Now that I’ve finally finished playing every entry in Adventure Jam 2018, it’s about time I wrote about the best games of the jam. These are the games that really stood out for being especially fun to play. That’s the only criteria I am using: How fun was the game?
First I’d like to make it known that, to the best of my ability, I played every game in the jam from beginning until end. I didn’t just start up each game, play a few minutes and shut it off. Even the truly terrible games, I put in my utmost effort to play the game all the way until the end. There were a very few games I was not able to complete (usually due to bugginess) but I did my best for every game.
Also, there were a lot of good games made and so if a game is not on this list, I’m not saying you should not play it. These are simply the best of the best. You should go to the Adventure Jam page and play whatever games look interesting to you there: http://jams.gamejolt.io/advjam2018/games
and… to get this out of the way since I’m not going to put my game on my own best-of list, here is my game outside the list:
My entry is a multi-player point & click adventure game intended to be played by three players simultaneously. Take on the role of a spy, detective or assassin, and try to catch the notorious mobster Stu Wilkins. But each character has their own goals, and the path the story takes is up to the players. There are twelve possible endings when playing with a full compliment of three players.
And now without further ado, the top 25 games of Adventure Jam 2018! Rather than a countdown, I am counting them up from best to less best, and so the best game of the jam is…..
By: Powerhoof (Twitter: @Powerhoof)
You are trapped on an island and need to escape, but once you do, things go from bad to worse. There were a lot of games in the jam that got a lot of things right, but this game just seemed to get everything right. From the unique and interesting art style to the story, pacing, characters, voice acting, and game design. It’s exciting and engaging from beginning to end. It’s no secret to some that I thought this developer’s entry last year was overrated, but this year they really knocked it out of the park. There were a lot of tough decisions compiling this list, but there was never any question this would be number 1.
2. Nine Survive
By: Michael Sheail (Twitter: @MichaelSheail)
Being a brand new employee at a company is stressful enough, but then you find out that the worst performing employee at the end of each day is killed! You better do whatever it takes to make sure it’s not you. A lot of times you hear a lot of buzz about the better games of the jam, but this one snuck up and took me by surprise. I started up this game not knowing what to expect and what a treat! This is a surprisingly polished game full of interesting characters, intricate well-designed puzzles, some pretty good comedy, and a whole lot to do. This game has a lot of meat to it, and is one of the longer games in the jam but without ever getting repetitive. This game needs much more attention than it’s been getting.
3. Aye Fair Lady
By: The Stairfall Institute (Twitter: @CharlotteGore)
You’re trying to go about your business, and then find out it’s Mandatory Singing Day! You must find a way to put a stop to this madness. It’s a very standard adventure game as far as gameplay goes. Don’t expect anything too unique or challenging, but it’s the level of polish that easily places it up here near the top. It has full voice acting for all of several characters in the game, and the songs written and performed for this game are certainly impressive for a two week jam. If you have played this developer’s other games, expect more of the same, which is to say a fun and whimsical experience.
4. Spy Quest 1 – Mission: SPECTRUM
By: Steven Don (Twitter: @shdon)
You are a spy and must infiltrate the shady SPECTRUM corporation. What you find there is truly shocking. You could have told me this game was made by Sierra in the 80’s, and I would have believed you (well mostly). It’s a strikingly accurate homage to early Sierra games and does it very well. It uses a text parser interface for commands, but don’t let that scare you away. It’s so well-designed that you don’t get stuck for long looking for synonyms or trying absurd things. This game is pretty short and it made me wish it was longer because it was just so fun to play.
By: IceFall Games (Twitter: @icefallgames)
There’s nothing better than eating ice worms and then sleeping all summer. But when you awake, it’s still summer! You must bring winter back. Yes, this is the second graphical text parser game in a row. That’s just how it worked out. Although this one does have a point and click option as well! Play either mode or switch between them in the middle of a game. The puzzle design on this is solid, and the main character is soooo cute. If you haven’t played games by this developer before, his text parser has to be seen to be believed. It takes all the pain out of text parser games with text prediction and other upgrades. I have to say I wasn’t as big a fan of the plot of this one as some of his other games. The strange magical “I don’t know why this works it just does because it says so on these mystical tablets” sort of thing in games isn’t much my thing. I like games a little more grounded in reality. That said, however, the game is fun to play, and have I mentioned that the main character is sooooo cute?
