Designing Modern Adventure Games – Ace Attorney, Danganronpa, and More ~ Design Doc

Designing Modern Adventure Games – Ace Attorney, Danganronpa, and More ~ Design Doc

The turn of the new millennium was a rough
time for adventure games. Sales were collapsing, and so were the developers. Sierra’s adventure games division had gone
through rounds of layoffs in 1999, and would never recover. LucasArts released Escape from Monkey Island
in 2000, but it wouldn’t take, and their other planned point-and-click adventure sequels
were cancelled outright. The fall of the two major pillars of the American
adventure game ecosystem had marked the end of an era, but not the end of the story. Another chapter was brewing, overseas… But before we take a trip, a quick word from
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something new! In Europe, the public hadn’t soured on traditional
point-and-click adventure games as much as the American market had. Norwegian developer Funcom made The Longest
Journey with a small development team lead by Ragnar Tørnquist, released it locally
in 1999 and globally the following year. It was similar to the later LucasArts games,
with a contemporary point-and-click interface design, but with a more atmospheric feel. Full voice acting, 3D character models, pre-rendered
backgrounds, but they didn’t break the bank making it, like their American competition. It was received as an instant classic and
sold half a million copies, which was enough to greenlight its sequel. “Dreamfall: The Longest Journey”, released
in 2006. France had a couple of stand out adventure
game developers, too. Syberia, from Microids, was another atmospheric,
traditional point-and-click adventure game set in a mysterious town. Quantic Dream, led by David Cage, put out
Omikron: The Nomad’s Soul in 1999 – an especially bold take on the genre. In addition to exploration and inventory-based
puzzle-solving, the player could possess over 40 different NPCs and reincarnate as any of
them if they die in one of the game’s… AWFUL… combat sequences. Very ambitious, but very messy. And David Bowie composed the music! Omikron was not great, but it did well enough. And it would be a sign of things to come. We’ll check back in on Quantic Dream in
a bit. Japan, too, had a thriving adventure game
market at the turn of the century, and the path that Japanese-style adventure game developers
had taken looked a little different. Wind the clock back. Japan’s unique adventure game style is rooted
in a game from another time: 1983’s ‘The Portopia Serial Murder Case’. Yuji Horii, father of Dragon Quest, created
a more streamlined adventure game about investigating crime scenes. It feels more like a branch off of Sierra’s
first game, Mystery House, sharing a first-person perspective, the mystery focus, and yes, that
text parser. The Famicom port of Portopia would streamline
this into a simplified menu interface. Good work, uh… huh. Chunsoft. Hmm… we’ll catch up with you in a minute,
too. Over the next decade, just as lots of American
adventure game developers were iterating on King’s Quest, other Japanese developers
were iterating on Portopia like Square with Suisho no Dragon. Many games stuck to the mystery and crime-solving
genre, like Hideo Kojima’s ‘Snatcher’ in 1988, and ‘Policenauts’ in 1994. You do see some cross-pollination of the Western
point-and-click style into Japan, like in 1995’s Clock Tower for the Super Famicom,
but the Japanese style still felt distinct. Instead of the American style visual puzzles,
Japanese style adventure games started to emphasize long stretches of dialogue and more
in-depth characterization. It tended to be a much more linear design,
and interactivity generally took a backseat. In Japan, the genre was starting to split
into two distinctive flavors – adventure games with more interactivity and puzzles,
labeled ADVs, and the adventure games with almost no interaction, called NVLs. Both styles were lumped together under another
new name: ‘Visual Novels’. And while the American market was collapsing
in the late 90’s under the strain of scope creep, exploding budgets, and mechanics that
were quickly becoming old-fashioned, the Japanese style’s focus on characterization was aging
much better. In the year 2000, Capcom gave Shu Takumi free
rein to take half a year to make any kind of game he wanted. Takumi had a passion for mystery novels, so
he took the opportunity to make his dream mystery game. He centered the game around a lawyer, which
immediately got pushback from his bosses, who feared the concept would be tough to sell. But since he had a mandate to make whatever
game he wanted, he pressed on. With a team of 7 relatively inexperienced
developers, including himself, they finished the first Ace Attorney game for the Gameboy
Advance in 2001. The game is split into two phases: investigation
and trial. It’s largely an ADV-style visual novel with
some light interaction during the investigation phase. You go around static environments in a first-person
perspective, talking to characters and investigating crime scenes to uncover evidence to reveal
the true nature of the crime. The interactive elements do suffer from the
typical adventure game problems of pixel hunting and bits of moon logic, especially in the
earlier games in the series, but the plot’s linear design and streamlined structure helps
mitigate the problem a little. The trial segments are where the game shines. During trials, you have to not only prove
your client’s innocence but also reveal the true culprit who 95% of the time ends
up being one of the witnesses because apparently you’re the luckiest lawyer in the world. You perform cross-examinations of witnesses
