I recently wrote an article about an upcoming Batman game from Telltale Games, a company who are reviving the classic point-and-click adventure game genre for the modern age.
It made me nostalgic for my younger days of playing those games, and so I decided it would be fun to talk about my favourite point-and-click adventure games. I've saved my most loved game for last, but other than that they're in no particular order. Let me know what you think!
Myst is one of those weird games that almost everyone has played but hardly anyone has completed. It was a game totally unlike any other in its genre. It had no dialogue, and no other characters to interact with. Myst was just you, in first person view, wondering around a MYST-erious island (see what I did there?) with - at first - very little idea of where you are, why you're there, or even who you are.
It hasn't aged particularly well, but at the time of release (1993) its graphics were stunning and it was a more thoughtful and cerebral alternative to many of the adventure games on the market.
Myst's success spawned a sequel, Riven, and a slew of imitators, but it's still well-loved today, to the extent that an updated version called realMyst: Masterpiece Edition was released in 2014.
'Day Of The Tentacle' (1993)
I hardly ever hear this one mentioned when people talk about classic adventure games, yet it's one of my favourites. Day Of The Tentacle was one of many stone-cold classics of the genre that LucasArts churned out - it was in fact a sequel to one of their previous titles, the groundbreaking Maniac Mansion.
Day Of The Tentacle is much more than a sequel though, and stands up in its own right as a brilliant game. I had not played Maniac Mansion when I came to Day Of The Tentacle, but it didn't lessen my enjoyment of it. The game's cartoon-like visuals have been much copied, but it also combined genuine humour with tricky puzzles, and a time travel plot that has some fun with American history.
Thankfully for those - like me - who love this game, Day Of The Tentacle is due for a re-release in early 2016 thanks to Double Fine Productions, the company run by Tim Schafer, the man behind this and so many other classic LucasArts games. Keep your eyes peeled for that release!
'Broken Sword: The Shadow Of The Templars' (1996)
The original Broken Sword is a rare entry in my list not made my LucasArts. This one came from Revolution Software who also made the underrated Beneath A Steel Sky. While that game had a bleak(ish), Blade Runner inspired sci-fi asthetic; Broken Sword was more colourful and light on its feet, in keeping with the upbeat style of many games in the adventure genre.
In Broken Sword you play as George Stobbart, an American tourist in Paris, who is drawn into a murderous web of murder and intrigue while unravelling a Templar Knights conspiracy. I wonder if Dan Brown played this game when writing The Da Vinci Code!
I've never played any of Broken Sword's four sequels, but I can confidently say that even if they were awful, they would not ruin the original's legacy as one of the greatest games in the genre. Like pretty much all the games on this list, Broken Sword was re-released as a "director's cut" remake in 2010.
'The Secret Of Monkey Island' (1990)
Usually referred to simply as Monkey Island, I think everyone who enjoys adventure games has played this one! Yet another from the LucasArts stable, this pirate themed tale puts you in the shoes of Guybrush Threepwood, a wannabe pirate who ends up doing battle with the mythical ghost pirate LeChuck for the love of the island govenor Elaine.
Like so many LucasArts titles, The Secret Of Monkey Island combined an intriguing story with smart-looking graphics, fiendish puzzles and playful humour. From memory I think it was the first game of this type that I ever played, and got me hooked on the genre.
The success of the much-loved original game led to four sequels, and a remastered re-release in 2009.
'Grim Fandango' (1998)
Grim Fandango broke new ground for LucasArts, as it was the first game in their roster to use 3D graphics. It looked - and still looks - like nothing else out there; not just due to the 3D but also because of the visual look inspired by Mexico's "day of the dead".
The look of the game was only part of its success, though. Grim Fandango's plot was a wonderful parody of/homage to film noir (its most obvious references being Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon). The fact that films are such a perfect point of reference is to the game's credit, it felt cinematic in a way that previous adventure games did not, the 3D world made it a much more immersive experience than seemed previously possible.
Amazingly, even though everyone who played it thought it was a masterpiece, it was considered a failure commercially due to low sales. This resulted in LucasArts halting development on many planned games, which had the knock on effect of causing the slow decline of the adventure game genre, which has only picked up again in recent years. It's a sad legacy for a wonderful game.
An unusual choice for my most beloved point-and-click adventure game, perhaps, but playing this game really was one of the hobbies I most enjoyed growing up. As the title suggests, the game was based upon the Discworld series of comic fantasy novels written by Terry Pratchett. It's hard to over-emphasise just how big a deal it was for young me that I could play my favourite style of game based on my favourite novels!
Discworld put you in the role of Rincewind, the main protagonist of the early Discworld novels and the worst wizard in the world. He's voiced by Monty Python's Eric Idle in a performance so pitch perfect that I hear his voice in my head when I re-read the Rincewind-starring novels. Idle is joined by other British comic actors including Rob Brydon and Tony Robinson, and the top quality voice acting - along with the hilarious script that really translates Pratchett's humour from page to screen - is a big plus in Discworld's favour.
On the negative side, the puzzles could be infuriatingly difficult (I remember many a frustrating hour furiously clicking through my inventory, blindly selecting every item to interact with literally everything on screen I could click on, hoping anything would help me solve an impossible puzzle) but the game was such lighthearted fun that it can be forgiven. Though, I say that now, I'm sure my mid-to-late 90s self would disagree!