As you’d expect, there was plenty on show at this year’s Rezzed. While they ranged from borderline AAA games to rather unusual experiments in the Leftfield Collection, and spanned just about every genre, there were three point and click titles that leapt out at me as I explored the show. As someone who’s equal parts enamoured and frustrated by point and click games, I felt it my duty to give you a quick overview of three games.
Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet | PC, Mac, Linux | Application Systems Heidelberg | Out Now
I assume at some point we’ve all wondered what the world would be like if instead of being cast as the fourth incarnation of The Doctor in Doctor Who, Tom Baker had been cast as the voice of a bird in a point and click adventure title. Fortunately, Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet provides us with the answer to this eternal question by having him play the character of Sebastian, a coot who accompanies the titular Nelly throughout the game.
Both in terms of tone and gameplay, the game resembles the Monkey Island series. The humour’s pretty close to that classic franchise, while the nautical setting and art style makes the comparison easy. There are even some beats, like the reveal of the true nature of the Great Game of the Sea, that will almost leave you feeling like you’re playing a new Monkey Island title.
However, it’s fair to say that The Fowl Fleet does enough to differentiate itself from those LucasArts titles. The presence of Tom Baker certainly helps, but there’s a distinctly British bent to the humour that sets it apart.
On the gameplay side of things, it’s very much a classic point and click title, with the kind of puzzles you’d expect from that. Whether it’s finding an unusual solution to a problem, like getting Sebastian to peck through a tree trunk for you, or exploring the right combination of dialogue options to move the story forwards, The Fowl Fleet fully explores the niche it’s populating.
Ultimately, Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet isn’t doing anything particularly new, but that’s not a bad thing. There are a lot of fans of classic point and click titles that will love this game, and I think it’s fair to say that you’ll know exactly what you’re getting in this piratical adventure.
Goetia | PC, Mac, Linux | Sushee | 14/04/16
Probably the strongest title on this list, Goetia is a gothic themed game that sees you exploring a run down mansion as a ghost. Given your non-corporeal nature, you’d think that making your way around the mansion would be a piece of cake, but there’s more to this homestead than meets the eye.
You see, the occult is very much at play here. While many walls present no real barrier, plenty of others are covered in magic symbols, blocking your ability to move through them. As you explore the house, more of that occult lore is uncovered, and your character’s history is expanded on. Given she’s slowly coming to terms with the fact that she’s returned from the dead, there’s plenty of that past to discover, and the world that the developers, Sushee, have built is pretty interesting.
The game’s core puzzle mechanic is the ability to possess certain physical objects scattered around the house. In its simplest version you might move a statue to reveal a hidden switch or an obscured note, but as you progress you’ll be pushed to more complex uses.
Of course, the downside to possession is that you can’t pass through any walls at all while you’ve got control of an object. Instead you’ll have to find new paths around the house to move the items you need to their correct location, like the dumbwaiter that allows you to send items down to kitchen in the basement.
Aside from that, there’s optional puzzles that will allow you to unlock new powers. In the chunk of the game I played, following a treasure hunt unlocked the ability to gain new insights about the items I possessed, helping to flesh out the game’s story.
While Goetia is certainly well put together mechanically, it’s the story that’s the real attraction. It seems like there are mysteries piled on top of mysteries in the plot, and the demo has left me keen to follow the threads that were dangled in front of me.
Tokyo Dark | PC, Mac | Cherrymochi | Late 2016
Much like Goetia, Tokyo Dark has you exploring a mystery. However, this time it’s in a more professional capacity, as you play a detective in modern Japan. At the start of the game your partner, in both the romantic and police sense, has gone missing, and you’ve managed to track his last known location to a rather sketchy looking area.
From there you canvas the area, gaining information through conversation trees that allow you to leverage some of the less cooperative NPCs in the area. It’s all standard mechanics from the point and click genre, but the section serves as a tutorial that doesn’t really hold your hand, introducing you to the game’s clean, simple UI.
It’s not all genre standard mechanics though, as the game mixes in some RPG elements in the form of the SPIN system, an acronym for Sanity, Professionalism, Investigation and Neurosis. Your actions in the game can affect each of these attributes positively or negatively, and they tie together nicely. For example, you’re required to take pills regularly that help to keep you sane, but this will negatively effect your investigation skill, clouding your mind.
Professionalism, on the other hand, is based on how well you’re making the kind of decisions a real detective would, while neurosis can be negatively affected if you continually talk to the same characters over and over, encouraging you to not to brute force your way through the game by blindly talking to every character as you can in many adventure games.
On the flip side, you can improve your neurosis attribute by spending time at home and playing with your cat, although this will obviously slow your investigations and, potentially, lead to a lower professionalism score. It seems like a well thought out web of interconnected attributes, and keeping them balanced is almost a game unto itself.
It’s probably worth going back to that Sanity attribute though, as it’s the most unusual of the four. The game plays heavily with hallucinations and the nature of reality, with hints at the supernatural being involved in the serial killer case that seems to sit at the centre of the game’s plot. If your Sanity drops to low then more hallucinations and the like will creep back into the game, making things a lot tougher for you.
While the game’s anime presentation is certainly attention grabbing, it really is that SPIN system that makes the game feel different. With a plot that’s left me curious to see more, Tokyo Dark is absolutely a game that point and click fans should be keeping an eye on.