and uncover contradictions using the evidence you either found in the investigation segment
or obtained during the trial. It’s a much more integrated puzzle design
than the usual point-and-click adventure game puzzles. Using inventory items to contradict testimony
feels way more intertwined into the story than, say, Gabriel Knight’s cat hair mustache
disguise. Or the part in King’s Quest V where you
murder a yeti with a pie in the face, even if the basic mechanics of the puzzles aren’t
all that different from each other. The first Phoenix Wright game wasn’t a rousing
success, but it did well enough for Capcom to task Takumi to write two more sequels and
make the series a trilogy. The sequels would be brought over on the Nintendo
DS starting in 2005. The tension building courtroom segments and
cross examinations made the game stand out in the genre, and Phoenix Wright became one
of the first visual novel adventure games to really catch on in the West. While still niche, the series sold over 7
million copies worldwide with 6 mainline entries, 5 spinoffs, an anime adaptation, a live action
movie, and even a few crossover cameos. And it wouldn’t be the last visual novel
to find an audience outside of Japan. Level-5 would also create a very successful
visual novel. Professor Layton and the Curious Village was
released in 2007 for the Nintendo DS and was another ADV style game where you investigated
a large scale mystery with an emphasis on isolated puzzles between story segments. The game had a charming cast, and a wonderfully
quirky art style, and caught on in the West as well. They made a buuuunch of them, too. They even made a spinoff game in the Ace Attorney
series! Chunsoft, the little company that developed
the Famicom port of Portopia, was chugging along as well. They found success with the first five Dragon
Quest games, they created the Mystery Dungeon series, but also here and there they developed
and published more visual novels. Most of them were geared for the Japanese
marketplace, but in 2009 Chunsoft made ‘9 Hours, 9 Persons, and 9 Doors’ (everyone
just calls it 999). 999 stars Junpei, a young man trapped with
8 other people on a cruise ship, fighting against an enigmatic mastermind named Zero. The game is filled with elaborate puzzle sequences
placed in between lengthy story segments. It’s part of the ‘escape the room’ adventure
game subgenre, with a heavier emphasis on puzzle-solving and investigating isolated
rooms for items and clues to help you escape. 999’s story featured a branching path structure
that lead you to multiple endings, including some dead ends. It was designed for you to go back in time
and explore these narrative branches to get a more complete picture of the story. The game was a commercial failure in Japan,
but in the US it was a shocking hit. The game sold well enough for Chunsoft to
make two more, making 999 the first part of the Zero Escape trilogy. Besides Chunsoft, Level 5 and Capcom, there
was another new studio finding success in the west: Spike. Spike was largely made up of developers laid
off in the year 2000 from Human Entertainment, the makers of Clock Tower. A year after 999, Spike released their twisted
and stylish take on the visual novel: Danganronpa. In it, you play as Makoto, a high school student
trapped along with a group of other very talented students in your new school for the gifted. The cast is pitted against each other in a
vicious battle royale set up by Monokuma, an evil robotic bear. To escape the school, one of the classmates
must get away with murder, and not get caught by the others. The majority of the game isn’t too far off
from Ace Attorney. You investigate a series of crime scenes to
find clues and use logic to find holes in heated group debates as you work to determine
who the killers are, all while the cast slowly whittles down. Trials are a little different from Ace Attorney,
with a light rail shooter twist where you literally shoot through the arguments of your
fellow classmates. There are also dating sim elements in between
the investigations and trials where you can learn more about the cast. Just don’t get too attached, ‘cause they
drop like flies. Both Spike and Chunsoft were bought by Dwango,
and the two companies merged to form… Spike Chunsoft. The combined company went on to release a
bunch of sequels for both Zero Escape and Danganronpa. Around the same time that Ace Attorney was making waves in the States, Europe was experimenting
with the genre, too. Back in France, Quantic Dream’s next major
game was 2005’s Fahrenheit, or Indigo Prophecy in the US. It was an adventure game with a much more
cinematic angle, closer to an interactive film with a ‘choose your own adventure’
structure built-in. It featured multiple branching narrative paths
and an abundance of quick-time events, elaborate setpieces, and motion-captured animation. It paved the way not only for Quantic Dream’s
future titles like Heavy Rain and Detroit, but other cinematic games. So in the mid-2000s, Europe had a stable adventure
game pipeline and some studios were experimenting with a more cinematic angle. Japanese publishers had found success with
visual novels, focusing on deeper characterization and more integrated puzzle design. Time to check back in on the US. The American adventure game scene was trying
to restart itself. Right after the fall of Sierra and LucasArts,
there were still other small American studios creating point-and-click style adventure games. Her Interactive had been putting out a couple
of Nancy Drew games each year. Each was much smaller in scale than the late
