Although the point-and-click genre is not as prominent as it once was, recent releases like Return to Monkey Island proving that there is still some life left in the classic adventure format. With a laid-back gameplay style and an emphasis on puzzles, the best point-and-click games offer a relaxing experience that doesn’t take up too much time.
Whether it’s genre-defining games like King’s Quest VI or modern indie hits like Primordia, there’s more to point-and-click gameplay than pressing a few buttons. While the golden age of gaming produced a wealth of classic point-and-clicks, users on Reddit took to the site to call out the games that best represent the graphic adventure genre.
Beneath A Steel Sky (1994)
Using movies like Blade Runner for inspiration, the cyberpunk adventure game Under a steel sky pushed the boundaries of what many thought was a limited playing style. One Redditor praised its place in gaming history, writing “Beneath a Steel Sky is one of my favorites…It’s this sci-fi story that’s half comedy, half Orwellian dystopia…It’s a true classic.”
Most point-and-click games have similar mechanics and gameplay, but it’s the way the standard format is approached that helps Under a steel sky stand out. Taking full advantage of the cyberpunk premise, the game involves hacking to solve puzzles, a gimmick that would be seen in later games such as Cyberpunk 2077.
The Neverhood (1996)
From the beginning, the unique adventure game The Neverhood was destined to be one of the best cult classic games of all time, and fans still look back on the oddity with fondness. User Bradalax praised the game from top to bottom, saying “The Neverhood, amazing game…great concept, great puzzles, amazing music.”
Using a claymation style, the simple gameplay was supplemented with visual elements that are still unique today. Despite the sweet tone, the game was surprisingly difficult at times, with moments that could result in a complete game over if the player wasn’t careful.
Recent point-and-click titles must strike the perfect balance between classic gameplay and modern sensibilities, and few games achieved that goal like the epic Technobabylon. User splice_of_life professed his love for the game, explaining “Technobabylon is my favorite because I’m a cyberpunk sucker. The puzzles make sense and the cast is great.”
With a sprawling narrative that involves sharp political commentary, the game manages to integrate its puzzles into the story without feeling unnecessary. Although not particularly challenging, Technobabylonits story shines best, and it puts adventure back into graphic adventure games.
Grim Fandango (1998)
Generally ranked highly among the best LucasArts video games of all time, Grim Fandango was a critical hit, but it had pitiful sales at the time of its release. Not afraid to heap praise on the hidden gem, user Crayton777 wrote “Grim Fandango is my favorite of all time… Nothing touches Grim Fandango.”
Using the point-and-click style, the game is a mystery that draws inspiration from classic noir films from the 1940s. On top of that, it is set in the land of the dead, and features character designs inspired by the calaca artworks of Latin American cultures. Grim Fandango is a rare point-and-click title that gives even the biggest console games a lot for their money.
The land of indie gaming is where the point-and-click genre has found new life in recent decades, and there are games that Primordia proving that they are still plenty relevant to modern gamers. About the game, user SpiderProvider wrote “Primordia has a really fun theme, great atmosphere, and is the only point and click to hold my attention for the last 10 years.”
As games have become more complicated, it’s inevitable that many players just don’t see the value in the point-and-click style. But as the user mentioned, Primordia manages to grip the audience with its post-apocalyptic setting, and it establishes a mood that is chilling due to its plausibility. On top of that, the puzzles are grounded in reality, and there’s usually more than one way to progress through the game.
The Longest Journey (1999)
Avoid action-based gameplay, point-and-click lives and dies by their story, and play as The longest journey offer history in spades. User Neurosss had a lot to say about the game when they commented “Hands down the greatest I’ve ever played because of the amazing story and the characters are the longest journey.”
The plot is essentially a metaphor for the gameplay itself, involving a young woman who can travel between parallel worlds that are either dominated by industry or magic. The story is quite open, and the massive world in which the game takes place serves to further deepen the knowledge. Although known as a great obscure video game in most circles, The longest journey is an oft-cited classic in the point-and-click fandom.
Broken Sword: The Shadow Of The Templars (1996)
Unlike most genres that are a little more elusive and hard to define, the graphic adventure game follows a familiar template that most examples follow. One Redditor mentions a point-and-click series as the gold standard of that template, writing “Broken Sword 1 and 2 is the quintessential point and click experience.”
Sending players on a worldwide adventure involving history and conspiracy, the original Broken sword the title had the perfect blend of story and challenging tasks. While the plot was enough to keep players clicking along, the possibility of character death meant it was a much more active experience. Although the series eventually transitioned to 3D, the animated style of the original games is still fondly remembered.
King’s Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow (1992)
Many of the best graphic adventure games of the 90s owe a debt of gratitude to King’s Quest series, and the sixth installment was particularly influential. Speaking of the aforementioned King’s Quest sequel, user Hiluxus wrote “It’s an old game, but probably one of the finest point and click games made so far.”
The impudently named Heir today, gone tomorrow bridged the gap between computer game generations and was the first in the series to feature direct point-and-click gameplay as opposed to a text-based interface. Despite this update, the game was just as difficult as its predecessors, and players had to get used to dying over and over again.
Maniac Mansion II: Day Of The Tentacle (1993)
While the original Maniac mansion the game was one of the grandfathers of the genre, Day of the Tentacle was a high point in the history of the point-and-click game. Summarizing the game, user plasticmissile commented “IMO the greatest adventure game of all time. It’s a classic, but it’s also aged. extremely we will.”
The lively and cartoonish style is timeless, and the game’s signature sense of humor was just what it needed to put it over the top. While it presents many challenges, it doesn’t suffer from the unfairness that many early point-and-clicks did, and the player can never get stuck in a no-win situation.
The Secret of Monkey Island (1990)
LucasArts outdid themselves when they developed the early point-and-click classic The Secret of Monkey Island, creating a gaming experience that necessitated the term “graphic adventure” to describe it. User KingOctavious showed its importance even outside of the point-and-click fandom, saying “This is my all-time favorite game of any genre. It has the perfect balance of storytelling, puzzles…difficulty, and humor.”
The developer knew exactly how to manage every aspect of the game to deliver a gaming experience that was perfectly balanced without being too easy or too difficult. Also, the mysterious adventure story had the feel of a feature film, aided by cutscenes that further immersed the player in the world.
NEXT: 10 best games to play after returning to Monkey Island