Point and click adventure games that are appropriate for my smart yet skittish 10 year old?
December 28, 2010 9:24 AM   Subscribe

My 10-year old daughter likes the idea of video games, but doesn't like twitch play, games where you can die, or "scary parts". So... most of them. I stumbled across a review of Drawn and got it for her for Christmas on a whim. It has been a huge hit! I know there is another Drawn title, but I'm looking for more point and click adventure titles to play afterward.

I love adventure games - my first computer game ever was Zork I - and have played a ton of point and click games, including the Myst series and a ton of Sierra titles. The games I remember, though, were BRUTALLY hard and I'd like to find something a little less frustrating (meaning I hate to give my girl the lesson that when things get tough you just look up a cheat which is how I got through most of those games).

We have been playing Drawn together and things we like include:
* lots of atmosphere without being scary
* puzzles makes sense and are appropriately challenging
* graphics are lovely and engaging
* integrated hint system

I have seen a ton of Nancy Drew titles marketed toward this age group, but the sheer number of them scream shovelware and I'm a little concerned that they will be too frightening (I have to really, really stress how much she hates scary things).

All platforms are welcome.
posted by lilnublet to Computers & Internet (31 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
The Sims games for Wii (Sims Kingdom and the other one) you can't die on and they aren't scary. And I think they're fun. :) They're more first-person adventures, not like Sims on the PC; you solve little puzzles that the various inhabitants of the world give you. They're fairly kid-oriented and at an appropriate challenge level for kids, but have enough depth that they're fun for adults too.

I don't think you can die on the Harry Potter Wii games either, and the atmosphere and being able to explore Hogwarts is awesome, but I found the control scheme more than a little frustrating. Replaying the same battle 400 times because you're bad at timing your spells might be more frustration than she's ready for.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:41 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

She'd probably really like Machinarium: Cute robot on an adventure to save his girlfriend robot. I'm in my mid 30s and it kept me engaged & challenged while not being scary.

She might like Vampyre Story. It's goofy and cartoony, not particularly scary. Not extremely challenging for many adults but a 10-year would probably really enjoy it.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 9:44 AM on December 28, 2010

Best answer: There are a lot of online games like this. Questionaut is free and wonderful, though the puzzles are educational. The same designers also do Samorost
posted by Mchelly at 9:46 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would recommend any of the TellTale games. They're really well done. The newer ones have an integrated hint system, which you can control the frequency of hits, where the other characters will make comments directing you in a certain direction, but not giving away the answer. I've been enjoying the Sam n Max games, and look forward to Monkey Island, Back to the Future, and Home Star Runner ones.

I don't think there's any objectionable content in any of there games, although a few of the jokes may be a bit (very slightly) lewd. For example, there are some jokes about the giant-free floating head of the Abraham Lincoln statue from the memorial having consensual relations with one of the Maoi heads from Eastern Island. I'm sure that the Tell Tale people would be happy to answer your questions about their games appropriateness for your daughter.

One thing that I like is that the games are broken down into self-contained but connected episodes, which makes them more manageable. The production values are really high, especially the music and voice acting. Most of them are available for both Windows and OSX.

I don't work for them, but I am an extremely satisfied customer.
posted by reddot at 9:48 AM on December 28, 2010

I've heard a lot of good things about Machinarium and it sounds like the kind of thing you're looking for.
"The protagonist is a small, adorable robot. He has been thrown out of the city, and your task is to get him back in again."


Game's website - demo available.
posted by Lorc at 9:48 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I downloaded Drawn from Big Fish Games, which is like my secret crack source because I have the game preferences of, well, a 10-year old girl. I'm very interested in answers to this question because I too love the Drawn titles. If you have Drawn: The Painted Tower you will very likely also like Drawn: Dark Flight. Few other games are as downright beautiful as Drawn, but outside that series I also enjoyed Crystal Portal and really liked McInroy Manor.