Sierra and LucasArts games, but they were for a fanbase that wasn’t often catered
to in the US. The lower costs of production and dedication
of its fans meant the company wasn’t going to go bankrupt with a niche style of game. Elsewhere, after LucasArts cancelled a planned
Sam and Max sequel and stopped developing adventure games, three former employees ventured
out to keep the genre alive. In 2004, Kevin Bruner, Troy Molander and Dan
Connors started Telltale, an indie studio dedicated to making classic style, shorter
adventure games. They chose smaller licensed properties to
focus on, and created adventure games for Bone, Wallace and Gromit, and my personal
favorite: Strong Bad’s Cool Game 4 Attractive People. They even picked up the rights to make another
‘Sam and Max’ game themselves. They were building their games on an in-house
engine, and it let them crank out small-scale releases fairly rapidly. They were one of the pioneers to the episodic
game release schedule, which made it less financially risky to develop a big game on
a long timeline. Early Telltale games were firmly in the old
point-and-click style, with maybe a smidge more puzzle-focus in games like Puzzle Agent,
but nothing revolutionary. None of the early Telltale games were huge
hits, but their writing, the dedication of the fanbases of their licensed properties
and, really, the lack of other options for point-and-click adventure fans at the time
led them to rack up lots of modest successes. In the late 2000s, Telltale started signing
bigger licenses left and right, like Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. They were also beginning to play around with
the traditional point-and-click adventure formula. Jurassic Park was poorly received, but it
did hint towards how their design was changing. It was starting to mix in things that the
international developers were doing, implementing branching narratives and quicktime events
to add some tension to their dialogue trees, and focusing on characterization more than
puzzle solving. But the design would click into place in their
next big licensed game: The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead focused on quick, narrative-driven
decision making, with lots of branching dialogue paths that affected story events immediately
and through later episodes. Whatever you did, characters would remember
that. Branching dialogue trees and deeper characterization
had been successful in Japanese-style adventure games and visual novels, and in Quantic Dream’s
later games like Heavy Rain. It made the games feel much more cinematic,
but still interactive, and by tying it to a pop culture juggernaut like The Walking
Dead circa 2012, it was explosive for sales. The Walking Dead took home lots of Game of
the Year awards, sold millions of copies, and led to a major expansion of Telltale’s
ambitions. The American adventure game landscape had
regained some momentum, and there were a lot of veteran developers that were taking notice. After the crash of the adventure game market
in the 90s, publishers were very reluctant to give a second thought to a pitch for a
new adventure game. In 2005, Ron Gilbert wrote “From first-hand
experience, I can tell you that if you even utter the words “adventure game” in a meeting
with a publisher you can just pack up your spiffy concept art and leave. You’d get a better reaction by announcing
that you have the plague.“ The audience was too small, the budgets needed
were too large. But by early 2012, it had been more than a
decade since the collapse. Was that all still true? This was a couple months before The Walking
Dead would be released, so it was still an open question. Maybe there would be an audience again, but
how could you get a new adventure game off the ground? Hmm, maybe there was a way to… kickstart…
development. In 2012, Kickstarter was a niche, but promising
platform for directly funding projects. Tim Schafer thought to use Kickstarter to
get around the publisher reluctance to fund the classic style adventure game. He made a compelling pitch. For just $400k, Tim Schafer and the developers
at Double Fine, a company created by people caught in a wave of LucasArts layoffs, would
make another classic point-and-click adventure game and create a documentary of the entire
development process. For Tim Schafer, it was a really low-risk
way to fund development – get the money and prove interest up front. For the gamers funding the project, it seemed
low-risk, too. Double Fine had the track record, it felt
a lot like pre-ordering the game, and it seemed like the best way to get another point-and-click
adventure made. The Kickstarter was a MASSIVE success. It met the funding goal in nine hours, and
wound up raising $3.3 million. With that increase in funds came an opportunity
for Tim Schafer to broaden the scope of the game, whose development time increased substantially. The game, now named Broken Age, had originally
been estimated at less than a year of development. After the Kickstarter ended, it expanded to
one that would take 3 years to complete. Their documentary, which is fantastic by the
way, explained in great detail how that scope creep happened. However, the scope had increased to something
that would cost more than what the Kickstarter campaign brought in. To help finish the game, it was then split
into two acts, with the first releasing in early 2014, and the sales for the first act
funding the development of the second. The entire game was finished and released
by mid-2015 to decent, but not spectacular reviews. They had successfully made an old-style point-and-click adventure, but Broken Age was striking in how much its design, development and release
