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Adventure Game Of The Year

Thanks to adventure game creation tools like Adventure Game Studio a genre of games that has been neglected by mainstream gaming has found new life in the world of independent games. These renegade developers make up for their lack of budget with a dedication to story and gameplay experimentation not found anywhere else in the world of gaming. Whether it's the zombification of Bill Cosby in the Reality On The Norm games, or the suicidal goal of Dada: Stagnation In Blue, this thriving genre has such a wide range of titles to choose from that it is almost impossible to narrow it down to just three or four finalists. Choosing the finalists, much less a winner, for Best Adventure Game of 2003 was a bittersweet task thanks to all the dedicated developers out there that made 2003 one of the best in recent memory.

Finalists - in alphabetical order

5 Days A Stranger (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw) - Free

5 Days A Stranger
Although the primitive graphics in 5 Days A Stranger will turn many people off when looking at screenshots, as soon as you see your character sitting in his car outside DeFoe Manor you'll be sucked in. After a brief intro you'll gain control of your player character, a mysterious gentleman cat burglar known simply as Trilby, and things take off from there. Turns out the supposedly vacated house has been acting as a prison for four other unfortunate souls and it's your job to work with them to see what force is preventing you from leaving and... well, we don't want to give any more away. Needless to say 5 Days A Stranger features a fantastic story, some great puzzles, and well thought out dialog. It's no wonder it practically swept this years AGS Awards, and is up for many other awards in various other competitions. The only thing that kept 5 Days A Stranger out of our top spot was its relatively short length. While it's not the DIY grand prize winner, 5 Days A Stranger is a must play.

Further Info:
     Adventure Gamers Underground Review
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Anito: Defend A Land Enraged (Anino Entertainment) - $20.00 - 264meg Demo

Anito
Anito isn't an adventure game in the same "point & click" sense of the word that our other nominees are, but its approach is worth a look for anyone hoping to take part in a grand adventure. While the game has many RPG elements that would cause many to classify it as such, it was the great sense of adventure and exploration that caused it to get shifted slightly in our mind. Playing one of two different characters you must find your father, Datu Maktan, and rescue him in order to stop the internal and external forces that threaten to tear the lands of Maroka apart. The game's feature set is as compelling as its pair of unique and non-linear storylines, complete with over 150 NPCs, realistic day/night cycles, and a respectable combat and skill system. This adventure heavy RPG is a worthy addition to any adventurer's collection.

Further Info:
     Game Tunnel Review
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Apprentice (Herculean Effort Productions) - Free

Apprentice
Apprentice is another example of how an adventure game in a very small package can excel at several things all at once. With its fantastic graphics, great sound & music, fun story, and extremely entertaining writing, it is a case study on what makes a great independent adventure game. The moment you take control of would-be magician Mortimer Pibsworth you'll be compelled to drive through the game until you're finished, which brings us to the main reason it did not capture our top honors. The game ends too quickly; you'll miss spending time in the game almost as soon as you quit out. Thankfully a pair of sequels are in the works that could bring the series as a whole to legendary heights.
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DIY Game's 2003 Adventure Game Of The Year Award goes to:


Adventures of Fatman (Socko! Entertainment) - Now Freeware

Best of 2003
As the first non-freeware game to use the ever popular Adventure Game Studio, Adventures of Fatman broke a lot of ground, and not just in its pricing scheme. An enormous soundtrack, full speech dialog, dozens of locations, and a ton of on-disk extras make it a game that stands head and shoulders above its adventure game brethren in the content department. But it isn't just a bunch of files tossed onto a CD-Rom in an effort to add value; the game's story is fun, the writing smart, its puzzles clever, and it is one of the few games you'll play that will make you laugh out loud. The idea of a lethargic super hero might not be the most original topic out there, but all the game's other elements fit together so well that it doesn't matter. Pure adventure game fun.

Further Info:
     Just Adventure+ Review
     DIY Game's Save The Game Campaign for The Adventures Of Fatman


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