Point & Click games have been around a lot longer than you may have realized. A longstanding favorite with gamers since its inception back in 1984, they fundamentally changed the way that we interacted with our screens. A welcome successor to the text-based games that found you infuriatingly typing unrecognized directions into your keyboard, point-and-clicks allowed you to effortlessly investigate and interact with a world as you saw it there in front of you.
Still going strong today, these adventures continue to use the same reliable format to keep both die-hard fans and newcomers gratified. Here are the very best Point & Click adventure games that still impress today, as well as some some fantastic newer entries that have marked the genre’s resurgence.
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Dave Gilbert is one of the best writers in videogames, yet many people haven’t heard of him because he plies his trade in the niche of point-and-click adventures. Unavowed is his best effort yet, following a team of people with superpowers who are scouring an accurately realized New York City in search of an escaped demon.
You choose whether to control a bartender, actor or watch dog, who reawakens from a demonic possession after it caused them to commit mass murder.
Unavowed is maturely written, and is one of the few point-and-clicks that really diverges your story based on key decisions you make. Do you put a fire spirit through an agonizing banishment to free it? Do you kill a cunning Dryad hiding out in the verdant woods of the city? Huge decisions with huge consequences that make this worth playing more than once.
One of the problems that many modern point-and-clicks face is that of updating the parts of old-school adventures that need to be updated while keeping the core intact. Norco smashes through that problem like no game before it, taking us on a feverish and fascinating investigation through a dystopian depiction of near-future Louisiana.
You alternate control in two timelines between a mother and a daughter, both trying to figure out the meaning of some mysterious cosmic orb that’s become an obsession of everyone from religious cults to ruthless oil companies.
The smart first-person perspective, enjoyable mini-games and stunning atmosphere are enough to make this a must-play, but the mature and powerful writing – flowing between self-aware, surreal and heartrendingly poignant – makes this an all-time genre classic, and a new barometer for point-and-clicks going forward.
3. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
Believe it or not, this 1992 entry was not the first Indiana Jones ‘Point & Click’ to grace our 14” CRT monitors with “The Last Crusade” preceding it back in 1989. Fate of Atlantis, however, is by far the best in the Indyverse, providing its audience an original story that gives us a laugh a minute (or a laugh an hour depending on how long it takes you to figure out the puzzles). There are even 3 different ways to play through the game which was, at the time, a novelty.
Your mission is to stop the Nazis from getting their hands on the same destructive weapon that sank Atlantis and gave the game its namesake.
There are a few glitches that can leave you at a dead-end and some of the wackier puzzles leave a taste of ‘love it or hate it’ absurdity in your mouth (peeling gum from under a desk and sticking it on the soles of your shoes to climb up a coal shoot, for example). But with the impressive visuals, hilarious script (voiced largely by an impressive Doug Lee as Indy) and an 8-bit version of the Indy theme tune this easily earns a place on our list.
4. The Darkside Detective
Heavily imbued with Twin Peaks, Stranger Things and X-files vibes, you’d be forgiven for thinking this game came straight from the early 90s. Yet it wasn’t until 2017 that Detective McQueen first donned his trench coat, ready to save the town of Twin Lakes from this hellishly hilarious world of demons and the occult, despite what those gorgeous, dazzling 8-bit graphics might tell you.
With developers Spooky Doorway promising you “at least 3 jokes” and “cutting edge, high definition pixels” you know you’re in for a self-deprecating ride of sarcasm and dry wit that make the point-and-click classics so likeable. This is a welcome, and nostalgic, modern entry into the world of Point & Click that relives those tried and tested tropes that worked so well.
5. Broken Sword
Regularly being heralded by Point & Click fans as their first love, this quest to thwart a conspiracy to reveal the secrets of the Knights Templar breaks free from the more surreal elements that other games of the genre so heftily exude.
Broken Sword’s puzzles are challenging, well thought out and logical without the need to attempt every bizarre or nonsensical combination of each item in your inventory. The storyline is deep, involved and rich with deftly written text. The more serious tone of the game doesn’t omit humor entirely, although its somewhat dated script does leave the gags laying a bit flat if you’re new to the series.
A recent Director’s Cut has updated this all-time classic with 2 hours of additional gameplay and new facial expressions drawn by co-creator of Watchmen, Dave Gibbons. The beautiful cartoon graphics are reminiscent of the colorful illustrations of 90s Disney films and the mood, voice acting and imagery vividly capture an animated Parisian wonderland that’s a joy to explore.
