Out of the many sub-genres within adventure games, one of the biggest is the point-and-click genre, which are games where the player controls their character by pointing at certain areas on the screen and clicking those areas. Since these are adventure games, the player typically uses this style of gameplay to solve puzzles and progress a narrative.
Because of the simple yet versatile nature of these controls, thousands of point-and-clicks have been made since the 1980s. While some of these games have been successful, there are also plenty of great titles that have remained unnoticed.
The Charnel House Trilogy
Released in 2015, The Charnel House Trilogy is a surreal psychological horror that follows two strangers, Alex Davenport and Doctor Harold Lang, who board a train called the Gloria. Although the word “trilogy” is in the tile, the three parts that the game is separated into feel more like three acts of a narrative rather than three separate experiences.
While the two main characters are on the Gloria, they slowly realize that the train seems to exist in a realm between the living and the dead as they find themselves interacting with many characters from their pasts. Despite the supernatural elements, however, the scariest moments come from the needlessly gruesome actions of the human characters rather than any monster. Though the game ends with more questions, the interesting cast and thought-provoking narrative make the experience worth a playthrough.
The Little Acre
Worked on by Charles Cecil, who is a British video game designer best known for the cyberpunk game Beneath a Steel Sky and the Broken Sword series, The Little Acre is a 2016 fantasy adventure that is set in 1950’s Ireland. While investigating his father’s disappearance, a young engineer named Aidan accidentally discovers a mystical world. Shortly after getting transported, his daughter, Lily, follows after him.
As the player explores the world as both characters, they will be treated to beautiful animation and an excellent soundtrack. Although the game is fairly short, it’s still a worthwhile experience for any point-and-click fans.
Itch.io has the best indie horror games, and the free 2019 horror game Affection is part of this wide selection of hidden gems. Created by Asephy for the SCREAMWORLD game jam, this title follows a man who wakes up in a strangely sparse white room with no memory of who or where he is. After leaving his room and meeting several other characters, he discovers that they are all trapped in a building.
As the characters try to find a way out, inexplicable things begin to happen, and it may all be connected to why the man is the only one who has absolutely no memories. After making this short, but effective, experience, the developer also made two other point-and-click horror games, Obsession and VIRMACHINA, that exist in the same universe.
Another great free point-and-click adventure game available on Itch.io is the 2014 paranormal mystery Mudlarks. Created by Cloak and Dagger Games, who also created A Date in the Park, a horror game that doesn’t feel like horror to begin with, this title follows a young man named Winston who spends his free time as a mudlarker, which is someone who scavenges for useful items on the edge of a river. While searching the shore of the River Thames, Winston’s friend and fellow mudlarker, Vincent, finds a valuable-looking locket.
Several days later, Winston discovers that his friend has disappeared. As he tries to find out what happened to Vincent, he slowly discovers that it may have something to do with ghosts and the two women that are pictured in the locket. Despite being freeware, the experience is fairly long, the puzzles are well-made, and the mixture of real photographs gives the game a unique art style.
Tormentum – Dark Sorrow
Based on the obscure ’90s game duology Dark Seed, the 2009 Demon’s Souls, and the artworks of H. R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński, Tormentum – Dark Sorrow is a 2015 dark fantasy game about an amnesiac man who finds himself in a nightmarish world. While exploring the three unique realms and meeting intriguing characters, the player will need to solve puzzles, uncover various secrets, and make moral decisions that will affect the ending.
Although the game’s pixel-hunting puzzles can be a bit frustrating at times, the extensive soundtrack, hand-painted stages, and interesting story will keep the player invested. A sequel, which is simply titled Tormentum II, is scheduled to release this year.
Released in 2016, Kathy Rain is a mystery game that is on par with many of the best case-solving games. Set in 1995 the game follows the titular Kathy Rain as she tries to solve the death of her recently deceased grandfather, Joseph. While investigating a local mystery in her hometown of Conwell Springs, Kathy discovers some dark secrets that harken back to her own troubled past.
Besides having excellent voice acting and well-designed puzzles, the game also has many little details, such as weather changes and showing Kathy ride her motorcycle to different destinations, that solidify the experience. In 2021, the developers released Kathy Rain: Director’s Cut, which contains new puzzles, locations, story elements, and more.
Originally starting out as a Flash game series, Samorost is a surreal puzzle game trilogy that follows a humanoid creature known as Gnome as it goes on several journeys across the galaxy. Even though each game has a story and there are puzzles, there is no dialogue or inventory. Instead, the player simply solves puzzles by clicking on the right objects on the screen.
Each of the games has a unique art style and a gorgeous soundtrack that make them stand out among other adventure titles. After making this trilogy, the developer has gone on to make other adventure games, which include the recent horror title Happy Game.
Created by Doug TenNapel, who is best known for creating Earthworm Jim, The Neverhood is a 1996 adventure game where all sets and characters are made out of clay, which means all the animations and gameplay were made using claymation. The game follows a character named Klaymen who wakes up in a mostly deserted clay world that exists within a seemingly endless void.
Since Klaymen has no idea where or who he is, most of the game is navigating the strange world in order to solve puzzles that will let the player obtain discs, which slowly reveal the plot. By the end of the game, the player is able to make a choice that determines which of the two endings they get. Though the gameplay is a bit tedious, the art style, humor, and characters make up for any annoyances the player may face.
Beginning in 2003, the Chzo Mythos is a series of horror adventure games created by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, who is best known for his video game review series Zero Punctuation. The first game of this tetralogy, 5 Days a Stranger, follows an infamous cat burglar named Trilby who breaks into the DeFoe Manor after learning that the previous owner had died. But, shortly after entering the house, he finds several other people and discovers that they are all now trapped by a demonic being.
While the next games in the series all take place at extremely different points in time, they all connect back to the secrets within the DeFoe Manor and an evil being known as Chzo. Although the graphics may seem simple and dated, the storyline is incredibly detailed and immersive.
Released in 1990, LOOM is a fantasy adventure game that takes a different direction than most other LucasArts adventure titles in terms of both story and gameplay. Instead of a humorous narrative with a verb-object interface, LOOM has a serious story and the player interacts with the world by playing melodies on their distaff. These melodies, which are known as “drafts,” are magical spells that affect the world in various ways.
The game follows Bobbin Threadbare who is part of a guild of weavers that have learned how to literally weave the fabric of reality. After the rest of the guild is turned into swans, Bobbin must use his skills to save the world from Chaos. Although it’s short, the game is absolutely a worthwhile classic for its stunning pixel-art, beautiful soundtrack, and engaging story.
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