The Best Point-and-Clicks For Unforgettable Adventures
One of the many wonderful qualities of indie gaming is its ability to take genres overlooked or spurned by mainstream media and breathe new life into them, revitalising them with modern methods while celebrating their traditional elements. Many genres have found a new lease of life on the indie scene, including one of the oldest genres in the history of gaming: point-and-click adventures. Platforms like Steam and itch.io have embraced point-and-clicks and helped to cultivate a thriving and passionate community of veteran fans and new players. So we’ve chosen five of the best titles to showcase just what this genre has to offer. Whether you’re a point-and-click aficionado looking for your next adventure or a newbie wondering where to start, we’ve got you covered!
Wadjet Eye Games is a studio well-known to genre fans, revered for creating and publishing consistently top class point-and-click titles and Unavowed is arguably their best one yet. A case of the ordinary meets the unearthly, you play a regular New Yorker who is now a fugitive after being possessed by a demon caused you to go on a murderous rampage. But joining the Unavowed, a group dedicated to combating supernatural evil, may give you a new life. Along with the stellar writing and storytelling Wadjet Eye is famous for, Unavowed adopts a party mechanic à la Bioware, allowing you to choose different characters for a mission and learn more about them as you progress. Throw complex choices and top notch voice acting into the mix and you’ve got an adventure that gives the all-time greats more than a run for their money!
While it’s more common nowadays for games to explore communication without words, it was a novelty back in 2009, even more so with point-and-click adventures. Machinarium, Amanita Design’s first full-length game and award-winning indie hit, was one of the first to do so and also one of the first to adapt the now widespread hand-drawn aesthetic. Following diminutive robot Josef as he sets out to save kidnapped girlfriend Berta, body language, sketches and animated speech bubbles convey dialogue and puzzles, set against backdrops of a decaying mechanical metropolis. It’s also paired with a beautifully atmospheric soundtrack that is more than easy on the ears. It’s near impossible to not fall in love with this quirky little gem that simply radiates charm, as the ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’ Steam score 11 years after release can attest to.
If On A Winter’s Night, Four Travelers
The newest game on the list (released March 10th), If On A Winter’s Night, Four Travelers by Dead Idle Games is a shining example of how shorter experiences can pack the biggest punch. Roughly around 3 hours long, it sets the scene of 4 guests at a masquerade ball held onboard a train, recounting their histories and events leading up to their meeting. With exquisite pixel art visuals, excellent writing and atmosphere oozing out of each act, Four Travelers plunges you headlong into powerfully visceral stories and emotionally stays with you long after completion. And it’s free — something I still can’t quite believe! Dead Idle Games are putting nothing less than their best foot forward with this game and to say any more would be to spoil it. This is an experience that should be embarked on unsullied. Again, it’s FREE. Go get it!
Whispers of a Machine
As point-and-click games have evolved over the years, developers have experimented with new gameplay elements to create a more branching narrative — often to great effect. Whispers of a Machine by Clifftop Games tells the story of Vera Englund, a cybernetically augmented detective called in to investigate a string of murders who soon finds herself thrown into a sinister conflict over forbidden technology. Adapting to the choices the player makes and how they approach situations, Vera obtains different superhuman augmentations to aid her in her investigation, allowing for multiple puzzle solutions and playstyles. This, added to an engrossing emotional story and voice direction from Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye Games, makes Whispers of a Machine really stand out as a first class — in Clifftop’s own words — “Sci-fi Nordic Noir”.
The Eyes of Ara
If Stardew Valley has taught us anything, it’s to never underestimate what one person is capable of. Developed by Ben Droste of one-man studio 100 Stones Interactive, The Eyes of Ara is a love letter to all the classic ‘strange world’ point-and-click adventures like Myst and Schizm. A seemingly abandoned medieval castle suddenly starts broadcasting a mysterious signal, reigniting the local legends of restless dreams and ghostly lights. You must venture inside to get to the bottom of things. Like Myst, The Eyes of Ara uses environmental storytelling to great effect, enhanced by tactile interaction mechanics; instead of simply clicking, levers must be pulled, wheels must be turned etc. With complex puzzles and open-ended gameplay, this is a must for those looking for a challenging and immersive experience.