What are the best action-adventure games on PC? These games have been capturing the thrill of an expedition ever since Indiana Jones swung across a chasm with his trusty whip to retrieve an idol from a booby-trapped tomb. The PC boasts some true classics of the genre, from classic tomb raiding to games with enough exploration to fill an entire sandbox – not the one in your backyard.
This list has some of the best PC games ever made, action-adventure or otherwise, including several titles that changed the gaming industry. The original Uncharted trilogy isn’t here, as emulation or PlayStation Now doesn’t count, but we’d happily change our minds if it ever came to PC. Here’s the definitive list of the best action-adventure games.
The best action-adventure games are:
Banishers: Ghosts of the New Eden
While the main appeal of Banishers Ghosts of the New Eden is its emotional story, it’s also a highly competent action game with a combat system that’s easy to get to grips with. As two Banishers tasked with hunting ghosts across North America, you will constantly switch between the heavy-hitting Red and his ghostly companion Antea. Red excels in purging the undead, while Antea uses her spiritual powers that can be enhanced as you progress through the adventure.
You also have the chance to save Antea from her untimely demise, but it’s at the cost of innocent souls you swore to protect. You get the choice of whether to go through with the resurrection or commit to your oath. You can check out our Banishers Ghosts of New Eden review for more details on the combat mechanics.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown
Slightly different than the rest of the list, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a 2.5D platforming, Metroidvania-type game that sees you, the eponymous Prince of Persia overcoming friend and foe, some friends that used to be foes, and some foes that used to be friends. Yeah. As with every other Prince of Persia game, you’ll be granted time powers and will have to utilize these to the max if you want to stand any chance at overcoming the tough-as-nails platforming sections. Our Prince of Persia review heaped praise on the adventure, and despite some minor flaws, suggests it’s one of the best new PC games. Should probably get on that, then.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name
Once a legendary member of the Yakuza gang, Kazuma Kiryu abandoned everything he knew and adopted a new persona entirely to protect his family. Certain events push Kiryu back into the limelight once again, forcing him to come into contact with people who he’d rather forget entirely. The Yazuka series may have rebranded to Like a Dragon, but the series remains as high quality as it ever was, especially with the release of Kiryu’s final standalone game, The Man Who Erased His Name.
The Like a Dragon Gaiden release date occurred only a few months before the launch of the latest game, Infinite Wealth, yet the two games feature entirely different combat systems. The Man Who Erased His Name contains action-based gameplay, whereas Infinite Wealth has turn-based combat. If you want to roam the Japanese streets, punching and kicking anyone who stands in your path, while enjoying the occasional arcade game, singing karaoke, and just generally having a great time, definitely check out Like a Dragon Gaiden.
Tomb Raider (2013)
A gritty Lara Croft origin story that takes huge inspiration from Uncharted should have been a terrible idea, especially after the well-received (but poorly selling) Underworld, but developer Crystal Dynamics made it work. While most of the challenges Lara experiences should have killed her – like that rusty nail through the stomach – they give the game emotional weight and shock value.
The gameplay is the perfect mix of combat, exploration, climbing, and puzzle solving, all of which you want to see in spades from an action-adventure game. The story is so gripping that the 2018 Tomb Raider movie practically copied it wholesale. The climbing feels more tactile and natural than many other games in the genre, and the combat is entertaining without overwhelming the game and really drives home the struggle Lara goes through. Then there are the incredible Challenge Tombs – fantastic, well-designed puzzle rooms that evoke the earlier games in the series.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage
Assassin’s Creed Mirage isn’t just the latest installment into Ubisoft’s long-standing stealth game series – it also serves as a commemorative look back at how far the series has come in 16 years. In our Assassin’s Creed Mirage review, we praise it for a “renewed focus that trims the fat from its predecessors”. While we’re still treated to an expansive open-world game, AC Mirage’s setting – ninth-century Baghdad – isn’t just a POI-infested sandbox. There are still plenty of collectibles to track down: those AC Mirage lost books, and AC Mirage enigmas aren’t going to find themselves. Thankfully, they’re pared back in favor of the AC Mirage missions.