6. Antenna dilemma
By: Goloso Games (Twitter: @golosogames)
Life is good in cube town. The government goes to great lengths to make sure you can watch TV as much as possible. But your antenna is broken just when your favorite show is about to come on! This is another game that doesn’t stray from the tried and true point and click formula, but does what it does very well. I saw something like the ending coming from a mile away, but that’s not really a bad thing with a short game like this. The graphics are good, and it does a very nice job of painting a picture of what life is like in this world, as well as hints at nefarious government plots that we never truly see the extent of. It’s a short, fun game that keeps your interest throughout.
7. Ramp It Up
By: The Space Quest Historian (Twitter: @SQHistorian)
It’s time for the Ramp Festival, and little Jessica is so excited. She just needs to gather the remaining ingredients for her mother’s famous ramp and meat pie. With simple puzzles, a bright cartoony art style, and a story about a little girl helping her mother, you’d think this was a great little adventure game for children. You’d be wrong. Don’t play this with children. To be honest, I guessed almost exactly what the twist ending was going to be at the very beginning, but maybe I just know this developer’s proclivities too well. This game is very very simple but does have a few different endings, a good interface, and pleasant graphics. It is well worth your time.
8. Claude and the Phantom
By: Simon Reid (Twitter: @simonhreid)
Claude owns a junk… err antique store. When he acquires a spooky cat painting, things get a bit weird. The nice art style is probably the best thing about this game, but it wouldn’t be up here so high on the list if it wasn’t also fun to play. It’s very short and very easy, but the UI is well designed and the puzzles makes sense, so it ends up quite an enjoyable experience.
9. The Ransom
By: Off The Beaten Track (Twitter: @OffTheBtnTrack)
You have been kidnapped, and now find yourself in the back of a speeding carriage. You must escape using only what is in the small compartment. This is your standard “escape the room” puzzle really except the room is a carriage speeding along the side of a cliff. There is a very simplistic story to it which you uncover as you play, but mainly it’s just solve puzzle after puzzle with whatever you find inside the carriage so you can find something else to solve the next puzzle and eventually escape. I wanted to like this game a lot more than I did. The darkness was annoying to me and made the game feel like I was pixel hunting for interactable hotspots because I couldn’t see anything clearly, and the inventory system was not very good. All your stuff is on a table, and you can only pick up one thing at a time to carry and try to use on things, and it’s so dark you can barely see what’s on the table. Mostly the puzzles are well-designed and what little story is there is good enough for a puzzle game, but it could have been executed better.
By: CMMN_CLRS (Twitter: @CMMN_CLRS)
You don’t know where you are, but some weird guy keeps speaking to you over a loudspeaker about free will. Can you get out? This is an extremely short but impactful game. To be honest, there aren’t many puzzles and they don’t make a lot of real world sense. The style isn’t silly enough for cartoon logic to apply as much as it does here. But in the end, the game delivers quality voice acting, and a short but fun and ultimately strange experience.
11. The Last Act
By: Adam Findlay (Twitter: @awfindlay)
Someone has been murdered at the hotel, and you, being a great detective, will solve it. This game takes a lot from the game of Cluedo in that for each of the three acts, you must choose a room, a person, and an item. How you decide is based on your investigations around the hotel. The idea of this game is great, but the execution leaves something to be desired. I love the part when you give your theory, but I think it needs just a bit more, like it needs to do something more interesting when you get things wrong. As for the investigation part, this is relatively boring especially because you have to wait for him to walk to each room… and take the elevator… and walk some more and then in the room there is one or two things you can look at, and what you can examine is extremely obvious. Nonetheless, the interrogation and the way you expound upon your theory is interesting enough that this game has something to it. The characters and art style are also interesting so it sits at 11.
12. The Democracy Times
By: Giovanny Beltrán (Twitter: @agar3s)
You are a newspaper editor during the Great Depression and must keep your newspaper afloat. I really loved the gameplay here which consisted of making tough decisions about how to deal with other characters as well as laying out the front page of a newspaper to sell the most copies. You have a list of stories you can print and can choose between different layouts to maximize your profits, but there is also a powerful mob boss who wants you to print what he says, and you have to decide how to deal with that situation as well. Your choices throughout the story can lead it in different ways and to multiple endings. While it could have been a been a bit clearer what I was looking for in articles that would make people like them (the character is supposed to be an expert at this after all), I really liked the core gameplay mechanic of laying out the newspaper. I thought it very interesting and fun. The dealings with the other characters was also interesting although again I would have liked a few more options as to how to deal with certain situations. All in all, a very interesting and unique game.
