Lacking the tools to create an arc, or a central hero to hang that arc from, the game story always ends up as something crude. It lacks pace, any sense of subtlety, needs to take control away from the player to turn his doll into a character for cut-scenes, and ends up trying to telegraph emotions at the player in order to make him feel.
Where story-like elements work really well in games, however, is when they focus on delivering a sense of a story rather than actually telling one.
I like this storysensing vs storytelling distinction a lot - it’s potentially useful in terms of thinking about data environments too, where there’s a current fashion for “telling a story” which can often end up pretty See Spot Run.
BUT I think this piece’s main thrust - why adventure games died as a mainstream gameform - is sort of off. I mean, yes, they have - I played them loads in the 80s and 90s and while I’d buy a nostalgic “ALL THE LEVEL 9 GAMES” app I doubt I’d ever spend much time with it.
But the appeal of them wasn’t really much to do with narrativism vs ludism or whatever, it was quite simply that adventure games required no reflexes to progress through the gameworld, whereas other games did. Worst-case unfair tests sucked, but some degree of trial-and-error with puzzles stacks up favourably against simply being unable to get through shooters, platformers, etc.
So the idea that Doom killed adventure games on a player-by-player basis doesn’t quite work for me. Shooters and 3D games reinvigorated the arcade sector, so it’s not surprising that attention, development, etc moved to them. But the appeal of adventure games was puzzle-unlocking, not just storytelling - work out how to get past something, enter a new area. So I think the family tree of the adventure game also ends up at something like Angry Birds, which likewise needs zero reflexes, and gets over the fairness problem by making even failed attempts quite viscerally satisfying.