11 FREE “ADVENTURE” ONLINE GAMES FOR PC
A Grain of Truth
A Grain of Truth is a browser-based HTML5 point and click adventure that stands out because of the fantastically weird world that developers the Rudowski brothers have built. You play as Myosotis, a story trader travelling the Endless Plains to hear the tales of the enigmatic Wiseman.
The plains are a lonely and atmospheric setting, in which you’ll encounter a handful of characters and strange locations. A pirate ship mounted to the back of a giant beast catches clouds to make bedding, boulders hover in the sky, and a huge cracked rock holds the promise of intriguing discoveries.
Samorost and its sequel are adventure games as Moomin creator Tove Jansson might have made them. Its patchwork art is made out of photographs of logs, plants, old cans; its white, handanimated main character speaks in whoops and illustrations; and it all takes place on asteroids in space. With no inventory, it’s your job to solve puzzles by poking and prodding this world to reveal charming animations. Its creator went on to make the paid-for point-and-click Machinarium, but I prefer this.
This Phillip K Dick-inspired tale consists of a short conversation with a robot—it’s literally a single scene, told from the perspective of some sort of futuristic, Almost Human-style cop. You’re questioning a suspect about a murder, a process that involves little more than selecting options from a menu. Differences from a typical text-based game are slight, but effective: you can look around the room a bit, while selecting responses means literally craning your neck around to the floating conversation window. The game itself is another sort of window, one into a fleshed-out, thoughtful science-fiction world.
The Domovoi takes the form of a storyteller interacting with his audience. A friend is giving you the first performance of his latest work—a “new tale, with real heroes” – and asks for help in working out the details. As his folk story unfolds he’ll occasionally stop, bringing you out of the fiction to ask what should happen next.
The story is about a domovoi: a hairy house-dwelling creature of Slavic folklore. He’s been charged with protecting his master’s house, while said master is away fighting to protect the village. It’s as he deals with various intrusions that you’re asked to interject with the creature’s responses and actions. Your responses won’t wildly change the narrative, because The Domovoi explores the relationship between audience and performer. And in this tale, that performer has a specific agenda.
It says a lot about a game when you feel compelled to hit the screenshot key every time you enter a new room. It says: ‘this game looks freaking incredible’, but also ‘I’m pretty sure what colour palette my nightmares will be presented in tonight’. So yes—Humanoid 47 is another one of those static, puzzle-heavy adventure games, but it’s one of the more striking I’ve encountered: a garish world of mechanical parts, startled heads, and whatever the hell that thing just was.
I’ve played a few of these ‘guess the bad guy’ games over the last year or so, and Noir might be my favourite because, well, because of all the noir. It’s essentially any bit from Blade Runner where Deckard has to identify a replicant, spun out and squished down into a small-scale, vaguely cyberpunk game. Citizens will clue you in on the location and identity of the skinjobs you’re tasked with tracking down, and you’d better pay attention as a single civilian casualty will mean an instant game over. Unlike the other entries in this innovative new sub-genre there doesn’t appear to be any random generation at play, but even though you might only go through it once, Noir offers a good few minutes of atmospheric, investigative adventuring.
Olav & The Lute
An enigmatic adventure game set in a post-apocalyptic world, with a cracking central mechanic. Rather than combining objects with other objects, you’re affecting the world with a (presumably) magic lute, by plucking at its colour-coded strings. It’s a bit like Ocarina of Time, and a lot like LOOM; to open a door, for example, you’ll pluck a certain combination using the game’s moderately fiddly interface. Olav & Lute is a short, stark, striking adventure—it’s also one you can download and play offline.
And now for something completely different, and totally ace. Westerado is a beautiful action/adventure/gratuitous western game, and stop me before I wax lyrical about the era-appropriate instrumental soundtrack. After banditos kill your family, you have to track down the responsible parties – or, instead, you could just shoot everyone in the face, foes and family alike. Westerado gets bonus points for making you unholster and cock your gun before you fire (and a million bonus points for letting you shoot the hats off bad guys). Little things, but they add a lot to the surprisingly fluid, sudden, tense combat. Between shootouts you’ll solve problems, ride your horse, and stand in the breeze admiring the astonishing soundtrack. Westerado—play it now .
Not every game has to contain spikes and grisly death, and I may have found the polar opposite of Maddening Relapse in Fishy Waters, a delightful adventure that has you plundering a lake of its piscine inhabitants in order to honour the memory of your departed father. (He was gobbled up by a whale in the opening cutscene.) You’ll roam the waters on a small fishing boat, collecting and selling fish in order to upgrade your equipment or to access new parts of the lake. It’s not quite a game you’ll give yourself over to, but Fishy Waters should make for a calming comedown after you’ve skewered yourself on a spike pit or fallen down a hole for the umpteenth time.
Gods Will Be Watching
Of all the survival titles doing the rounds these days, Gods Will Be Watching seems like the least selfish of the lot. By which I mean it’s not a game about keeping one person alive but rather a whole group—which is a lot harder, and more strategic, than one guy scrabbling around in the dirt. In this beautiful one-screen adventure game, you have to survive for 40 days on an alien planet. Luckily you have a doctor, a soldier, a psychiatrist, an engineer, a robot and a dog with you—imagine if you’d been stranded with the intergalactic equivalent of Made in Chelsea. Survival is ruthless—at any moment you can choose to kill anyone at the camp. Well, there is rather a lot of meat on a human being. Er, so I’m told.