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 the ones set in modern times. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, so fasten your seat belts and check out some of the best action-adventure games of all time.
Keep in mind that due to limited space it’s not possible to list all of the good video games – we had to pick just a few so don’t be surprised if your favorite game doesn’t appear down below.
|Genre:||Action role-playing, first-person shooter|
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.
Return to the Borderlands universe with style and start an epic adventure where your own skills are as important as the skills of your character. 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.
Assassin’s Creed II
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.
AC 2 takes place in modern times and medieval Italy simultaneously – playing as Desmond Miles in the present you will use 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. 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.
Grand Theft Auto V
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.
GTA V focuses on a story of a group of three people who get involved in a plot that reaches some of the most important figures in the fictional world, including the Federal Investigation Bureau, the International Affairs Agency, and the Merryweather private army. 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.
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 gun capable of creating portals on suitable surfaces you can freely move between.
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.
Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus is a fantastic adventure in a mysterious world inhabited by giant and powerful colossi – as you might have guessed, your task will be focused entirely on exploring vast open land in order to find them and defeat them.
The game is a remake of a 2005 production of the same title and it tells a story of a man seeking a way to bring a young girl named Mono back to life. 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.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
|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.
Skyrim 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. With a great character progression system, an open world that feels alive, tons of crafting recipes, and lots of side quests waiting for heroes like you, you are guaranteed to have a lot of fun while exploring the cold and frosty Skyrim province. 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.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
|Genre:||Action-adventure, third-person shooter, platformer|
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. 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.
God of War
|Genre:||Action-adventure, hack and slash|
|Developer||SIE Santa Monica Studio|
When you finally decide to get your hands on the PS4 console, don’t forget to also try God of War, another exclusive title that should keep you busy for some time.
God of War follows the story of the former Greek God of War, Kratos, and his son, Atreus, as they venture into the Northern lands to fulfill Kratos’ wife’s last wish. Inspired largely by Norse mythology, the game lets you explore ancient Norway in the realm of Midgard, where dangers in form of hostile monsters and Norse gods themselves will try to stop you from desecrating the forbidden lands. The title is a fast-paced game with a combo-based combat system that rewards chaining attacks and successfully landing hits, but character progression should also be mentioned.
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. 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 form of ADAM-addicted individuals and massive Big Daddies – living diving suits that appear on the game’s cover.
Dark Souls 2
You might be wondering why we picked this one instead of the latest installment in the Dark Souls franchise that appears to be better in almost every aspect, but according to Metacritic, it’s DS 2 that holds the title of the best Souls game.
Dark Souls series is unique for several reasons, but most notably for its incredibly high but rewarding difficulty. Dark Souls 2, however, seems to strike a balance between hardcore and casual gameplay, making it still a very challenging title, but also slightly more accessible for newcomers. 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 that 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.
Red Dead Redemption 2
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. The game does a fantastic job at creating a true Western atmosphere with a huge open-world that feels alive – it’s done 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 noting satisfying gunplay and complex interactions, with the world reacting to whatever you decide to do.
Batman: Arkham City
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 dark knight’s adventures but also to those who love some good action mixed together with an interesting story.
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 Riddler, Bane, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Joker himself, as you explore a vast city that once again cries for Batman’s assistance.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
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 – stealth plays a major role in the game, which is emphasized by giving the protagonist an ability to sneak, hide bodies, make silent takedowns, and equipping him with tranquilizer darts and decoys, to name some of the available options. With that being said, going full Rambo style is still possible but discouraged.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
|Developer||CD Projekt Red|
Cited by many as one of the best games ever made, it’s no wonder it appeared on the list of the best action-adventure games of all time. Based on a series of Polish novels, The Witcher tells a story of a hirable mutant tasked with undoing hexes and hunting down folklore beasts for a living.
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 game is a classic action RPG experience but polished to the point where it would be hard to make anything better than it already is. Expect to visit dozens of mysterious places and beautiful locations in a vast living open world, fight legendary beasts, find powerful loot, and face off against the most dangerous beings in the series, threatening the very existence of mankind. And after an exhausting day of slaying hostile creatures, you can take a break, visit a nearby tavern, and play a relaxing round of Gwent with the locals.
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. Unwelcomed guests attracted by the events from the previous game decide to pay the Earth a visit and quickly conquer the entire planet, leaving 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.
The Best Action-Adventure Games
Action-adventure games mix elements from both action and adventure genres in order to create a title that is usually story-driven, but at the same time, they give players a lot of challenges, most often in form of dynamic combat and puzzles, that require players to use their wits and reflexes to overcome and finish. Because of the genre’s hybrid nature, action-adventure games are probably the most popular and most inclusive of them all, sometimes even appearing in conjunction with other genres if that wasn’t enough – it’s not uncommon to see a role-playing game, a shooter, or a platformer that can also be considered both action and adventure. The same goes to the visual style, as action-adventures can be 2D or 3D, or even 2.5D, there’s no rule.
On the list above we carefully picked some of the best action-adventure games for your convenience, in case you missed some great game you didn’t even hear or know about. Take your time and decide yourself which game to play next – will you give a chance an entirely new production, or maybe nostalgia kicked in and you’ll play one of the classics once more to remember the old days?