Reply To: Dying in adventure games?

Home Forums Previous Months 64 – December 2021: Space Quest Dying in adventure games? Reply To: Dying in adventure games?


Growing up I had a lot of these Sierra games laying around, so I just got used to the idea that you would constantly die in these games. Saving often is the only real way around it, I think.

Although it’s also worth noting that these games are very much not intended to be completed on your first try. They kind of expect you to start over and over, learning as you go and eventually work your way through it.

Ron Gilbert of Lucas wrote a famous article on this in 1989 called “Why Adventure Games Suck”:

In this article he layed out some fundamental design principles that would make adventure games better in his opinion, of which the most important ones (imho) are no deaths and no softlocks. Lucas adopted this new philosophy starting with Loom and The Secret of Monkey Island, and all of their next games incorporated it as well.

Sierra never really made this shift, although there is a lot of variance within their catalogue. Even within one series, like Space Quest, some games are way more harsh than others. Space Quest 4 kills you in almost every screen, while Space Quest 3 is a lot more relaxed.

I’d say nowadays it’s seen as “bad design” when a game allows you to get stuck or outright kills you without giving the player a chance to prevent it or try again. Most modern adventure games I’ve played don’t really follow the “Sierra formula” anymore and I think ultimately that’s a good thing.

But even though these old Sierra games can be quite gruelling in terms of gameplay, I feel there’s still a lot of amazing content in them. So checking that out, even if it’s with a walkthrough or some hints provided by UHS, is still very much worth it I’d say.