Best Action-Adventure Games, Ranked

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Highlights

  • The article showcases a variety of must-play Action-Adventure games for gamers of all kinds.
  • Among the standout titles in this list are Elden Ring, Resident Evil 4 Remake, Control, BioShock, Horizon Zero Dawn, and many more.
  • From Tunic’s enchanting puzzles to Death Stranding’s post-apocalyptic odyssey, Ghost of Tsushima’s tales of sacrifice, It Takes Two’s cooperative enchantment, Ratchet and Clank’s interdimensional escapades, God of War’s Norse saga, and Elden Ring’s open-world challenges—these distinct games offer a thrilling spectrum of epic adventures for every gamer.

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Video games can act as many things. They can be stress relievers or even stress inducers. They can act as gateways to other perspectives that we’d never consider, allowing us to vicariously live through another and witness different experiences. But above all, video games are escapes from reality that tell amazing stories and show wondrous environments that we could only dream of.

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Action-Adventure games have dominated the gaming landscape for as long as we can remember. From old classics like Banjo-Kazooie to modern gems like The Last of Us, the genre has produced incredible games. While the Action-Adventure genre could be a bit murky to identify, as long as there’s some element of exploration and discovery then you’re in for a treat. The following games are among the best of the genre, offering compelling narratives, memorable characters, and engaging environments.

Updated on December 14, 2023, by Mohamed El Ouardighi: The Action-Adventure genre remains a favorite for many gamers due to the diverse range of games it offers, each bringing fresh ideas while staying true to the genre. In this update, we’ve added a few more entries to the list that you should consider trying out.

29 Tunic

fighting against goo creatures tunic

Tunic

Released
March 16, 2022

Developer(s)
Andrew Shouldice

Tunic takes you on a magical adventure through an enchanted forest that functions similarly to The Legend of Zelda. You control a fox cub and must gather pieces of the Game Manuel to find equipment and navigate through the forest.

The Game Manuel is written in an unknown language, indicating that either the fox is too young to read or it’s simply not in English. Tunic offers a wide range of elaborate puzzles and dangerous enemies to thwart your quest to save the entrapped fox spirit.

28 Death Stranding

Sam stands on the side of a mountain in Death Stranding

Following his split from Konami in 2015, the industry anxiously awaited legendary director Hideo Kojima’s unveiling of his first solo project. After much anticipation, Kojima Productions revealed Death Stranding at E3 2016, a game that certainly fits the criteria of Kojima’s wild imagination.

Death Stranding stars Norman Reedus (best known for his role as Daryl in The Walking Dead television series) as Sam Bridges, a deliveryman. He travels across the barren United States trying to reconnect scattered colonies. When it launched in 2019, Death Stranding was met with generally positive feedback and a director’s cut edition was created for the PlayStation 5.

27 A Plague Tale: Innocence/Requiem

a plague tale amicia and hugo walking through rats

While many games are set in unrealistic environments like outer space or alternate realities, some games take us to historical periods in the past. A Plague Tale: Innocence takes place in the middle of the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. By controlling 15-year-old Amicia de Rune, players must stealthfully avoid enemies as Amicia and her sickened brother Hugo try to escape French soldiers and infected rats of the black plague.

A Plague Tale: Innocence launched in 2019 on all major platforms and was met with an overwhelmingly positive reception, as well as winning Best Narrative at The Game Awards that year. A Plague Tale: Requiem launched in 2022 and continued the harrowing tale of the de Rune siblings and their hopes of surviving against the Order.

26 BioShock

BioShock
via screenrant.com

As unexplored and unknown outer space seems to be, the ocean is just as frightening in its own right. Set in 1960, BioShock is an adventure unlike any other, as the game follows protagonist Jack as he explores the underwater city of Rapture.

While BioShock is primarily a first-person shooter, the 2007 game is a chilling adventure with all sorts of twists and turns. BioShock received tremendous critical acclaim and is among the highest games on Metacritic and was nominated for Game of the Year.

25 Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor

Main character with half side lit up in Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Monolith Productions sought to develop a cutthroat, adventurous, combat-filled Lord of the Rings game, and while they succeeded in doing that, the studio discovered an interesting game mechanic. Shadow of Mordor launched in 2014 and is an original tale set in the J.R.R. Tolkien universe. You assume the role of Talion, a captain of Gondor, who seeks revenge for the death of his family.

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Shadow of Mordor received tremendous praise, especially for its Nemesis system. This mechanic centered around tracking the Uruk you’d encounter throughout the game. Ones who killed you would be promoted and you could track them down to get your revenge and also weaken Sauron’s forces in the process. But enemies that kill you will get stronger themselves, so the Nemesis system essentially would act as an evolving feature in the game. Although this feature has only been used in Shadow of Mordor and its sequel, Shadow of War, many have insisted on other games adapting the mechanic.