Mirage’s story follows street thief Basim’s journey from trainee to master assassin. You can expect plenty of politics and intrigue along the way, as well as the opportunity to put the Assassin’s Creed parkour system through its paces with AC Mirage skills. If you’ve been waiting for a return to linear form in Assassin’s Creed, this is it.
Resident Evil 4 Remake
How do you improve on what’s widely considered the best game in a series? This is the question that Resident Evil 4 Remake answers with style. It has its issues, but perhaps the biggest question answered by our Resident Evil 4 Remake review is if its most important set pieces in the classic survival horror game are still there. The answer is yes. It still follows the same path the original did, right down to the bit where you throw spears at a giant fish in the lake.
Arguably, its masterstroke is in what the remake changes. Resident Evil 4 Remake mixes up panicked shootouts, thrilling action scenes, and tense puzzle-solving while adding new sections for Ashley and new boss encounters to replace some of the more boring encounters in the original.
And, just like the original, it all begins with an assault on a house by weird villagers – very similar to Night of the Living Dead – followed shortly thereafter by a fight for survival as you hear the hideous sound of a chainsaw cutting through your defenses. Both the audio and visual design are incredible, and even though the parts where you defend Ashley from infected villagers are still annoying, Resident Evil 4 Remake at least tries its best to make it more manageable.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Licensed games were a joke before Batman: Arkham Asylum. Publishers picked up IPs and crapped out a game to make a quick buck. Then Rocksteady came along and raised the bar forever.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is, arguably, perfection in game design. By keeping Batman confined to Gotham’s most iconic location, Rocksteady had full freedom to carefully design every inch of the Asylum so you flow through its rooms beautifully, the dark architecture being one of the most daunting characters in the game.
The Metroidvania-style gameplay fits perfectly with Batman’s inventory, too, and the setting gave the perfect excuse to bring in a range of iconic villains. Who can forget the first time they encountered The Scarecrow? The fact that Rocksteady cast many actors from Batman: The Animated Series and hired veteran comics writer Paul Dini is just the icing on an astoundingly delicious and multi-layered cake. A bat cake? Battenberg? Whatever.
A big part of what makes Arkham Asylum brilliant is the beautiful rhythm of the combat, which every third-person action-adventure has to rip off now – such as Marvel’s Spider-Man. Other action-adventure games may be bigger, but little else is better than the first Arkham game.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
Many action games with ensemble casts would have you play as each character throughout the game, but Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy keeps a narrow focus. As Star-Lord, you can bark orders at your team while supporting them as a good leader should, rather than take control of the fight as an overpowered hero with sidekicks chipping away.
In our Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy review, we also praise the story as it “mostly nails the quirky tone and characters that Marvel fans will be hoping for”. The superhero game also has an excellent soundtrack filled with licensed music, even if the randomized tracks sometimes manage to turn the most dramatic fights into “fittingly off-beat” moments.
Psychonauts 2 is, according to our review, better than the first. It skirts the line between action adventure and platform game with its memorable characters and superb story. While we don’t get to see some of the campers at Whispering Rock, we do meet Dogen’s grandfather, and let’s say they share some rather explosive personality traits.
The real joy, though, is discovering Psychonauts 2’s bizarre and highly imaginative levels, from a TV game show where you must impress goats with your culinary creations to a library filled with sentient pictures from books. By far, the best level is the PSI King’s Sensorium, which is set in a music festival with more colors and trippy visions than The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. Psychonauts 2 was well worth the wait, but hopefully, we don’t have as long to wait for the next one.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Monolith used to be known for first-person games such as F.E.A.R. and Condemned, but the studio took it up a notch when attacking the action-adventure game genre, much like a Ranger stabbing an orc through the head. Monolith’s Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor competes with the best of them, and it’s thanks to one word: Nemesis.
The Nemesis system Monolith introduced with its Lord of the Rings prequel allowed orcs to bear grudges and even become mortal enemies. If any enemy kills you, even a random grunt, they’ll make a name for themselves and be a far tougher threat the second time.
Shadow of Mordor is a mix of Assassin’s Creed’s exploration and climbing with Batman’s stealth and combat, and it works perfectly. Then, halfway through, the game suddenly introduces the ability to recruit orcs so you can create your army, making it feel like a completely different and fantastic game.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection
Uncharted 4 focuses on a more personal story than usual, with Nathan Drake forced back into the world of thievery after retiring from fortune hunting. Drake soon sets off with his brother, Sam, to find the long-lost treasure of Captain Henry Avery aboard the Libertalia.
