Action-adventure games allow players to start an epic journey, no matter the setting – fantasy worlds full of dragons and magic can be just as exciting as Western-themed games or modern settings.

An action-adventure game is exactly what is says on the tin. They mix dynamic, responsive gameplay which makes exploration and combat engagign and exciting, with story-driven experience often full of puzzles and challenges requiring clever mind and keen eye.

They might have progression mechanics, and even a considerable freedom, but usually they also are keen on putting you in discrete scenarios where you, your character, and your combines abilities are the only thing that can save the day.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled a list of some of the best action-adventure games out there, with options from many different settings, diverse specific playstyles, and available on various platforms. Without further delay, let’s take a look at our (by no means exhaustive) list of the best action-adventure video games for computers and consoles alike

Action-adventure Games

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God of War

Release date:2022-01-14
Genre:Action
Developer:Santa Monica Studio

With the imminent launch of the sequel, Ragnarok, it’s no time like the present to catch up on Kratos’ story with the first game in the Spartan’s Norse saga. 2018’s God of War is a phenomenal game in its own right, shifting the camera to a third-person perspective letting you enjoy not only the wonderful scenery, but also impactful combat animations as Kratos cleaves through his enemies.

God of War

The game takes place long after the original games. It follows Kratos and his son Atreus as they get tangled up in the family problems of Norse gods despite wanting nothing than to just give the boy’s mother a proper burial. Unfortunately, god Baldur comes knocking, maddened by the mixed blessing put on his by his mother Freya. Things only get more complicated from there.

Key features
  • After dealing with the Greek pantheon Kratos ended up among the Norse gods
  • Stunning locations on Earth and other realms
  • Kratos is aided by his son Atreus, providing ranged support with his bow
  • The sequel brings Thor into the mix of gods Kratos has to deal with, one way or another
        

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Release date:2019-11-15
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Respawn Entertainment

Jedi: Fallen Order came suddenly like Order 66 and just like that even has seemingly lasting legacy, seeing how it’s going to have a sequel. There are good reasons for that: Fallen Order is a singleplayer game following Cal kestis, who survived the Jedi cleanse half a decade earlier. Having lived as a scrapper scavenging old ships, he was discovered and forced to flee again.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

What follow is a great adventure alongside a former Jedi Master, a snarky pilot, and some allies met along the way. Jedi: Fallen Order features a great mix of high-stakes combat, worthwhile exploration, and many exciting sequences driven by the story. There are even some well-integrated guest appearances from other Star Wars media. A perfect modern Star Wars game.

Key features
  • The story continues in the sequel scheduled for 2023
  • An offline, third-person singleplayer Star Wars game
  • Great, varied combat system with several lightsaber types
  • Great cast of characters
        

Ghost of Tsushima

Release date:2020-07-17
Genre:Action-adventure
Developer:Sucker Punch Productions

A PlayStation exclusive, Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima is a stunning action-adventure game set on the titular Tsushima island during the first Mongol invasion of Japan. As Jin Sakai, the last survivor of the first battle against the invaders you take it upon yourself to liberate your homeland, no matter the cost. Indeed, the means you choose to fight back become a core of the story.

Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima is an open world game, and the world is drop dead gorgeous, with immersive navigation, vibrant colors, and fantastic designs. The gameplay itself mixes open, melee-oriented combat and stealth elements, as you infiltrate and sabotage enemy camps. If you’re looking for an awesome action game that’s surprisingly historically accurate, Ghost of Tsushima is exactly that.

Key features
  • Great story
  • Immersive world design
  • Interesting side content
  • Looks incredible
        

It Takes Two

Release date:2021-03-26
Genre:Action-adventure, platform
Developer:Hazelight Studios

One of the most impressive game of recent years, It Takes Two never lets any single gameplay idea overstay its welcome. It gleefully changes your key abilities with every stage and although it has many puzzles, the learning curve isn’t steep, even if nailing the timing or accuracy might be a bit more tricky. Doubly so, in fact, because ITT is an exclusively co-op game.

It Takes Two

You’re paying as two awful parents turned into tiny dolls by a bit of magic, and forced to explore their own home in order to preserve their marriage, turn back into humans, and stop making their daughter sad. Each stage is a different area of the house and they are all wonderfully detailed, with many downright whimsical minigames and interactions in addition to story-relevant sequences.

