The State of Point-and-Click Adventures

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Matt Barton's picture

Adventure games, particularly of the point-and-click variety, have always been my second favorite genre, just after computer role-playing games. Unfortunately, the genre's popularity declined sharply after the collapse of LucasArts' adventure game division and, of course, Sierra On-Line's adventures. About the closest you can get nowadays to this "golden age" experience is the episodic games from Telltale Games. But what about folks looking for that classic point-and-click experience? I've been fortunate to review games for Adventure Classic Gaming, a site that specializes in new adventure games with the classic feel. The majority of the games I've reviewed are imports, usually German, and games from independent studios.

I thought it would be fun to talk about three or four of the best ones I've played recently and let you know where to get them. I'll also link each one to my full review of the title on Adventure Classic Gaming.

Chains of Satinav: Fun times in the TDE universe.Chains of Satinav: Fun times in the TDE universe.The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav.
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment.
Rating: 4/5.
Read Review.
This is definitely one of the best modern adventure games I've played in the past few years. You might think it's a role-playing game given the connection to The Dark Eye, but it's not--it's just a standard P&C adventure game reminiscent of the Simon the Sorcerer series, but darker and less humorous. What's great about the game is the setting in the Dark Eye universe; it's similar to, but different enough from standard AD&D settings that this stuff feels fresh again. I particularly like what they've done with fairies here. The only real negative points about this game are the whiny lead character and the terrible character animation, which resembles nothing more than flat paper puppets. On a positive note, the background paintings are gorgeous.

The Sea Will Claim Everything: Brilliant.The Sea Will Claim Everything: Brilliant.The Sea Will Claim Everything.
Developer: Jonas Kyratzes.
Rating: 4.7/5.
Read Review.
I've played some of Jonas's other games, but this one really stands out. I don't see how anyone who enjoys classic adventure games wouldn't find something to like about it. You've got great writing--some funny, some deep, some poetic--and tons of bizarre and curious things to explore. The difficulty is right, too, with just the right degree of challenge. Of course, this is a very small team production operating on a shoestring budget, but if you can get past that superficial stuff (and most classic game fans have no problems doing so), you're going to love this. I should note that the perspective is first-person. The music is also fantastic and worth the price of admission all by itself. You might remember that I interviewed Jonas awhile back on Matt Chat. He does the bulk of the game design while his wife does the artwork. I particularly enjoyed the witty way he handled the interface, making it a sort of puzzle unto itself.

Tomb of the Lost Queen: Nancy Drew is back!Tomb of the Lost Queen: Nancy Drew is back!Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen.
Developer: Her Interactive.
Rating: 5/5.
Read Review.
Another brilliant game from the amazing, "we're just in it for the money" team of Her Interactive. Really, guys, if you're not playing these games, you should hand in your adventure game fan card right now. Sure, it's Nancy Drew, sure it's ostensibly designed for girls, but who gives a damn? Her Int. has gotten this stuff down to a science, with great puzzles, characters, stories, and always a lot of charm and inside jokes. This one is set in Ancient Egypt, which is, of course, an ideal setting for an adventure game. It's just difficult enough to make you think without veering off into frustration territory. Great stuff. If you haven't played these games before, note that they use a first-person interface similar to Myst (but with an inventory system and a few other niceties). This is a huge series, but you don't need to play any of the earlier games to enjoy this one. In fact, I think this would be a great entry point for anyone new to it. As always, it's more fun if you can play alongside somebody else.

JULIA: Intriguing design from the Czech Republic.JULIA: Intriguing design from the Czech Republic.J.U.L.I.A.
Developer: CBE.
Rating: 3/5.
Read Review. This game from the Czech Republic boasts one of the best science fiction stories in recent memory, involving an AI named JULIA and a young woman named Rachel. As with another of my favorite adventures, Darkstar, the character has awoken from stasis aboard an abandoned vessel, and must find out what happened to the crew. It's not a huge FMV experience like Darkstar; rather, it plays more like a casual game. It does have some awesome music and lots of abstract logic puzzles for people who go in for that sort of thing. The in-game graphics aren't nearly as slick as the cut scenes. If the whole game could've been as great as the cut scenes...

I'm currently playing a game called Deponia, which--unless it drops sharply in quality before the end--is looking like a solid contender for a full 5/5.