Much like the other games in the series, you’ll face off against other tomb raiders in intense gunfights while navigating deadly traps and perilous obstacles. This game also introduces the grappling hook, allowing you to close in on enemies or snatch their weapons from them before they attack you. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a white-knuckle ride and gives you a taste of more adventures in the past and future. This collection also comes with the standalone DLC featuring Nathan’s mate, Chloe Frazer, as she attempts to find the Golden Tusk of Ganesh to keep it out of the hands of a warmonger.
The supernatural action-adventure game from Remedy pairs the studio’s trademark free-flowing third-person combat with its strongest storytelling. You play through a secretive agency headquarters and investigate an otherworldly threat known as the Hiss. Described in our Control review as “a gripping descent into something between alternate history and fever dream, realized beautifully in audiovisual flair.”
Control focuses on adventure over action, with combat mostly there to break up exploration and narrative. There’s a sprinkling of puzzles to gain access to new areas and a challenging checkpoint system that demands your knowledge of The Agency’s map. You play Jesse, the new director of the Federal Bureau of Control, and it’s your job to figure out what the source of the Hiss invasion is while also unraveling the mystery of your past. Character upgrades let you specialize in different skills, such as bumping your health pool or making your telekinetic powers even more devastating. Your arsenal grows as you progress through the game, and you’ll accumulate supernatural items such as a revolver with infinite ammunition that can change between a sniper rifle, shotgun, pistol, or machine gun in an instant.
What Control absolutely nails, however, is a strong sense of place. The Bureau’s headquarters is a shapeshifting labyrinth of eerie corridors and pristine board rooms that feel utterly convincing despite the fantastical paranormal activity you encounter there. Snippets of the story are scattered everywhere in the form of radio programs, TV shows, case files, interview recordings, and reports, but each one is brimming with so much intrigue that reading through them all never feels like a chore.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Jedi: Survivor picks up five years after the events of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, continuing the story of Cal Kestis, a young Jedi Knight who miraculously survived the purge initiated by Order 66. Our Star Wars Jedi Survivor review describes the sequel as “bigger than its predecessor in almost every way”. Its Metroidvania exploration and Jedi Survivor traversal abilities emphasize player freedom – whether you’re on the hunt for Jedi Survivor collectibles or completing side-quests. From taking on intergalactic flora and fauna to facing off against Jedi Survivor bosses, its Soulslike combat is garnished with new Jedi Survivor lightsaber stances – one of which includes a blaster, in flagrant disregard of Jedi convention.
While the plot is somewhat formulaic and predictable, Jedi Survivor is a quintessential Star Wars experience that builds off the established rules of the universe with some original contributions of its own. Whether you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Star Wars superfan or a casual enjoyer of the franchise looking for an action-adventure game in a world steeped in lore, Jedi Survivor is an excellent choice. Check out our Jedi Survivor beginner tips, as well as the best Jedi Survivor perks to keep Cal fighting fit until the end credits.
Alan Wake 2
Picking up 13 years after the original game, Alan is still trapped in The Dark Place, and this time, we have a new protagonist, Saga Anderson. Though you might recognize much of the first game in this third-person shooter, there’s more of a focus on puzzle solving and manipulating light to defeat enemies, all of which beats its predecessor.
For those unfamiliar with the game, Alan Wake is a bestselling crime novelist lost in his own creation. Now Saga is on the case, investigating a string of murders in Bright Falls, she too discovers a twisted crime novel that comes to life. If you’re just getting started, be sure to check out our guide to all the best Alan Wake 2 Words of Power and best Alan Wake 2 weapon upgrades.
Those are the best action-adventure games you can find on PC. We hope you didn’t break too many priceless historical artifacts on the way here. Still, if you did, we hope you had fun doing so. However, if you like your adventures with less action, check out the best adventure games on PC or the best idle and clicker games on PC instead. They’re a little less perilous.
Additional entries by Nat Smith, Dave Irwin, and Joe Robinson