What's The Difference Between Action-Adventure & Third Person Shooters?

This blog will compare and define the games Resident Evil 4, (2005) and Twilight Princess, (2006), and their respective genres.

Published on May 13, 2021 by Amy Elliott


10 min READ

This is a legacy post, ported from my old portfolio. If you notice a mistake or a bug, please report it here.

This blog will compare and define the games Resident Evil 4, (2005) and Twilight Princess, (2006), and their respective genres. These games both have multiple genres associated with them due to how broad they are in gameplay, but it is noticeably clear these games have a main genre for their chosen target audience. Due to these games being so vast, they tend to draw unexpected audiences into new games and new genres, in this blog I discuss why this can have a positive and negative impact on the future of these genres.

Whats a Third Person Shooter?

Third Person Shooter

The influential and redefining game Tomb Raider, (1996) brought light to the Third Person Shooter genre, this genre is a subgenre of 3D shooter games (‘Third-Person Shooter’, 2021). In games associated with this genre, instead of seeing through the main character’s eyes, you see the main character in action from an external viewpoint. (Campbell et al., 2014; Staff, 2015) Such games require quick and accurate decisions to be made in the context of rapidly changing and highly cluttered visual scenes, where the player is fighting against waves of enemies or arenas full of waist-high cover where the players only recourse is to kill everyone in their way. (Dale et al., 2020; Pötzsch, 2017)

Whats an Action Adventure Game?

Action Adventure Game

The Action-Adventure genre was effectively created by such titles as The Legend of Zelda and Metroid back in the days of the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. (Action-Adventure, n.d.) This genre combines core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres (‘Action-Adventure Game’, 2021), the essential traits of an action adventure are considered to include reflex-based gameplay, an action game element, combined with item collecting, environment exploration and puzzle solving (Action-Adventure, n.d.). Breaking down the sub-genres, an adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving, and an action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand-eye coordination and reaction-time. (Brown, 2017).

What Are The Commonalities & Differences Between The Genres?

Commonalities & Differences

  • Movement:
    • Third Person Shooters, like Splatoon, (2015) include fast, unrealistic movement and cartoon physics, to make the combat feel more fluid and fun to play, in comparison to this, there are games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, (2018), with much more realistic movement and physics.
    • Action Adventure Games usually include more realistic movement, which can be emphasized using buffs or items, a few of these items are usually found in residing dungeons and are used to complete puzzles or hit an enemies’ weak point. In comparison, other Action Adventure games like The Wolf Among Us, (2013) require you to progress the story by advancing through a text-adventure style puzzle.
  • Narrative:
    • Third Person Shooter games are mostly focused on the action, the narrative would give a reason for the combat which would engage the player and give them a reason to continue.
    • The narrative for Action Adventure games is focused on… well the action and adventure! You may have a quest to deliver a letter and you may also have a quest to kill a boss.
  • Gameplay:
    • Third Person Shooters are fast and fluid, sometimes overwhelming with enemies, in turn this puts you in the main characters shoes.
    • Action Adventure games are fast and progressive, in most Action Adventure games you can clearly see your progress with a dungeon or with a quest which makes the player feel very rewarded at the end of each play session.

What Are The Commonalities & Differences Between The Games?

