Point-and-click adventure games have a long and storied history in the canon of computer gaming, featuring classics such as LucasArts' Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island, to Sierra On-Line's various Quest games. It's not a dead genre though, as the Internet is wild with indie publishers releasing short and sweet adventures, loving riffs on genre classics, as well as downright weird, experimental titles that take genre conventions and turn them on their heads. If you're looking for a quirky, whimsical, or downright mysterious game that doesn't rely on your twitch reflexes, why not have a go at these point-and-click games for the weekend?
First up isn't so much a game, as an engine that lets you play loads of point-and-click classics. Originally conceived as a virtual machine that lets modern gamers play LucasArts adventure games, ScummVM has come along in leaps and bounds. Not only can you relive classics like The Secret of Monkey Island and Loom, but dozens of other adventure games like Simon the Sorcerer, Broken Sword and The Legend of Kyrandia from defunct companies like Sierra On-Line, Trilobyte and Westwood Studios. If you want to spend a weekend on the best of point and click classics, ScummVM is pretty much the only thing better than an old 386.
Verdict: A tried and true way to bring back that 20th century magic, ScummVM makes dusting off those old game boxes worthwhile.
A light hearted adventure in the mold of movies like Romancing the Stone, this one casts you as Joe King, a freelance pilot. When King’s plane, The Amazon Queen, crashes lands in the jungle he must protect his latest client, a famous Hollywood star named Faye Russel, from savage jungle women, mad scientists and lederhosen! Cheesy and cheeky, Flight of the Amazon Queenis an adventure that’s good-natured fun.
Verdict: With a story that goes on autopilot, this silly adventure is an unpretentious delight.
One of a fewScummVM-compatible classics made available to the public domain, Beneath a Steel Sky is a post-apocalyptic/cyberpunk thriller that takes its cues from the pessimism of British graphic novels. You play as Foster, a wasteland outsider who has gone on the run in a vast city where the wealthy corrupt live sheltered from pollution while the have nots toil for them. The dire tone of the game is offset by the light sarcasm of Foster’s only companion, the robot Joey.
Verdict: An engaging and intelligent story that blends shades of Orwellian paranoia with British wryness.
Quite possibly the most celebrated, talked about and influential adventure game of all time, The Secret of Monkey Islandis constantly name checked in just about every conversation about classic gaming. Centered around the unfortunately named Guybrush Threepwood, a wannabe pirate who looks more like a flooring inspector, Monkey Islandblends humor and charm to entertain even when players are stuck. A remastered edition featuring enhanced visuals, full voice acting was released a couple of years ago for just about every modern platform including iOS, with the option to switch to classic mode for grumpy grognards.
Verdict: This adventure hit all the right notes twenty years ago and it’s even better now with a new coat of paint.
The Sarien.net website hosts a series of HTML5 conversions of the groundbreaking Quest series of graphical adventure games from Sierra On-Line. It hosts HTML5 versions of King's Quest (1983), Police Quest, Space Quest, and The Black Cauldron, a spinoff from the Disney animated film of the same name. Combining a graphical presentation with a text parser, players navigate through the game worlds in order to achieve quests, such as searching for magical treasures to save the land of Daventry in King's Quest, or to track down the criminal known as The Death Angel in Police Quest.
Verdict: Text parsers are a fairly archaic interface, but the games themselves are actually pretty good and offer an important look at the dawn of the adventure game genre.
AGD Interactive has been busy making modern remakes of classics from the Sierra On-Line catalog such as the various Quest games. The King’s Quest series is part of the founding canon of adventure games, set in a pastiche world of medieval fantasy. The third game, To Heir is Human, breaks ground in the series: it takes place far away from the safety of King Graham’s domain, Daventry, incorporates spellcasting and concludes on a plot twist so unforeseen that players didn’t discover it until long after release. Earlier chapters in the series, King's Quest and King's Quest 2 are also freely available.
Verdict: Classic adventure gamingand a dramatic story make this an experience to remember.
The Quest for Glory series is memorable for its unique blend of adventure game puzzle work and RPG combat. AGD Interactive also released a remake of the second game, Trial By Fire, whisks the Hero of Spielburg away to the desert city of Shapeir and defeat the many arcane dangers that threaten it. Like the rest of the series, Trial by Fire is filled with quirky humor and colorful characters.
Verdict: Full of laughs, heroic drama and crunchy RPG goodness, there just aren’t many games like this one.