ADVENTURE

14 Of The Best Point-And-Click Adventures Are Here In This Bundle

I have to admit, I play more point-and-click adventure games than I should. They distract me from the more important things in life, which for an editor on a gaming site is to play and comment on the games that millions of you are already playing. But gods-dammit do I find a good point-and-click soothing after a hard day’s graft. With no budget or pretenses to flash or fury, they rely purely on great writing and squeezing as much artistic flair as they can into their heavily pixelated packages to engage us. They usually have lovely voice acting, smooth soundtracks, and a relaxing, meditative pacing of solid dialogue with logical puzzles.

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And I’m not talking about 90s point-and-click adventures like Grim Fandango and Monkey Island (which had notoriously obscure puzzle design). The genre’s in a great place today, it’s just a bit underground, like Berlin Techno, and now 14 of its greatest modern-day hits are available in this $10 Wadjet Eye Games Humble Bundle. It’s probably the best damn Humble Bundle since the days when Humble Bundle was actually good.

For context, Wadjet Eye Games is a prolific publisher and developer of modern point-and-click adventures (though studio founder–and developer himself–Dave Gilbert has been in the game for 17 years now, so I guess some of their games would classify as retro by this point). While there’s plenty of variety in the bundle, Wadjet has a pretty high watermark of quality in this genre, with all its different games unified by great narrative maturity, tackling some heavyweight topics and themes while telling entertaining and original stories.

technobabylon

Technobabylon

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The best starting point for digging into the bundle is almost certainly Unavowed (unless you have a particular penchant for super-dark surrealism, in which case you might want to jump straight to the appropriately named Strangeland).

Unavowed is the most polished, most choice-driven, and most popular of the modern point-and-clicks. Set in an amazingly well observed modern-day New-York (but with magic), Unavowed casts you as a man or woman who’s lost their memory and wakes up to find they’ve committed a massacre. You join up with a bunch of diverse, hard-boiled, and beautifully written heroes to see off wandering spirits around atmospheric New York backdrops while trying to uncover whatever it is that (quite literally) possessed you. There are heavy moral choices, smooth jazz numbers, and great backdrops that–as someone who lived in NYC for six beautiful months in 2019–capture the fabric of the city perfectly.

unavowed 2

Set in the same universe as Unavowed, the Blackwell series follows spiritual medium Rosangela and her twangy-voice wise-cracking ghost sidekick Joey through a saga of murder mysteries melded with ghost stories. Made between 2006 and 2014, I loved playing through these not just for the poignant writing (which explores serious subjects like mental health through the medium of the supernatural), but also because you get to see Gilbert and Wadjet’s art style and design evolve with each successive game. Unavowed definitely feels like a self-contained culmination of Gilbert’s creative journey with Blackwell, but if you liked that then you’ll get into a groove with the Blackwells – they’re Ennio Morricone’s Dollars trilogy to Unavowed’s Once Upon A Time In The West.

Most of the other games in the bundle are published by Wadjet but developed by the no less talented Wormwood Studios. If Wadjet leans towards magic in the modern day, then Wormwood is all about the sci-fi detective stories. Of those in the bundle, I’ve only played Technobabylon–which has a clever little scene-scanning investigation mechanic–but I’ve heard great things about Shardlight as well.

Their Primordia and in particular Strangeland, meanwhile, are way out in the realms of the weird, with and mightily impressive art styles evoking their respective dustpunky post-apocalyptic and nightmare-realm stories. As someone who’s smashed through most of Wadjet’s in-house games, these two were the main reason I got the bundle; sad dude wandering around a hellish cosmic carnival looking for his dead wife or something? I’m in!

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Take a walk on the weird side with Strangeland

To cap it all off, the bundle comes with a 33% discount on The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow from Cloak & Dagger games (a developer that I only discovered recently via their hilariously bizarre martial arts adventure, Legend of Hand). I’ve just started on Hob’s Barrow myself, and am impressed by how it captures the weird, boozy creepiness of rural England. Really well realised letchy old men hanging around the pub feels like a perfect tone-setter for what’s shaping up to be a Edgar Allen Poe-esque spook story.

The great tragedy is that it’s probably only people who are already familiar with Wadjet that fully appreciate just what a heavy-hitting bundle of modern classics this is. But if you’ve ever had any love for point-and-click adventures–if you wonder what happened to Grim Fandango , or back in the 90s solved crimes in Discworld Noir or as sleazy Southern detective Gabriel Knight, or got immersed in the weird world of The Longest Journey–then these games are the natural successors, all lumped together into one.

You’ll never get so much great writing at so low a price in gaming.

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