My point-and-click pet peeves
Although we love video games, they occasionally manage to annoy us.
This subject was one covered by Cynni Pixy from Cynni’s Blog. Published at the end of January and entitled Pet peeves when gaming, they talked about their frustrations in this post including automatic saving, quick time events (QTEs) and maps which are hard to use.
While Cynni Pixy looked at video games in general, I’m going to delve into the adventure genre specifically in today’s article which is dedicated to them. I’ve been playing point-and-clicks for over 30 years now so I guess you could say I’ve had plenty of experience with such releases. While they’ll always hold a special place in my heart, I’m very aware of their ‘quirks’.
The element you’re probably thinking of right now is pixel-hunting, where the player must search for a small object on screen which is difficult to find. I must admit that I don’t mind this too much but that’s probably because it evokes a kind of nostalgia for me. Once you’ve completed a few point-and-clicks, you get a generally good idea of the things you need to look out for.
The other thing which might spring to mind is moon logic. This is where puzzles require jumps in thinking which aren’t logical or simply don’t make sense. While I enjoy challenges like this, there are some which just can’t be excused (I’m looking at you, cat-hair moustache from Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Scared, Blood of the Damned). These two elements are rather obvious though, so I’ve excluded them from today’s list of things that annoy me about adventure games.
If you’re a developer reading this, I’m begging you: please don’t ever include action or stealth segments in your adventure games.
Action or stealth sequences
When I pick up a point-and-click, I’m looking for a great story with interesting conversations between characters and a nice sprinkling of puzzles. What I really don’t want is to be yanked out of the experience by segments which are more suited to other genres. If you’re a developer reading this, I’m begging you: please don’t ever include action or stealth segments in your adventure games. I adore The Longest Journey series, but that bit in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey with the creatures in the catacombs is a good example of what not to do.
Having a good sidekick can make an adventure more fun and enhance the experience. Going back to The Longest Journey series here, Crow is the perfect example. However, it can make you want to step away from the keyboard when you’re stuck dealing with a partner you can’t stand to be around. Let’s consider Nico from the Broken Sword releases. She prefers to sit on her butt all day and let George do the work – which is stupid, because there’s no way the fate of the world should be left to such a dumbass.
There’s something about character-switching which breaks immersion for me and I’ve always preferred to get to know one protagonist as a result. This was the reason why I didn’t like The Little Acre, a 90-minute game which makes use of the mechanic 19 times (that’s every five minutes and 10 seconds on average). When you ask a player to switch between dad and daughter to do nothing more than to click to walk from one side of a scene to another before switching back again, something is definitely wrong with your design.
Although my dad taught me how to play chess as a child, it wasn’t a game I ever enjoyed because I never found its strategic elements fun. I now want to run a mile whenever I come across a chess puzzle in an adventure. It’s therefore a little surprising that I managed to play The 7th Guest when it was originally released in 1993 and picked up the 25th Anniversary Edition a few years ago. Thankfully, friend-of-the-blog Darkshoxx was on hand to give me a few speedrunning tips to get through the challenges faster.
LucasArts was my preferred developer back in the day thanks to the comedic and whimsical nature of their releases. It was also nice that you couldn’t die in any of them and wouldn’t have to redo hours of progress due to a missed save, unlike the games delivered by rival Sierra Online. If you’re going to implement deaths in your point-and-click, they should be fair foreseeable. They shouldn’t include a randomly-generated shark which might decide to appear and eat you like in King’s Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella.
It’s incredibly rare that I play the mini-games in any type of release because I’m there for the main story and want to get engrossed it in. This is why I hate being forced to sit through one to progress, and it’s even worse if I can’t move on until I’ve won. I ended up turning away from Whateverland recently because I didn’t want to have to take part in Bell & Bones. To be fair to the developer, you could choose to hunt for items which would give you a free pass instead – but by that time, my annoyance had reached the level where I didn’t want to continue.
This frustration mainly relates to older, classic adventures as there’s always problems with getting them to run nowadays. Even if you manage to get one going, it’s almost guaranteed there’ll be a bug at some point which will cause the game to crash and for you to lose several hours of progress. This is something I’ve been experiencing over the past week with Black Dahlia. Thankfully I haven’t lost too much of my time so far but it’s a good reminder to make sure you’re saving every 30-minutes or so.
Alongside the chess puzzles mentioned above, the other type of challenge I can’t stand are mazes. This isn’t because I find them particularly difficult or scary, but because they always seem like a mechanic implemented to artificially increase a game’s length. I’m hoping back to The 7th Guest as my example for this one. Although there’s a rug in one of the upstairs bedrooms which shows the labyrinth’s layout, it can a pain in the butt to get through when all you want to do is get to the real puzzles.
There has been a lot of talk about ‘cosy games’ recently and instead of individual releases, it’s the point-and-click genre as a whole which hits that spot.
This post may point out some of their faults, but I’ll always return to adventure titles. There’s just something special about getting lost in a good story and being challenged by a puzzle – unless of course it has anything to do with chess or a maze, in which case I’ll reach for a walkthrough. There has been a lot of talk about ‘cosy games’ recently and instead of individual releases, it’s the point-and-click genre as a whole which hits that nostalgic sweet spot for me.
Thanks to Cynni Pixy from Cynni’s Blog for being the inspiration for this post. Now, over to you: what are your pet peeves when gaming?
Cynni Pixy3 months ago
Thanks for the mention! And I really enjoyed this. Shared it on Twitter and Mastodon 😉
Kim3 months ago
Thanks so much! And thank you for being the inspiration for your post. As I was reading yours, there were so many things from point-and-clicks which jumped to mind and I thought it would be fun to write a ‘response’! 🙂
Cynni Pixy3 months ago
I really enjoyed it! I’ve played some p&c games but definitely not that much, but yeah some had those peeves in them that took the joy out of them a tad. So it’s good to read I’m not the only one dealing with these peeves 😉 hopefully the shares will get you some more clicks as well. 😊
The Shameful Narcissist2 months ago
Oh my god the pixel hunting is the WORST. I’ve been playing escape games on my iPhone and some of them are like that where you have to click on just the right spot in order to pick something up, and I only realize it after I’ve used a help option (which are of course limited and/or cost money) and it shows you exactly where to click grrr. The other issue is minigames without clear instructions or combinations with no clues. I swear there have been a few where there’s no way I could’ve figured them out. I love point and click and escape aka “find the door key” games to just play when I want to relax.
Also moon logic is the worst, and ugh I’m sorry they do that in The Longest Journey. I recently picked that up so I’ll have to make sure to look out for that part. I’m not a fan of stealth and I absolutely HATE being chased in any regard.
Kim2 months ago
The Longest Journey is one of my favourite point-and-clicks but yes, there’s a puzzle which makes use of a bit of moon logic. You’ll know it when you come across it! Fans of the series look at it quite fondly now because it involves a particular item… I won’t spoil it.
The sequel introduced stealth and action sections. They’re easy enough to get through but feel really clunky and out of place. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts once you’ve played the original. 🙂
The Shameful Narcissist2 months ago
Sometimes devs take those chances and go outside the box. Sometimes it works and sometimes it’s a bit out of left field. I think if a game is decent enough it doesn’t ruin it even if it leaves you scratching your head :p