I agree a lot of these games are churn-ware and it's hard to know which is worth your time, especially since most game review sites are sadly not run by 10-year old girls. With Big Fish you can at least try all titles for an hour; I've discarded loads (and could give you an extensive but unhelpful list of games not to try) but the three above I happily paid for to finish playing.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:53 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I would get her an account on Big Fish Games (link goes to the Adventure section). It's around $7/month, and she gets one credit per month that she can use for any game on the site. And in-between credits, the site lets her try every game for a 60-minute demo period.
posted by jbickers at 9:54 AM on December 28, 2010

Also, Bigfish Games has a lot to choose from that you can download instantly. The hidden-object games are a pretty good bet for a kid; I've played several of the Mystery Case File games for example, and though they have spooky themes they're not super scary. The hidden-object format is easy for a kid to pick up on. On Bigfish you can play a demo of most of the games to see if you'd like it first before buying.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 9:55 AM on December 28, 2010

We just got Lego Harry Potter for the Wii for Christmas and I think y'all might like it. It's two player cooperative and mostly just point and click. The puzzles so far are not that hard and the two of you could work together to figure them out when she got stuck. I don't think you can die (when I was playing Ron and walked off the steps he just reappeared at the place where he fell off). The graphics are cute and whimsical and in general it's on the silly side, not scary at all. You can switch between being Harry, Ron, or Hermione, which I think might be nice for your daughter because there really aren't that many games where female characters get to be awesome like Hermione. There is no hint system, but since it's two player cooperative you could look up the hints online and then help her through the puzzles without ruining the fun, I think. I haven't played the other Lego titles (Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and I know there are others) but I think that this is the general style of them.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:11 AM on December 28, 2010

Best answer: She will probably really like the Dream Chronicles series (0, 1, 2, 3) and Azada (1, 2).
posted by lalex at 10:17 AM on December 28, 2010

Splashback is a fun puzzle game I keep coming back to.
posted by yeloson at 10:35 AM on December 28, 2010

World of Goo is perfectly age-appropriate and has a fun puzzle-solving mechanic with adorable graphics.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:51 AM on December 28, 2010

Seconding the Big Fish Games "hidden object" style - there are a ton of those, and the best thing about them is that you can download a one hour tester/demo before you buy. This would give you, the adult, a chance to look over the ones she's interested in and give your approval. Most of them are a bit spooky but not super scary, and the ones that are more violent are usually labelled clearly. (You might also check out jayisgames.com - they review a lot of the Big Fish titles, plus flash games, and so on.)

I would specifically recommend the Mystery Case Files series, which is pretty much the best quality series out there. (The earlier ones are more "hidden object" and less puzzle, but the later ones are more puzzle-heavy.)

Also, if flash games are of interest, you definitely want to check out Samorost and Samorost 2.
posted by marginaliana at 11:05 AM on December 28, 2010

Although it's not out quite yet, you should check out Glitch when it becomes available in early 2011. The trailer on the website gets scary at the end, so you might want to watch it by yourself. But I can assure you, the gameplay itself is FAR from scary. To be clear, it isn't a game that's aimed at kids, and there are a couple of grown-up references and allusions that you might not want her exposed to (think along the lines of the "jokes for the parents" included in Shrek and the like), but these are usually obtuse enough that I doubt she'd get them.

Regarding your bullet points, it nails all of them. It's a great, great game.

(If you want to beta test it, you can sign up for early access, and they occasionally allow line-jumping via links posted on their Twitter account.)
posted by Alt F4 at 11:28 AM on December 28, 2010

Scribblenauts and Super Scribblenauts for the DS are really fantastic puzzle games.
posted by visual mechanic at 11:59 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

* lots of atmosphere without being scary
* puzzles makes sense and are appropriately challenging
* graphics are lovely and engaging
* integrated hint system

Seconding the LucasArts adventure games, which can be downloaded under the name ScummVM. Characterized by intricate cartoony graphics, goofy environs, and logic puzzles that often go beyond the typical give-Bob-a-hammer-and-he'll-give-you-the-screwdriver-that-Mary-wants variety. LOOM might be too scary (though it's a beautiful game), but Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island probably fit the bill well.
posted by foursentences at 12:08 PM on December 28, 2010

I think the LucasArts games are a great suggestion, but avoid Maniac Mansion. Nurse Edna still scares the beejezus out of me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:11 PM on December 28, 2010

Oh, also Mystery Case Files consistently get good reviews and I like the game play a lot. It's different than Drawn in that there's more meeting mysteries, knowing you need a tool to solve them, and then finding keys or clues and having to go back to complete them but I like it. It is certainly not hard, but if you ever do get stuck, the hint clock is annoyingly long - maybe 2 minutes? There are ghosts in the entry screen, but they're not threatening. However because I like stress-free play and am a huge wuss I turn the music down :)

It's a longer episodic series than Drawn (it's been around way longer) so if you liked it, you'd have many episodes to play, though I imagine it would get repetitive after two or three.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:23 PM on December 28, 2010

When she's ready for a break from a game, Just Dance is tons of fun.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:28 PM on December 28, 2010

Best answer: I have basically the same preferences as your daughter (except that I enjoy some of the slightly scarier stuff). So maybe I have the mentality of a ten year old. Really it's just that I play casual games to relax so I don't like things that are going to stress me out.

