The point and click adventure genre was a pretty big deal when I was growing up. This basically sprang out of the text adventures of the early 80s when people got sick of finding new ways to type “pick up rock” into something with the vocabulary of a four-year-old. They started with text and some graphics and morphed into the point and click format that we all know now. This is also a genre that doesn’t get anywhere near as much love as it deserves. All this being said, myself and my TVGB co-writer and good mate Shannon Ghioni have decided to rectify this injustice with a bit of a list.
You’ll find that you’ll either need to root out your old PCs from the attic or find a good emulator for a lot of these titles but some of them have certainly been brought up to date in recent years. As always this is just a top ten of some of our favorites; if you don’t agree or have a few suggestions of your own feel free to tell us nicely in the comments. Without further adieu, let’s kick things off.
Before I go into my half of this list I’m going to add a couple of honorable mentions. Both of these games are absolutely brilliant and very deserving of a place amongst the others below but I’ve already reviewed them so it makes more sense to go and have a read of the full articles. These games are namely: Tsioque and Truberbrook, the latter of which got a pretty respectable 10 out of 10, not something that happens very often so worth a look. Right … I’ll stop rambling and get on with it.
10. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld
I’m kicking things off with one of my favorite games of my teens. This is one of the only point and click games that I went back a few years later and completed for a second time just because it’s so much fun. If you know anything about the Discworld you’ll have a vague idea of what you can probably expect from this title. You take the role of a very lovable and useless talking pencil (wizard) called Rincewind as you go off to foil the machinations of a dragon and save Ankh Morpork in the process.
I’m not going to go into the background of the game too much because I’d be relating a ton of books and we’d be here all day. All I can say is that this is a brilliantly voiced, very funny game full of charm and the moon-logic we have all come to expect and love from the genre. I’ll tell you this though … in all honesty, you can do some pretty amazing things with an octopus and a toilet.
This game has probably the best inventory of any point and click adventure I’ve played. Those of you that understand Discworld will know the luggage. The luggage is a great big sentient chest that runs around on lots of little legs. It’s part luggage, part guard dog, and all psycho when it’s upset. This is just one of a cast of characters that if I had lots of time I’d tell you all about. Oh, lastly and very importantly…don’t call the librarian a monkey if you value your limbs.
9. Kings Quest: The Quest for the Crown
It would be an absolute blasphemy not to bring at least one Sierra game into this list and I’m opting for Kings Quest. As a series of eight releases (discounting the reboot), I could really give any of them a place. I think I got the most enjoyment from the first five but I’m going to have to opt for the original as it’s one of the games that kicked off the whole genre. The reboot gives you the entire series plus extras in lovely PS4 graphics so you’ve got no reason at all not to give it a go.
You will be plunged into the land of Daventry as the character of Sir Graham. At the behest of your dying father, you must go out in search of three treasures on the road that will see you eventually take the crown and become king. Standing in your way is the wicked witch Dahlia along with an assortment of fiendish puzzles.
If you play the original everything is pretty basic and it’s really just a text adventure with a few colorful sprites thrown in. This being said, it’s a brilliant game and one well worth playing for point and click fans wanting to go back to the genre’s roots.
I’m pretty sure Shan doesn’t agree entirely with me on this choice but that’s because she has a Sierra favorite of her own which she will no doubt be telling you about shortly. As a fantasy fan, I think I’m going to have to stick with this one, though.
8. Simon the Sorceror
This is one that a few of you won’t remember but it was a lot of fun. We’re going back to the mid-90s. I got a new PC for my sixteenth birthday and with it came my copy of Simon the Sorceror. I remember having not played a good point and click adventure in years. These were also the days when if you bought a game, you played it and you completed it because it was probably all you were getting for months. This one I have fond memories of. This is also the beginning of another series of games but we’ll be taking the first of them here.
You take the role of the titular Simon and, in a quest brimming with moon logic and all the other tropes we love from this genre, journey to a parallel universe. Here you will have to save the sorcerer Calypso from Sordid, the evil wizard who has imprisoned him.
Cleverly written comedy is something the point and click genre as a whole became quite well known for. With various spoofs and clever in-jokes aplenty, there is definitely no disappointment to be found here.
7. Day of the Tentacle
A wee bit more foreshadowing here but as we have similar tastes it was inevitable, really. Day of the Tentacle is the sequel to Maniac Mansion, another game that I think Shan will probably be mentioning. Just as with so many other entries on this list, it’s funny, well written and fiendishly difficult.
In this one, we take the role of three friends caught out of time thanks to the machinations of a lunatic scientist. Dr. Fred Edison isn’t the antagonist here, though. One of his lab assistants, a purple tentacle, eats some toxic sludge from a river bed behind his house, mutates and goes mad.
Dr. Edison decides to solve the problem of mutant, super-intelligent tentacles by killing purple and his friendly, completely benign brother green. Green, in turn, turns to Bernard for help and your story plays out from there.
To cut a long story short and not go too mad on spoilers, the three friends free purple not realizing he’s the bad guy. This is a game of time travel, and each of the friends is dropped in a different period where they have to solve puzzles in a bid to right things and stop inevitable world domination.
If you want to play Day of the Tentacle (it’s well worth it), you can find it on the PS Store. I strongly recommend giving this title a blast if you’re in the mood for a bit of retro fun.
6. Broken Sword
That bleeding goat! Yes, this is the game with that particularly infamous puzzle involving an angry goat that wouldn’t let you past it. People tried forever giving that insane animal random things from their inventories to no avail. No spoilers here, just watch it on Youtube. You’re not interested in the goat, it’s what it’s tied to. We love moon logic.
