Weekend Download: Interactive Fiction Edition
Aah, text adventures, interactive pieces of fiction that take you on journeys few graphical titles could hope to match. Games such as Colossal Cave Adventure and Zork defined the genre many years ago, but thanks to open source development languages, the interactive fiction community is still alive and thriving to this day. This edition of weekend download highlights a few notable IF titles. All you need is a computer and the ability to read English and you're good to go!
Note: To play the games below you'll need the file itself as well as an interpreter for your operating system: Gargoyle for Windows, Spatterlight for Mac, and Xoom for Linux are all excellent choices. All downloads are less than 1MB and are free.
- Delightful Wallpaper (by Andrew Plotkin) - Delightful Wallpaper walked away with several awards in the 2006 Xyzzy competition, including best writing and best puzzles. You play a "conceptual entity" carrying a notepad examining and readying the mansion for an impending drama. The game has a wonderfully crisp narrative with an unusual main character who interacts with the world (or doesn't interact, rather) in unusual ways.
- The Traveling Swordsman (by Mike Snyder) - A journey in three chapters that begins in a simple field where the tall grass seems to hide something of interest. What really captured me was the game's simplicity and palpable setting. You can almost feel the grass-scented wind in your hair. The first few puzzles are very straightforward, no wandering around endless corridors searching for one last item. What keeps you plugging forward is the sense of mystery the text conveys so well.
- Galatea (by Emily Short) (play online) - No foray into the realm of interactive fiction would be complete without playing this game. Created by Emily Short, Galatea retells the myth of Pygmalion, the sculptor whose statue came to life. It's just you and Galatea in this one room game, but interacting with her is as complex, interesting and rewarding as any game out there. There are no puzzles, per se, just intricate conversations where moods change, answers vary, and the conversation progresses to one of a number of conclusions.
- The Elysium Enigma (by Eric Eve) - As a diplomat, it's your job to remind the natives that the Empire hasn't forgotten about them. However, with an interstellar war threatening to rear its head, your routine visit carries a bit more weight. The Elysium Enigma is a sci-fi themed game with a complex, interwoven plot filled with danger and espionage.