Interactive Fiction: Zarf
This review regards a genre that I believe is a first for Jayisgames - Interactive Fiction. Or, to put it simply, text adventures. Since the world of text adventures is very big (and quite scary), I'll be focusing on the works of one particular author: Zarf. (Real name - Andrew Plotkin).
Firstly, a note about text adventures. For anyone completely oblivious, they are games played using only text commands in response to on-screen written descriptions. Personally, I adore them. However, I am aware that they aren't for everyone. To fully enjoy them and immerse yourself in the experience, I recommend playing them alone, with no distractions. It's also a good idea to set some time aside as, if you play these games online, they can't be saved. However, you can download them, but some require you to download an interpreter, so this can be more effort than it's worth.
The first of Zarf's works that I'll focus on is 'The Dreamhold'. This games bills itself as an IF tutorial, designed for people who've never played IF before - making it the perfect place to start. Although not particularly easy, it does feature numerous hints and an extensive help system. As with the majority of Zarf's games, the character that you play as is, at first anyway, sexless and ageless, with no backstory or explanation of why they are doing what they are. I enjoyed this game, although the size of the area can be daunting and, due to the fact that you have to try and create a create a map in your mind of all the room locations, navigating your way to certain areas can be tricky.
Zarf's next creation, 'Shade' is my personal favourite. It's very short and only takes place in a single room. What starts off as usual and ordinary soon develops into something quite different. It's fairly easy, apart from the end, where you think outside of the box.
The next entry is an absolute work of genius. 'Spider and Web' is about a man who stands in an alley and then leaves. And I'm not telling you any different. (Don't worry too much about your actions in this game, since you can't get a 'Game Over' until the end).
Finally, 'A Change in the Weather'. This game concerns somebody who is tired of partying and decides to go for a relaxing walk. I'll let you find out the rest for yourself. This is unquestionably the hardest game that I've posted here, and is near impossible to complete with numerous attempts or a walkthrough.
They are simply my favourite four of Zarf's games, but there's also the cave crawler 'Hunter, in Darkness', the extremely bizarre, 'The Space Under the Window', the sublime 'So Far' and a few others. And let's not forget Andrew's most recent mind-bending game, Delightful Wallpaper, where you play a ghost with a notepad who can't move physical objects. Unfortunately there isn't an online version yet, so you'll need an interpreter to play the game. The following programs will run most IF games: