PC / 1995 / Developer & Publisher: Lucasarts Entertainment Company LLC.
In a good game, you can tell a lot by the way the player is introduced to his in-game character. When we take control of Full Throttle's Ben, we find him punching his way out from the inside of a garbage dumpster.
Full Throttle was a point-and-click that didn't pull any of its punches-- bad things happened, people died, and sometimes the solution to the puzzle was just to kick the damn door down. The gameworld was oppressive, dust-choked, and generally unfriendly; the supporting cast ranged from simply duplicitous to outright homicidal. But the game used its terse characterization to make me genuinely care about the sympathetic characters of Ben, Maureen, and old man Corley, from the initial rush of the opening sequence, to the tragic turning point at the end of the first act, to the devastatingly bittersweet ending sequence. Full Throttle told a melancholy tale of a handful of people-- not video game characters, but what felt like real people-- thrown together by fate, irrevocably changed, only to be scattered to the winds again as the sun set over the desert highway. The game had levity, sure, but it also had real gravitas, where almost no other game has.
Full Throttle deserves praise for standing out from the rest of the Lucasarts point-and-clicks. Unlike Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max Hit the Road, or Monkey Island, Full Throttle manages to be funny without being silly, and to tell a meaningful, human story through the conventions of the genre without ever taking itself over-seriously. It's an incredible balancing act, and in my opinion just about the pinnacle of what a 2D point-and-click could aspire to. I feel lucky to have played a masterpiece like this during my formative years.