With the introduction of adventure games in the mid to late 1980s, the storytelling potential of video games increased. However, hardware limitations meant gameplay had to be similarly restricted. This proved a challenge for the developers to overcome, but a solution was found in what would later become the point-and-click genre. The simplicity of tapping the screen to select prompts, move a character, or interact with NPCs has allowed developers to create experiences that stand the test of time. Adventure games have changed a lot, but the tried-and-tested formula is not yet out of date.
The point-and-click genre has produced influential titles, and many like full throttle or the Games of the Revolution’ broken sword the series are as good as they have ever been. That doesn’t mean they’re hugely popular in the AAA space, though, as frantic action and sniping have dominated the market for what seems like an eternity. Over the years, the point-and-click genre has become more specialized, so the lack of any notable big-budget games in the genre is a mistake that should be addressed.
Telltale’s shift in perspective
The latest big point-and-click games that have gained popularity are the offerings from Telltale Games. With critically acclaimed properties like The Walking Dead, Tales from the Bordersand Batman: The Reveal Series, fans have had experiences that have delivered great stories with a gameplay loop that’s both innovative and nostalgic. The exploratory aspects of these games were made using an advanced version of the traditional point-and-click mechanics, but in the action time the gameplay shifted to be more in line with modern titles.
With the company closing in 2018 and its surprising relaunch soon after, there’s every chance the next The Wolf Among Us 2 could rekindle hopes for a new point-and-click game that appeals to the industry. Still, the immense pressure to succeed given the company’s history is enormous, and falling at the first hurdle would do nothing to help the genre find new fans. Point-and-click games have fallen into disuse because advances in hardware have made them obsolete, but Telltale’s writing could be the key to unlocking a future for adventure games of all kinds.
Point-and-click is unique in 2022
With the progress of game options over time, there is more room for the point-and-click genre as the variety highlights the strengths of adventure games over other offerings. Point-and-click games rely much more on their story than gameplay, which is more central to genres like the twin-stick shooter. This isn’t a new philosophy, as studios like Telltale Games and Detroit: Become Human Developer Quantic Dream has successfully taken a story-driven approach. Stiffer point-and-click gameplay isn’t used as much as it used to be, though it offers some really different gameplay mechanics from the current AAA studio roster.
Witty writing and character development are always the driving force behind these titles, with gameplay often being a byproduct of the events that unfold through the narrative. Few will remember the core mechanics of many LucasArts classics, but the hand-drawn visuals and wacky characters stick with players long after the credits roll. Having a budget that allows for gorgeous visuals, smooth gameplay, and smart marketing could do wonders for any developer taking on a point-and-click project, satisfying a niche that hasn’t really been filled since Disney acquired LucasArts. in 2012.
The AAA space is home to a litany of unique experiences, and there’s something for everyone to love, but to find innovation, gamers must scour cookie-cutter action franchises that lie on top of the big budget mountain. The point-and-click genre is still going strong in smaller circles, but creating a new franchise in AAA spaces could add variety, giving longtime fans something to sink their teeth into.
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