Treasure hunting has always been a very intriguing subject and it gave life to many movies, including the ultra-popular Indiana Jones series. But there are also some video games that borrowed the motif and adapted it to a story that defines the gameplay. We did not take into consideration casual hidden object point and click games, instead we tried to find those titles that have their story centered on the treasure hunting thematic.
Dive: The Medes Islands Secret
John Saunders is an experienced diver and a treasure hunter who tries to locate and recover several sunken ships on the bottoms of diverse oceans around the world. Dive: The Medes Islands Secret is a realistic fiction platformer-action video game released for the Wii console. It has over ten levels and recreates the underwater environment from ten different real locations around the globe. Enemies, labyrinths, dangers and treasures are just some of the elements that spice up the already interesting gameplay.
LandStalker: The Treasures of King Nole
LandStalker: The Treasures of King Nole is an action-adventure role playing game where Nigel, a treasure hunter, receives the task of searching for the clues that lead to the treasure of King Nole. Played from an isometric view, the game’s environments take the player both through outdoor areas and through dungeons. The main character can walk, jump, swing his sword, and climb ropes and ladders in order to fight off mythological creatures such as ogres, skeletons, ghosts and golems. Some puzzles and obstacles also appear in the player’s path and force you to jump from platform to platform, activate switches and move blocks to climb on.
In an environment based on procedurally generated caves, a spelunker is collecting treasures, saving damsels in distress, fighting enemies and dodging traps. The goal of the game is to gather as many jewels, gold and archeological artifacts while avoiding animals like bats, snakes and spiders of varying sizes. Drawing its visual styling and gameplay inspiration from games such as La-Mulana, Rick Dangerous and Spelunker, Spelunky is a fine example of a roguelike-like gaming title.
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A 2D side-scrolling platform game, Shovel Knight allows the players to control an eponymous character whose main goal is to collect treasures and fight against the Order of No Quarter. The hero’s weapon of choice, namely the shovel, can be used both to fight off enemies and to dig up treasure. Acclaimed by critics and gamers alike, Shovel Knight draws its gameplay and graphical inspiration from platformer games developed for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The 8bit inspired graphics, memorable characters and humorous gameplay are just some of the strong points that transform Shovel Knight into a must play gaming title.
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
Set in the fictional Indiana Jones universe, the plot of this game takes the famous treasure hunter into a global search for the legendary sunken city of Atlantis. The Nazis are the story’s antagonists who want to use the powers of the lost city for warfare purposes so Indi’s task is to prevent them from doing so. This point-and-click adventure offers three game modes: the Team Path where the player is joined by Indiana’s partner Sophia Hapgood, the Wits Path that features complex puzzles, and the Fists Path that puts an emphasis on action sequences and fist fighting. Fate of Atlantis is often regarded as a classic of its genre.
A 1984 title, Sabre Wulf has the player controlling a pith-helmeted Sabreman through a two-dimensional jungle maze. The game’s goal is to collect all of the four pieces needed to reconstruct an amulet that will ultimately be used to bypass the guardian at the cave’s exit that leads to the game’s sequel, Underwurlde. The tiled mazes contain 256 screens and they are bordered by richly colored flora populated with attacking enemies and, on its outskirts, surrounded by mountains. Sabre Wulf’s difficult gameplay and lauded graphics are elements that brought it praise and in 2015 it was included in a compilation of the best 30 video games of the past 30 years developed by Ultimate Play the Game.
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
A Nintendo DS action-adventure puzzle game, Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure tells the story of a British adventurer who embarked on a mission to find the “Golden Suit”, an attire that lets the wearer control the “Puzzle Realm” and obtain the valuable treasures that lay hidden within. On the top screen the game is an action-platformer and once enemies are defeated they are sent to the bottom screen as puzzle blocks. The game has a unique visual design, a beautiful art style, intriguing puzzles and varied environments, although the difficulty of the later stages of the game is considered a minus to the overall gameplay.
Based on the Disney animated series with the same name, DuckTales is an action platformer that follows the story of Scrooge McDuck as he travels around the world and outer space in the quest for collecting as many treasures as possible to outwit his rival Flintheart Glomgold and become the world’s richest duck. Praised for its controls, unique non-linear gameplay and bright presentation, this game is often regarded as one of the best titles for the NES. In 2013 a remastered version was also released. Five levels are available in DuckTales: African Mines, The Amazon, The Himalayas, Transylvania, and The Moon and the player can visit any of the destinations to chase the treasures in any order.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
A 2007 action-adventure platform video game, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is the first installment of the famous Uncharted series. Nathan Drake, supposed descendant of the explorer Sir Francis Drake, is seen in his journey to find the lost treasure of El Dorado, with the help of journalist Elena Fisher and mentor Victor Sullivan. The game’s high production value, voice acting, characters, story and atmosphere are elements that have been highly appreciated. Platforming elements allow Nate to jump, swim, grab and move along ledges, climb and swing from ropes and when faced with enemies the player can use either melee attacks or can opt to use weapons.
Tomb Raider (1996)
The most popular hidden treasure hunt video game is definitely the first title of the Tomb Raider franchise and it depicts Lara Croft in the quest to find the three mysterious Scion artefacts across the globe. The game is presented in a third person perspective and on the way Lara must kill dangerous creatures while collecting objects and solving puzzles to gain access to an ultimate prize, usually a powerful artefact. The game sold 9.1 million copies since its release and is considered highly influential, being taken into consideration as a template for many 3D action-adventure games that followed it. In 2007 a remake of the game was released in celebration of its 10th anniversary and in 2013 we saw a reboot of the series under the same title.