"Walking Simulators": Puzzle/Exploration games

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

Octodad: Dadliest Catch
The Room
Gone Home
Dear Esther
Everyone's Gone to the Rapture
Into Blue Valley

you could also argue that crafting games of all kinds are walking simulators, so maybe Terraria, Minecraft and what not?


Meta Forksclove-Liebeskind (forksclovetofu), Tuesday, 25 August 2015 20:48 (four years ago) link

does Kentucky Route Zero count? that one seemed genuinely weird and atmospheric from what i saw.

i thought Octodad was more game-y, because the walking part was made deliberately difficult.

lil urbane (Jordan), Tuesday, 25 August 2015 20:53 (four years ago) link

ether one

am0n, Tuesday, 25 August 2015 21:11 (four years ago) link

I like that there are still games that don't involve killing everything that moves. I just wish there was more substance in most of these.

aaaaablnnn (abanana), Tuesday, 25 August 2015 21:15 (four years ago) link

Worth pointing out that steam allowed "walking simulator" as a tag, after banning "not a game". This was fuel to the original GamerGate fire, the idea that these games were only really getting awards because of Collusion, they couldn't (like clearly, "empirically") have done so on their own merits.

Andrew Farrell, Tuesday, 25 August 2015 22:01 (four years ago) link


polyphonic, Tuesday, 25 August 2015 22:02 (four years ago) link

Haven't played most of these but there's a gulf between The Room and Dear Esther. I don't care about the semantics - maybe 'game' is as misleading a term as 'song' when applied to instrumental music - but The Room has ludic elements in abundance, Dear Esther has none.

ledge, Tuesday, 25 August 2015 22:18 (four years ago) link

Ok I read the link. This is ok:

A secret box is a game which is built around some form of content and challenge is trivial or absent.

Except a) stop coming up with cutesy names and ii) stop arguing black is white because grey exists. The Room and half the other games he mentions have a significant amount of challenge.

ledge, Tuesday, 25 August 2015 22:28 (four years ago) link

Sorry I sound really ornery. Good thread! Keep it up!

ledge, Tuesday, 25 August 2015 22:30 (four years ago) link

in the end elder scrolls games are walking simulators

i have the exact puzzle box from that video

playlists of pensive swift (difficult listening hour), Tuesday, 25 August 2015 22:38 (four years ago) link

i bought the vanishing of ethan carter ages ago in a steam sale and still haven't got around to playing it, but i think that fits the bill here right?

bizarro gazzara, Wednesday, 26 August 2015 09:53 (four years ago) link

Definitely. Ethan Carter, Dear Esther, Rapture are all more similar to each other than to anything else on that list, because they're walking simulators in the sense that they convey some of the feeling of going for a walk. Nice views, countryside settings, realist visuals. I love all three and would happily play a lot more similar stuff.

Far cry 3 and 4 are kind of ruined walking simulators, in that sense. Nice walks around lovely areas spoiled by shooty fuckers and chompy animals.

JimD, Wednesday, 26 August 2015 15:20 (four years ago) link

btw my big hope for Rift/Vive/Morpheus is that they encourage a lot more of this kind of content. Just people saying "hey, we made a nice environment, go and have a look round it".

JimD, Wednesday, 26 August 2015 15:22 (four years ago) link

Actually Into Blue Valley looks like it might fit the same category, hadn't heard of it before but am interested.

JimD, Wednesday, 26 August 2015 15:25 (four years ago) link

I'd also include Epic Citadel on iOS, which was just meant to be an unreal engine tech demo but was really enjoyable (I thought) as one of these.

JimD, Wednesday, 26 August 2015 15:27 (four years ago) link

Going by one of the definitions here, almost every adventure game during the 80s and 90s was a "walking simulator" simply because you didn't shoot anyone. The only difference now is the use of a first person 3D engine

Still quite a way aways from Holodeck territory

Nhex, Wednesday, 26 August 2015 19:14 (four years ago) link

which of these should i play if i liked gone home?

doing my Objectives, handling some intense stuff (LocalGarda), Wednesday, 26 August 2015 19:21 (four years ago) link

by definition there's very little walking in them but the two Endless Ocean games on the Wii totally fit this bill and are also two of my fave games. given the debt they owe to collect 'em ups like Pokemon i'd argue that the latter are essentially walking sims too?

