Ah, the point and click adventure. The land of well-defined characters, imaginative worlds, and brutally illogical puzzles that will send you running to the LucasArts hint line.
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The genre has had an interesting history, from main attraction to cult favourite to reinvented classic. And you can chart every twist and turn on Steam, as brand new games and retro gems live alongside one another.
There are some 300 point and clicks on Steam. These are our the best ones.
Grim Fandango RemasteredBy Double Fine Productions – buy on PC, Mac, and Linux (£7.36)
Skeletal travel agent Manny Calavera makes a four year journey across the underworld, hoping to uncover a conspiracy in the land of the dead. Its mix of Mexican folklore and film noir creates a wholly unique style.
This Remastered version adds handy point and click controls, and some subtle visual tweaks. But those mind-bendingly difficult puzzles remain untouched.
Detective GrimoireBy SFB Games – buy on PC, Mac, and Linux (£4.99)
A comical whodunit, set in a sweltering swamp that has been turned into an oddball theme park. Instead of solving puzzles, you”ll be collecting clues and questioning witnesses in an attempt to solve a murder.
A clever collection of deduction mechanics let you feel like a detective, as you piece together the thoughts in Grimoire”s noggin.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary EditionBy Phoenix Online Studios – buy on PC and Mac (£12.99)
Before Gabriel went 3D and started making fake moustaches from syrup and cat hair, he was in dark and suspenseful thrillers like 1993″s Sins of our Fathers.
This 20th Anniversary Edition gives the game a complete facelift with HD graphics, new puzzles and scenes, and a bunch of making-of content. If you want the original you”ll need to go to GOG.
The Walking DeadBy Telltale Games – buy on PC and Mac (£18.99)
The Walking Dead doesn”t have many puzzles. And the head-scratchers get fewer and fewer as you play more episodes. Instead, the game”s all about making choices.
How do you distribute food rations to a starving group? Who do you side with in an argument? How do you explain a zombie apocalypse to a little girl? And, most importantly, whose life do you save?
Broken AgeBy Double Fine Productions – buy on PC, Mac, and Linux (£18.99)
It”s the game that crushed it on Kickstarter. Grim Fandango creator Tim Schafer got 3 million bucks to make a classic point and click – and he very much delivered on his promise. Even if he was a little late.
The outcome? An ambitious game of two very different kids, with the very similar aim of breaking into adulthood. You know, by defeating monsters and escaping from spaceships. Puberty, eh?
Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s RevengeBy LucasArts – buy on PC (£6.99)
This tale of wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood is a stone cold classic, and I”m sure many people reading this list cut their teeth on this comedy favourite.
You don”t need to decide whether to buy the pixel art original or the HD remastered version – they”re both in the same game and you can switch between them at any time with a button press.
Kentucky Route ZeroBy Cardboard Computer – buy on PC, Mac, and Linux (£18.99)
An impressionistic indie game that largely ditches traditional puzzles in favour of dialogue choices and thick, sweaty atmosphere.
You play as a delivery truck driver Conway, who”s looking to get a parcel to a mysteriously hard-to-find address. Things get a bit weird when the twisty, self-referential narrative starts to bend back into itself.
Dreamfall: The Longest JourneyBy Funcom – buy on PC (£13.99)
If point and click adventures are known for their inventive worlds, then Dreamfall surely deserves some kind of prize. Between its futuristic Earth and its stunning fantasy realm, the game is constantly taking you to surprising new places.
Some of the more action-focused elements might turn off genre purists, but you owe it to yourself to dive into this beautiful, enrapturing adventure.
MachinariumBy Amanita Design – buy on PC and Mac (£7.49)
While many adventure games are packed with dialogue and talkative characters, Machinarium“s cast of tin-can robots never speak. You”ll have to figure things out through body language, observation, and lovely cartoon speech bubbles.
As well as traditional item puzzles, Machinarium is packed with cute mini-games and little logic riddles to keep things fresh. But the star of the show is that staggeringly detailed, hand-drawn world.