24 Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

lego star wars kylo ren and rey fighting

What’s an adventure if it’s not exploring a galaxy far, far away? And in Lego form? Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the ultimate collection of beloved games, as you work your way through the nine episodes.

Don’t let the Lego charm fool you; The Skywalker Saga is a masterpiece full of the wondrous magic that captivated you when you first watched these movies. With 380 total characters, The Skywalker Saga will keep you entertained for quite some time.

23 Control

Control Destructible environment entry

Control Destructible environment entry

In her search for answers, Jesse Faden stumbles across a mysterious building called the Oldest House, where she is surprised to find that she has become the new Director. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that there are deeper layers to this place than meets the eye.

With Remedy’s signature touch and inspiration from previous titles like Alan Wake and Quantum Break, you take on the role of Jesse, wielding a combination of guns and supernatural powers in a Metroidvania-style format. The game features a large, nonlinear world map that can be explored at your own pace, allowing you to uncover the secrets of the Oldest House and seek the answers Jesse came looking for.

22 Far Cry 6

The latest iteration in Ubisoft’s Far Cry series takes players to the war-torn country of Yara. For decades, the people of Yara have been ruled with an iron fist by the Castillo family. The current dictator, Anton Castillo, has started grooming his young son, Diego Castillo, in the ways of governing the country. Assuming the role of Dani Rojas, your mission is liberating the country and breaking free from the grasp of Castillo.

On the island, there is a multitude of firepower for Rojas to use in fighting against Castillo’s forces. Whether it’s machine guns, rocket launchers, or animal companions known as Amigos, Yara is your destructive playground. Even after you complete Far Cry 6, various enemy leaders will sprout up and try to claim bits of the island for themselves. Ultimately, the fighting never ceases in vying for control of Yara, so don’t get comfortable.

21 Resident Evil 4 Remake

Leon in Resident Evil 4 remake aiming his pistol with flames engulfing him.

If you enjoyed the original Resident Evil 4 back in the day, you’ll find a nostalgic experience in this remake. While keeping the characters and story familiar, the remake enhances the game with improved graphics and smoother gameplay, delivering the beloved experience to you with additional touches here and there.

Embarking on the journey as Leon Kennedy to rescue the president’s daughter, Ashley Graham, you face numerous challenges while dealing with the Los Iluminados and their leader who attempts to thwart the mission. The game provides a variety of guns to aid players in combating enemies and accomplishing the rescue mission.

20 Stray

cat wondering through ruins of Walled City 99 stray

Stray

Released
July 19, 2022

Developer(s)
BlueTwelve Studio

If you’ve ever wondered how it feels to be a cat, then Stray is the perfect game for you. Taking place in an apocalyptic setting, you control a curious kitty that gets separated from its pack and is lost in the depths of the world.

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The human race is seemingly extinct, as the main population in the ruins of Walled City 99 are robots called Companions. With the help of an A.I. named B-12, you must figure out how to open the enclosed city and return to the surface world.

19 Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy

Rocket, Star Lord, Drax, Gamora, and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Released
October 26, 2021

Developer(s)
Eidos Montreal

Following the failed experiment known as Marvel’s Avengers, Square Enix decided to take a different approach. Instead of a live-service experience, the publisher sought the expertise of Eidos-Montreal and produced Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. This game would be the standard linear experience associated with most single-player games, and better received critically than Avengers.

By controlling Star-Lord, the Guardians of the Galaxy are investigating a mysterious cult that’s calling themselves the Universal Church of Truth. Their leader, the Grand Unifier Raker, tries to justify his motives, but ultimately they’re the same as every other villain: complete domination. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a contained adventure that takes you to many iconic locations and crosses paths with many iconic characters.

18 Pokemon Legends: Arceus

The male character in Pokemon Legends: ARceus looks at a Bidoof.

For nearly 40 years, Pokemon has remained one of the most popular IPs in entertainment. From trading cards to shows and games, Nintendo and Game Freak continue to churn out pocket monster content, and we continue to eat it up. But eventually, no matter how successful you are, change is always needed. And so, Pokemon Legends: Arceus was created.

Unlike most of the previous games, Arceus focuses more on exploring the various environments and capturing Pokemon. There is still a battle element in the game, but you won’t be tasked with collecting gym badges and defeating the Elite Four. Arceus is all about searching new areas, discovering new Pokemon, and experiencing a new way to catch them all.

17 Uncharted Series

Naughty Dog rose to fame through its creation of Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter for the early PlayStation consoles. The developer continued its masterclass of game development with the Uncharted series. The first of the series, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, introduced us to the treasure hunter Nathan Drake.

