Point. Click. It doesn’t sound a huge amount of fun, but add a SCUMM interface here, and some cussing, wise-cracking pirates there and we’ve got ourselves a good time!
The 1980’s and 1990’s were the point-and-click adventures’ golden era, thanks, in the main, to the efforts of Lucasfilm Games. Here’s our pick of the best titles released during that period.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and let us know!
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders
Easily the weirdest game on the list, Lucasfilm’s 1988 effort sees our titular character becoming an unlikely hero in the face of an extraterrestrial invasion.
Sure, some of the puzzles lack a sense of lateral thinking, and we’re not sure why a Palace Guard is out protecting Stonehenge, but what brings ZMATAM through is a keen sense of humour as it delves into the lore of lost civilisations and ancient space travellers.
ICOM Simulations’ 1985 Film Noir mystery sees its protagonist. Ace Harding, waking up in a stupor with a serious case of memory loss, and in the company of a dead body, for which Ace appears to be framed for the murder of. Its the player’s job to guide Harding, a private eye, to piece together the missing pieces of his recent past while evading angry acquaintances and the police – while engaged in a race against time to find an antidote to the cause of his memory loss to avoid permanent oblivion.
A proper feel of the intruige is in the air and Deja Vu remains one of the first graphic adventures that pulled players in with a storyline that required a serious need to fill in the gaps. Thank heavens also for the ability to sort and clean up the item box, an increasingly messy affair as the game progresses.
Lure of the Temptress
Despite gaining critical approval upon release in 1992, Lure of the Temptress has been laregly forgotten compared to LucasArts and Sierra adventure tales. Which is a shame, as this point-and-click tale – following a captured peasant, Diermot, work his way out of his cell to enlist wizards and dragons to fend off a powerful, monstrous enemy – contains some lush -early-90s scenery and innovative, user-friendly gameplay. It was also the first point-and-click title, thanks to the Virtual Theatre engine, which allowed non-playing characters, to move around independently.
Sam & Max Hit The Road
Another detective adventure but this time following the exploits of an anthropomorphic wolfhound and… whatever Max is as they go on a nationwide hunt for a frozen bigfoot that’s escaped/stolen from a carnival.
What makes this is the vast array of sub-games, many integral to the plot itself, ensuring that there’s never a dull moment when hitting the road.
Day of the Tentacle
LucasArts’ 1993 follow up to Maniac Mansion sees its playable characters exploring mad scientist Dr Edison’s family motel across various time periods spanning hundreds of years to prevent the doctor’s accidental creation, the Purple Tentacle, from taking over the world.
Some of the puzzle solutions are as far-fetched as the plot, but suspend your disbelief and there is enough logic in the game to make everything perfectly solvable. And roadie Hoagie will, somehow, give you a fair education in American history through his indifferent chats with the likes of Benjamin Franklin.
Plus, you get two games in one: the whole of Maniac Mansion is playable through loading up an in-game console.
Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis
Lucasfilm took Indy fans away from the cinematic saga for this 1992 epic, with our eponymous whip- and wise-cracking hero looking for the sunken kingdom. Villainous Nazis remain on Jones’s trail, but he at least does get the help of psychic Sophia Hapgood, who of course is also his former romantic interest.
Excellent puzzles, one of the great characters of Hollywood and one of -point-and-click adventures most iconic storylines. What’s not to love?
Beneath A Steel Sky
A huge, for its time, atmospheric adventure, set in a dystopian future Australia. The player is Robert Foster and his robotic friend Joey in a battle for survival. The graphics in Revolution Software’s epic were mind-boggling for 1994 and the game was highly praised by critics. It became enough of a cult classic to garner a 2020 sequel, Beyond a Steel Sky.
The Secret of Monkey Island
Lucasfilm Games’s 1990 masterpiece. What’s more to be said about a game that spawned multiple sequels, revolutionised the point-and-click genre and deployed insults as a blood-free ighting mechanism. Guybrush Threepwood’s quest to become a qualified grog-drinking pirate and gain the love of the island’s governor Elaine still stands the test of time – with the sixth game in the series, Return to Monkey Island, released in September 2022.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best point and click games through the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!