Gemini RueBy Joshua Neurnberger – buy on PC, Mac, and Linux (£6.99)
A gravel-voiced detective, prowling about some rain-soaked exoplanet. An inmate, trapped in an orbiting prison complex. They”re the two characters you”ll control in this retro throwback adventure.
But this is not slavishly oldschool. A refreshing focus on logical puzzle solutions and the promise of multiple solutions to many problems gives this sci-fi epic a modern twist.
Tales of Monkey Island Complete PackBy Telltale Games – buy on PC and Mac (£26.99)
Before Telltale ditched all the puzzles in favour of branching paths and zombies, it made classic point and clicks. The best of the bunch was surely this Monkey Island swan song.
It can”t quite hold a candle to the originals (through, it”s much better than Monkey 4), but it is funny, clever, and creative enough to fit the series.
Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There, Dan That! Double PackBy Size Five Games – buy on PC (£2.99)
While many modern adventures go the serious route, Size Five Games hearken back to games like Toonstruck and Sam and Max with oddball situations, gross-out humour, and only-sorta logical puzzles.
Besides, it”s the only series on this list whee you can stick some dude”s lopped-off arm down a toilet to get Hitler”s blood and stool.
Indiana Jones and the Fate of AtlantisBy LucasArts – buy on PC and Mac (£4.79)
I maintain that Fate of Atlantis is a better Indiana Jones movie than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Maybe not a hard award to win – most things are better than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But still.
You”ll have to play this game three times as the choice to play with your brains, with your fists, or to team up with Sophia Hapgood will take you down three very different paths.
Year WalkBy Simogo – buy on PC and Mac (£4.79)
A chilly Scandinavian forest, and a weird Swedish tradition called year walking. The two settings for a daring mobile adventure that you can now get on Steam.
The puzzles are well designed and the story is suitably mysterious. But top marks go to the crunchy, snowy atmosphere of these weird woods.
Broken Sword: Director”s CutBy Revolution Software Ltd – buy on PC, Mac, and Linux (£4.99)
When vacationing lawyer George Stobbart is caught in a terrorist explosion, he finds himself bouncing around the world, chasing a bonkers cult of Neo-Templars (before Dan Brown ruined them).
It”s absolutely beautiful and wonderfully witty, but Steam users will be stuck with the inferior director”s cut. Get the original on GOG if you”re a retro purist like me.
ResonanceBy XII Games – buy on PC (£6.99)
Another terrific game from Gemini Rue developer Wadjet Eye Game, which looks like some forgotten VGA classic from 1995. This time, we”re trying to stop a particle physicist”s doomsday tech fall into the wrong hands.
The game”s got a clever system where your memory – both short term and long term – acts like a second inventory so you can discuss events you”ve seen or use massive objects you couldn”t possibly fit in your pockets.
The Last Express Gold EditionBy DotEmu – buy on PC and Mac (£4.99)
An incredibly inventive point and click, that broke a lot of barriers. This adventure aboard the Orient Express plays out in real-time so you can miss events, characters will remember how you treat them, and the graphics are all rotoscoped.
If you thought point and clicks were all about standing still and solving logic puzzles, think again.
Life Is StrangeBy DONTNOD Entertainment – buy on PC (£3.99)
This college drama borrows a lot of ideas from The Walking Dead, but puts its own twist on things. Most importantly: the ability to rewind time to make a different decision if you weren”t keen on the outcome.
The cringe-worthy appropriation of teen culture will turn some people”s stomachs, but it”s hard not to get wrapped up in this involving story and feel a little nostalgic about those hazy, lazy autumn days of yore.
DeponiaBy Daedalic Entertainment – buy on PC, Mac, and Linux (£15.99)
A gorgeous adventure from Germany, where people didn”t even know that the adventure game died. This one”s about a man who tries to escape his social status in a world that has been turned into a junk heap.
It”s funny, it looks absolutely stunning, and it”s a good reminder of why we loved this type of game in the first place.