MANIAC MANSION II: DAY OF THE TENTACLE
When Day Of The Tentacle released in 1993 it set a benchmark of quality for the genre. It has a near-perfect blend of comedy and character, of puzzling perfection and personality. DOTT is a timebending adventure that encapsulated everything that made these games so enjoyable to begin with. Just as Maniac Mansion made Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick so legendary, DOTT would do the same for Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer, who would go on to be prolific creators for Telltale and Double Fine respectively.
LEISURE SUIT LARRY: LOVE FOR SAIL!
Look, we know what you’re thinking and, no, we aren’t smut lords – we just like to celebrate good gaming! Leisure Suit Larry got himself one hell of bad reputation over the years, but when it comes to Love For Sail it’s worth overlooking for a few hours of pleasure. Legitimately funny, (relatively) sex-positive and well designed, Love For Sail is a rare example of Sierra On-line showing that it has the capacity to develop adventure games that don’t require a masochistic penchant for punishment to enjoy.
BROKEN SWORD: THE SHADOW OF THE TEMPLARS
One of the most visually-stunning adventure games ever released, Broken Sword: The Shadow Of The Templars might just be the best adventure game that wasn’t created by LucasArts. While it can be punishing, it also features masterful puzzle design, with its logic rooted in the real world. Still, it’s influence is far reaching, with many believing (including director Charles Cecil) that The Shadow Of The Templars was the primary influence behind Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. If that’s true – and trust us on this one – Broken Sword is much better.
THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLAND
It’s difficult to pinpoint what it is that made Ron Gilbert’s Maniac Mansion follow-up so successful, but there’s a potent mixture of humour, expertise and spirit to The Secret Of Monkey Island that just, well, works. While the sequel is arguably better, the first is cleverer. It inspires childlike wonder when exploring its world, from the larger-than-life characters to its intricately-bizarre puzzle designs. If Maniac Mansion set the template for the modern adventure game, it was Monkey Island that set the benchmark for style and substance. Besides, who isn’t partial to a little sword-battling banter?
INDIANA JONES AND THE FATE OF ATLANTIS
The best Indiana Jones film never to hit the big screen, LucasArts’ 1992 adventure stands as one of the best licensed games ever released. This adventure sees Indy heading off in search of the legendary sunken city of Atlantis alongside archaeologist-turnedpsychic, Sophia Hapgood. With three paths to select – lovingly known as the Team, Wits, Fists system – which gave way to an adaptable story structure and a dose of reply value, The Fate Of Atlantis is a welcome alternative to Crystal Skull.
ZAK MCKRACKEN AND THE ALIEN MINDBENDERS
A smaller, more intimate affair, Zak McKracken And the Alien Mindbenders never quite reached the heights of Maniac Mansion – but it became a classic all the same. Like many other LucasArts games of the era, it uses puzzles and humour to propel its story, but it’s the introduction of intricate mazes and its movie set feel that brought Zak’s wayward adventure to life. Director David Fox, famed for is collaboration with Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, would return to the adventure games 2017 to work on Thimbleweed Park.
BENEATH A STEEL SKY
An oft-overlooked gem of the genre, Beneath A Steel Sky swaps out fantasy for science fiction in this somewhat darker tale. Designed by Charles Cecil, of Broken Sword fame, Beneath A Steel Sky found a middle ground between the punishing puzzles of Sierra and the slapstick comedy of LucasArts. The result is a game full of logical but testing challenges; a serious and satirical story cut with beautifully witty dialogue, all alongside one of the most intuitive UI and control schemes to feature in the genre. Once it gets going, you’ll be hardpressed to find an adventure as enthralling or compelling.