Adventure games are back in style!
Okay, not really: the point-and-click genre peaked in the early ’90s, and is today mostly a niche. But it’s a pretty great niche!
And with the recent re-release of cult classic Grim Fandango, the success of TellTale Games’ The Walking Dead, and the first episode Game Of Thrones game, adventure games are experiencing a renaissance right now.
If you want to play some adventure games, but don’t want to pay, you’re in luck: the web offers a lot. Some of these titles are classics, some are hidden gems, but all of them are great for the adventure game fan (or anyone looking to become one!)
Download These Free Classics For ScummVM
If you love classic adventure games, you need to know about ScummVM, the emulator for classic point and click adventures on any modern computer. Originally designed for LucasArts games, these days it supports a wide variety of others.
ScummVM’s website list of where to get games for the emulator includes a few classic titles that are now free. Here are the highlights. If you’d rather not take the time to set up ScummVM, you can also download these adventure games from GOG.com.
- Beneath a Steel Sky is a sci-fi game set in a post apocalyptic Australia. Escape the massive, enclosed city.
- Flight of the Amazon Queen is set in 1949. Joe King is flying a famous singer over the Amazon, only to crash land in the midst of a mad scientist’s plot, because why not?
- Lure of the Temptress a peasant tries to overthrow a sorceress; adventure ensues.
- It’s not clear that Polish game TeenAgent was ever commercially released in English, despite demo versions of the game that spread across the planet. The full version is out there now, for free – check it out if you’re curious.
Note that ScummVM isn’t just for your computer: there are versions for Android, iPhone and more. You can even get ScummVM working on the Nintendo Wii, if you’re ambitious.
Play Classic Sierra On-Line Games…Online!
King’s Quest, from 1983, might be one of the most influential adventure games out there. It was among the first graphical adventures ever made, and you can play it for free – along with a few other classic Sierra On-Line titles – at Sarien.net.
I did, and died quickly.
You’ll probably do better, though. Give it a shot.
Peasant’s Quest: King’s Quest Parody, With Trogdor
If you grew up playing King’s Quest, and somehow never got around to playing Peasant’s Quest when it showed up on HomeStarRunner.com ten years ago, you’re missing out on a treat. This is a pitch-perfect parody of King’s Quest and adventure games in general, where you try to defeat the Internet’s favourite wingalinged dragon.
It even inspired a feature-length movie, believe it or not (you shouldn’t).
Find The Best Free Text Adventure Games
Think graphics are necessary? Think again. Some of the most influential adventure games of all time were text adventures, also known as interactive fiction. These games are entirely text-based, and if you love adventure games you owe it to yourself to try a few.
Here are a few of my favourites, all of which you can download for free or play online at the Interactive Fiction Database.
- Lost Pig is the cure for gaming cynicism. You play as a simple-minded orc, who just wants to find a pig that got away.
- For A Change is an absolutely beautiful game that couldn’t exist in any other genre. I can’t recommend it enough. Don’t Google anything: just play.
- Galatea is basically just you interviewing a statue. You read that correctly.
- Shade is set in your apartment, and that’s all you need to know. Try it.
- Photopia is a story-driven text that’s altogether hard to describe without spoilers. A great study of what the medium is capable of, and a fantastic story.
If you’re wondering about classic Infocom games, like Zork and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, you can find (unauthorized) versions of them here.
What Are Your Favourite Free Adventures?
We’ve pointed out thousands of classic DOS games you can play in your browser, thanks to the Internet archive – explore that if you want more classic adventure games.
But in the meantime, I want your help. What are the best free adventure games I missed in this list? Fill me in in the comments below, so your fellow readers can play them!