Within the wonderfully chilling horror genre, there are sub-genres that help horror enthusiasts pinpoint exactly which elements they like best and which specific elements they want to avoid. Sometimes subgenres are dictated by art style, themes, or content, and other times subgenres are made up of game mechanics.
The classic point-and-click system may have been born out of the limitations of gaming technology years ago, but now, modern developers are using it in new and unique ways. Point and click games are not just a thing of the past; they keep UIs (user interfaces) looking clean, give players simple controls for beginners, and allow every little detail of a game’s art to be appreciated with full attention when players are looking for clues (while sneaking in some good scares). Here are some of the best point and click games for horror fans to try out.7 sanatorium
For any horror fanatic who’s been itching for a retro game full of psychological horror elements, Sanitarium couldn’t be a better fit. This 1998 PC game throws players right into the madness that is Sanitarium, immediately giving them control of a nameless man, finally waking up from a coma after a car accident, when he finds himself heavily bandaged in a strange place. The main character desperately asks the others if they know his name or how he got to the sanatorium he was in, as he doesn’t remember anything about his life before waking up.
Although the player does not know the main character’s name, other residents of the sanatorium refer to him as “Max”. The player guides “Max” through the sanatorium as the reality around them begins to change, taking the player into fantastical (but macabre) worlds where they must work to find and unravel the mystery of “Max’s” past.6 The House
The House (as well as its sequel) are simple (but effective) flash games that may seem harmless enough at first, but still manage to deliver some genuine scares. The player takes on the role of a nameless and faceless protagonist, whose only objective is to enter the house, discover its secrets, and escape with his life.
In both The House and The House 2, the player navigates the house, room by room, looking for clues as to why the house’s former tenants met an untimely fate. Despite being rather dated for their flash software, The House 1 and 2 still retain their effectiveness when it comes to immersion and the spooky factor.5 face of sally
Although the player still has the ability to walk and adventure left and right in this 2D side-scroller, Sally Face is primarily a horror adventure that uses the classic point-and-click system. This macabre tale follows the mysterious Sal Fisher as he recounts chilling stories from his past. Sally Face is an episodic story about young Sal telling the story of his childhood as he himself, in the present, awaits his fate on death row.
The player relives his memories to discover how the unfortunate Sal found his current predicament while presenting the player with terrifying antagonists as well as chilling environments. The game takes many sudden turns in its narrative, keeping the player on their toes, desperately trying to guess what is about to happen next.4 year walk
Walk of the Year is about a man named Daniel Svensson who participates in the (archaic, almost outdated) Swedish tradition of Årsgång, known as the walk of the year. The Årsgång was a means of divination, a grueling task of traveling with little or no food or water. In return, successful participants would be able to catch a glimpse of what their future holds. The Year Walk is heavily decorated with Swedish folklore and the mysterious creatures that were born from it.
It’s a haunting yet beautiful point-and-click adventure where the player follows Daniel on his journey from Årsgång navigating through a winter forest and clicking/interacting with all the interesting things in the environment. As the protagonist Daniel approaches the church (his destination), it becomes clear that his journey in Årsgång may have a grim conclusion rather than a fairytale ending.3 Five Nights at Freddy’s
One of the most iconic horror games of recent generations, Five Nights At Freddy’s is yet another game that includes the simple point-and-click element. The player takes on the role of the night security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria and must protect himself from the dangerous animatronics that roam the premises, until the end of the shift. The player has simple controls: he must use the mouse to navigate his security cameras, constantly switching screens to properly monitor each of the animatronics in one of the most intense “Red-Light Green-Light” games of all time.
Despite its simple controls (technically being a “point” horror rather than “point and click” horror, as simply moving the mouse is all that is required for the game), FNaF ended up spawning one of the most iconic horror series in modern gaming.2 I have no mouth and must scream
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is a terrifying horror experience based on Harlan Ellison’s 1967 short story of the same name. This particular entry isn’t exactly for the faint of heart, as it deals with incredibly heavy topics that many psychological horrors tend to delve into.
The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a supercomputer named AM has taken over the Earth and destroyed all of humanity except five humans. These five humans are the game’s main characters and have been kept alive for years only to be tortured by AM. To successfully defeat AM (since there are multiple endings), the characters must live through the horrible scenarios AM created and overcome the fatal flaws of their past.1 Clock Tower
Clock Tower (1995) is one of the most iconic series in the horror genre; and while there hasn’t been a new installment in recent years, it still managed to keep its name relevant among other bona fide classics. Clock Tower (known as “Clock Tower: The First Fear” in Japan) follows protagonist Jennifer Simpson as she tries to settle into her new life at Barrows Manor after being adopted alongside her friends Laura, Anne and Lotte.
It isn’t long before Jennifer realizes that something is wrong at the Barrows’ house, as later in the night she finds the mangled corpses of her friends. The player must use the point-and-click system to navigate Jennifer and protect her from the infamous Scissorman, guiding her to the best escape route or finding safe rooms to hide.
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