One of the pillars of gaming since the late 80s has been the point & click adventure, which itself stands on the shoulders of early text adventures. Many of today’s biggest developers started their journeys in the point and click studios such as Sierra and Lucasfilms Games (later LucasArts). While the popularity of point and click has waned since its heyday, there has been a resurgence as the genre morphed to encompass games like The Walking Dead and Life Is Strange. What better time then than now for Bitmap Books to release The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games?
The first impression you get of The Art of Point-and-Click is how much care has been put into its design. It’s a large almost 500-page hardcover with a well-designed title that really draws your eyes. The book gives the impression of premium quality without overstating it, right down to the blue ribbon that you can use as a bookmark. All of that and we haven’t even opened the cover to see what’s on offer inside.
This is not just an art book, but a history of the genre filled with interviews from some of the biggest names in point and click. There’s a foreword by Gary Whitta who explains how text adventures and point and click titles inspired his own work, followed by another article that looks at how the point and click genre came to be over 30 years ago. That article though is just a taster for what lays in store.
As you flick through the pages you’ll be met with images from the very first point and click games right up until the modern age. While some may now look at pixel art as an unnecessary style in today’s gaming landscape, there’s no arguing that some of the scenes rendered using the style really captured an audience’s attention, and a lot of different artists succeeded in creating evocative landscapes within the confines of the limits of technology. The artwork is put in chronological order so you can witness the progression of how the artists adapted to the changing advances in technology, as well as how they found their styles to make iconic characters like Guybrush Threepwood. The presentation is top notch and allows you to pore over the details, looking at the little touches you may have missed when playing the games.
Between the pages of artwork are the interviews from the likes of Gary Winnick, Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and many more people who work or worked in the industry as it grew. There are some fascinating little anecdotes in the answers given by the interviewees, from Spielberg hogging a game, to a punch up almost breaking out in a car park over a design decision. Along with those stories are the ways each of these individuals got into the game industry, with quite a few not even looking to work on video games originally. There’s also discussion about what kind of tools and techniques they used to achieve the results they did. The interviews generally span a couple of pages with more artwork dotted around, and they’re easy to read and flow very well .
The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games is an excellent book for those who have had any love or interest for the point & click genre, as well as those who are interested in the history of a considerable slice of the industry. The book is well put together, is written in a very easy to read manner, and the interviews really come across as conversational. For anyone who’s ever solved an obtuse puzzle in a point and click adventure title and loved the experience, this book is for you.