Drake’s personality and obsessive desire for exploration led many to compare him to another legendary adventurer, Indiana Jones. Rumors have circulated since early 2021 that another Uncharted game was in the works, but nothing concrete has been revealed.

16 Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

star wars jedi fallen order

Since acquiring the exclusive rights from Disney to develop Star Wars games in 2013, it’s been a bit hit or miss for Electronic Arts. The company struggled mightily with microtransactions that frustrated its player base, particularly with Star Wars Battlefront 2, but seemingly learned from its mistakes with Jedi: Fallen Order.

This new adventure took place after the Empire’s rise, about five years after the events of the Revenge of the Sith. The game introduced us to a new, young Jedi hiding from the growing Empire named Cal Kestis. After revealing his Force powers, Cal is hunted down by Imperial Inquisitors who were trained by Darth Vader himself. Jedi: Fallen Order contains numerous environments that reward you for deep exploration. In August 2021, EA confirmed that the studio would continue to invest in the world created in Jedi: Fallen Order.

15 Batman Arkham Series

Batman Arkham Knight

In the early console days, it was pretty normal to get superhero games that were based on the current movies at the time. Some classics, like Spider-Man 2, are still considered amazing action-adventure games to this day. But in 2009, Rocksteady elevated the superhero adventure genre to new heights with Batman: Arkham Asylum.

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The first title in the Arkham series introduced the cape crusader in a darker setting, as Batman tried to contain the escaped inmates at Arkham Asylum. The sequel expanded the environment to include all of Gotham in Arkham City and Arkham Knight, creating one of the most immersive game worlds to date. Already one of the most popular superheroes in history, the Arkham series boosted Batman’s popularity even more, as the series received widespread critical acclaim and success.

14 Shadow Of The Colossus

shadow of the colossus wander standing

When ranking the best PlayStation 2 games, it’ll be difficult to find a list without Shadow of the Colossus. Known as the spiritual sequel to the classic Ico, Shadow of the Colossus follows a young man named Wander on a quest to bring a girl named Mono back to life. Wander must travel throughout the Forbidden Land to slay gigantic creatures to obtain the power to revive Mono.

Many look to Shadow of the Colossus as being a monumental game in terms of innovative gameplay, the setting as a whole, and the high emotions accompanied by the story. Since its original launch in 2005, Shadow of the Colossus was remastered on the PlayStation 3 in 2011 and then received the full remake treatment in 2018.

13 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

assassins creed odyssey

Among the long-running Assassin’s Creed series, Odyssey was the first to introduce the choice of a male or female character. Hopefully, you chose Kassandra, as she became not only one of the best characters of the series, but her actions showed that she is one of the best role models in games. On top of a memorable protagonist, Odyssey’s setting is arguably the most stunning of the series.

The eleventh installment of the series, Odyssey was the first of the series not to follow the traditional struggle for power between the Assassin Brotherhood and the Templar Order. Instead, Odyssey followed the tale of a young warrior fighting in the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Although its predecessor was called Origins, Odyssey is technically the first game of the series chronologically, taking place in 431 BC. Odyssey also featured a deeper focus on RPG elements with expanded dialogue and upgrade options.

12 Red Dead Redemption 2

Arthur Morgan and his horse looking out from a mountainside in Red Dead Redemption 2

Immediately following the critical success of Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar Games began work on developing the next in the series. Over eight years of development later, Red Dead Redemption 2 launched to outstanding praise. The game is among the highest-rated on Metacritic and many pegged it as their Game of the Year in 2018.

Despite having the number two in the title, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to the events of its predecessor. It follows the story of Arthur Morgan, a long-time member of the Van der Linde gang. Throughout the game, you eventually encounter John Marston, the protagonist from Red Dead Redemption. The game features an incredible open world with plenty of activities to satisfy your dreams of roaming the wild west.

11 The Last Of Us Part 2

Many fans of The Last of Us might’ve been satisfied with how the game ended, but Naughty Dog was determined to keep the story going. Set five years after the events of the first game, The Last of Us Part 2 continued Ellie and Joel’s story as the two tried to come to terms with the consequences of Joel’s decision at the end of the first game.

The Last of Us Part 2 expanded the amazing world of its predecessor, while also bringing the gameplay elements to modern standards. The enhanced combat mecha, polished graphics, and emotional story were enough for The Last of Us Part 2 to win Game of the Year honors in 2020.

10 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

geralt fighting against tree creature the witcher 3

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt continues the thrilling tale of Geralt of Rivia in his journey to save Ciri from the Wild Hunt. Geralt encounters several deadly creatures throughout the game and also reunites with old friends.

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Geralt’s third adventure is universally loved and has been considered one of the greatest games ever made. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has an enormous open world with a plethora of memorable side quests.

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