mirrored the 90’s adventure games it was emulating. Much of the design problems that plagued the
last wave of American adventure games were still there in Broken Age. Nonsense, obtuse, trial-and-error puzzles. Repetitive VO. Dull, very slow gameplay. The split into two acts dragged out the experience
for the original backers, and there was a lot of repetition from the first act. But the writing was solid if nothing spectacular. The game was totally serviceable but other
than the novel way it was funded, it just wasn’t groundbreaking anymore. The success of the Double Fine Kickstarter
led the creators of Gabriel Knight, Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest, Broken Sword, and
Tex Murphy to each make their own successful Kickstarter pitches. Some wanted to reboot their franchises directly,
and some chose to make spiritual successors, like Ron Gilbert’s Thimbleweed Park. The games that made it to release were all
perfectly fine as games, but that wave did not lead to a sustained revival of the style. It just confirmed that the design issues of
the 90’s games were still issues, and even though the games could do alright as comfy
nostalgic throwbacks, that design wasn’t a recipe for a new breakout hit. Though, Telltale wasn’t faring much better. After The Walking Dead, the studio released
The Wolf Among Us, which also came out to very solid reviews. The studio expanded dramatically, quadrupling
their employee count over the next few years. They acquired even more major licenses, like
Game of Thrones, Borderlands, Minecraft, Batman, and Guardians of the Galaxy. But quickly, developmental and creative problems
appeared. The company had signed up to make a ton of
games, and was struggling to develop them on tight deadlines. The Telltale Tool, their in-house engine,
was not helping either. They used it to make almost every one of their
games since the very beginning and by the mid-2010s it was positively ancient. Game after game, episode after episode, the
same bugs were popping up again and again. Their games could look really rough at times. It couldn’t do dynamic lighting. It didn’t have a physics engine yet. Any scene with physics had to be animated
manually. Telltale simply did not have enough time or
resources to spare to modernize the engine. But the biggest problem was with Telltale’s
hallmark – the branching dialogue trees. The system was lauded at first because it
felt like the branching paths impacted the story. But as all of their series continued on, it
became more clear that the choices didn’t matter as much as they advertised. Lots of dialogue options would resolve with
minute differences and quickly rejoin the same point. At best your choices would change the tone
of the narrative, but too often the way the paths were handled felt like they were hand-waved
away, or written out of the story. Making dialogue trees matter is inherently
a very tough problem, but by the end, it was becoming clear that the major selling point
of the Telltale style of games was mostly smoke and mirrors. Developers were under extreme pressure to
crank out game after game, with perpetual crunch killing studio morale. But the games were coming out buggy, underwhelming,
and similar to a fault to Telltale’s previous work. Sales suffered. Nothing was living up to the first Walking
Dead game, and the company was hurting financially. They signed a deal to adapt their Minecraft
game for Netflix, and make a Stranger Things one too, and chose to build it on Unity instead
of the Telltale Tool. But by this point it was too late. The Minecraft game came out, but the stream
of mediocre to bad sales had taken their toll. After having announced a second season of
Game of Thrones and The Wolf Among Us, and before Stranger Things could be released,
Telltale suddenly laid off 90% of their employees and soon after filed for bankruptcy. Telltale’s story is strikingly similar to
the fall of Sierra and LucasArts two decades earlier. They caught fire with a new spin on an old
genre, found massive success, started making bigger and more expensive games, became trapped
by their toolset, saw their sales decline dramatically after a few too many underwhelming
and same-y releases, and closed up shop. But this time, the adventure game market isn’t
collapsing alongside Telltale. This time, there’s a much healthier indie
scene pumping out new and interesting spins on the adventure game. Games like Gone Home, Firewatch, Oxenfree,
The Stanley Parable, Dear Esther, Tacoma, Edith Finch, basically the entire Walking
Sim genre are takes on the adventure game as a vehicle for story-driven exploration,
just without the contrived gameplay that bogged down the point-and-click style adventures. Steins Gate, Hatoful Boyfriend, all of these
ones, and Doki Doki Literature Club tilt the balance even further to the narrative side,
which is all of what some wanted from their adventure games. Botanicula, Deponia, Gemini Rue, and Resonance
put modern design sensibilities onto the old-style point-and-click formula. And other games like Detective Grimroir, Ghost
Trick, The Witness, Her Story, and The Room are all takes on the adventure game as a vehicle
for comprehensive puzzles, with a little more narrative to keep it all more coherent than
the basic puzzle game. The genre has split and splintered, but it’s
as popular as it has ever been, and much more stable, without the chance of disappearing
by the failure of a few companies. Adventure games may not be exactly what they
used to be, but that’s a change for the better. Adventure games are alive and well. *chill vibes outro from Professor Layton and
the Unwound Future*