13. Short-term Battery
By: Mateo Robayo (Twitter: @CapitanVelazco)
You’re a battery who is unable to keep memories, so you keep writing notes to your future self about what to do. The game’s pretty weird and really doesn’t make a lot of sense. The puzzles don’t make sense, the characters don’t make sense (why are they batteries?? It has nothing to do with the story), basically the whole thing makes no sense. But it’s weirdly entertaining anyway. The interface is easy to use and the art is good.
14. To The Surface
You are exploring a cave in a space ship. That’s all. If you were to have told me about this game, I’m sure I would have thought I wouldn’t like it. It sounds boring. There’s nothing to do but fly around in a space ship and find different places in a cave. But… this game is entertaining in its own way. It’s a more relaxing experience. There’s no way to die or fail, you just fly around and sometimes you come across some area with something in it to see other than cave. You can even leave whenever you want without finding any of the places. What makes this game not suck is the really amazing job done on the physics and ship controls. It feels so comfortable to fly around because the ship is so responsive it really feels like an extension of myself. It feels like a real object, but I’m never fighting with it to go where I want. Even if you think it’s not your thing, give this game a shot. You might be surprised.
15. Where Others Lie
By: Hexagon Blue (Twitter: @calicoreverie)
You must assist a new doctor on an exploration team to an unknown planet, but something strange is going on. It’s a pretty interesting story, and I like the sudden shift in tone. The core gameplay here is solid but the puzzles are too simple. In fact, you’ll likely solve the puzzles before you find them. It’s well put together, though, and easy to play. It would possibly be higher on the list if it weren’t for the fact that I hated the art style and the top down angle so much. It was a constant annoyance to me. Maybe you won’t agree and will like it more than I did. but either way, it’s worth a play.
16. For A Brief Flicker
By: DoorKnobHandle (Twitter: @howieeday)
You are the first officer aboard a starship! I don’t know if this is officially supposed to be in the Star Trek universe but it certainly is made to look like it is. Being a pretty big Star Trek fan (a bit more in my youth than now but still) I really wanted to like this game. And it looks beautiful. The sets are great. They capture the feel of a classic era Star Trek starship very well. It’s just that the gameplay isn’t that much fun… All you do is go to different places and click on some things to “check” them, and then do the same thing at some other places for your next quest, etc etc. Then wander around some maintenance passages… and that’s it. That’s the game. I can only imagine they had some more gameplay planned but ran out of time. But if you’re a classic Star Trek fan, you should give this a go just for the environments.
17. lab rats
By: Galit Weisberg
You are two rats and you are trying to escape from a lab. Yes, you are both rats at once. You control one with wasd and the other with the arrow keys. This is fine, but once you start adding in the use key and the separate tail movement, things get frustrating really fast. However, the art is great, and the puzzles are good. Plus, it’s short and not all that difficult so you’ll likely finish it before you get too frustrated with the controls.
18. Iron Sky: A Lunar Adventure
By: Fad Games (Twitter: @mjtorn)
You’re a prisoner of some nazis in a crashed space ship… for some reason. I think this has references to a movie or something so maybe that’s why I didn’t understand it, but the game basically just seemed like a random series of events to me. I never really knew what was going on. Why is there a cow? Who knows. I basically just solved the puzzles by randomly trying things and sometimes something did something. But even so, it’s not bad. I think being short helps it out a lot.
19. The Child of the Hill House
By: Marco Giorgini (Twitter: @marcogiorgini)
You’re a hit man, and you have to kill a kid who is all alone in a house. Sounds like an easy enough job, but there’s something evil here. I can tell a lot of work went into this game. It’s hard to play, though. It suffers from game designer logic a bit too much. I’m sure the solutions made sense to the designer, but they’re often not something a player would try, and the options for what you can try are extremely limited, like you have a lockpicking kit throughout the entire game, but there is only one lock you can pick despite there being lots more locked doors, and there’s no explanation for this. All it probably needs is some playtesting to ease the sticking points and rework a few of the puzzles.
