Adventure games boomed through the '90s, and nearly everyone who owned a PC at the time can remember engaging in point-and-click shenanigans thanks to great titles by LucasArts, Sierra, and other developers who've seen been shut down or gobbled up by bigger companies.
The fanbase for adventure games never disappeared, but the genre has seen a renaissance thanks to the advent of touch-based devices like smartphones and tablets. Unsurprisingly, the App Store is currently peddling some of the best adventure games you can hope to tick away the hours with. Some must-plays include:
The Journey Down: Chapter One ($4.99)
The Journey Down: Chapter Two ($6.99)
With its character designs and settings based on traditional African and Caribbean carvings and masks, there's no other adventure game that looks quite as striking as SkyGoblin's The Journey Down. There's also a thoroughly engaging story here that'll sink its hooks into you pretty quickly. There's conspiracy, darkness, treacherous mists, and puzzles -- but there's also a great deal of humor and joking. For better or worse, the heroes of Journey Down, Bwana and Kito, are incapable of taking anything seriously, including the threat of imprisonment and death.
The Walking Dead: Season One ($14.99)
The Walking Dead: Season Two ($14.99)
Out of all the wonderful things Telltale Games has done for point-and-click adventure fans in recent years, its game adaptation of the Walking Dead series is probably its best work, as well as its most well-known.
The game's story, which runs alongside the events depicted in the comic series, revolves around the survivors of a zombie apocalypse (obviously). Being a Telltale game, The Walking Dead offers up plenty of what we've come to expect from the studio's story-driven adventure games: Top-tier voice acting, solid writing, and moral choices that may come back to bite you in the behind like a hungry zombie.
The Wolf Among Us: Episodes One through Five ($4.99 each)
The Wolf Among Us: Multi-Pack ($14.99)
Once you've walked with zombies, consider Telltale's The Wolf Among Us as a palette-cleanser. Based on Bill Willingham's Fables comic series, The Wolf Among Us follows sheriff Bigby Wolf as he keeps a close eye on his fellow "fables" -- fairy-tale creatures forced to eke out an existence in our mundane, everyday world.
But to use a cliché, the fables aren't living a storybook life. There's drugs, poverty, and most distressingly, a string of murders that Bigby needs to get to the bottom of. Telltale brings its best to The Wolf Among Us, which has flawless voice acting and great writing.
Device 6 ($3.99)
Simogo's Device 6 is a rarity: It's a game built around a concept that well and truly only works on mobile devices. Following the narrative and solving the puzzles that make up this spiritual sequel to Year Walk (also highly recommended) requires you to regularly flip-turn your phone or tablet upside-down.
And if you manage to follow this baffling trail of words, sounds, and clues to its end, you're treated to a musical interlude that can only be described as … unorthodox. Device 6 is quite unlike any other puzzle game available on any platform.
No objection! The puzzle series that helped cement the Nintendo DS as a competent deliverer of adventure games and visual novels is available as a single handy-dandy collection on iOS.
The bundle includes Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney -- Justice for All, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney -- Trials and Tribulations. All three games involve piecing together evidence to protect innocent clients in a courtroom that isn't necessarily interested in hearing about it.
The Phoenix Wright games are legendary for their humor, plot twists, and coffee-slinging lawyers. The mobile release gathers up all that good stuff and adds a nice high-definition shine.
The Last Express ($4.99)
Train rides are never uneventful. There's no such thing as a smooth ride chock full of mundanities like coffee and bad Wi-Fi. Where there are trains, there is a mystery. Usually a murder mystery.
The Last Express by Jordan Mechner (the creator of Prince of Persia) is an adventure game that takes place on the Orient Express -- and such opulent settings calls for a particularly rich mystery. Your experience changes according to how you interact with other passengers, though you may just want to kill time (to use a turn of phrase) to explore the 3D-rendered innards of the world's most glorious train.
The Orient Express. A train ride through Europe. The summer of 1914. What could possibly go wrong?
Her Story ($4.99)
Sam Barlow's Her Story is an interactive crime drama that utilizes real video and human actors. Though that sounds like an FMV nightmare out of the Sega CD era, Her Story is anything but grainy and cheesy. You need to buckle down and sift through interview footage in hopes of piecing together some idea of what's going on in front of you. The live-action footage just makes things all the more unsettling. Fans of Device 6 and Year Walk should snap this one up.
Broken Sword: Director's Cut ($4.99)
Broken Sword is a touch archaic by today's standards, but it has a classic feel to it -- as well as a great deal of heart. Besides, the director's cut of this beloved adventure features some upgrades and tweaks that give it a more modern, shiny feel.
There's still plenty of intrigue though, as well as murder, theft, and conspiracy. George and Nico's adventure is anything but dark and dour, however. They may be up to their necks in serious business, but there's never any doubt these two travelers are in love with their job.
The Room ($0.99)
The Room Two ($2.99)
The Room titles by Fireproof Games may well be the pinnacle of adventure games on iOS. Its story is very quiet, but that makes you want to pursue it down to the very end as you unlock puzzles within puzzles. Despite the games' seemingly placid nature, there's certainly an element of darkness and danger at work here thanks to the presence of the mysterious "Null" element. You're always thinking, always guessing. What good is an adventure game that doesn't deliver an occasional kick to the brain, anyway?