Comments (100)

  1. OST at the end of the video?

  2. The only I can think about is the Layton music, every time some uses it it makes so happy fjcjekg

  3. I feel like you specifically chose Ace and Monokuma in the thumbnail based on the SiivaGunner Tournament going on.

  4. I'm a simple man, I see Monokuma and I click

  5. Whats the outro music?

  6. The Danganronpa anime was absolute gutter trash, some of the worst characters and story I've ever seen. I trust the visual novel is completely different?

  7. Jeez no mention of Myst or Riven ?

  8. If your favorite adventure game was from before the year 2000, it might be in the first half of this series, Classic Adventure Games:
    Games: (by order of appearance)
    0:09 – Grim Fandango
    0:16 – Gabriel Knight 3
    0:20 – King's Quest VII
    0:25 – Escape from Monkey Island
    0:30 – Sam & Max Freelance Police (Cancelled)
    0:41 – Syberia
    1:45 – The Longest Journey
    2:24 – Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
    2:39 – Omikron: The Nomad's Soul
    3:13 – Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
    3:18 – Professor Layton & The Curious Village
    3:30 – The Portopia Serial Murder Case
    3:42 – Mystery House
    4:00 – Suisho no Dragon
    4:12 – Snatcher
    4:18 – Policenauts
    4:21 – Clock Tower
    4:53 – Kamaitachi no Yoru
    5:15 – Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (start of segment)
    6:57 – King's Quest V
    7:09 – Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations
    7:30 – Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
    7:34 – Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice
    7:48 – Professor Layton & The Curious Village (start of segment)
    8:09 – Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
    8:22 – Dragon Quest
    8:25 – Shiren The Wanderer
    8:31 – 428 Shibuya Scramble
    8:34 – Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors
    9:19 – Virtue's Last Reward
    9:31 – Danganronpa
    10:50 – Indigo Prophecy
    11:18 – Heavy Rain
    11:39 – Myst V
    11:48 – Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek
    11:56 – Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor
    12:21 – Wallace & Gromit (Telltale)
    12:26 – Bone (Telltale)
    12:38 – Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People
    12:40 – Sam & Max Save the World
    13:01 – Puzzle Agent
    13:07 – Tales of Monkey Island
    13:20 – Back to the Future (Telltale)
    13:26 – Jurrasic Park (Telltale)
    13:54 – The Walking Dead (Telltale)
    15:04 – Full Throttle
    15:18 – Monkey Island 2
    15:26 – Kentucky Route Zero
    16:20 – Broken Age
    17:46 – Moebius
    17:50 – Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded
    17:51 – Spaceventure
    17:52 – Broken Sword 5
    17:54 – Tesla Effect
    18:00 – Thimbleweed Park
    18:28 – The Wolf Among Us
    18:38 – Game of Thrones (Telltale)
    18:41 – Tales From the Borderlands
    18:42 – Minecraft Story Mode
    18:43 – Batman (Telltale)
    18:44 – Guardians of the Galaxy (Telltale)
    18:49 – The Walking Dead Season 2 (Telltale)
    19:56 – The Walking Dead Season 3 (Telltale)
    20:28 – Stranger Things (Telltale) (Cancelled)
    21:15 – Machinarium
    21:20 – Chuchel
    21:23 – Life is Strange
    21:25 – Gone Home
    21:26 – Firewatch
    21:27 – Oxenfree
    21:28 – The Stanley Parable
    21:30 – Dear Esther
    21:31 – Tacoma
    21:32 – Edith Finch
    21:43 – Steins Gate
    21:44 – Hatoful Boyfriend
    21:45 – Oh…wouldn't you like to know?
    21:47 – Doki Doki Literature Club
    21:55 – Botanicula
    21:56 – Deponia
    21:57 – Gemini Rue
    21:58 – Resonance
    22:04 – Detective Grimoire
    22:06 – Ghost Trick
    22:07 – The Witness
    22:08 – Her Story
    22:09 – The Room
    22:18 – Hotel Dusk
    22:28 – King's Quest: A Knight to Remember

  9. why visual novel market reduces always to Steins Gate (because is the VN with the most popular anime adaptation), Doki Doki (because was a phenomenon), fanservice VN (because…. well, fanservice) and……. Hatoful Boyfriend? (known for WHAT REASON?) really, people who don't know VN should just esplore this world, because there are eternal masterpieces like Umineko, The House in Fata Morgana and more… not only the same 4 examples.

  10. Interesting look at this genre. It isn’t for me, I find them boring ?

  11. Good summary of the modern adventure genre, but I think Daedalic deserved more time(at least as much as Broken Age got) and Artifex Mundi didn't even receive a mention when it's the pinnacle of a subgenre.

  12. Half way through the video and having said that this video consumed much time, I thought you wouldn't mention the indie scene. I totally agree that they are the ones keeping the genre alive nowadays. Just wanted to say that this is (for me) your best video, I think you said everything that had to be said and the video in general is very well paced, it didn't feel like 23 mins at all. Thanks for everything you do, this is one of my favourite YouTube channels for video game in depth analysis

  13. How did the staff of Telltale do the same goddamn mistakes, it's mind boggling how easily they fell into it again.

  14. "Omikron was not… great" understatement of the century

  15. Honestly broken age was a fucking mess in my opinion.

  16. I personally quite hated life if strange because it was incredibly painful to sit through, the writing was just, awful. It was like a David Cage game written for people I'm told to associate with

  17. My only (slight) complain about this video is that you did not touch the adult ADV/NVL subgenre, especially since it was absolutely huge and also contributed a lot influence to the SFW games and other genres as well (a lot of big JP developers started from making adult games, afterall), but yeah otherwise this is a very solid video. Thanks!