Key features
  • Phenomenal, varied and engaging gameplay
  • Only playable with a co-op partner
  • Lovely aesthetic and an honestly pretty sad and dark story
  • From the developers of A Way Out and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
        

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Release date:2017-03-03
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was something of a system seller for the, then brand new, Nintendo Switch. The open-world Zelda game turned out to be even better than the trailers suggested. With a large and diverse map, excellent physics engine which encourages creative solutions, and a lovely, stylized aesthetic were a winning combination.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

BotW gave players so much freedom that they can try to challenge Ganon right out of the tutorial, misguided though that might be. The game was a big enough success that, like a few other games on the list, it now awaits the release of a direct sequel. We can expect more gripping adventures, and also a bigger involvement of Zelda, now free from sustaining the spell.

Key features
  • Wonderful open world
  • Plenty of secrets and się-quests
  • Creativity is encouraged and empowered
  • A sequel in the making
        

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Release date:2021-10-26
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Eidos-Montréal

The Marvel Cinematic Universe breathed new life into the Guardians of the Galaxy, a once niche-but charming crew of space vagabonds solving and causing crises around the galaxy. And it turns out that GotG is not only good for two movies, but also a video game! Better yet: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy mixes elements of the movies and the comics to deliver an exciting, quippy fun.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Although the entire group is the protagonist, you’re only controlling Star-Lord. Thankfully, since he’s the leader, you also get to give orders and direction to your team-mates, as well as resolve disputes, and act as the face for your band of misfits. GotG is a fantastic game, with an engaging story, awesome graphics, and exciting combat filled with clever ability synergies.

Key features
  • You really feel like you’re a part of a dynamic team
  • Dynamic, yet tactical combat
  • Solid dialogues
  • The galaxy is vibrant and frequently entertainingly weird
        

Shadow of the Colossus

Release date:2018-02-07
Genre:Action
Developer:JAPAN Studio

Shadow of the Colossus is a remake of a 2005 production of the same title. It’s a fantastic adventure in a mysterious world inhabited by giant and powerful colossi – as you might have guessed from the title. Despite this admittedly epic premise, the game is far from bombastic, instead opting for a pretty sad tone. It tells a story of a man named Wander seeking a way to bring a young woman named Mono back to life.

Shadow of the Colossus

His search leads him to an ancient shrine where a mysterious being promises to make his wish come true only if he accepts to find and defeat several powerful colossi that roam the land. As such, the gameplay revolves around exploring the area and fighting with said colossi – each boss is more powerful than the previous one and requires a different approach to defeat. Figuring out the weak spot is a huge part of the game – harder bosses may even require the environment to be used against them.

Key features
  • Vast open world environment
  • Gameplay focused entirely on demanding boss fights
  • Skill-based combat system
  • Stamina gauge that turns scaling colossi into kind of a mini-game
        

Borderlands 2

Release date:2012-09-20
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Gearbox Software

On a more casual side we’ve got Borderlands, or more specifically, Borderlands 2 – a title that combines the first-person shooter with RPG, meaning you can expect to find randomized loot, a semi-open world, great humor, and a seemingly infinite number of exciting quests, all packed inside a single game. BL2 is a stylish return to the universe and a beginning of an epic adventure where your own skills are as important as the skills of your character.

Borderlands 2 - shooting

Explore the world and earn experience to make your avatar stronger and more efficient in using either guns or magic-like abilities. Hunt for rare loot and use even more powerful weapons to wreak havoc upon those who are unreasonable enough to cross paths with you. The game is unique on several levels, including visuals – its comic-like art style is what the series is best recognized for, but humorous dialogues and puns also deserve a mention.

Key features
  • An engaging story that takes place after the events of the first Borderlands game
  • Four different character classes with their own unique skill trees
  • Randomized loot system with increasingly powerful guns and equipment items to be found as you play
  • Lots of memorable characters and a great dose of humor
        

Assassin’s Creed II

Release date:2005-10-03
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Ubisoft Montreal

Assassin’s Creed 2 starts the trilogy of Ezio Auditore da Firenze – the trilogy that is considered by most the best thing that could have happened to the entire AC franchise by a long shot. The story runs alongside two parallel tracks. The modern day story follows Desmond Miles, using the Animus machine to travel back in time and relive the past of your ancestors, looking for clues that could help the Assassins gain the upper hand against the Templar Order in their centuries-lasting conflict.

