A Not So Dead Genre After All
Is it already that time again? With the Holidays closing in once more, we know a lot of you are looking for gifts for all the players in your lives and maybe some things you’d like to get for yourselves too. If you’re not sure what to get, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. From November 3rd to November 18th, we’ll be bringing you guides to satisfy every type of player each weekday. Strap in and kiss your wallet goodbye.
There’s little we love more than seeing a genre that once felt like it was on its last legs come roaring back into the light. A year ago, crafting an entire guide around the point & click genre would have felt impossible, but this year we had to cut games we genuinely liked, such as Lost in Play and Syberia: The World Before. Whether this was just a brief moment back in the light or the genre will continue to thrive remains to be seen, but either way, these are some games any fan of the genre should love.
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvana Initiative
Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Some players will protest this being here. While the genres share a lot of DNA, visual novels and point-and-click games are not one and the same. AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative, though, has a bit more of the traditional point-and-click DNA than most, with puzzles that feel right out of a great game in the genre. Change the art style to something less anime-inspired, and I don’t think anyone would blink an eye at its inclusion.
Whether you loved the original AI or were left a bit cold, you should seriously consider this follow-up. There are a variety of connections which will reward players who played both games, but it also makes a point of standing on its own, even including an option to avoid spoiling the first game’s mystery specifically. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around this killer mystery here, even four months later.
Betrayal At Club Low
In recent years Cosmo D has created a niche for himself with genuinely weird games like Tales From Off Peak City, grabbing attention from niche audiences. He may have outdone himself this time, however, with Betrayal At Club Low. Mixing traditional point-and-click mechanics with dice rolling, our own Jonathan Trussler described it as “a masterclass in artful innovation.” While it’s a brisk adventure at only around 3 hours, the price is right, and those who try it out may be surprised how much it sticks with them.
The Case of the Golden Idol
While The Case of the Golden Idol is a bit different from the average point & click title, it still sits firmly within the genre’s lineage. There’s even an option to switch off icons, so you have to pixel hunt for what you want to click on. Puzzles here are more brain teasers, feeling more like classic logic puzzles than anything involving an inventory or item usage, but the madcap story feels right at home among classics of the genre. If you’re looking to feel very stupid in the way only a great point & click game can make you feel, then you should check out The Case of the Golden Idol.
Platforms: PC (Coming to PS5, PS4 Soon)
NORCO was supposed to see a console release last week but saw a last-minute delay that still hasn’t been clarified. Hopefully, console players are able to start enjoying it soon because this is still one of the most interesting games of the year, with a stunning story that connected deeply with my own personal history but also turned this genre on its head. It’s an incredibly immediate game, dealing with themes of environmentalism, corporate greed, and family connections, which you should absolutely check out this Holiday season.
Return to Monkey Island
Platforms: PC, Switch
Point and click series don’t get any more storied than Monkey Island. Every ten years or so, someone seems to brush the series off and put a new entry out, but this is the first time since the mid-90s that series creator Ron Gilbert has been involved. That’s a very good thing. Return to Monkey Island won’t satisfy every player, it isn’t interested in answering every little question people have been asking for thirty years. Instead, Ron Gilbert wanted to wrestle with his own legacy and that of the series as a whole. Whether long-time fans want that will vary, but I loved it, and those fans will at least enjoy seeing a wide variety of series regulars return for one last go around. Who knows if this is the final Monkey Island game, but if it is, it’s going out with something to say.