6. Critters for Sale
And now for something utterly different. While not a pure Point & Click game in the sense that it is a graphic-novel hybrid, ‘Critters for Sale’ deserves a mention for its sheer, brazen uniqueness. An unsettling, surrealist 1-bit nightmare, this five-part game takes you on a time-travelling journey of black magic, immortality, cosmic forces and evil.
The game is short and can be completed in a few hours, but with choices that matter and 18 different endings between the segments, there is plenty to keep you hypnotized as you explore the unseen history of the world and the characters that shaped it. Utterly compelling and incomparable.
Want to get your head split open by Michael Jackson? Then this may just be the game for you.
7. Day of the Tentacle
Day of the Tentacle is Double Fine Productions’ follow-up to Maniac Mansion, which is also well worth a look if you want to really go for a true Point & Click ground-breaker. This game again take us back to the ‘roots’ of the genre and employs the crazy, comedic themes that seem to hover around the majority of these classics.
Taken out of context, the story, text and puzzles are bizarre and, from an outside perspective, really quite alienating. But somehow D.O.T.T. manages to magically combine all of these nonsensical elements to create a smooth flowing, embracing masterpiece. Somehow the illogical combinations and actions that plague so many P&C ventures make perfect sense in the context of the game.
The remastered version allows you to switch back and forth to the original graphics and audio which really makes you feel old if you remember being visually blown away when playing the original game the first time around.
(And don’t forget. The hamster goes in the microwave…. of course!)
Released in 2021, this otherworldly entry proves that point-and-click adventures are alive and well. Awakening in a creepy, Lynch-esque carnival, you traverse a strange new land and explore the depths of your psyche. As the game goes on the experience becomes more and more twisted as your character tries to unravel the mystery of the altered reality around him.
Strangeland is dark and bleak, a stark contrast to the bright, vivid worlds we’re used to in this genre. The storyline is largely open to interpretation and leaves you thinking long after completion. You may think that the short number of hours it takes to complete this gloomy game would be sufficient but, with different choices and multiple endings, along with Wormwood Studios’ stunning dystopian visuals, you’ll soon find yourself returning to this nightmare.
Sanitarium offers the player another bleak, dark, delve into madness and is still considered a gaming, horror masterpiece. Waking from a traumatic coma you find yourself engulfed in a world of insanity and confusion.
The storyline is gripping and the puzzles are less complicated than other entries. The simplicity of the puzzles is actually a welcome aspect of Sanitarium. This is about experiencing the passage of a story and endlessly searching the same rooms trying to figure out what to do next would break that. It flows incredibly well and the voice acting, and looming soundtrack, keep you hooked until the devastating end.
Set in a future entirely populated by robots, Josef re-emerges from a scrapyard to face The Black Cap Brotherhood gang, who have kidnapped his girlfriend Berta.
Stunningly hand-drawn visuals transport you into this little robot’s world – a world created with love and attention.
The graphics are achingly gorgeous, the characters are adorable and the music lingers delightfully and hypnotically in the background throughout. The game has no text or spoken language, with all communication done via speech bubbles and symbols; a welcome break if you’ve tired of the text-heavy storylines of other point-and-clicks.
A charming experience that is well worth your time.
11. Grim Fandango
Another remastered classic – Grim Fandango returns in all its refined, deathly goodness. Thick with a post-death noir atmosphere, this tale of betrayal and redemption finds Manny Calavera, a travel agent at the Department of Death, trying to solve a mystery that could jeopardize his very soul.
Now with a new live orchestral soundtrack, this game remains as impressive as it did on its original release. Any fan of neo-noir storylines will fall in love with this game as Manny attempts to help Mercedes, a newcomer in the Land of the Dead, through her long journey through the afterlife.
You can practically smell the cigarette smoke as the cool talking, wisecracking script and jazz laden background plays out in front of you. A masterfully crafted and seamlessly pieced together classic that needs to be checked out by fans of the genre and newcomers alike.
12. Monkey Island 2: Lechuck’s Revenge
Well here we have it! The game that started it all for so many of us. An absolute masterpiece of visual and comic genius. The nostalgia element adds heavily to this being at the top of the list, some of which is lost in the 2010 Special Edition (though you may prefer the addition of the voice acting and nicely modernized graphics). You can, however, switch back to the original graphics whenever you want, which is a nice touch for us nostalgics. Each pixel majestically glides across the screen bringing back memories of hilarity, surprise and satisfying frustration.
The settings, humor and writing are all magical and characters like Guybrush Threepwood (the young aspiring pirate and main protagonist), Elaine Marley, Stan the Salesman and the talking parrot have engrained themselves in gaming folklore.
Now who’s up for some grog?
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