That was a bit rambling but it gives you a good feel for the game and the desire that came with it to bang your head off the nearest hard object. If you were looking for a new mouse and your old one wasn’t broken enough yet, this was a brilliant way to solve that problem.
Once again, this is a franchise and we’re taking the first game. I obviously always favor the original. To give this title it’s full name, it’s actually Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars, or if you’re living Stateside, Broken Sword: Circle of Blood.
Plot-wise, I’m not going into the ins and outs here, as it’s a bit more complicated than some of the other games we’ve mentioned. The game is set in Paris and it’s got a bit of a whodunnit feel to it. You take the role of George Stobbart and happen to be sitting in a cafe when a bomb goes off. This explosion is connected to a clown and with the help of journalist Nicole Collard, you will follow into a mystery well worth exploring.
So that’s my ten cents. Let’s see what our Shannon has to say for herself, shall we? There’s still a few good big guns from this genre of the past that I haven’t mentioned. I reckon a few of these will be covered next.
5. The Secret of Monkey Island– Lucasfilm Games 1990 [PC]
Arrrr! Who could forget the Caribbean-Nordic fluting yester-year, and the hopelessly clueless Guybrush Threepwood. Our hero? Love the series or not, this game is nostalgia wrapped in a keyboard and mouse, for many who partook in the adventure series. Although there is some debate around the game, given its origins of being born from a Disneyland pirate ride, The Secret of Monkey Island still holds true today as being one of the point and click original greats. I mean, it is funny…well, witty. No one is really slapping their wooden legs in a guffaw of grunted pirate-y laughter. But the gameplay, the humor, the imagery, the battle of slanderous out-wittedness. The Secret of Monkey Island was/is just a fun game to play.
4. Maniac Mansion – Lucasfilm Games 1987 [PC/DOS]
Tuna heads unite! If loose and displaced linguistic jargon is your idea of a good time, then you have probably played Maniac Mansion. Dr. Fred, a creepy aqua-colored dude, has been taken over by an outer space grumpy meteor, and is set to take over the world! His crux comes in his plans to do this through the kidnapping of Sandy Pantz. Sandy’s boyfriend and co-pals set off to save her. The game has several alternative endings and ran with a revamped design to the standard point and click interface. Technicalities aside, Maniac Mansion is comedy cracked open with a splatter of naughtiness…and a bunch of bushes you cannot open.
3. Space Quest I – 6 1986-1995
“It appears that you are up the proverbial estuary without a means of locomotion.”
–Keronian alien, assessing Roger’s situation. SQ1: The Sarien Encounter
For me, Space Quest was the holy grail. My very first point and click, littering my childhood with neon space-junk adventures. So much confusion, so many slammed keyboards. The game follows Roger Wilco, janitor, accidental universe saver, and an underdog who is never really acknowledged for his achievements. The series starts off with the Starship Arcadia coming under attack by the Sariens. Our hero, asleep in the closet, saunters into action and manages a getaway. Roger Wilco must now get to the Sarien mothership and save his planet from being blown to buggery! The series spun out six other games in their run and the final two games did lose a bit of their edge. This is possibly attributed to the dramatic visual and audio changes. But the humor, playstyle, and storylines still rang true. Confusion and laughter, what’s not to love?
2. Odysseus Kosmos and his Robot Quest–Jan 2018
Developed by Pavel Kostin and published by HeroCraft, Odysseus Kosmos and his Robot Quest is a modern adaption of a loved genre of gameplay done right. The game centers around ship engineer Odysseus Kosmos and his robot Barton Quest. Two stranded-ish life-ish things in space with their crew disembarked on a planet where time runs so slow it has almost stopped. Engineer and robot have been awaiting their return for years now and their ship is starting to show signs of age. Odysseus and his sidekick must work together-ish to overcome many of the ship’s scientific problems, through the running of various experiments and a ton of guesswork. This game, for lack of a better hype-up, is well done. Like those of our nostalgic counterparts, Odysseus Kosmos and his Robot Quest provide a plethora of Macgyver-semantics to work through with just enough difficulty to maintain interest.
1. Paradigm Adventure Game – Apr 2017
Zdravstvuj! Zdravstvujtye! Hello! My phat beatsies droppers. Ok, now I am also confused. Let’s start by saying, if ever a game needed to be a meme, this is it. Paradigm Adventure Game follows aptly named Paradigm, a mutant-something who is living his best life in apocalyptic Eastern European Krusz. Our bulbous friend and his Russian accent combine aggressively with the 80s neon – 8bit – offensively detailed backdrop and hilarious dialogue that often makes no sense. The puzzle play also, at times, is confusing, but that all attributes to the game’s charm. You will not figuratively laugh out loud while playing this game if you have a unique and expansive sense of humor. You will chortle and then realize you have no idea why. Tis berry-berry clebber. In many ways, Paradigm Adventure Game gave me a new reason to start paying a lot more attention to modern point and click, rather than just rehashing old games in the genre. Guilty!
There you have it. We didn’t pick on this genre for something to do. We both grew up with games like these and we genuinely still love them today. If you’ve never attempted anything like any of the above, you’re missing out. Sometimes your brain needs the same kind of a workout that you give your thumbs. Go forth, Google, find and play some of these entries! You will not be sorry you did.
Hailing from Southport England, Alex started his gaming career in the late 80s on a Commodore 64. Since that time he's either owned or played on virtually every console released. Alex happens to...