Choosing the best role-playing games (RPGs) and adventure games: Buyer’s Guide review

Fantasy, adventure, RPG and MMORPG games explained
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Traditional adventure games involve exploration, puzzle solving and logic skills. The adventure was one of the first genres of computer game invented, after the basic arcade stuff such as Pong, simply because at their simplest, they didn’t require any fancy graphics – just plain text. Today’s adventure and role-playing titles are a bit more sophisticated, rolling in stylish 3D graphics and complex combat systems – adding to their immersive appeal. IT Reviews takes you through its current favourites.

Those early text adventures could be infuriating. They generally had you typing “open door”, “unlock door”, “use key”, “push door” and tens of combinations thereof, while continually being told by the program that it didn’t understand what you meant. Until eventually you wanted to “smash the bloomin’ door in with a ten-pound lump hammer”.

The evolution of the adventure game
While adventures have kept the same sort of basic puzzles at their core throughout the genre’s evolution, the interface has fortunately come a long way since those early immense frustrations. In fact, adventure games these days can be some of the most user-friendly experiences around, with adjustable difficulty, help and hints on tap, and seamless interfaces in fully 3D worlds.

LA Noire is a perfect example of the remoulded modern adventuring experience, with the emphasis on a riveting story, and a fully living and breathing 3D world.

LA Noire
Cinematic cop thriller LA Noire is the state of the art for modern adventure games.

LA Noire challenges players with crime solving, detective work and interrogating suspects, while mixing in some crossover bits of driving and shooting. This gem from developer Rockstar is also quite easy going and adept at throwing the player a line if they get stuck. Heavy Rain is another good example of an accomplished contemporary cinematic adventure.

Veteran adventurers wanting a really gritty and challenging game should take a look at Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Again featuring crossover elements, like most modern adventures, it blends stealth and horror alongside physics and logic-based puzzles. This is actually one of the scariest games we’ve ever played – and an atmospheric triumph.

Of course we didn’t leap from text adventures to LA Noire, and traditional ‘point-and-click’ adventures came in between. While these are mostly extinct now, there are still examples around, such as the reboot of the classic Monkey Island games. Time Gentlemen, Please!, the marvellously funny indie budget clicker is also well worth a look, proving the old adage that graphics aren’t everything when you have a sparkling comedy script.

Role-playing games
RPGs or role-playing games are still adventures, but take their cues from the likes of old-fashioned role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. Often fantasy-based, they generally focus extensively on combat, flinging fireballs and slashing long swords, but also involve quests, dialogue and moral choices, exploration and loot. Sometimes the player controls just one main character, and at others a whole party of fighters, wizards and rogues, all of whom need equipping with shiny armour and battle-axes.

RPG combat comes in two styles: action-based, where you hack away in real-time, and turn-based where tactics can be planned and fully thought out before each round is resolved. Most modern RPGs go the action route, or blend the two.

Dragon Age II fights things out in real-time but can be paused at any point, so it’s possible to plan moves in tight spots if you wish. This EA game is an excellent place for the novice to start, although some hardcore fans of the original found it a bit too dumbed down.

Dragon Age II
Dragon Age II blends traditional role-playing with real-time combat.

Battle-scarred veterans would do well to look at The Witcher 2, which offers a stiff test of combat mettle, not to mention a genuinely enthralling storyline with many multiple endings giving the game replay value. 3DS owners should be eyeing The Legend of Zelda for some classic adventuring with an extra dimension, and for those who prefer a sci-fi role-player, definitely check out Fallout 3 and New Vegas.

Online gaming
Role-playing games have also made it huge online with the massively multiplayer online RPG (or MMORPG). World of Warcraft is the king of this particular hill, with a vast subscriber base and a deeply rich world that has been extensively developed over the last six years. It offers both traditional PvE (player versus computer controlled enemy) and PvP (player versus player) combat.

World of Warcraft
Hugely popular MMORPG World of Warcraft gives players a chance to adventure online.