Floatpoint is a science fiction-themed text adventure game by Emily Short. It was entered in the recent 2006 Interactive Fiction Competition and walked away with the first prize. The game features classic text adventure puzzles with a superb story that slowly uncovers new and exciting mysteries about the game's world.
Text adventure games started in the mid-70s with Will Crowther's game Colossal Cave Adventure. They grew in popularity for nearly a decade before graphical games began to steal the spotlight. Although no longer a mainstream phenomenon, countless writers and programmers enjoy working in the medium thanks to its emphasis on storytelling, adventuring, and puzzle solving.
In Floatpoint you play the role of a newly appointed ambassador traveling to a planet colonized by humans from Earth. The cold, icy world of Alehart is home to millions of people, but as you keep reminding yourself, you're not here to sightsee. A massive glacier threatens to overtake the planet's chief settlement and your job is to negotiate a deal with the colonists to bring them back to Earth. But as you quickly find out, there's a lot more going on here than a little bit of ice...
To play Floatpoint, you'll need to download an interpreter, a small program that allows you to run text-based games. A common multipurpose interpreter for Windows is Gargoyle, while the MacOS counterpart is Spatterlight. Both the interpreter and the game are small, free files. Playing games is as simple as opening the interpreter and finding the file on your computer, then you're ready to explore.
Analysis: The heart of an interactive fiction game is the narrative, and Emily Short weaves a surprisingly detailed world in Floatpoint with exquisite storytelling. The colony on Alehart immediately springs to life and the characters feel full and complete. And as for the game itself, it is well-paced and never feels stale. I particularly enjoyed the memory flashes that filled in the backstory. The main character also keeps a running to-do list that periodically pops up to keep you on task. A great inclusion that's perfectly integrated into the plot and really helps out when you're feeling overwhelmed.
Floatpoint does a fantastic job of creating a full and complete world inside your head and the game kept me begging for more. An excellent work of interactive fiction by Emily Short, and congratulations on her well-deserved prize!
Note: If you have trouble running Floatpoint with the above listed programs, try downloading a Glulx-specific interpreter for your system.