choice) will only gradually become clear over time as KOMRAD drip feeds information to the player. So unlike a traditional game, you’ll most likely only pick up KOMRAD for short bursts every day.

With a rather fascinating approach to gameplay and an intriguing story, KOMRAD is one game we're definitely keeping our eye on. KOMRAD is out soon for Apple Watch, iPhone and iPad

For more information on KOMRAD, check out our previous coverage:
     - KOMRAD Announced - Tap Into Your Inner James Bond


8. The Journey Down: Episode 3 (Sky Goblin)

What’s not to like about an adventure game described as “an afro-noir point & click adventure saga set in a rich, atmospheric musical world”? The Journey Down has a soul music-infused, Afro-Caribbean vibe that immediately sets it apart from anything else I’ve played. The hand painted graphics are both startling to the eye and almost disturbing at the same time. It’s also hard not to love the game’s bumbling protagonists, Bwana and Kito, with their laid back and gullible attitude, and slow drawl.

The Journey Down has already seen two episodes released over the past few years, both of which we rated very highly. After a successful funding campaign on Kickstarter, the devs are now busily working away on Episode 3. The final chapter in the trilogy picks up after the events of Episode 2 with Bwana and Kito struggling to make ends meet at their run-down gas station. However, all that is about to change when a search for a lost journal leads them to forgotten secrets of the mysterious Underland. With inspiration drawn from 90s point & click adventure titles (like Monkey Island and Grim Fandango) and sub-saharan African culture, this is one game to keep on your radar. 

The Journey Down: Episode 3 is due out in early-to-mid 2017 for PC, Mac and Linux.


7. Darkside Detective (DoomCube)

The Darkside Detective is the latest game on the drawing board from indie developer DoomCube. Originally created in under eight hours at the Galway Game Jam by Paul Conway and Christopher Colston in 2014, The Darkside Detective follows Detective Francis McQueen as the sole member of the criminally underfunded Darkside Division. The Darkside Detective takes a rather light and humorous approach to the occult. Described as a “micro-adventure game,” The Darkside Detective is heavily influenced by point-and-click adventure games of yesteryear. But rather than playing out as one long and convoluted story, Detective Francis McQueen’s job is to investigate numerous bite size cases into the occult and extraordinary.

Having played through a brief demo on the dev’s website, it’s obvious that The Darkside Detective has bucketloads of potential. The humour appealed to me straight away and left me smiling the entire time. The case, although not terribly difficult to solve, was fun and enjoyable. As long as DoomCube can maintain the humour and variety in its cases for a full length game, we could have a real winner on our hands.

The Darkside Detective is out soon for PC, smartphones and tablets.


6. SpaceVenture (Two Guys From Andromeda)

Growing up during the “golden age” of point-and-click adventure games during the 90s was a wonderful experience. One of my favourite series to emerge from this time was Space Quest from the slightly crazy Guys From Andromeda at Sierra. If that rings the nostalgia bell for you, then stay tuned because the eccentric duo are back with a spiritual successor called SpaceVenture.

Described as a sci-fi comedy adventure that combines interplanetary exploration, puzzle solving, space travel and a dose of “good, clean potty humour,” SpaceVenture is shaping up to be a game that Roger Wilco himself would be proud of. In fact, protagonist Ace Hardway just happens to be a janitor who "loves" his job with the tag line “your crap is his bread and butter”.

Admittedly, the journey of SpaceVenutre has seen its fair share of problems. Funded on Kickstarter in 2012, the game has seen multiple delays with the game initially to have been released in 2013. While the delays haven't pleased everyone, the devs have remained faithful to their vision and are promising that the game will be out by the end of the year. We sure hope so too, as we can't wait to see what crazy adventure the duo have cooked up for us again.  

SpaceVenture is due out in 2016 for PC, Mac, Linux, and iOS and Android devices. 


5. Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler! (Venture Moon Industries)

While many swashbuckling adventurers have fond memories of the Monkey Island series, it seems like we’ll have to wait a little while longer before Guybrush Threepwood again sees the light of day. However, we have the next best thing just over the horizon: Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler! At the helm of the project from Venture Moon Industries is industry legend and LucasArts alumni Bill Tiller, who has worked on titles like The Curse of Monkey Island, The Dig and Full Throttle.

Tiller and Co certainly aren’t shy about their Monkey Island roots. One of the game’s protagonists, Sheriff Nancy Steele looks suspiciously similar to Governor Elaine Marley. Even the game’s title “Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler!” plays heavily off an infamous line from Monkey Island when Guybrush introduces himself. Naturally, the gameplay is touted as a classic 2.5D point-and-click adventure, similar to that in The Curse of Monkey Island. The artstyle is also very similar.

In terms of story, Duke is a rather big and brutish fellow with a harsh exterior. In fact, he usually resorts to letting his fists solve his problems as he suffers from IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder.) But Duke secretly has a soft heart and wants to change his thieving, murderous and cunning pirate ways. It’s an interesting storyline that is likely going to be good for a few laughs knowing Tiller's pedigree.