Comments

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Since the late 90's i havent

Since the late 90's i havent really played any of this type of game. I wasnt the biggest fan of the game type to begin with. But when Kings Quest and all its other brothers where big I did play most of them. I was easy to frustrae with totolly iliogical problem solveing, or what i felt was iliogical. I do know the last of the great ones had pretty much gotton away from the random combining or guesswork and whre more fun. Full throttle and The Indy ones where the last i played. I do have the complete Sam& Max set from steam (and did play about an hour of the first one, but it sjust couldnt hold my interest enough to kep playing).. but I will say Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP changed that.. (also Puzzle Agent, if you would call that this type of game?) SuperBrothers started as a phone game I think.. this game is just hard to describe. its like playing the most stunning 2600 game ever.. but it mixes stuff (music etc) in such a wierd way. I hesitate to even really call it game as its almost not. All i can say is when i first looked at it i was "what crap" and by the time i finished it I was amazed at it.. as a whole..

the dark eye sure looks good in the SS.. You have mentione the Nancy Drew games a few times.. this may be just enouhg to tip me over.. any certin one i should look for to start? Steam has um on sale quite often. The sea will claim everything seems a bit of a media darling right now as I have seen alot of great comments about it..

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Adventure games
clok1966 wrote:

Since the late 90's i havent really played any of this type of game. I wasnt the biggest fan of the game type to begin with. But when Kings Quest and all its other brothers where big I did play most of them. I was easy to frustrae with totolly iliogical problem solveing, or what i felt was iliogical. I do know the last of the great ones had pretty much gotton away from the random combining or guesswork and whre more fun. Full throttle and The Indy ones where the last i played. I do have the complete Sam& Max set from steam (and did play about an hour of the first one, but it sjust couldnt hold my interest enough to kep playing)..

Yeah, my experience is almost exactly the same as yours. My favorite games of that type - though not 100% related - were the text and graphics adventures of the 80s, which themselves were a minor evolution of pure text adventures. Even though they could be frustrating, I liked parser-driven games. I never got the same feeling from just clicking around, though I've certainly still played those games.

clok1966 wrote:

but I will say Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP changed that.. (also Puzzle Agent, if you would call that this type of game?) SuperBrothers started as a phone game I think.. this game is just hard to describe. its like playing the most stunning 2600 game ever.. but it mixes stuff (music etc) in such a wierd way. I hesitate to even really call it game as its almost not. All i can say is when i first looked at it i was "what crap" and by the time i finished it I was amazed at it.. as a whole..

I have it on iPad/iPhone, but I haven't given it much time, honestly. I need to.

clok1966 wrote:

the dark eye sure looks good in the SS.. You have mentione the Nancy Drew games a few times.. this may be just enouhg to tip me over.. any certin one i should look for to start? Steam has um on sale quite often. The sea will claim everything seems a bit of a media darling right now as I have seen alot of great comments about it..

When my daughters are a bit older, I think I'll try and play some with them.

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Nancy Drew
clok1966 wrote:

the dark eye sure looks good in the SS.. You have mentione the Nancy Drew games a few times.. this may be just enouhg to tip me over.. any certin one i should look for to start? Steam has um on sale quite often. The sea will claim everything seems a bit of a media darling right now as I have seen alot of great comments about it..

The Dark Eye is deceptive (perhaps by design?). Any static screenshot you look at is going to look GREAT. Those artists are fantastic. It's just the animation where everything goes to hell. It boggles the mind how they could have invested so much into the artwork and then got their animation package from Wal-Mart. Maybe I'm missing something--perhaps it's supposed to look like a puppet show? It wouldn't be that big of a deal if everything else wasn't so slick and polished. It doesn't ruin the game by any means, but if you're like me it will bother ya, and I'm usually very forgiving of that sort of thing.

Nancy Drew!!! That's about the only series I actually get excited about anymore. I think this one is about as good an entry into the series as any of them. There are some I like better, but they're older and not as slick. Secret of Shadow Ranch is a classic (IMO), especially if you like Old West stuff. Some people like the scary ones like Ghost Dogs better. If you're into Japanese stuff, I'd get Shadow at the Water's Edge.

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Anonymous (not verified)
Nancy Drew for kids?

I thought Nancy Drew was series of easy adventures for kids. I never played them for this reason. So they easy or not, in comparison to Cryo games or games like that?

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I'm not familiar with Cryo

I'm not familiar with Cryo games. They have two different difficulty levels, one for kids and one for adults (junior and senior detective). I've been able to solve most of them without having to look at hints, so I guess it's relatively easy if you prefer getting stuck a lot. ;)

There's usually at least a few puzzles in there that'll take some serious time and cleverness to figure out.

n/a

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