Subgenres

Experimental

Games that are experimental have mechanics that do not fit any sub-genre that is listed. They may have experimental design or game mechanics not seen in other games or have a mix of various genres or odd features.

How to identify: The game doesn’t fit into any of the other sub-genre categories or contain elements that are new or atypical to the Adventure genre, but still have enough to fit within it.

Exploration

Exploration games put a lot of emphasis on exploring the game world and the player making discoveries and finding objects as a primary game mechanic. These games tend to have an overarching goal, but have a limited number of puzzles and instead simply require the player to search the world.

How to identify them: There are a significant number of paths to get around the game world. Open world concepts that encourage the player to navigate the game world. Discovery in a non-linear world is a key game mechanic.

Hidden Object

The primary game mechanic behind these games is the player being presented with a static screen and being asked to find objects on the screen. The found objects tend to relate to the game's narrative and story is interspersed with these hidden object scenes. These games many times will also have puzzles (and would also be considered a Puzzle Adventure) and generally are not solely based around hidden object gameplay.

How to identify: Static scenes focused on finding objects as a core gameplay mechanic.

Hybrid

Games marked as hybrid are a mix of different genres. They may contain a significant amount of adventure gaming, while incorporating other game genre concepts, such as shooter, action, simulation, or strategy elements. While these games mix genres, the game’s primary focus is still on adventure.

How to identify: Switching between different control mechanisms during gameplay. Adopting other genre elements as part of the gameplay. Another sub-genre can be identified in the game.

Interactive Fiction

Interactive Fiction (or IF for short) uses a heavy amount of text to provide the player with details on the in game world. These games may or may not have graphic depictions of the game world which tend to be via static images.

How to identify: The game is presented largely or entirely in a text format. Scenes are described using text descriptions and graphics are minimal. The game word is interacted with entirely via a text parser or menu selections.

Interactive Movie

Interactive Movies contain a significant amount of full motion video cutscenes compared with playable moments. These types of games may have the player watching a movie and make choices that impact the story or ask the player questions related to what they saw.

How to identify: Large amounts of full motion video interspersed with gameplay. The game feels like the player is watching a movie and directing the action during key moments.

Investigative

Discovering evidence and clues, talking to witnesses, and finally picking out a suspect are what their games mechanics are based on. Many of these games lack an inventory and some are linear and sequential, but they present the player with evidence in various forms and require a player to make a conclusion, either via in-game action or as a choice, during the game. Many times, these games have different endings based on how “well” the player did.

How to identify them: Heavy use of dialogue with the player needing to pay attention for clues, endings based on how well the player did at solving the situation, requires reading or finding in-game or out-of-game clues (such as the manual or the Internet) to find solutions (as opposed to story details). Evidence based or dialogue based puzzles.

Narrative Adventure

The gameplay of a narrative adventure usually revolves around branching stories where the player must make choices that impact the narrative. These choices can be in the form of dialogue options or plans of action. Many times these games have a variety of different endings based on the choices that the player made.

How to identify them: Significant amount of branching story paths based on a player’s choices. Heavy use of storytelling and cinematic sequences in relation to the amount of actual gameplay. Choices are the focus of the gameplay, either dialogue choices or plans of action.

Puzzle Adventure

Puzzle solving becomes the primary game mechanic in these games. The puzzles may or may not be directly tied to the game narrative.  The puzzles in these types of games are usually a variety of logic puzzles. While the puzzles may not have much to do with the game narrative, a narrative does exist and solving the puzzles results in moving the narrative forward.

How to identify them: A high number of standalone logic or mechanical puzzles that are not based on inventory usage or finding other items. The flow of the game tends to be based on moving from one puzzle to the next without much gameplay in between.

Puzzle Platformer

These games usually have the player running or jumping to move through the game world while also using game mechanics and the environment to solve puzzles that may get in the player’s way. These games do not rely on a significant amount of difficult platforming nor do they heavily punish the player for failure. In all cases, the puzzles are in some way related to the game narrative.

How to identify: Jumping and/or running mechanics are used significantly as part of the gameplay. Puzzles consist of using the environment and/or character abilities to progress through the world. The game's challenge is not based on difficult platforming and fighting, but on solving puzzles.