Venture Moon Industries has several episodes planned for Duke Grabowski, the first of which is due out by the end of the year for PC, Mac, Linux and Ouya.

For more information on Duke Grabowski, check out our previous coverage:
     - Introducing the Monkey Island Inspired Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler!


4. Clown’s Secret (Expression Studios)

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you mash up the worlds of Charlie Chaplin, Martin Scorsese and Monkey Island, then have we got the game for you. Citing inspiration from all these sources, Clown’s Secret is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing and humorous adventure titles on the horizon.

Indie developer Expression Studios is looking to channel the magic of classic movies of the silent age, particularly the work of Charlie Chaplin, in this 2D adventure game. To keep things genuinely authentic, not only will Clown's Secret be presented in black and white, there won’t be any text. Instead, all dialogue will be spoken in gibberish, but mainly presented through animations, and topped off with the classic jazz-style music we’ve come to associate with silent films. Expression Studios is also an interesting approach to the gameplay, with players only able to interact with objects in the environment, rather than the characters themselves. This simplified system is intended to take the focus off the sometimes frustrating exploration element, and place it directly on the story, the funny moments and the puzzles.

Clown’s Secret is out soon for mobile devices.

For more information on Clown's Secret, check out some of our previous coverage
     - Charlie Chaplin Meets Monkey Island in Clown's Secret
     - Interview: How Martin Scorsese and Charlie Chaplin Inspired Clown's Secret


3. Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Tin Man Games)

Tin Man Games remains on the cutting edge of the digital gamebook frontier. Over many years, Tin Man Games has upheld its high standards for quality by continuing to reimagine the old school paper gamebook for a digital world. And with much success too. Not content to rest on its laurels, Tin Man Games took to Kickstarter in 2015 with its latest project: a re-imagining of the Fighting Fantasy adventure The Warlock of Firetop Mountain as a digital tabletop RPG with miniatures and multiple character paths.

This project is quite a departure for Tin Man Games from its usual approach to digital gamebooks, but a natural evolution at the same time. By creating a living, breathing dyanmic RPG advenutre, Tin Man Games is bringing this classic gamebook (from Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone) closer to its original tabletop role-game roots. The dev is promising a rich interactive 3D map, collectible digital miniatures, an updated combat system and the ability to explore Firetop Mountain with multiple characters.

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain will release in late 2016 for PC, Mac and Linux.


2. Burly Men At Sea (Brain&Brain)

For frequent visitors of Grab It, it should come as no surprise that Burly Men At Sea has made our list. We’ve been covering news of Burly Men for around two years and we’re still just as excited about this promising indie title now as we were back then.

Burly Men At Sea is best described as a folktale adventure, with heavy influence from Scandinavian folklore and a dash of inspiration from short stories by Edgar Allen Poe and O. Henry. Setting out as a trio of large bearded gentlemen, the game is told through the style of folktale with a wider approach and moral to the story. Interestingly, players move forward through a sense of discovery rather than traditional dialogue choices or narration. If that isn’t enough to set Burly Men apart in your mind, then check out the gorgeous art style (above) which is inspired by modern Scandanavian design and illustration, with colours drawn from fishing villages in the Lofoten Islands in Norway. 

Burly Men at Sea will released on 29 September 2016 for PC, Mac, iOS and Android.

For more information on Burly Men At Sea, check out some of our previous coverage
     - Interview: Doggins Creator Brain&Brain Talks Burly Men At Sea
     - Indie Darling Burly Men At Sea Sets Sail in September; Receives New Trailer


1. Thimbleweed Park (Terrible Toybox)

Can anyone truly deny the genius of Ron Gilbert, creator of classic adventure games like Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island? No, well good because frankly we can’t get enough of his work. Gilbert and Garry Winnick at Terrible Toybox have teamed up to create a point-and-click adventure called Thimbleweed Park that resembles old-school games from the 90s, both visually and in terms of gameplay.

Humour has always been at the forefront of Gilbert's work and nothing looks to have changed - simply see the screenshot above for the caption "Use balloon animal with corpse". Genuis, right? This sense of humour has always set Gilbert in a league of his own. From what we've seen so far on his latest outing, it seems he hasn't lost the magic touch.

Similar to his classic adventure Maniac Mansion, Thimbleweed Park has five different playable characters that the player can switch between at will. While only tidbits have been released about the plot, it's obvious that these five characters will come together in a meaningful way. But what would a Gilbert game be without eccentric characters including a cursed clown and a recently deceased gentleman.

We don't have to wait long either, with Thimbleweed Park due out in January 2017 for PC, Linux, Xbox One, and iOS and Android devices.


What did you think of our list? Are there any other promising adventure games that you would add to it? Sound off in the comments below!

Stephen Mitchell

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