Eight Great Point-and-Click Horror Games for PC Gamers
Survival horror and point-and-click adventure games are genres that share more than a passing resemblance to one another. Both rely heavily on story and atmosphere, both usually involve puzzle-solving, and both had their Golden Ages in the ‘90s (okay, so more like the late ‘90s and early noughties for survival horror, but come on; I’m trying to make a point here). As such, it’s not surprising that there are some great and grisly games to be found where the two intersect. Here, we’ve combed our inventories and exhausted every dialogue option to come up with eight titles of terror to point and click to… or die trying.
Clock Tower series
Probably the most famous entry on this list, the Clock Tower series is also the oldest, having had its first installment in back in 1995 on the Super Famicon. Developed by Human Entertainment, these games put a twist on the point-and-click formula by introducing roaming threats that could kill players during exploration. Enter the iconic Scissorman enemy; murderous maniacs whose preferred method of offing their victims is – you guessed it – a giant-ass pair of scissors.
Ironically, the Clock Tower series ended up getting stuck in time, as unlike fellow classic survival horror games Resident Evil and Silent Hill it never made the leap from the PS2 generation. Those wanting to get in on the action need not get too cut up, however, as a crowdfunded spiritual successor called Nightcry (pictured) was released in 2016. You can currently play it on Steam or the PS Vita, and although it holds a decidedly mixed critical score, it’s included in this list for the sake of giving the grandfather series of point-and-click horror its due.
The Cat Lady
Dark, disturbing, and often downright disgusting – what’s not to like? Harvester Games’ 2012 point-and-click horror game for Windows and Linux puts players in control of Susan Ashworth, a 40-something woman with chronic depression. Deciding to take her own life one night, she soon discovers that death isn’t necessarily the one-way ticket to oblivion she’d hoped it’d be. Instead, she’s sent back to the land of the living, tasked by a mysterious woman known as the Queen of Maggots to rid the world of five ‘parasites’.
As well as your usual mix of puzzles and dialogue options, The Cat Lady contains buckets of the red stuff and a distinctly creepy visual style. The game was well-received critically, with particular praise being given to its portrayal of its complicated but sympathetic protagonist.
The Last Door
Don’t let the simplistic pixel art fool you; The Last Door is no slouch when it comes to bringing on the chills. It’s 1891 in Victorian England, and Jeremiah Devitt has just received a cryptic letter from an old friend. Answering the summons, he and the player are quickly sucked down into a world of mystery and horror as they unearth secrets best left forgotten.
An episodic game, The Last Door is a great point-and-click title for those seeking a classic tale of terror with a solid atmosphere. Though the story takes liberal inspiration from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, it’d be a disservice to simply call it a ‘Lovecraft game.’ It also draws equally heavily from the wider world of weird fiction, such as authors like Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen, and the Gothic horror of Edgar Allen Poe.
Another episodic game, Sally Face tells the twisted story of Sal Fisher, a boy with a prosthetic face and a tragic background. Together with his friends, Sal begins investigating a series of bizarre occurrences in his neighborhood, encountering ghosts, cults, and worse over the course of this five-episode adventure.
The brainchild of solo developer Steve Gabry, Sally Face boasts an oddball punk art style, a cast list of weird characters, and some suitably icky-squicky moments. It also puts a spin on standard point-and-click gameplay with the Gear Boy, a strange device that allows Sal to talk to the dead and play various minigames to overcome obstacles to progression.
Post Mortem/ Still Life
Created by developer Microids, this trilogy of murder mystery point-and-click games consists of Post Mortem and two largely unconnected sequels; Still Life and Still Life 2. Set in 1940s Paris, Post Mortem follows hired gumshoe Gustav ‘Gus’ McPherson as he tries to solve a pair of particularly brutal murders, with things soon taking a turn towards the occult and the supernatural.
In Still Life and its sequel, you play as McPherson’s granddaughter Victoria, an FBI Special Agent tracking down a serial killer in latter-day Chicago. Involving gruesome artistic tableaus, what makes the murders even more unusual is that they follow the same M.O. as a case her grandfather worked on over 70 years ago. Players hop between Gus and Victoria, although Still Life and Still Life 2 can be played without needing to know the plot of the first game.
This golden oldie point-and-click from 1998 starts out cliched enough. You’re driving your car, there’s an accident, and you wake up in a hospital with no memory of who you are or how you got here. But from this rather boilerplate beginning, things soon take an offramp to weirds-ville, as the player starts slipping into a series of macabre worlds during their sojourn in the sanitarium. Are these hallucinations being caused by the hapless protagonist’s injured brain, or are they really happening? You’ll have to play to find out.
Fran Bow takes the ‘big-headed child in a scary world’ trope of indie horror games like Limbo, Inside, and Little Nightmares and applies it to the point-and-click format. In it you play as the titular Fran Bow, a young girl locked in a 1940’s mental asylum after witnessing her parents get brutally murdered. When her only friend – a talking cat called Mr. Midnight – goes missing one night she decides to escape, leading to an adventure populated by all manner of unusual characters.
Although often heavy on bloody imagery, Fran Bow is more akin to a dark fairy tale than a straight-up horror story. Fran herself is plucky and resourceful and views everything around her – the magical as well as the monstrous – with an endearing childish innocence. It’s like Coraline (down to the central protagonist being a young girl with a talking cat and an affinity for wearing yellow) interspersed with Clive Barker, and occasionally a bit of The Neverending Story or Labyrinth – Pan’s or Jim Henson’s – thrown in for good measure.
Dark Fall: The Journal
A point-and-click from 2002, Dark Fall puts you in the shoes of the brother of Pete Crowhurst, an architect working on the dilapidated Dowerton Hotel and its adjacent train station in Dorset, England. Receiving an urgent phone call from him (never a good omen in a horror game), he sets out to meet his distressed sibling. Yet upon arrival, he finds not one single living soul in this forlorn corner of the world. Unliving, however, turns out to be another matter entirely…
Although Dark Fall doesn’t necessarily do anything revolutionary with the point-and-click genre, a decent narrative and appropriately oppressive atmosphere make it worth checking out for those craving a more traditional ghost story.