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Old-school adventure games that deserve the Monkey Island treatment

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Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers

We're skipping over Sierra's other famous "Quest" franchises – Police Quest and Quest for Glory – in favor of this dark, gothic masterpiece. Longtime readers of the site need no absolutely no explanation for this choice, but for those who have never heard of Gabriel Knight, here's some stuff we wrote (i.e. Charlie gushed) in a previous feature:

"Sins of the Fathers features murder, suicide, torture and mutilation, but the horror is not played for shock value alone - it is the gateway to a deeply significant, fiercely intelligent mystery that spans continents, merges fact and fiction, blends dreams and reality and confronts both love and death."
The Best Videogame Stories Ever

Beneath a Steel Sky

LucasArts and Sierra weren't the only creators of quality point-and-click adventures back in the day. Revolution Software was also a master of the genre, with titles like Broken Sword, a international romantic thriller, and Beneath a Steel Sky, a dystopian cyberpunk satire done in comic book style. The former was animated like a Disney movie, so still looks great, but the latter could use an HD makeover, especially with its imaginative futuristic settings and characters. Both, however, should be easy enough… they've already been adapted to the iPhone quite well. Go play them now.

The Institute

This morbid little dreamscape was released on primitive gaming devices like the Commodore 64 and TRS-80, so if you actually remember it, we feel it’s our duty as your friends to make sure you know that the Target generic brand is just as good as the regular Metamucil. 

Still, the game’s premise is as timely and compelling now as it was back in 1983: You are a mental patient trapped in an insane asylum and your only escape is to hide in a closet and repeatedly overdose on stolen drugs until you pass out.

Granted, this approach might not work for everyone, but for you, it does. Every time you fall asleep, you’ll have one of four dreams / hallucinations, which you will explore until you “die”, causing you to wake up. The hook is that objects you find in one dream can be carried over into other dreams (possibly even real life), and enable you to gradually explore more and more of the game worlds and eventually escape the asylum. Hopefully it was all a big misunderstanding and you weren’t actually so insane you needed to be locked away for the safety of the rest of the world.

The Mask of the Sun

Let’s see… you’re a strangely adventurous archaeologist searching ancient jungle ruins for a mystical artifact, and the bad guys are hot on your trail. There were two big twists in Mask of the Sun, but the biggest shock was that your character Mac Steele didn’t carry a whip and wasn’t named something like Kentucky Smith.

Still, you can’t deny that Mask of the Sun rocked. The setting and atmosphere were just as thrilling then as they are in modern games like Uncharted or Tomb Raider. For its time, it looked great – things actually moved sometimes. It had a deeper vocabulary than many other graphical adventures (though it still didn’t compare to Infocom’s masterpieces like Zork and Planetfall, which aren’t on this list because pictures couldn’t make them any more perfect than they already are) and it created a real sense of tension and suspense in the player, which many games simply couldn’t do.

Also, Mask of the Sun taught us that bat crap is called “guano”. And that is knowledge worth knowing.

Mar 12, 2010

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31 comments

  • Thrust - June 17, 2011 6:58 p.m.

    I thought about making 3d rendered version of Sierra's game Laura Bow: Colonel's Bequest. I had three dimensional blueprints of the mansion and stuff like windows and stairs, etc.
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  • philipshaw - March 15, 2010 3:05 p.m.

    When I read the headline I knew it would be a Chuck Bearhart article that mentioned Gabriel Knight
  • Romination - March 15, 2010 6:01 a.m.

    i was actually hoping to see I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.
  • MattK - March 15, 2010 3:26 a.m.

    HD remakes or simple slap on a network and download, I would so snap up just about all of the adventure games listed here and even a few unmentioned (Leisure Suit Larry, Day of the Tentacle). Classics such as these deserve recognition, and kudos to those keeping it alive.
  • thephntm - March 15, 2010 1:46 a.m.

    At the top, you said, "8 classics that could, with a little help, resurrect the genre," but then you said, "Here are 10 other old-school adventure games that deserve to be seen and solved by new generations." Just something I noticed.
  • bonerachieved - March 14, 2010 9:21 p.m.

    YEAAAAA Beneath a Steel Sky!!!!
  • DagDabreemie - March 14, 2010 5:12 p.m.

    Hmmmmm. No shout out to the Fables 'n Fiends Legends of Kyrandia trilogy by Westwood Studios, huh? Blade Runner, much?
  • miasma - March 14, 2010 6:36 a.m.

    Sam and Max, and Full Throttle were good also. I miss these kind of adventure games.
  • slapdatass - March 14, 2010 12:27 a.m.

    Well, if you have a Windows Mobile phone, the good news is that SCUMM has been ported over to it so you can play Day of the Tentacle etc on the train or wherever. Awesome.
  • aion7 - March 13, 2010 11:27 p.m.

    I think LOOM could have a graphical update (and perhaps an ending as well).
  • JohnnyMaverik - March 13, 2010 10:58 p.m.

    While I agree with the sentiment, the original Monkey Islands are better than the remakes, they just have more visual character. If you can't play the classic adventure games because they don't look pretty enough, you don't diserve to play the classic adventure games, end of story.
  • Grendel Prim3 - March 13, 2010 9:30 p.m.

    Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango, man, I'd be all over those.
  • mckillustrator - March 13, 2010 9:25 p.m.

    even if they didn't "remake" them i'd buy day of the tentacle and full throttle in a second if they were re released on xbox live. I loved those games
  • Cyberninja - March 13, 2010 9:05 p.m.

    as soon as i saw the name i knew gabriel Knight would be on here
  • Tomsta666 - March 13, 2010 7:07 p.m.

    This is a genre i've never really played. I'm old enough that I was there when all this was happening, but being a console gamer all my life I never got into PC games. Saying that though I had an absolute blast with Monkey Island SE last year. I will definately be downloading the second one too. I might have to track these games down. Thanks for the heads up. " Also, Mask of the Sun taught us that bat crap is called “guano”. And that is knowledge worth knowing. " Ace Ventura Pet Detective taught me that :)
  • Ravenbom - March 13, 2010 5:59 p.m.

    No Quest for Glory love? Why Bearhat, why? Especially with the Episodic treatment that point and clicks seem to favor these days (Strong Bad, Sam and Max, Monkey Island and Wallace and Gromit) Quest for Glory fits that mold really really well. Plus they could fix the shitty fighting system from Quest for Glory IV. (Or fix it for all the games...) Plus, they had mild RPG elements which could be enhanced and would help keep the point and click Renaissance from getting stale.
  • onewingedantista - March 13, 2010 4:46 p.m.

    Wow, Gabriel F**king Knight, how surprising.
  • Yaro - March 13, 2010 4 p.m.

    I'd love to see I have No mouth and I must scream and sanitarium, although sanitarium was pretty good by itself, there is always a room for improvement right?
  • zigs - March 13, 2010 1:25 p.m.

    Indy and the Fate of Atlantis is one of my favourite games of all time, would definitely 100% love playing an updated version of that! Hell, rerelease it exactly as it was on XBLA and I'd still buy it. Twice. such an amaaazing game

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