Commonalities & Differences Between Games

  • Movement:
    • In Resident Evil 4 (RE4), the player’s movement is realistic, and their actions; like shooting a gun and swinging a dagger - are slow, whereas, in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the player has much faster combat, but realistic player movement akin to Resident Evil 4.
  • Internal Economies:
    • Another comparison which can be made between these games is the internal economies. In Resident Evil 4, the player has access to an in-game currency called ‘Peseta’, which can be earnt and found around the game, this can be used to buy weapons, upgrades, and ammo, likewise, Twilight Princess has an in-game currency called ‘Rupees’ which can also be earnt and found around the game to buy similar wares.
  • Progression:
    • For progression in Resident Evil 4, Leon, who is the main protagonist, has to explore a village, solve puzzles and defeat enemies, the progression for Twilight Princess is very similar, the only difference being the addition of dungeons to explore and solve puzzles in.
  • Combat:
    • Resident Evil 4 is an action driven game, meaning it has a focus on tactical maneuvering such as gaining the higher ground on rivals. In comparison, Twilight Princess’s combat system is similar, but in addition to this system, our protagonist can use a handful of weapons and methods for defeating bosses, but the player must figure out which of those make logical sense.
  • Difficulty:
    • Third Person Shooters are often fast-paced, and difficult to play, however, a handful of them have stories following them. The Third Person Shooter genre may be harder for a player who has more interest in narrative-focused games, and developers cater to this audience by putting in an easier mode. Series like Resident Evil have an ‘Easy’ mode, and sometimes these easy modes make the game feel ‘more like a walk in the park than a zombie outbreak.’ (Failde, 2020), and this is common amongst other Third Person Shooters too. In comparison, Action Adventure games are fast-paced and fun too, but they are not as difficult to play. The Action Adventure genre is easy for many players to play as they are developed with a much broader audience in mind, these games do not really have a difficulty setting due to this. Because of how broad the Action Adventure genre is, many games follow the same gameplay mechanics, and the same stories as they do not want to make their games too difficult for their target audience, much like Sterling, (2011) states, for The Legend of Zelda; ‘there’s no denying that the game’s sequence of events, progression, and basic plot are nearly always the same’
  • Traversal & Narrative:
    • Resident Evil 4’s traversal mainly relies on stealth and action with a sprinkle of puzzles which allow the player to progress through the story into new areas, in most sections of the game, action is optional, which leaves the player with the option of being stealthy, which is a great way to allow them to portray the main character, Leon in their own way. In comparison Twilight Princess’s traversal is very open-world, allowing the player to explore, and to progress the story, the player must go dungeon-to-dungeon in a linear fashion. Linearity in exploration is a common way to tell a story in games, as it allows the story to be told the same way for every player.
    • Resident Evil 4’s story is heavily focused on throughout the game as the player is always progressing toward the goal through puzzles and fighting bosses, with no distracting side quests. In comparison, in Twilight Princess, the story is also focused on in the same linear fashion, but the player may come across optional side-quests, which is something that Resident Evil 4 does not have.
  • Puzzles & Challenges:
    • The puzzles in Resident Evil 4 are built into the world, whether that be a lock and key which the player needs to locate through progressing through an area or finding out the pin to a safe through reading clues found throughout the environment. The entire challenge of Resident Evil 4 is approaching, and seeing the puzzles for the first time, subsequent playthroughs are not as challenging as the first because of this. In comparison Within the dungeons of Twilight Princess, the player must solve puzzles, and fight bosses to proceed, which is remarkably similar to the pattern which Resident Evil 4 takes, and these dungeons and bosses are requirements within the game to get further into the story.

The Progression Between The Games

Progression Between Games

The progression from the Third Person Shooter genre to the Action Adventure genre is noticeable between the games Resident Evil 4 and Twilight Princess, and this can be seen by analyzing the differences between the traversal, story, and mechanics. An evident title which is similar to Resident Evil 4 and Twilight Princess is Link’s Crossbow Training, the game features three different gameplay types but the segments in Link’s Crossbow Training in which the player can control Link and shoot at enemies with a long-range crossbow is much the same as Resident Evil 4’s traversal and shooting mechanics. The Hidden Village segment in Twilight Princess is similar to the general gameplay of Link’s Crossbow Training, within this section of Twilight Princess, Link is required to use his bows and arrows to hunt down and kill each enemy in the village, which is very similar to the parts of Link’s Crossbow Training where the player is free to control Link in a restricted area to rid of the level’s enemies.

The Future Of Action Adventure Games & Third Person Shooters

Future of Genres

It is quite hard to tell what the future of the Action Adventure and Third Person Shooter genres can look like, both are immensely popular genres, so they can branch off into many different directions. A Blog Post titled ‘7 Unexpected VR Game Genres That Are Actually Good’ published by Stockdale, (2021) lists that Puzzle games, and Battle Royale games are emerging in popularity on Virtual reality, this could lead to the inclusion of more Action Adventure games on Virtual Reality. Third Person Shooter would not work so well on Virtual Reality as they are Third Person, so for this genre, I do not see it expanding onto the Virtual Reality platform.

In conclusion, the Action Adventure and Third Person Shooter genres have evolved greatly throughout time, with both genres starting off with a handful of small games like Tomb Raider, (1996) and Castlevania, (1986), amongst many others which have grown in popularity by spanning multiple titles, showing that both genres are well liked within many generations of the gaming-industry.


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