Traditional

They are called traditional because they are based on the days of text adventure games and text parsers where players would type commands in the form of verb/noun to perform an action. Games of this variety also tend to have inventory and inventory based puzzles. As such, games in this sub-genre use a verb/noun based interaction system which can be simplified by point and click mechanics. These games may, but aren’t required to, have an inventory and inventory based puzzles.

How to identify them: An inventory and combining inventory items as a core game mechanic, icons for different types of actions (use, look, talk, etc.), cursors that change based on the action being performed, or a text parser.

Visual Novel

Visual Novels are named for the fact that they require a significant amount of reading and also tend to use static images along with their text to tell their story. Some visual novels are simply a visual story book with no game play while others allow players to make choices and solve puzzles to move the narrative along.

How to identify them: The game is presented using still images and heavy use of text. The story tends to be linear and there are few puzzles presented as part of the game.

Walking Simulator

Walking Simulators tend to allow the player to explore the world and discover the story as they walk through it. They tend to have little to no puzzles, but usually require the player to piece together a story and narrative based discovery in the game world. Some of the games lack a true ending and force the player to form their own interpretation of the story based on what they discover while playing.

How to identify them: The narrative tends to play out as the character walks around and interacts with the world. There is a lack of a primary goal. The story is presented in notes or other pieces of information in the game world that the player is meant to interpret themselves. The game has no true ending.

Tags

2D These games are presented using a two dimensional environment. They may use hand drawn backgrounds, static photographs, or other two dimensional methods. This style includes two dimensional methods that have the appearance of three dimensional.

3D These games are presented using a three dimensional environment. They can either use pre-rendered 3D or real-time rendered 3D environments and can be first or third person.

Action These games feature action components which require the player to react and coordinate their actions with in-game events. These could be combat, mandatory mini-games, or quick time event sequences.

Adult These games have an adult narrative and theme. This typically means the game would or are rated M for sexual content or extreme violence. This database does not contain games that are pornographic or exceed what would qualify as an M rating.

Anime These games are presented largely in the Anime style of art.

Arcade These games contain a significant amount of arcade game sequences that are required to complete the game.

Casual These games tend to have simple mechanics and relaxed gameplay and are usually designed for a more casual audience.

Christmas These game have a Christmas theme.

Cinematic These games tend have a camera that does not move with the in-game character and instead moves to create maximum cinematic effect. The games may alternate between first and third person viewpoints during gameplay based on the situation.

Co-op These game have mandatory or optional co-op play.

Comedy These games have a comedic overtone throughout the game. They generally feature parody, puns, and/or absurd situations for the entire length of the game.

Crime These games deal with either playing as a criminal or as law enforcement attempting to catch a criminal.

Detective These games tend to have the player acting as a detective attempting to solve some manner of mystery or crime by finding clues and piecing them together.

Direct Control The player uses primary the keyboard, mouse, or a controller to directly control the character and interact with the in game world.

DLC These games are downloadable content that requires another game in order to play.

Drama These games have a dramatic story that is designed to bring out emotions in the player and feature a serious tone.

Driving These games feature the ability to drive a vehicle as a part of the general gameplay.

Educational These games tend to be designed for a younger audience and have educational features as part of the gameplay, such as math, history, or science.

Episodic These games are released as individual episodes instead of as a single game. These episodes can be played separately, but the story generally unfolds over the entire set of episodes.

Fantasy These games tend to take place in a fantasy settings which may include magic, mythical creatures, undead creatures, and other fantasy elements.

First-Person Thr player views the environment from the perspective of the in game character. The player may have free movement or may be moving between static screens.

Flight These games allow the player to control an aircraft in some fashion as part of their gameplay.

FMV These games feature full motion video cutscenes that have real actors playing the parts of the in-game characters.

Game Jam This game was created for a Game Jam. As a result, this game was created on a time table and is likely short and may have bugs, a lack of testing, and other flaws. This game may also be in an unfinished state and some may even eventually end up become full length game, which may become this entry or be an entirely new entry.

