Over on his blog, Steve Bauman (former Computer Games Magazine editor) has a post on the “revival” of the adventure game genre. Of course, adventures never went away, although they have been in something of a decline since the Myst craze died out.

I don’t agree with his reasons as to why the adventure went into a decline. And his post is about the emergence (re-emergence?) of adventure features in casual games. But adventure elements have already crept into other genres. Into, of all places, the shooter.

I think we can trace that back to Halflife, especially when compared to the classic FPS, Doom. There was nothing complicated about Doom. You just barreled on ahead, with plenty of critters to kill along the way.

At most, you might have to poke around a bit to find a keycard to open a door. Or, if you were the “gotta do everything” type, look for an optional secret area. However, the game overall was a high-adrenaline, non-stop combat-fest from start to finish.

Halflife, while a shooter, was more complex. It certainly had its moments of intense fighting. But there was more to do than just rush through, killing everything in sight. It also had a bit more story than Doom.

Speaking of which, we can see this influence in Doom 3. Again, there is a lot of high-powered combat. However, it isn’t non-stop; it comes in stages.

Also, there is a lot of information to be gathered, mainly from PDAs of the base personnel. Besides providing the backstory, the devices contained security clearances and various codes to open doors.

So we see that story – which first appeared in adventure games – along with some basic puzzle-solving, has made some inroads into the basic FPS. At the same time, the shooter has made inroads into the RPG.

Games like Diablo 2, Titan Quest, and Fate are much closer to the basic shooter than they are to the RPG. Despite having “stats” and “skills”, these games feature combat above all else; in particular, real-time combat.

There may or may not be a story; if one exists, it is mostly window-dressing. The emphasis is always on moving forward to the next encounter. These games have the same fast pace that marks the early shooters. In fact, I think of them as “fantasy shooters” rather than RPGs.

So we have even more blurring of the boundaries between genres. As time goes on, that will likely increase, especially with Bioshock being all the rage, and Hellgate still to come.

We’ve discussed before how difficult it’s become to define “RPG” (and let’s not get into that, if possible ;); now we’re coming to a point where it will be harder to define “shooter” and “adventure”. FPS/Adventure? Adventure/RPG? The mind boggles. It’s enough to give one a headcrab. Heh.miniscorp

Death And Rebirth of Adventure Games