Story-Based Puzzle Adventure Games

zork1I grew up on those text adventure games, unable to get enough of them. My favourite was the Zork series.

“West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.”

Those opening lines bring back so many memories of being hunched over my brother’s Microbee, trying to navigate my way through the Zork world. When I read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, it brought back even more glorious memories. I highly recommend reading that book. It was a fun time for the young at heart.

Technology advanced and I watched text adventures evolve to amazing graphic adventures. At first the graphic adventures were nothing but glorified text adventures. You got a slightly dodgy picture, yet all the controls and information were still set in a text format, or if they weren’t, then the games lacked atmosphere. Developers tried hard to make them more, but the technology wasn’t yet up to it. I don’t think I ever finished Return to Zork, nor any of the Sierra games. The pixelated art just didn’t do for me what my imagination could via text adventures.

MystThen Myst arrived. Oh… my… gosh! This was what an adventure game should be. Beautiful and atmospheric, with a captivating story and intriguing puzzles that made sense to both the world I was exploring and the story. It was totally immersive and stole many hours. I played Myst and Riven through to the end. Same with Myst III: Exile and Zork Nemesis. There were, of course, a bunch of others, but I didn’t make it to the end on those, or if I did then they didn’t capture me like the early ones.

It was inevitable these games would evolve again. We got online attempts to make the games multiplayer, for example, Uru: Live. I took part in their short beta test, but the game didn’t offer enough so it was cancelled before the official release. Some of the hardcore fans kept it going for a while but that eventually closed too.

Then game development became more accessible to the regular Joe. A plethora of puzzle adventure games came out. Many became formula, mass produced. And the ones that weren’t had become a whole different kind of game, for example, Tomb Raider, Mass Effect etc. These could be considered adventure games.

So I’m going back to the roots of what I love about story-based puzzle adventures. As a side project, I’m making my own. A game with humour and heart. And hopefully the puzzles will make sense.


Lynda Young