MC Whistler (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 26 August 2015 19:21 (four years ago) link


i would say the ultimate endstate of the Dark/Demons' Souls games are to turn them into walking simulators DID I JUST BLOW YOUR MIND

Meta Forksclove-Liebeskind (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 26 August 2015 22:04 (four years ago) link

totally agree on endless ocean
katamari often has elements of this as well

Meta Forksclove-Liebeskind (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 26 August 2015 22:05 (four years ago) link

^Viridi, a real-time potted plant simulator

Meta Forksclove-Liebeskind (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 27 August 2015 01:17 (four years ago) link

good point on the souls series, forks - i guess part of the appeal of those games for me is exploring these beautiful, lonely ruins and uncovering the story of how they came to be, which is basically the point of walking simulators too. the amount of lore those games contain is amazing, even more so since it's possible to play through from start to finish and only scratch the surface fo what is happening and why.

i'd definitely play a modded dark souls where you could just wander round at your own leisure, taking in the sights. much as i wasn't hugely keen on the way enemies in dark souls ii would stop spawning if you killed them often enough, i did occasionally clear a section of an area and spend some time just admirning the details of the environment.

bizarro gazzara, Thursday, 27 August 2015 09:50 (four years ago) link

It may be stretching the definition a bit (since it appears that you're in a car most of the time, although I still haven't played the game so I'm not positive), but I gather that Afrika basically fits this bill? You travel around and take pictures of animals.

Herbie Mann's Push Push Pops (Old Lunch), Thursday, 27 August 2015 12:51 (four years ago) link

do the portal games fit this category? there's no combat per se and the environment is important in telling the story indirectly, but something about the presence of glados and wheatley keeps me from saying the portals fit the bill. is a feeling of loneliness a built-in part of walking simulators?

bizarro gazzara, Thursday, 27 August 2015 13:03 (four years ago) link

Should you be able to die in a walking simulator? Aside from something like walking off a cliff?

Herbie Mann's Push Push Pops (Old Lunch), Thursday, 27 August 2015 13:09 (four years ago) link

yeah, good point - i think maybe not? like gone home would feel very different if there was a real threat of death rather than the creepiness of exploring an abandoned house.

bizarro gazzara, Thursday, 27 August 2015 13:13 (four years ago) link

so by that metric portal definitely isn't one

bizarro gazzara, Thursday, 27 August 2015 13:14 (four years ago) link

Datura and Goat Simulator might count.

Herbie Mann's Push Push Pops (Old Lunch), Thursday, 27 August 2015 13:16 (four years ago) link

Portal is a straightforward puzzle game, surely? With some manual dexterity tests (I bloody love these games but can't get that far in them because a combo of natural maldexterousness and trackpad means I fail half the jumps)

emil.y, Thursday, 27 August 2015 13:17 (four years ago) link

it's built around a cool puzzle mechanic for sure, but it's not exactly tetris in its straightforwardness - it has an interesting story which is revealed both through dialogue and close inspection of the environment, which are both key elements of the walking simulator genre.

you're totally right that it's way more challenging than a straight-up walking simulator though - there's no element of frustration caused by wrestling with the controls in proteus, for example.

bizarro gazzara, Thursday, 27 August 2015 13:23 (four years ago) link

i played Ecco the Dolphin like this as a kid. never got very far in pursuing the 'story' or exploration, it was enough fun just to swim around and see how high you could jump out of the water.

lil urbane (Jordan), Thursday, 27 August 2015 15:54 (four years ago) link

Ecco was shockingly difficult, iirc

Nhex, Thursday, 27 August 2015 16:13 (four years ago) link

wow that Afrika game looks great. wish I had a PS3.