  18. 8:14 I instantly notice the track "Ternary Game" playing and I get nostalgic about 999
    Then, I think to myself: "Oh yeah! That was another great adventure game."
    Nice foreshadowing and amazing video overall!!! ^^

  19. I liked how you added examples from other countries. Really shows just how wide adventure games have spread.

  20. We need a ghost trick 2

  21. a.k.a. a list of pretty much every game I've ever wanted to play at some time in the past

  22. Nothing on Touch Detective? I guess it really is obscure…

  23. Is the problem that they're not extensively play-tested enough to know the extent of logic the players would come up with and in turn accommodate for? I imagine excessive deliberate red herrings was an issue as well. I remember when I played through the original Phoenix Wright Trilogy, I was trying to use logic the game very clearly didn't intend me to. For example, In Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations, the case "Recipe for Turnabout", there was a murder at an empty restaurant and the murderer bribed the owner to lie, which he took because his restaurant was failing and I think was in trouble with the mob. He said the victim had his earpiece in the wrong ear, which I called him out on, and then he tried to save face by saying he actually saw them in a mirror he had in his restaurant- which was no longer there because it was a decor experiment he decided didn't work after all. Ignoring the fact it's illegal to alter a crime scene, he was totally lying about the mirror ever being there because he couldn't have possibly afforded decor experimentation like that because his restaurant was failing and I had the debt records to prove it- but apparently submitting the debt records when he said he bought a mirror wasn't what I was supposed to do.

  24. you should look into the games by Heureka-Klett they are all Edu-tainment style games that each focus on one subject like physics or chemistry. Most are MYST like in gameplay with finding items and using them to solve puzzles.

  25. I’ve never heard anyone mention the Nancy Drew games before! Those were my childhood computer games!

  26. No mention of the excellent Unavowed ?!

  27. Return of the Obra Dinn is another fantastic game that takes its roots in the adventure genre! It might just be one of if not the best detective games ever made and it's really awesome to see the genre continue to innovate

  28. video starts with professor layton music? i like.

  29. I was in tears multiple times during strong bad. Its soooo good. Definitely one ofthe standouts on wii

  30. Thanks for the video! It is a very good history rundown of the genre.

    Though from my perspective it is weird that you mentioned European games without mentioning Germany at all (unless I somehow missed it, but saw about TLJ, France, and then it was about Japan) which pretty much single handedly kept the classic point and click adventure market alive for years, in Europe at least.

    Tim Schafer even once joked how adventure games exist in our dreams, our memories, and Germany 😀

    To be fair, not all of them saw English translation, a bunch received localization only for languages like Russian, French, Polish, Czech, countries that were still really interested in the genre, but a lot of English releases too. You mentioned Deponia at the end, which is from one of the main german adventure game developers.

    And while in US adventure games have collapsed, in Europe they never died, with a ton of classic point and click adventure games still releasing in the span between the years 2000 and 2012. Mostly thanks to Germany 🙂 so that country is an important part of adventure game history.

  31. May I offer a suggestion for an aspiring producer?

    Superman needs an adventure game like this.

  32. Glad to see Law & Disorder in the thumbnail.

  33. Love this video! It actually made me change how I think about some of my favorite games of recent years: Will A Wonderful World, Edith Finch, Tacoma , Heavy Rain, Until Dawn, ect. I never really thought of these games as adventure games (I was raised on a heavy dose of the Myst franchise and Grim Fandango) but yeah these games are really a modern extension of the original point and click adventure games.

  34. As a fan of adventure games myself, I'm baffled you didn't mention unavowed or obra dinn, they are the best ones I've played this decade

  35. The Freakin cat beard ruined my enjoyment of Gabriel Knight I was so upset that I got so stuck and never finished it. Grr

  36. You mentioned a buncha games I like and I was like, "Yeah! Dem's good games."
    Then you mentioned Telltale and now I'm all of the sad. Well, maybe not all of it. 56.73% of the sad? Yeah, let's go with that.

  37. Why didn't you mention amanita design's games, such as Machinarium or Samorost? They are super popular modern point&click adventure games

  38. You're just going to ignore that a majority of visual novels are and were porn games?

  39. It's a shame "first person" adventure games don't get as much credit these days, but i truly believe that unlike "point and click" games, they were the one to inspire people to create the "walking sim" genere and "horror" games that we know of today. Games such as Amnesia plays a lot like adventures, since most of the time you solve puzzles and look for an items, with occasional stealth and chase sequences. And i'll be honest – i don't get the spooked by them. I truly love the adventure aspects of horror games. And my ideal adventure game would be one that looks and feel like Amnesia, but with more puzzles and exploration. The one game that scratched that itch recently tho was "Painscreek killings". A bit unoptimised, but i thoroughly enjoyed it.