Assassin’s Creed II

The other part of the story takes you to Renaissance-era Italy, and stars Ezio in the leading role, as he chases his own vendetta against people who got his family killed. There are multiple improvements over the title’s predecessor, making it a much more enjoyable experience – for example, the combat system was completely overhauled, now putting more emphasis on parrying attacks and countering incoming strikes.

Key features
  • Renaissance Italy setting with beautiful landscapes and detailed surroundings
  • An engaging story involving many historical figures, including a young Leonardo da Vinci
  • Huge open world environment full of hidden collectibles designed with completionists in mind
  • A satisfying combat system that allows players to approach missions in different ways
        

Grand Theft Auto V

Release date:2015-04-14
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Rockstar North

GTA series was always known for the amount of freedom it gives to players, but with GTA V things went over the roof. Ride a car, shoot some baddies, fly a helicopter, visit a local cinema, play some golf, or go for a relaxing session of yoga – the possibilities are almost endless. The story revolves around three people who get involved in a plot that involves the most important figures in the game’s setting, including the FBI, the International Affairs Agency, and the Merryweather private army.

Grand Theft Auto V

In GTA V there’s always something to do, even after completing the story mode – if you somehow managed to find all collectibles, master all skills, fully upgrade all weapons, and finish all side missions, there’s also an online mode where the fun never ends, thanks to constant updates and occasional events.

Key features
  • An engaging crime story that won’t allow you to be ever bored
  • A huge and realistic open world environment that lives its own life
  • Tons of customizable weapons to choose from
  • Constantly updated online mode with tons of multiplayer-exclusive content
        

Portal 2

Release date:2011-04-18
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Valve

Following the success of Portal, Valve decided to put even more effort into the sequel, giving us one of the best puzzle games ever created. Portal 2 focuses on solving a series of increasingly difficult puzzles with the use of a portal gun – a tool capable of creating portals you can freely move between. Of course, that requires a suitable surface, portals can be picky about where they appear.

Portal 2

As you move through the test chambers with a sarcastic GLaDOS artificial intelligence acting as the guide, you will learn that there’s more to the place you found yourself in than first meets the eye. It’s worth noting numerous improvements over the game’s predecessor, with the most notable being an introduction of new materials and objects for players to interact with, such as lasers, light bridges, and paint-like gels that alter the surface’s grip, and a well-designed multiplayer co-op mode.

Key features
  • Increasingly difficult puzzles that will test your wits to the limits
  • A humorous narrative that often breaks the serious atmosphere
  • Online cooperation mode with a multiplayer-exclusive set of challenges that require teamwork
  • Can be enjoyed by the younger audience and children due to lack of blood and casual gameplay
        

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 

Release date:2016-10-27
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios

Skyrim is a true RPG experience, and even if you’re not a huge fan of the genre, you should at least give it a try, or you’re missing one of the best sandbox adventures ever made. TESV allows players to return to the Elder Scrolls universe once more, this time focusing on the Dragonborn’s adventures in the snowy and dangerous lands of Nords. It has great character progression system, open world that feels alive, tons of crafting recipes, and lots of side quests waiting for heroes like you.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 

You are guaranteed to have a lot of fun while exploring the cold and frosty Skyrim province, inspired by Scandinavian locales and the Norse culture. What’s more, the title is still quite popular, thanks to a large fanbase and an active modding community that constantly releases new ways to alter the core experience in a meaningful way, so even if you finish the base game you will easily find new mods filled with alternate content.

Key features
  • Huge open world environment with beautiful landscapes and memorable landmarks
  • Character progression that gives more freedom and doesn’t tie players to any particular playstyle
  • Satisfying combat system with the use of melee weapons, magic spells, and powerful dragon shouts
  • Engaging side missions that will keep you busy for days to come
        

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Release date:2016-05-10
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Naughty Dog

If you’re looking for some intense and action-packed adventure, then look no further than Uncharted 4, as it has everything a good action-adventure title should be filled with. The game tells the story of the Drake brothers as they search for the long-lost pirate treasure. During their journey, they will meet dangerous people they’ll need to deal with, and they will need to solve some mind-bending puzzles in other to get closer to their target.