I think I play a bunch of games like Assassins' Creed b/c what I really want is to explore, if only virtually, interesting environments? I don't much care how much game there is if the environment is appealing enough.

but I am not sure that this is what we're talking about here.

droit au butt (Euler), Thursday, 27 August 2015 16:19 (four years ago) link

i'd maintain that Assassin's Creed is much more fun as a historical, scenic climbing simulator vs. the actual assassinating/plot. well, at least the first one, not sure how it holds for the sequels

Nhex, Thursday, 27 August 2015 17:49 (four years ago) link

only found out about Afrika today and funnily enough not thru this thread. needless to say i v much want it, but even more i now apparently want an English version of Aquanaut's Holiday: Hidden Memories

MC Whistler (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 27 August 2015 17:51 (four years ago) link

yes I've only played the first AC & was thinking of it; have a couple of the Italian ones but uh they're in my queue. obv I really want to play the Paris one too.

along the same lines I played the Saboteur mostly as a way to engage with the environment of occupied Paris during the 2nd WW. I did blow up a bunch of stuff too as a partisan, but even that was environmental interaction. I can't get into any GTA b/c I don't enjoy the amorality they seem to encourage, where shooting pedestrians is a key way to engage with the environment.

droit au butt (Euler), Thursday, 27 August 2015 18:24 (four years ago) link

so let's divvy these up:

games where the non combative narrative exploration of the game world is more or less the entirety of the game but with an aim toward an end state: gone home, dear esther, everyone's gone to the rapture, proteus, among the sleep

games where the exploration of the game unearths intentionally simple puzzles that once solved unlock additional narrative, rinse repeat until you get to end state: the stanley parable, talos principle, brother, journey, thirty flights of loving, GROW, superbrothers, windosill, monument ... maybe portal at the upper reaches of this sliver of gaming

pet rock /sim style games where you are caring for / photographing / capturing / collecting game elements with no definitive end state but with a strong personal narrative throughout... call them "open sims" - afrika, endless ocean, pokemon snap, viridi, animal crossing, cart life, papers please

no end state crafting worlds or god sims where combat is second to exploration/world expansion: Minecraft, terraria, darwinia

"puzzle box" games where each step forward in the narrative is accomplished by figuring out a self contained brainteaser leading to a definitive end game state- the room, her story, little inferno, year walk, amnesia

punishing survival games with combative play where mastery of play results in rendering a complex game world open to painless joyful exploration - don't starve, dark souls, spelunky, super meat boy, octodad

strange mobius strips of minimal (but satisfying) game play that release tiny droplets of world/character development through infinite replayability - desert golfing, crossy road, flappy bird


Meta Forksclove-Liebeskind (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 27 August 2015 18:28 (four years ago) link

maybe a category for the on rails/minimal interaction kind of Interactive Fiction that is borderline Not Interactive Fiction in disguise? stuff like Photopia, Digital: A Love Story almost

and Myst et al belong somewhere in your second category too i think and might be grandparents of the genre

MC Whistler (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 27 August 2015 18:51 (four years ago) link

Myst/7th Guest/CD-ROM era definitely making a comeback these days

Nhex, Thursday, 27 August 2015 20:36 (four years ago) link

four months pass...

watched some Talos Principle at a friend's house and it looks really interesting, also really huge?

expertly crafted referential display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 29 December 2015 19:57 (four years ago) link


lute bro (brimstead), Tuesday, 29 December 2015 20:24 (four years ago) link

five months pass...

Gone Home available on PS+ this month. Have never played any of these games but am kinda psyched to give this a spin.

circa1916, Saturday, 4 June 2016 21:49 (four years ago) link

It's fun! Not earthshaking, but it's well-written and deft at environmental storytelling.

one way street, Saturday, 4 June 2016 23:42 (four years ago) link

Hadn't heard of this one until very recently:


What's Your Definition of a Dirty Baby? (Old Lunch), Sunday, 5 June 2016 00:13 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

Here are ones I've played recently:

Jalopy. I'm a big fan of the driving games that aren't actually racing games and require minimal effort. Also search My Summer Car and The Long Drive

Burning Daylight. Nice story driven dystopian cyberpunk looking game, not even a game tbh.

Signal Simulator. Just sit around in a satellite base checking and decoding signals from space. Sometimes go outside and fix broken things, and get freaked out. Sublime.

Scanner Sombre. Wander around a huge cave network in complete darkness armed with a laser that shoots coloured dots to draw the landscape. Nice in vr

The Coin Game. spend money on arcade token games, or bumper cars and stuff. roam freely around the small island at night catching buses.

Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor. Beautiful looking game, very odd. Pick up litter and sell some of it. Change gender every now and again.

Angler's Life. super-sim, in early development. A bit crappy at the moment but the fishing mechanic is impressive.

Recommend me some story driven games please!

Ste, Friday, 13 December 2019 09:17 (six months ago) link

Florence is very short but very good at what it does (document a failing relationship using some (mini-, frankly) games).

Andrew Farrell, Friday, 13 December 2019 12:12 (six months ago) link

kentucky route zero was my favorite of the initial crop of these but i can't fully recommend it until the final act comes out, cmon its been like 4 years

ciderpress, Friday, 13 December 2019 16:32 (six months ago) link

i didn't get too far in it but Eastshade is nice, sort of an elder scrolls-esque world but with no combat or rpg stuff mucking it up, just lore and side quests

ciderpress, Friday, 13 December 2019 16:38 (six months ago) link

A friend of mine has been raving about Return of the Obra Dinn.

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 13 December 2019 16:38 (six months ago) link

Obra Dinn is good as hell but not a walking simulator really, the walking is paired with a very crunchy logic puzzle mechanic.

Swilling Ambergris, Esq. (silby), Friday, 13 December 2019 16:40 (six months ago) link

obra dinn is a mystery/detective game, dunno if it counts here. i guess theres kinda thin lines between this genre and point-and-click adventure games on one side and puzzle games on another side and visual novels on another

ciderpress, Friday, 13 December 2019 16:48 (six months ago) link

All generic line-drawing is corrupt and irresponsible so yeah who knows, it’s a family resemblance

Swilling Ambergris, Esq. (silby), Friday, 13 December 2019 16:53 (six months ago) link

yes Obra Dinn is far too head taxing to be counted as a nice numb walking sim for me. It's a good game though, my first play through I flew through and failed at everything, I should retry really

Ste, Friday, 13 December 2019 17:06 (six months ago) link

I searched for walking simulator on steam and this made me lol


reggae mike love (polyphonic), Friday, 13 December 2019 18:32 (six months ago) link


change display name (Jordan), Friday, 13 December 2019 18:37 (six months ago) link

Amazed no one has mentioned 'The Witness' yet! It's great.

S-, Sunday, 15 December 2019 08:39 (six months ago) link

I watched someone stream firewatch and it seemed pretty good as far as these things go (not a huge fan of the genre)

#FBPIRA (jim in vancouver), Sunday, 15 December 2019 09:14 (six months ago) link

the witness is an incredible puzzle game but i wouldn't put it anywhere near the walking simulator genre.

The Pingularity (ledge), Sunday, 15 December 2019 13:24 (six months ago) link

two months pass...

bumping, i'm sort of feeling the walking simulator thing lately. i love exploring environments without a lot of time pressure or involved cut scenes; immersive environments, tchotchkes to find without stupid logic puzzles to solve first, playing around and experimenting with things. i really enjoyed breath of the wild - not a lot of plot or voice acting (the voice acting there was, i thought was atrocious) or hand-holding. games like that?

Kate (rushomancy), Saturday, 14 March 2020 16:59 (three months ago) link

A Short Hike is a small & simple & pleasant one

ciderpress, Saturday, 14 March 2020 17:07 (three months ago) link

also Eastshade as i mentioned upthread is kinda like an elder scrolls game with the combat and rpg system removed if that appeals

ciderpress, Saturday, 14 March 2020 17:17 (three months ago) link

yeah, of the ones i browsed eastshade, a short hike, scanner sombre looked nicest

think i'd have to play eastshade on the wife's computer, though, she's got a much more swank machine than i do

Kate (rushomancy), Saturday, 14 March 2020 17:44 (three months ago) link

yeah it ran kinda choppy on my pretty good machine but they might have optimized it more since release

ciderpress, Saturday, 14 March 2020 17:47 (three months ago) link

i picked up A Short Hike on the Epic giveaway and it's nice and runs fine. not as immersive as a bigger title but pleasantly aggro free so far

Psychedics with Rosie Swash (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 14 March 2020 17:55 (three months ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.