Today, we’re putting the spotlight on ten of Activision’s finest adventure games, including family friendly fare, as well as the darkest horror games you can imagine.
King’s Quest 1+2+3
The King’s Quest series bring players to an immersive (for its time) sprite based animated fantasy land. These games combine colorful graphics, oddball characters, and humor to create a game world that is still worth revisiting. They also happen to have laid the groundwork for the genre.
King’s Quest: Quest for the Crown and King’s Quest 2: Romancing the Throne retell the story of Sir Graham, the bravest knight in Daventry who would go on to become King. King’s Quest 3: To Heir Is Human switches protagonists to Gwydion, a wizard’s servant with a secret royal lineage. Buy Here Now
King’s Quest 4+5+6
With these three followup King’s Quest games, Sierra would push the franchise forward in terms of technology and storyline.
King’s Quest 4: The Perils of Rosella is the first major adventure game with a female protagonist. Rosella, King Graham’s daughter quests to save his father from a mysterious disease. This is also one of the first games to support sound cards, and the only King’s Quest in real time.
King’s Quest 5: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! connects King’s Quest 3 to the rest of the series. King Graham’s family and castle are kidnapped by Mordack, the brother of Mannanan the villain of King’s Quest 3. Graham quests in Serenia to gather the tools and information he needs to save his family. King’s Quest 5 was available in VGA as well as EGA graphics, and would later come in CD-ROM format with full voice acting.
King’s Quest 6 is the first game to drop the text parser for true point and click gameplay. Graham’s son, Prince Alexander, is haunted by memories of Princess Cassima, introduced in King’s Quest 5, and travels through the Land of the Green Isles to find her, and eventually, save her. Buy Here Now
King’s Quest 7+8
King’s Quest 7 and 8 deviate from the formula’s tropes in dramatic ways, and are completely different even from each other.
King’s Quest 7 is the first King’s Quest to have multiple playable characters (Queen Valanice and her daughter Rosella), the first King’s Quest to have a smart pointer (lights up when hovering on a clickable object), and the first to lay out the story in chapters. Valanice and Rosella have the talk (the one about marriage), when Rosella is suddenly damseled by the troll king, as part of an elaborate plan by Malicia to take over Etheria. You switch between Valanice and Rosella in a bid to stop the marriage and thwart Malicia.
King’s Quest 8, also known as King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity, takes the series to 3D, and with it, introduces combat and RPG elements. This time, the hero of Daventry is a common tanner turned knight; Connor. Connor has no direct relation to Graham, but shares similar origins. Daventry’s Kingdom is turned to stone by the evil wizard Lucretio, and it is Connor’s destiny to defeat him. Buy Here Now
Torin’s Passage has the unusual distinction of being a family friendly game designed by Al Lowe, creator of the Leisure Suit Larry series. In fact, Al wrote it so he could have a game to play with his daughter. The pseudonymous Torin is a mere young farmboy, until his family is kidnapped by the sorceress Lycentia. He quest to rescue his parents, but along the way, will learn his true origins. Torin’s Passage boasts of an inventory system, a hint system, and an item morphing mechanic using Torin’s friend, the catlike Boogle. Buy Here Now
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
Gabriel Knight is the brainchild of Jane Jensen, who had previously been a developer for the King’s Quest series. Gabriel is a struggling New Orleans author, who learns he is destined to become the Schattenjäger, or Shadow Hunter. The game focuses on supernatural mysteries, and is particularly famous for deliberately obfuscating gameplay with a dumb pointer. The pointer does not highlight what items are relevant to your quest, so that you can experience the sense of discovery for yourself.
For the first game, he is drawn into investigating the Voodoo Murders, and finds connections between them and beautiful New Orleans socialite Malia Gedde. Along the way, he also discovers his origins as a Schattenjäger. Buy Here Now
Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within
In The Beast Within, Gabriel and his assistant, Grace Nakamura, travel to his ancestral home in Bavaria, Germany. There, he investigates the murder of a young girl by a wolf. You switch between Gabriel and Grace, who learns the case’s connections to King Ludwig II and Richard Wagner, and eventually uncovers the danger to Gabriel himself. The Beast Within had extensive use of both full motion video and a 3D rendering engine. Buy Here Now
Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned
Gabriel Knight 3 caps off the series with an epic story that brings together voodoo, zombies, the Priory of Sion, the Templars, and the Freemasons. This game also brings together FMV, CG, and even rotoscoping, and would prove to be a significant influence in game design. Buy Here Now
Basically a horror film in videogame form, Phantasmagoria attracted controversy from day one due to graphic depictions of violence, including rape. A paperback writer, Adrienne Delaney, and her photographer husband, Donald Gordon, rent a haunted house, not realizing the evil that lay within. This game originally came in an epic seven CDs, mostly to accomodate the amount of video it needed. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is for the classic horror and gaming fan. Buy Here Now
Also known as Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh, Phantasmagoria 2 ups the ante on sexual content. Curtis Craig, a 26 year old pharmaceutical employee, who was recently released from a mental hospital, struggles with disturbing visions and is drawn to investigate a string of murders of the people around him. Gameplay is standard point and click, taking a backseat to a truly disturbing, engrossing storyline. Buy Here Now
Quest for Glory 1-5
Originally called Hero’s Quest, the Quest for Glory series has you playing different characters in different worlds, on their way to becoming heroes. The first four games are a hybrid of adventure games and RPGs, with the last one being a full adventure RPG. All the games featured nonlinear quests, humor, classes, attributes, and puzzles. The games also had an import system, allowing you to move your character from one game to the other. It really would not make sense to not get these games as a pack, which is how Activision sells it today. Buy Here Now