We have been playing a lot of Planescape: Torment recently. This is a so-called role-playing game. What this really means is that it’s an adventure game (complete with exploration, puzzles and the like) combined with a real-time strategy aspect when your party of characters gets into a scrap. Here the mix is very good; there’s not too much combat, but there’s enough to make things tense as we sneak around the world looking for clues to explain our situation. At the moment, we’re learning stuff at a gratifying rate, and the world really does seem to be opening up in front of us.
Compare this with Riven, which has no combat at all, and much less internal state. Riven is very good, and we enjoyed it a great deal, but its strength has a lot to do with the beautiful screen-shots and the elaborate nature of the puzzles. I’d much rather play either of these games than Diablo II, which gets reviews (for example, at Games Domain) suggesting that it’s completely mindless. Give me plot any day of the week!