So I recommend like others that you check out BigFishGames. They have a gigantic repository of games that are exactly what you're looking for. There are some that have scary elements. Nothing horribly gory or awful but for a ten year old could be scary. But many don't, and most are high on atmosphere and gorgeous graphics. I just played this one which was quite nice. It has ghosts but they're all the helpful non threatening variety. There's a witch, but she's only in the game twice and doesn't enact any sort of violence on the game player. Here's another that was really enjoyable and probably just right for a ten year old girl.

Just a note that a lot of games come in both regular editions and Collector's editions. The Collector's editions usually come with a built in strategy guide/walkthrough for if you get stuck plus other content like music or wallpapers from the game. However you can usually get these same walkthroughs on the website, so it's your choice as to whether it's worth it to pay extra for this. You could always keep the walkthrough open in a browser window and alt tab out of the game to look at it if you need help. Almost every game I've played from bigfish has a hint system available in the game (be sure to choose casual or relaxed game mode if given a choice when you start playing).

As others have said, the other nice thing is that you can demo all the games for 60 minutes. So you can try before you buy. That'd make it easy for you to figure out which ones are appropriate for your daughter.
posted by katyggls at 12:58 PM on December 28, 2010

Oh, also Syberia, games 1 & 2, are beautifully done point-&-click adventures. They're not scary but can be quite challenging. I enjoyed them thoroughly. Could be great Mom & daughter bonding time to do them together.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 1:40 PM on December 28, 2010

I also vote for BigFishGames. They have the new Drawn game and lots of other superb similar titles.
posted by tacodave at 2:01 PM on December 28, 2010

The first two Monkey Island games were re-released for iOS devices. They're cheap too but the interface is a little clunky as it still runs as a two-button mouse game.
posted by chairface at 3:47 PM on December 28, 2010

Response by poster: Argh - I forgot about Samorost/Machinarium! Thanks for the reminder(s). I never played any of the LucasArts games if you can believe it, but it looks like there are a bunch of them on Steam for $2, so I might try out one of the Monkey Island games.

Thanks for the heads up on Glitch, by the way. I don't know how I feel about her playing any kind of MMO without a chat filter just yet, but *I* appreciate the suggestion and have signed up for beta :)
posted by lilnublet at 3:49 PM on December 28, 2010

Katamari Damacy. No death. The idea is that the King of the Cosmos had a little too much last night and oopsie - knocked all the stars of of the sky. Your job as the prince is to recreate the stars by rolling a sticky ball over stuff. It sounds incredibly stupid, but it is by far my favorite game out there.
posted by neilbert at 6:00 PM on December 28, 2010

D'oh, missed the point and click part. Still, might be worth checking out.
posted by neilbert at 6:01 PM on December 28, 2010

Best answer: A little late, but I just finished Awakening: Moonfell Wood and it was very pretty (fairies and gnomes and princesses!) and the scariest part was having to find a bunch of spiders hidden in a web.
posted by dogmom at 6:22 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Professor Layton titles for the Nintendo DS hit all of your qualifications and are spectacular games for just about everyone. The artwork is lovely, the voiceovers are entertaining, the puzzles are fun without being brutal, the atmosphere is great, they're entirely stylus-driven, the hint system is nice, etc, etc.

Here's a link to the first in the series:

Professor Layton and the Curious Village
posted by Mikey-San at 12:57 AM on December 29, 2010

(well, a link to the wikipedia page for it)
posted by Mikey-San at 12:59 AM on December 29, 2010

I've just clicked through the links here and found a few games that I'll spend hours playing :) Thanks!

I'm posting a response b'c I read what the OP wrote about the Nancy Drew games. I've played several of those. I'm not entirely certain what 'shovelware' means, but the games are good fun. The worst part about them is that sometimes the end game section is a "quick mouse clicking" test of agility and mouse skills.... which suck when you're using a laptop. Nancy can't die in those, though - she just fails to solve the case or gets sent home without solving it.

I don't recall anything really scary in the games but the games do get repetitive - there are only so many variations on the puzzles that they use from one game to the next.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 9:50 PM on January 16, 2011

I love this thread and refer to it often. One more for the cannon: Lume from Steam. It's has a lot on common with Drawn, and it's lovely.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:55 PM on May 28, 2011

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