The Bard's Journey
Ah the bard, the most forgotten role playing class. Sure everyone's played a fighter, mage or thief, but few have had experience with the bard, who can conjure magical effects through song. Sapient Games has created a whole world revolving around this character in their text-based RPG, The Bard's Journey. You play as an unnamed bard who is the only one who can defend the land against an evil wizard intent on controlling the people through music. But it's not all nostalgia and retro goodness here, there's a unique feature: you can create your own songs to play in battle! From the main screen of the game, use your mouse to choose the options below the text to either take an action in that area or to move on to the next area (which can also be done with the compass).
The Compose option from the menu in the lower right is where you can create musical stylings to your advantage. There are three types of instruments at your service: guitar, bass and percussion. Each type gives you different benefits based on the number of notes it plays. Balance is the key, as described by the in-game tutorial. It is impossible to create a song that gives a large bonus to all four stats; you must pick and choose. You will have to enter combat before you can reap the fruits of your compositions. Combat runs automatically with occasional interventions from you in choosing one of your four saved songs or casting a spell. Timing is everything as your song will not change until the previous one is done playing. The gameplay is open, so be careful where you wander lest you come to a swift death... followed by a revival by the sage, an inconvenience nonetheless.
As you would hope from a text-based game, the writing is well done. Navigating through a forest does not simply give you the same "You are in a forest" descriptor, but instead, Sapient Games took the effort to make each square unique. Composing your own songs is where this game truly stands out, and you could easily spend your first hour doing only that. Even with help from the tutorial, it takes a lot of trial and error to not only give yourself the bonuses you want, but also to create something you'll enjoy hearing, if you're so inclined. Music writing aside, this RPG is fun and the story is interesting, so feel free to pack up your lute and use the default songs for a quick dive into a melodic, mystical world.