The 10 Best Action-Adventure Games of All Time

There’s something deeply satisfying about a video game that lets you run around in three-dimensional space, shooting, jumping, and solving whatever puzzles or problems the game throws at you. When done well, action-adventure games can consume players’ attention on just about every level. Below, we take a look at the 10 best action-adventure games of all time.

As for our methodology, we surveyed all of the action-adventure games listed on Metacritic that received exceptional praise all around. For each game, we created a composite score that includes both critic and user ratings (e.g., a game with a 95 critic score and 93 user score would receive a 94 composite score). This should gives us the clearest picture of how well the games were received overall between the time of release and now.

10. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Composite Metacritic score: 93

The third installment of this spy-driven franchise is possibly the best. Once again you play as Sam Fisher, the sneaky government operative known for getting the job done. This time, the stealth mechanics have been honed to near perfection, giving you previously impossible options like the ability to strangle or shoot enemies while hanging upside-down. A handful of new multiplayer modes round out the package, creating one of the most highly acclaimed action-adventure games of all time.

9. The Last of Us

Composite Metacritic score: 93

There’s no doubt about it: The Last of Us is a masterpiece and one of the best games of its console generation. It tells a deeply personal story of a man named Joel who takes on the job of helping a 14-year-old girl get across the country — which might be easy, except that the game takes place in a post-apocalyptic America full of murderous fungal monsters. If you haven’t played this game yet, it’s high time you changed that.

8. Okami

Composite Metacritic score: 93

When you play Okami, you might wonder why more games don’t let you play as a wolf. This game is downright gorgeous, with watercolor graphics depicting an ancient Japanese setting. The wolf in question is Amaterasu, the Japanese sun god, and your job is to traverse the land, interacting with the characters you meet and completing dungeons, a la The Legend of Zelda. As you progress, you learn new skills and acquire new gear, becoming more powerful until you face off against the ultimate evil. Okami is an excellent addition to any action-adventure fan’s gaming library.

7. Grim Fandango

Composite Metacritic score: 93.5

A classic point-and-click adventure game, Grim Fandango takes place in the afterlife and draws heavily on film noir for inspiration. You play as Manny Calavera, a travel agent who helps newly departed souls make their way through the Land of the Dead. But as in movies like The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, things go sideways quickly, and you find yourself wrapped up in a conspiracy you’ll have to untangle before the credits roll.

6. Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence

Composite Metacritic score: 93.5

Many view this version of Metal Gear Solid 3 as the best game in the whole series. That’s saying something, because each entry in the series has been lauded from top to bottom by critics and gamers alike. While the controls might take a few hours to get used to, it’s well worth doing to play this masterpiece. From the smart level design to the ingenious boss encounters, there’s nothing in this game that’s not wholly memorable. To play it is to fall in love.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Composite Metacritic score: 93.5

The first installment of the Zelda franchise to span two systems (the GameCube and Wii), Twilight Princess is a remarkable game on many levels, not least of which is that it’s huge. While most previous Zelda games could be completed in 20 or so hours, Twilight Princess can easily absorb 40 hours or more of your life. And it’s time well spent, thanks to its endlessly enjoyable dungeons, epic boss battles, and dark, twisting story line.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Composite Metacritic score: 93.5

The second (but not last) Zelda game to make the list is Majora’s Mask, a Nintendo 64 game that has seen an uptick in popularity recently thanks to the 3DS remake that launched in 2015. In this installment, the moon is on a crash course with the planet, and is expected to make impact in three days, destroying everything and everyone. You play as a time-traveling Link, who repeatedly goes back to the beginning of those three days to conquer dungeons and stop the end of the world. If you like Ocarina of Time (and who doesn’t?) there’s a good chance you’ll love this one too.

3. Metal Gear Solid

Composite Metacritic score: 94

It took CD technology to create truly cinematic video games. Thanks to the extra storage space afforded by compact disks, video games could offer full voice acting and long cinematic cut scenes. The original Metal Gear Solid on PlayStation deserves loads of credit for introducing both of those things, all while seamlessly mixing game design with Hollywood sensibilities. While the controls may be tough to get a handle on and the story jumps the shark early and often, there’s no denying what a top-tier game Metal Gear Solid is. Nor would most gamers question its place as one of the most important games in the history of the medium.

2. Resident Evil 4

Composite Metacritic score: 95.5

Resident Evil 4 is somewhat controversial as a survival horror game, as it plays more like a full-on action game than the earlier entires in the series. What’s not controversial is how awesome the game is.

Whether you’re clearing zombies out of an otherwise idyllic European town or taking down a giant troll, there’s hardly a chance to catch your breath in this remarkable game. Most people agree the series began going downhill after this installment, but when a game is this good, it would be almost impossible not to.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Composite Metacritic score: 96

It’s no surprise that one of the most universally adored games of all time takes the number one slot. The Legend of Zelda: Ocraina of Time is a classic in every sense of the word. It originally launched on the Nintendo 64 in 1998, bringing the traditionally top-down series into three dimensions. But unlike many games that struggled to make the transition to 3D, Ocarina did it flawlessly, bringing the expert design of the previous games to life in a whole new way. This game not only paved the way for all future Zelda games, but also for nearly every other game on this list.

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