In Defense of Point and Click Games
Screenshot: Grim Fandango Remastered Edition
By: Katelyn Vause
The team here at CD-ROM Fossil agrees on many things. We believe in the value of preserving computer gaming history. We get joy out of hunting up lost treasures in bargain bins. We like sharing weird, esoteric gaming facts with willing listeners.
We do not, however, agree on the status of point and click games.
In particular, founder/video editor Elijah and I have a friendly sort of dispute about the status of this genre. Also known as “adventure games,” they get their name from what a player must do: point the mouse and, well, click, in order to interact with characters/objects and move the story forward.
I already wrote about my love of The Pink Panther: Passport to Peril and I Spy Spooky Mansion, so it’s no secret that I love this genre. And it’s not just due to childhood nostalgia either.
Grim Fandango is a masterpiece that wasn’t a part of my childhood, but it is something I got to play on PC as an adult thanks to the remaster. Though I haven’t finished it yet, I am struck by it’s characters and the fascinating world the developers built.
So why do I love this genre so much?
Firstly, point and click games are friendly to the new/casual gamer. For someone who may dislike the rather fast pace of first person shooters or doesn’t want the pressure of learning a lot of keyboard moves, this is the genre for them. Because of this generally more relaxed pacing that allows for moving slowly and exploring, they are a great way to introduce kids to games, and are great for someone who doesn’t want to level-grind for hours upon hours.
The puzzle element of this genre has also always been a big selling point for me. I’ve enjoyed puzzles for as long as I can remember, and a point and click game is essentially one giant one. The “pieces” of who you talk to and what you interact with and when all have to fit together in order for things to work out. Plus, sometimes there’s actual puzzles. I will stand by the argument that pretty much all games require you to do some critical thinking, and this genre definitely asks for you to do that.
Additionally, point and clicks often allow for more narrative/detail driven games. I tend to care more about story and characters, so I get a lot of enjoyment out of point and clicks. They challenge plays to think about the environment around them, and encourage them to get to know other characters.
Though some people dislike these games because they have to click around a whole bunch to figure out how to move things forward, I would argue it’s not much different than going in circles for a while as you try to find your way through a tricky map in another game.
As someone who also appreciates a good RPG, point and click games can scratch an itch without necessarily requiring the same level of investment. You won’t usually have lots of dialogue options, but you at least can self-insert to some degree as you work your way through who to talk to and when.
I do acknowledge that one of the downsides of this genre is that reply value tends to decrease. I can remember being able to play through Passport to Peril in less than a day because I’d pretty much memorized how to do everything. However, they are still great for a nostalgia trip, especially as you fondly (or perhaps, not so fondly) reminisce about an area you struggled to figure out.
You can also mitigate this problem by spacing out when you do your replays, or by introducing the game to someone else and watching them figure it out, which is also pretty fun.
The point is, this particular limitation doesn’t mitigate how great point and clicks are. I’d encourage you to give one a shot, as their premises are pretty wide ranging and there’s generally something for everyone!
Are you a fan of this genre, or do you hate it with a fierce passion? Let us know in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org!