Halloween These games have a Halloween theme to them.

Historical These games involve the factual use of history as a component of the game.

Horror These games have a horror theme and are usually designed to illicit fear from the player in some fashion.

Interwar These games take place between the First World War and Second World War, a period which represented a significant amount of change worldwide.

LGBTQ+ These games have representation from the LGBTQ+ community in the form of characters and/or themes.

Medieval These games tend to take place in a medieval historical setting and may also include elements of fantasy, such as magic.

Meditative These games are designed to be relaxing for the player. Usually this means the player is not subject to time or death mechanics and the game has an overall relaxing theme.

Menu-Driven These games have the player interacting with the environment via a series of menus which may have verbs, nouns, actions, and/or character dialogue options. All or most of the interaction involves using these menus.

Music These games focus on musical themes and use music as a significant mechanic in their game play.

Mystery These games tend to have a overarching mystery that needs to be solved as part of the game.

Naval These games focus on taking control of a boat or other water faring vehicle as part of the game play.

Parody These games are parodies of other games, movies, television shows, etc. and tend to be comedic in nature.

Platform These games feature significant platforming mechanics, such as jumping and climbing.

Point and Click These are mouse driven games that tend to involve the player acting upon the world entirely using a mouse pointer. They can be presented in first or third person.

Post-Apocalyptic These games takes place in a world after society has collapsed in some manner. This can be due to nuclear war, climate collapse, alien invasion, or some other scenario.

Racing These games have a racing mechanic as a significant part of their game play.

Religion These games have significant religious inspiration as part of their narrative.

Remake These games are remakes of previously released games. The remakes may simply be remasters or may have entirely new gameplay mechanics and/or an expanded stories.

Retro-Style These games use a graphical style from days past, which tend to include pixelized, low resolution graphics.

Romance These games tend to have a story that is heavily based on a romantic relationship.

RPG These games tend to feature significant role-playing game elements, such as an attribute or skill system, and combat.

Satire These games make heavy use of satire in their narrative or game play. This is distinct from parody as satire is generally done as a means of social criticism as opposed being done for comedic value.

Sci-Fi These games have a science fiction theme and tend to take place in the future and/or space with advanced technology.

Science These games focus on science in real terms. These games may be educational or may attempt to use real science as part of their game play.

Shooter These games have action based shooting as a component of game play.

Short These games are short and tend to take less than one hour to complete.

Simulation These games attempt to model somewhat realistically a certain concept which is feature in the game play.

Speech These games contain voice overs and/or real life actors for a significant amount of the in game dialogue.

Sports These games have a sports theme to them.

Spy These games tend to involve espionage and subterfuge.

Stealth These games have stealth mechanics in them that require the player to hide or sneak past enemies.

Steampunk These games take place in an alternative timeline in which steam power is used for a variety of fictional uses.

Strategy These games require the player to use resources in a tactical or strategic manner.

Subtitles The game supports the use of subtitles to supplement spoken dialogue. The tag is only used for games that contain voiced dialogue.

Survival These games feature survival aspects such as acquiring food, water, shelter, etc. as a significant part of their game play.

Text Parser These games feature a text parser that allows the player to input commands, typically using a verb noun syntax, as the main method of interacting with the world.

Third-Person The player views the main character from a third person point of view (as an outside observer). There are many types of third person views, but in all cases the character being controlled is visible to the player.

Thriller These games use suspense, tension, and heavy build up as a large part of their narrative.

Unfinished There are games that seem to been abandoned by their developers in an incomplete state. Generally this means that the story in the game has not been told to a conclusion.

Virtual Reality These games support the use of virtual reality hardware to play and control your character. This can be optional or required to play.

Voice Controlled The game is controlled by voice commands given by the player. This may be the primary or only method of control or an optional method in addition of other methods.

War These games happen during a war, either historical or fictional, and tend to directly involve aspects of the war being portrayed. This could mean being held prisoner, being a solider in the war, or seeing a war from the eyes of a civilian.

Western These games take place in a setting that resembles the American Old West.

WWII These game takes place during World War II and feature the war or an aspect of it in the game play.