  40. Shame there's no mention of the Myst series beyond a short clip, considering those were a pretty big thing in the 90s and probably the only adventure games I could properly play.
    I always get stuck with dialogue and inventory puzzles, but the simple setup of "here's a machine, get it to work", now that I can deal with.

  41. I love how Design Doc decides to just flex on us at the end by listing or showing every adventure game out there…and yet it almost feels like there's enough in that little excerpt just to do a third video highlighting all these different games and what makes them unique.

  42. I'm just so happy you finally mentioned something about my favorite game 999 ;; I LOVED IT

  43. I really want a Phenix wright inspired Harvey birdman game

  44. Great video!
    Gotta drop few of my personal favourites of modern, but still really classically designed adventure game gems which weren't featured in the video: Kathy Rain, Whispers of a Machine, The Book of Unwritten Tales series, The Whispered World, The Darkside Detective, Lost Horizon, Secret Files series, Blackwell series, Technobabylon and A New Beginning. There has also been quite a resurrection of hidden object adventures, which I think in a sense the mentioned The Room series belong into as well. My Brother Rabbit and The New York Mysteries series have been really good as well.

  45. "999's story feature a branching path structure that led you to multiple ending, including some dead ends."
    Literally dead ends.

  46. oh this was uploaded on my birthday I was just waiting for a video from you

  47. What is this, the King for Another Day Bible?

  48. I’m a simple man, I see monokuma, I click

  49. I’m impressed someone else remembers those old Nancy Drew games

  50. You are the most underrated and one of my favourite Youtubers i know, keep up the good work!

  51. You know you’re a true dweeb when you could recognize all of the blurred VNs near the end

  52. Man I love your use of the Layton OST. Great choices

  53. Anyone else shouted OBJECTION! towards the screen when they heard about the studio not wanting a lawyer game. XD

  54. Danganronpa and Ace Attorney in the same thumbnail? How could I not click?!

  55. What about the Sherlock Holmes games from Frog Wares? They kept releasing a new adventure title every year since 2002 and only just recently stopped around 2017 in order to focus on their first open world adventure game. The graphic, narrative and gameplay improves with every title and while other developers moved on or simply died, they kept going with mainly delevoping adventure games, getting bigger and bigger, still doing well nowadays and having around 100 employees. I think that's really worth mentioning.

  56. I thought this would be about redesigning these characters awful designs so I’m leaving a dislike for a misleading Series name.

  57. I loooooove Broken Age. I actually think it DID innovate the adventure game genre, by removing verbs and simplifying the inventory system. And yes, I agree the writing was great!

  58. You did an amazing and very well designed video! Great work!

  59. I loved this. I grew up playing professor layton and later finding danganronpa and 999 to now where I play things like what remains of edith finch, and Tacoma. I loved how this history lesson felt so personal. I love how comprehensive your video was and I want to play more adventure games now. 🙂

  60. Me: "I doubt he'll mention Zero Escape, it isn't as popular as Danganronpa…"

    Hears Zero Escape music

    You found it!

  61. I mean, I played Tangle Tower (the sequel to Detective Grimoire) and I literally didn’t want to stop playing. The story interested me so much and, despite how repetitive it was, I never found it boring, I was always finding out something new and I enjoyed that.

  62. I'm surprised you didn't mention Yu-No or the Infinity series at all. Yu-No especially was hugely influential in the evolution of visual novels.

  63. 999 is my favorite game of all time.

  64. This was astoundingly comprehensive, thank you!

  65. Wheres the love for WadjetEye games

  66. 8:08 I've got such a soft spot for Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright… yeah it takes the most off-putting elements of both series and mashes them together in a ludicrously bizarre way, but hot DAMN that medieval witch-trial aesthetic rocks my socks off! 😀

  67. 7:23 "And PW became one of the first visual novel adventure games, to really catch on in the west"
    Idk, was the fact that Hentai VNs actually existed, ignored before PW?

  68. looks like the wolf among us sequel is actually getting made! biggest surprise of the game awards tbh

  69. Actually, mobile suits this genre perfectly. You can pick up the game for a few minutes and try to do some progress. The games takes no power to run as well. The Room series is a perfect example if this.

  70. For a while there were also pre-rendered 3D first-person point-and-clicks. I remember The Journeyman Project: Turbo being basically my first "real" video game, since it came with our computer (as part of a big software bundle of Multimedia CD-ROMs to demonstrate the optical disk drive and advanced graphics/sound capabilities a Packard Bell machine running the latest, greatest "Windows 95" could make use of). I think it might have also been my first real exposure to science fiction. Though the game's engine was very basic and aged terribly (the best way to run something approximating it on modern operating systems is to get The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime from; which is technically an updated version of the PC port of an extended console re-make/director's cut brought up to the graphics and technology level of the sequels; and "Turbo" is itself apparently an updated re-release of an even jankier earlier version that was made for pre-Win9X operating systems?); the environments, music, and story are favourites of mine to this day!

