With the overwhelming disappointment critics and gamers expressed in PS4's Old School Adventure game 'Knack', its worth discussing the state of traditional adventure games. More specifically, whether they are relevant in a generation where realistic graphics, explosions and big budget effects seem to be the norm.
What is a traditional adventure game?
But first, I'll clarify what a traditional adventure game is. For me, a traditional adventure game is the type of game where you run around a set level fighting enemies and collecting gems/coins/etc. Along the way in this level or world, there might be bosses or special stages that make things a bit more lively. Games like Rayman, Ratchet and Clank, Banjo Kazooie and even Mario 64 fall under this category... I'm sure you get the idea of the type of game I'm referring to.
This type of game pretty much defined the PS1/PS2 era for Sony, and some of the best selling games on the PS1 and PS2 were very much traditional adventure games. Why was this? Well firstly, those consoles had a lot of excellent games of the genre. Take a look at Ratchet and Clank. The game sold a massive 3.71 million copies on the PS2 and met with critical acclaim across the board. If you ask who played video games during the early 2000s, chances are they'll know what Ratchet and Clank is.
The PS3 Generation
However, when the PS3 came around, they didn't dominate the market quite as much. Series like Battlefield and Call of Duty really came into their own with the rise of multiplayer console gaming, and cinematic blockbusters like Uncharted and The Last Of Us brought a whole new visual and immersive experience to the Playstation Universe. Traditional Adventure games were not selling as well as they used to, and while many still met with great critical response - they fell out of relevance. Limited/non-existent multiplayer capabilities made the games seem less complete to some gamers, and they opted for the big name Sports or FPS games rather than play an adventure game.
The influx of cinematic and multiplayer games is actually a key reason for the decrease in popularity for the genre, but it does not by any means mean that there aren't people who love it - people who buy the games and enjoy them to the full. Myself included. There just aren't as many of us as there used to be.
The Playstation target market
Another key reason is the age factor of the majority of Playstation gamers. The Playstation is seen as a mature console, something apparent looking at the community, the games and even the design of the console. When you compare the PS4 to a system like the Wii U, one of the key differences is the amount of traditional adventure games on each console. The Wii U has a LOT more - and it's not just because of the Mario franchise. The player base is a lot younger, and a lot more into child friendly games. As traditional adventure games are generally friendly, fantasy experiences - and cinematic, FPS games are not - they fall into the Nintendo Market perfectly.
So does this mean we'll see less and less traditional adventure games on the PS4? Maybe. But there are more traditional adventure games around than you might think. They may not be big name publisher blockbusters, but they're often incredibly fun. You just have to look in the right place: The Indie Market.
The Indie Market
One of the key things that draw people to indie games is the nostalgia factor. Many indie games are developed in the style of an old game, just bringing it back to life in the current generation. And this is very much commonplace with adventure games. The beautiful simplicity of this type of game makes it easy to develop (for indie game studios) and easy to refine. There are lots of games that harken back to an older era in available today or in development by small development teams. In fact, now that the genre isn't limited to larger developers we may see more traditional adventure games than ever. They might not dominate the market any more, but they'll still be there for us to enjoy on the PS4.
This said, a lot of people feel uncomfortable investing in indie games because they're seen as lacking in content and quality. Which leaves some gamers stuck between a rock and a hard place as to where to put their money.
How do you feel about the shift of Traditional Adventure games from big publishers to smaller ones?
Article by - Ben Corroon
Insert Date: 2/10/2014