The best action-adventure games on PC in 2022

Here’s our rundown of the best action-adventure games available on PC, from Indiana Jones, to Jedi: Fallen Order, and everything else you can play now

A jedi blocks and incoming blow in action adventure game Jedi: Fallen Order

The best action-adventure 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 includes some of the finest games ever made on PC, action-adventure or otherwise, including several titles that changed the entire gaming industry. There’s no Uncharted here, as emulation or PlayStation Now doesn’t count, but we’d take any one of these games over Sony’s series. Here’s the definitive list of the best action-adventure games on PC.

The best action-adventure games are:

Lara Craft from the modern action adventure reboot of Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

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.

The original, 1996 Tomb Raider created the genre, but some might say the 2013 reboot perfected it. Just don’t mention the movie.

Eivor stands proud, shouting a battle cry in action adventure game assassin's creed valhalla

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

The Assassin’s Creed series goes full adventure-mod with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which not only represents an excellent open-world game, it’s also a great viking game as well. You play as Eivor, a Viking raider caught up in the political upheavals of 9th century Scandinavia. While a surprising amount of the game takes place in Norway, the lion’s share takes place in England, during the great heathen invasion that brought Alfred the Great to prominence.

While there is a meta plot in the present day, and the usual Templars vs. Assassins stuff happening in the past, what we’re really here for is to live out our viking dreams to the fullest. There is a settlement you can build up and manage, but you can also take out your longship to go raiding coastal and river settlements, and just embark on good old fashioned horseback raids as well. Anything a viking can do, you can do, and Valhalla lets you revel in that completely. The ending is a bit bonkers, mind.

An ugly adversary wielding a tree trunk in one of the best action-adventure games, Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil abandoned its survival horror roots and went full action-adventure with Resident Evil 4. But, instead of complaining, fans couldn’t have been happier – Capcom delivered one of the finest games of all time. It’s had a huge and long-lasting influence, too. Over-the-shoulder camera angles on third-person games? Blame RE4 for that, since it worked so brilliantly.

Resident Evil 4 mixes up panicked shootouts, thrilling action scenes, and tense puzzle solving for a whole lot of boulder-punching fun. It lasts far longer than most single-player games usually do – at least, those that aren’t in a sandbox – and yet, Capcom never stops throwing exciting set-pieces at you. Massive shark in a lake! Troll monster! Giant robot version of the weird antagonist!

And it all begins with an assault on a house by weird villagers – very Night of the Living Dead – followed by the hideous sound of a chainsaw cutting through your defences. Yes, the parts that have you defend Ashley are annoying, but Resident Evil 4 remains the high point of the series – and it’s just as great today as it was then.

Batman drops a bad guy off a roof in action adventure game arkham asylum

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 single 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.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are fighting aboard a ship against uniformed guards.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Many action games with ensemble casts would have you play as each character over the course of the game, but Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy keeps a narrow focus. As Star-Lord, your aim is to bark orders and support your team as a leader, rather than fight as an overpowered hero with sidekicks.

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 randomised tracks sometimes manage to turn the most dramatic fights into “fittingly off-beat” moments.

Psychonauts 2, one of the best action-adventure games, has Raz walking through a forest with trees for eyes.

Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2 is, according to our review, better than the first. It skirts the line between action-adventure and platformer 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 just 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 colours 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.

A man places his hand on an orc's face in action adventure game Shadow of Mordor

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 really 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 a mortal enemy. If one of them kills you (even a random grunt) they’ll make a name for themselves and be a far tougher threat the second time around.

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 own army, making it feel like a completely different, and fantastic, game.

Indiana Jones takes a leap forward in one of the best action-adventure games, Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb

As Indy’s cinematic adventures inspired the whole genre we have to include one Indiana Jones game on this list. And as Fate of Atlantis is a point-and-click adventure, we’ll happily settle with his action-packed race against Nazis to find the Heart of the Dragon, buried in the tomb of the First Emperor of China.

The story is a globe-trotting one, taking in Sri Lanka, New York, Prague, Hong Kong, Xi’an, and even the afterlife. Shooting is kept to a minimum in The Emperor’s Tomb, which is good as the hand-to-hand combat system is superbly well designed – it’s surprising how tactile and satisfying it is. Everything has heft and weight, so when you slam a chair into a Nazi it really looks like it hurts.

The levels are entertaining with plenty of secrets to find, and the story acts as a decent prequel to Temple of Doom. To top it off, the orchestrated soundtrack – by Fate of Atlantis and Outlaws composer Clint Bajakian – is so good that more than one reviewer at the time mistook it for John Williams’s score from the movie.

While it has some flaws, such as being unable to save mid-level, Emperor’s Tomb earns its place on this list for truly making you feel like Indiana Jones. You can whip a gun out of an enemy’s hands, pick it up, and use it against him – or just throw a beer bottle at him then punch him into a crocodile pit. Classic Indy.

A woman twists around to unleash telekinetic powers in Control, one of the best action-adventure games

Control

The supernatural action-adventure game from Remedy pairs the studio’s trademark free flowing third-person combat with their strongest storytelling yet. 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, realised 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 The Agency’s map. You play as 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 unravelling the mystery of your own past. Character upgrades let you specialise 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 feels utterly convincing in spite of the fantastical paranormal activity it 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.

Cal and his robot look at some runes on a wall in action adventure game Jedi: Fallen Order

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order doesn’t do anything particularly new or fresh with the action-adventure games genre, but it does it with a Star Wars lick of paint, which is worth celebrating in of itself.

With heavy Dark Souls influences in its combat and level design, plenty of puzzle tombs to solve, and secrets crammed into every nook and cranny, this is a Star Wars game that feels adventurous and playful in every Jedi flip and lightsaber battle. And more importantly, with BD-1, Respawn Entertainment might just have created the cutest droid in the Star Wars universe, which is no mean feat.

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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 a little 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 Jordan Forward