By: Akril15 (Twitter: @Akril15)
This game has some nice art, especially the cutscenes with the static art that appears in pieces visual novel style work really well, and the art in gameplay is good as well. It also has some quite funny parts if you try certain things. Ultimately, though, it’s a bit frustrating to play. There is no indication of what can and cannot be interacted with, and the messages when you try the wrong thing are not helpful. Each screen of the game ends up with just randomly clicking on parts of the screen until something works. The puzzles themselves are very simple, but they take longer than they should because there’s rarely an indication of what your objective is on that screen. The game is fun to an extent but needs a lot more polish. It feels unfinished even for a jam game.
21. Amber eyes
By: Tanya Veksell (Twitter: @Veksell)
You come home after having been away and your brother acts like he hates you, but your mother is still kind. But after a short nap, everything has changed. This story had an engaging beginning and an interesting ending, but it seemed to lack a middle. A middle would have given the ending some context but as it was, I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. I think I get the point of the ending, but it lacked an impact on me because the game didn’t really build to it. So, good 1st and 3rd acts. Missing a much needed 2nd act.
22. One Night at Lunaland
By: Storyyeller Games (Twitter: @storyyellers)
You are a little girl in an amusement park after closing. A puppet from a fortune telling machine is taunting you, but also helping you it seems as there is a terrible monster out there trying to kill you. The art and voice acting in this is great. The gameplay is enjoyable to an extent but very simplistic. It comes down to just choosing up or down arrows at certain points and pressing space bar every now and then to light a match and scare the monster away. It gets pretty repetitive. Also, don’t run the wrong way or you’ll fall off the end of the picture into blue Unity background land.
23. Callowman VS. The Star Forces
By: Toast Hatter (Twitter: @Toast_Hatter)
You are the superhero Callowman and fight against the star forces. This is the first and only game in this list that is definitely 100% not an adventure game. It’s a side scrolling beat-em-up. Still it’s pretty decent. Just walk right and beat up star creatures. That’s basically all you do. My only real complaints about it is 1) it tells you all the wrong keys to press to do things. When it says to press “a” it really means “j” for example. Some of them I never actually figured out, so buying things at stores was just random to me because I had no idea what I was attempting to buy. 2) While you can do other things besides punch, 99% of the game can be beaten by just spamming the punch button and doing little else, maybe avoiding some saw blades or meteors and whatnot while you do it. But it’s fun to pass a bit of time not thinking too much, and the cutscenes are kind of funny.
24. Who I See
By: Chilling Circuits (Twitter: @ChillingCircuit)
A strange person walks into a hotel, and everyone sees her in a different way. This game is told from the point of view of whoever the main character is around and never from the point of view of the main character herself. It’s an interesting experiment. There are a few places where what you need to do to proceed is not at all intuitive, however. It’s very common to get stuck in this game and have to go around trying everything on everything to get anywhere.
25: The Basement’s Calling
By: Elisha Ramos (Twitter: @Pixelisha)
You’re locked in a basement and you want to get out, but a lot of weird things are happening down here. This game has some great things about it and could easily have been much higher on this list if it weren’t for some fatal flaws. The art is good, many of the puzzles are great, or at least great in concept if not in execution. The music is good, the sound design is amazing. But it’s just so hard to get into this game. When I first started it, I couldn’t do anything at all, nothing I clicked on worked, I spent I don’t even know how long looking at the 4 walls trying to click anything at all and nothing did anything and then the game crashed. I almost just figured this game was completely broken and didn’t start it again, but I did start it again because there was something suspicious about that crash. You see the thing is, the game didn’t crash. It simulated a crash and expected you to restart it at which point it picked up and allowed you to do things. But how many people would have restarted it after not being able to do anything and then it seemingly crashing. It just seems unplayably broken at that point. In any case, even after restarting, there are certain aspects of this game that are unbearable, pixel hunting in extremely dark screens, no indication of what is actually clickable at any given time, and what is clickable changes a lot. And it’s really too bad because clearly a ton of effort went into this game and there are some great things in it, but the way it is, it’s just not that much fun. When you play it, bring up a Let’s Play and play along with that. It’ll make your life a lot better.
And there you go, folks. Those are my top 25 games of the Adventure Jam 2018. I hope you enjoy playing them as much as I did.
Once again, if you want try out other games from the jam, all of them are right here: