Get your fedora hat, gas up your Weird Edsel, and practice avoiding all sorts of untimely deaths, because we're about to take you on a whirlwind tour of some of the most fun freeware adventure games you can find. It feels like there's never a shortage of freeware adventure titles on the ol' Internet. But it's definitely a little tricker to dial down and find the games that are worth playing--especially in the adventure genre, where the first three to five minutes of gameplay can greatly affect your interest in going through the rest of a game's storyline.
We've hand-picked five adventure games that you need to slap on to your hard drive this instant. They're a solid mix of games based on the classic Lucasarts SCUMM engine, games that look like your favorite top-down console titles, and games... that defy any catagorization whatsoever. But don't take our word for it. Let's start the list!
This gorgeous game describes itself as an "epic faerie tale," set in the same style as some of the top adventure games from the genre's heavyweights, Lucasarts and Sierra. Buried within A Tale of Two Kingdoms is a treasure trove of detail: the game comes with five separate endings (wow!); over an hour of high-quality, original music (wow wow!) and the usual onslaught of NPCs to interact with and side quests to accomplish. For the true fans, a director's commentary mode is even available--the perfect way to add more depth to an already weighty adventure game.
You're under the control of a ghastly spirit, tasked with discovering what's going on in a faraway fortress of evil. The game's original graphics give it a creepy, fresh visual appeal, and customized music, battle systems and menus keep the title from looking like a stale clone of any ol' generic adventure title. While our only criticism of the title is its length--3 to 5 hours of gameplay, at most--you'll still enjoy your brief stay in this spooky 2D title. If you like the music, be sure to download the soundtrack from the official site!
As the name suggests, you're Ben Jordan and you're a paranormal investigator. In the latest addition to the eight-part series (!), you've been dispatched to Rome to free a person who claims he's been wrongly arrested for a murder. The game's visuals are well-done, but we appreciate the vocal work most of all. The game comes with full, voiced dialogue that actually syncs up to the lip movements of the characters--a feature we'd expect to see in a retail title, not a freeware game. The locations the game takes you through in Rome fit the environment well, and we appreciate the spoken Italian as a means of bringing you further into the story and setting.
This game has won plenty of awards for its gripping story, fun dialogue, and awesome art. In Nelly Cootalot, you play as... well, Nelly Cootalot. A ghostly spirit has tasked you with finding out why a certain breed of birds is missing. That, of course, is the twist that tosses you into a larger quest that's filled with all the evil and intrigue you'd expect to see in a pirate-themed adventure title. The community has validated this game beyond belief, so if you haven't already had a chance to check out Nelly Cootalot, you owe it to yourself to put this at the top of your must-download list. Yargh.
We really enjoy the darker art direction of this title. It's not spooky in a "here comes a chainsaw" horror sense, but What Makes You Tick's mysterious landscapes remind us a lot of Twin Peaks for some reason. In many ways, the storyline follows suit. You're Nathan and you've been sent to investigate the mysterious disappearance of one, Dr. Coppelius, about a year prior to your arrival. As it turns out, you aren't the only person looking for the good doctor--but that's what happens in these 1800s-era mystery games, right?
If you're looking for more non-adventure games to play (or other freeware applications and utilities that we've profiled), be sure to check out our previous list of 25 awesome open-source and freeware goodies that deserve your attention! Games, productivity enhancers, graphics programs -- it's all there!