Once in a while, you may see the term “Adventure Game” interspersed within the usual escape game lingo. To the average reader, these terms may seem interchangeable but the truth is they’re not. Unfortunately, not everyone uses a strict definition of either term. So, what is an adventure game? How are they different from an escape game? Well, to be frank, a lot of adventure games are escape games—or at least a variation of them. I think of it the same way that I think of overlapping movie genres.
And no, it’s not just because I watch people do ridiculous things on a screen all day.
For example, mystery movies tend to focus on compelling tension, unanswered questions, and macabre crime. Meanwhile, action movies typically focus on exciting fight scenes, daring car chases, high stakes, and a race against time.
And explosions, can’t forget explosions.
However, the two genres are not mutually exclusive. You can certainly have an action/mystery movie. Or you can have an action movie with just enough mystery to keep you engaged in the action. These genres can differ wildly from each other just by their focus and tone.
Adventure Games and Escape Games are similar. Both rely upon the premise of presenting the players with interesting challenges and obstacles, usually built around your escape from a locked room, with the key kept locked behind the final objective. Both of them can be incredibly immersive, with incredible set design and atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re truly on the scene.
The differences are mostly in the focus of the game. Many escape game enthusiasts draw the line at more traditional escape room challenges, favoring highly puzzle-oriented, difficult affairs with minimal tactile challenges, and usually featuring a very complex puzzle as a finale. Adventure Games, then, are less focused on puzzle difficulty, and more centered on cinematic immersion, bringing the adventures seen on the silver screen to life. These games usually feature more interactive sets, fewer or less challenging puzzles, and a faster sense of game flow than a typical Escape Room. They may or may not have all the hallmarks of a typical game, such as a strict time limit, clue system, or visually obvious locks.
For inexperienced players, the differences may seem small. Depending on who you ask, you may even get a different answer to the question “Is this an adventure game or an escape game?” Largely, the best definition is going to be your own. So get out there, play some games on the blurry edge of adventure, and see what you can come up with yourself.