Travel during an interminable international health crisis is… a thorny issue. It’s a morally grey area. It’s a tricky one, and perhaps among the most disrupted of industries of the 2020s.
It’s a shame, truly and sincerely, given that travel is so nourishing for the soul. Yet where else but in interactive entertainment can that feeling of bold new horizons and intriguing new cultures be so readily felt?
Make no mistake, this isn’t about the feeling of a fantasy realm unfolding before your eyes — although that’s an awesome feeling. Today, we’re instead celebrating globetrotting in adventure games — wafting here and there around the world to pick things up, talk to people and probably run out of money.
Adventure games bear a wonderful distinction as coming from oodles of places all over the world. This makes them uniquely poised as wonderful slices of virtual tourism — look no further than a recent jaunt through Indonesia in Sumatra: Fate of Yandi or A Space for the Unbound – Prologue for some endearingly intimate love-letters to lovingly rendered locales.
Yet venturing from place to place, no doubt taking all kinds of things you’ve picked up around town that customs luckily never seem to object to you moving from one country to another, is a brilliant aspect of so many adventure games. In the prologue for Chinatown Detective Agency, futuristic travel opportunities are in abundance — vital to solving your cases, but paid for out of pocket. Hope you’ve read the clues right.
Falling in love with locations from around the world — albeit with a touch of cheeky stereotyping and silly accents thrown in here and there — is a staple of the Broken Sword series. Paris is all foreplay for these point and clickers par excellence — whatever mysterious occult threat George and Nico are unearthing, chances are it’s taking them far and wide throughout Eurasia — and beyond — to solve.
It’s wonderfully executed, from pubs in Ireland to South American jungles, and it lets the spirit of high adventure and meddling with secret societies feel all the more exotic. Having once lived in the town in question, however, your humble writer can confirm on behalf of Broken Sword 3 that Glastonbury doesn’t actually look like that.
It’s OK though, because — whisper it — Broken Sword does Glastonbury better.
The idea of gadding about all over the world has been going on as long as graphic adventures have been around — hasn’t always been quests for glory, maniacal mansions and secretive primate archipelagos you know.
Zak McKraken is an (in?)famous example of an early-days graphic adventure game where travelling all over the world was a crucial component of the experience. The level of freedom veered towards the dazzling, potentially even draining your finite cash reserves long before you figure out how to solve the game.
Ah, unwinnable adventure games! Those were the days.
And for bonus points, how about globetrotting all over the world — and time-travelling while you do it, like Kelvin & The Infamous Machine?