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

It’s important to note the game’s amazing narrative, smooth combat and gunplay mechanics, stunning graphics, and beautiful locations you’ll be able to explore. Unfortunately for some, the game is only available on PlayStation 4 but if you didn’t play this title yet it wouldn’t be unreasonable to consider getting the console just for this one exclusive – it’s one of the best-selling PS4 games and not without a reason.

Key features
  • An excellent story focused on the adventures of an experienced treasure hunter
  • Gameplay that combines a variety of activities, including climbing, shooting, exploring, and sneaking
  • Astounding graphics and smooth animations that make the game feel extremely realistic
  • Multiplayer mode for up to 10 players with several available game modes
        

BioShock

Release date:2016-09-15
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:2K Australia

BioShock is one of the classic games that every fan of action-adventures should be familiar with. Explore remains of what once was an isolated utopia and learn the truth behind its collapse. The game combines the first-person shooter with stealth and adds survival horror elements to the mix. It takes place in the seemingly abandoned underwater city, but you will quickly discover that it’s not exactly devoid of inhabitants. 

BioShock

The story revolves around ADAM – a drug-like substance capable of altering the DNA code to grant people whatever supernatural powers they wish. As you venture into the unknown trying to find your way out of the secluded place you will face several dangers, mainly in the form of ADAM-addicted individuals and massive Big Daddies – genetically modifed, armored humans conditioned to protect the Little Sisters collecting ADAM.

Key features
  • A unique setting that takes players back to the 1960s, to the underwater city of Rapture
  • Dynamic encounters that encourage the use of both traditional weapons and special powers
  • Interesting narrative and well-thought plot
  • Dark and claustrophobic locations that increase the tension and the feeling of helplessness
        

Dark Souls 2

Release date:2015-04-01
Genre:RPG
Developer:FromSoftware, Inc

While Elden Ring is all the rage right now, it’s worth drawing attention to where it came from. Like its spiritual successor, the Dark Souls series is noteworthy for several reasons, but most important is its incredibly high but rewarding difficulty. Dark Souls 2, however, seems to strike a good balance between hardcore and casual gameplay, making it still a very challenging title, but also slightly more accessible for newcomers. 

Dark Souls 2

Character movement is much smoother and convenient than it was in the first game, bosses are usually not as demanding and frustrating, and healing is easier, thanks to having access to an infinite number of healing consumables which can be bought directly from a merchant. With that being said, the game is still quite hard and will surprise you on numerous occasions so you better prepare to die. A lot.

Key features
  • Dark fantasy setting full of twisted and creepy creatures
  • A skill-based combat system that greatly rewards learning the game’s mechanics
  • Demanding gameplay focused on fighting increasingly difficult bosses
  • Incredibly rich lore hidden in descriptions of items you find during the game
        

Red Dead Redemption 2

Release date:2019-11-05
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Rockstar Games

Although we don’t have many Western-themed titles, when we finally do get one it’s absolutely amazing. But it’s Rockstar, after all, so what else did you expect than yet another masterpiece? While RDR 2 has some similarities with Grand Theft Auto V, it would be unfair and plain wrong to say that it’s just a reskinned GTA with a new plot and characters.

Red Dead Redemption 2

The game does a fantastic job at creating a true Western atmosphere with a huge open world that feels alive. It’s detailed to a point that you can watch people actually do their chores in a very realistic way and observe how they just lead their busy lives as the time goes on from dusk till dawn. Gameplay-wise, it’s especially worth paying attention to satisfying gunplay and complex interactions, with the world reacting to whatever you decide to do.

Key features
  • Memorable story with some incredibly touching moments
  • Outstanding visuals made with extremely high attention to details
  • A huge open-world environment that lives its own life
  • A wide array of available weapons to use, from simple knives and tomahawks to revolvers and shotguns
        

Batman: Arkham City

Release date:2012-09-07
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Feral Interactive (Mac)

Batman also made its way to the list with its 2011 entry called Arkham City – a game that should be known not only to fans of the Dark Knight’s adventures but also to those who love some good action mixed together with an interesting story. This time it involves a highly disruptive and ill-conceived idea of turning an entire district of Gotham into a prison, an extension of the Arkham Asylum. The initiative is led by doctor Hugo Strange, whi knows a crucial and dangerous secret.

Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City gives you an opportunity to play as the well-known DC Comics superhero, and it does it flawlessly. The game not only managed to capture the spirit of the famous cape-wearing pacifist but also gave players dynamic gameplay with a fluid combat system and a story that begs for unraveling. Expect to meet numerous familiar characters, including Bane, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Joker himself, as you explore a vast city that once again cries for Batman’s assistance.

Key features
  • Game set in the Batman universe, starring many well-known characters and villains
  • Open world environment that encourages exploration, thanks to the generously scattered collectibles
  • Gameplay that combines smooth and fast-paced action with stealth elements
  • Character progression full of new skills and equipment upgrades
        

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Release date:2015-09-01
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Konami Digital Entertainment

Snake returns, but he’s suffered a lot and his body is weakened. Following the events of Ground Zeroes, the Big Boss awakens from a nine-year coma and has yet another dangerous mission ahead of him. The game is set in 1975 and will let you take on a series of the most difficult tasks in Afghanistan and Central Africa. Working as an infiltrator behind the enemy lines you are expected to act silently and without raising suspicions.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Stealth plays a major role in the game, which is emphasized by the protagonist being adept at sneaking, making silent takedowns and hiding bodies. He also has plenty of infiltration-assisting tools, such as tranq dart, various decoys, and more. With that being said, going full Rambo style is still possible. Your approach to any given mission is later rated, giving you a title suitable for your methods.

Key features
  • A dynamic third-person game with a lot of action going on
  • Vast open world environment with visually-stunning landmarks
  • Emphasizes stealth play and favors taking a more careful approach
  • World-class voice acting
        

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Release date:2015-05-18
Genre:RPG
Developer:CD PROJEKT RED

Cited by many as one of the best games ever made, it’s no wonder it appeared on the list. Based on a series of Polish novels, The Witcher tells a story of a monster hunter for hire, equally skilled at undoing hexes and hunting down dangerous beasts. The final part of The Witcher trilogy concludes Geralt’s journey, but the toughest battle that will decide the fate of the entire planet is yet to come, and it’s up to you how the adventure will end.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The game mixes action-adventure gameplay with RPG progression, and it’s polished to the point where it would be hard to make anything better than it already is. Expect to visit mysterious places and beautiful locations in a vast living open world, fight legendary beasts, find powerful loot, and face off against dangerous creatures threatening the very existence of mankind. And after an exhausting day of slaying monsters, you can take a break and play a relaxing round of Gwent in a local tavern.

Key features
  • Takes place in a beautiful fantasy world, where player’s choice matters
  • Combat that encourages using a combination of melee attacks, magic signs, and decoctions
  • A believable open world that feels alive and can be explored freely
  • Character progression with an experience system, skill trees, and equipment management
        

Half-Life 2

Release date:2004-11-16
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Valve

We didn’t forget about classics – although not a typical action-adventure game, this iconic and genre-defining first-person shooter has all the rights to appear on the list, as it features both action and adventure, among other things. Half-Life tells the story of Gordon Freeman as he fights the mysterious alien empire known as Combine. Attracted by the events from the previous game they decide to pay Earth a visit and quickly conquer the entire planet

Half-Life 2

That leaves people no other choice than organize in small groups and form some sort of resistance power. Gameplay-wise the title focuses on gunplay, but also throws environmental puzzles to the mix – what’s interesting is the fact, that these can be usually completed in a few different ways, thanks to the physics-based world that encourages experimenting and rewards finding creative solutions to presented problems.

Key features
  • Sci-fi setting with aliens and advanced technology
  • Satisfying first-person experience in one of the most popular classic games
  • Physics-based puzzles that require manipulating the environment
  • A diverse set of enemies, each requiring different tactics to defeat

Save the day, solve the riddle, and never look at explosions

This concludes our list of some examples of the best action adventure games out there. It’s, of course, by no means exhaustive, the genre is rich, diverse, and incredibly exciting to explore. We hope we’ve helped you find something you’d love to begin your adventures with.