  71. i was waiting for cing to get a mention and just when i thought it wouldn't happen hotel duck peaks in at the end

  72. Nice to see somebody realise that the Japanese Adventure game actually exists. Well researched Video Design Doc. (also shout out to the main theme of Proffessor Layton and the Lost/Unwound Future at the end.)

  73. This is one of the best, and most positive, videos I've seen on the state of modern adventure games. I only wish you would have included a section on how Hidden Object games have evolved over the years into another example of modern inventory object puzzle adventure games. If anyone didn't know that I suggest checking them out, the Artifex Mundi games in particular go on sale or get bundled for cheap regularly.

  74. "…just without contrived gameplay that bogged down adventure games"
    More like without any gameplay at all.

  75. Does anyone have any good suggestions of point and click adventures? (I'm saving the ones mentioned here)

    Me and my dad play them together and were out of games. Played all the broken sword games, which were amazing.

  76. aw yea thanks for covering 999… got my uchikoshi dose rite here

  77. How come the shadowrunner series isn't mentioned?

    Also, looking forward to Disco Elysium.

  78. Adventure games that I would recommend playing are the journeyman project trilogy, Return to Zork series, Edna and Harvey Breakout/new eyes, Maniac Mansion 2: day of the tentacle remastered. If you gave up on following the Mysr games after Riven and maybe Myst 3 exile I would recommend play Exile, Revelations and URU Chronicles ( not perfect but as a great story and is well worth your time). obduction, the cave, the Hidden gems Psychonauts and Toon Sruck, Hob. Stacking, the Bridge, bendy and the ink machine, the humongous games are worth revisiting, Portal 1 and 2, Loom, Indiana Jones and the fate of Atlantis, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. guacamelee1 + 2 ( 2D side-scrolling puzzle game with metroidvania elements), Oddworld Abe's Oddysee, The Dig, night if the Rabbit, whispers world and so much more I can't remember. I know that some of these aren't traditional point and click adventure games but they all have great stories, puzzles and longevity.

  79. Some more obscure adventure games that made very little impact on the genre's history so I'm not surprised you skipped but are pretty interesting in their own right, imo, would include The Dizzy series (primarially sinclaire spectrum but were ported to most of the 8 bit microcomputers; published by Codemasters), Cosmic Spacehead (mega drive/genesis eventually, I think it was originally an unlicensed NES game; published by Codemasters), Gregory Horror Show (PS2; published by Capcom), and Zak and Wiki (Wii; published by Capcom)

  80. law and disorder reference?

  81. I'm sad to see no mention to Kill The Past when it comes to adventure games.

    The Silver Case was extremely influential on PSX,
    Flower, Sun and Rain was a bold experiment with several valid comments on the genre,
    25th Ward took everything Silver Case did and took it to the extreme.

    Suda51 has revolutionized a lot of adventure games worldwide,
    most of the games that were cited in this video were influenced by, for example, The Silver Case

    Suda51 is respected by so many developers for many reasons,
    it deserves our attention especially when it comes to games like this.

  82. why are you talking about danganronpa when its no danganronpa december

  83. Wadjet Eye games, anyone?

  84. Monokuma in the thumbnail?
    Intro has an ‘Objection’?
    Background music is Professor Layton?


  85. Spicy Take: Untitled Goose Game is an Adventure Game.

  86. Love live adventure games!

  87. you won me over with the lost future theme

    also good to note that more and more visual novels are being officially translated for english audiences, including a lot of releases/remasters – it's a much, much bumpier road here because this is catering to a niche audience within a niche audience, but it's happening slowly

  88. Spike and Chunsoft are awesome. Sci/Adv series especially

  89. You didnt even mention SpikeChunsofts’s Sci/Adv series
    Chaos:HEAd, Steins;Gate, Robotics:Notes, Chaos;Child, Steins;Gate 0, Robotics;Notes DASH
    Edit: Nevermind, seen the whole video, mentioned Steins;Gate

  90. I'm surprised there was no single mention of Sakura Beach, the single best adventure game ever conceived.

  91. Great documentary! As a fan of adventure games, way back from the Sierra time, it was amazing seeing how each game lead to another.


  93. Awesome video! I feel the title was quite misleading, it made me expect something very different than this history-lesson style, but it was great nonetheless.

  94. Ghost Trick, baby!!!!

  95. Ever since i found Ace Attorney through a ponified parody, I was looking for similar games. This video seems to provide a lost of such games at the same time, which means i would probably come back to this video to find more of these… Though i wonder…. Is it that i like this genre, or is it the quality of the games i have played?

  96. Dang if only you uploaded this one day later. Wolf Among Us 2!!!!

  97. OMG, This gives me a great new lists of games I want to play one day! (You already got Ace Attorney and Zero escape, let's check out the rest!!)

  98. I don't care how outlandish this is – But I'm imagining a Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and Danganronpa crossover now.

  99. So this is basically Law And Disorders whole sources huh?


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