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Weekend Download: Interactive Fiction Edition

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Weekend Download

JohnBAah, 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.


Yipee!!! I love text games! Now I have a few more to add to my collection. I have about 10-20 text games.


Thank you for the Linux-friendly Weekend Download :) Yay interactive fiction!

(I've never used Zoom, but I personally like Gargoyle for Linux.)


Delightful Wallpaper is devious. I'm going to have to draw a detailed map for this one. The notepad is a nice idea, and very useful. It figured stuff out whilst I was still wandering aimlessly.


This is the best weekend download in ages. <3


I must congratulate John (or whoever chose these games) for a great selection of IF. They cover a wide range of the genre and are great for newbies and experts alike.

Anyway, I would highly recommend The Travelling Swordsman and The Elysium Enigma. TTS is, as was mentioned in the review, delightfully straight-forward, due to the puzzles being immediately set out for you to solve, without the need for dreary dungeon-crawling.

The Elysium Enigma is also excellent, with a slowly unravelling story and a brilliantly branching end.

(Full disclosure: I found Delightful Wallpaper to be completely mind-boggling, but I appreciated the privilege of playing another game by the genius Andrew Plotkin.)


Need more screenshots!


Aha! I KNEW something was missing(!) :)

Ezrabbit May 31, 2008 4:41 PM

Galatea is a VERY limited game in terms of your potions.
I can't seem to do anything but act like a jerk.
I want to ask so many things but all I keep getting is "You cannot put your question into words."
It's VERY frustrating and I feel it needs more options made available.


I love Galatea. How personal the conversation can go both ways.


Galatea's amazing - it's wonderfully complex for a game which is based on dialogue, and it has a lot of replayability.

The food ending has to be my favourite :)


The Traveling Swordsman was delightful. Thanks a bunch for these!!


I think Galatea is awesome. I've been hoping to try an IF that didn't require a download, and this one really intrigues me. I may have to try downloading some more IF games.

I agree with Yellow about which ending is the best. :)

Anonymous June 1, 2008 2:17 AM

I finished EE with only 16/30 points :(

It's a thousand years too late for such nonsense.


Anonymous June 1, 2008 2:49 AM

Hm, and now I have 28 points (I hit undo at the end, and continued on from there). I think that's the maximum I can get based on the order I did a few things in. Anyone get the full score on EE?


Haha! I accomplished something in Delightful Wallpaper.

I completed the maze wandering and got onto the intentions/poem part. Then I saved and stopped. This was all fueled by my sleep being wierd and me getting up at 6:30AM.

cow_2001 June 1, 2008 7:21 PM

Not casual gameplay, but I love you nonetheless. Thanks!
Interactive Fiction makes me feel a certain emotion I find in scenic paintings. I've explained/asked for explanation about this emotion on this thread: Nostalgia for things we have never experienced before.

sweetclarity June 1, 2008 7:31 PM

For those who want the full scores for EE or other games, if you search for them on Baf's Guide you can find links to walkthroughs, hint guides, and sometimes maps as well.

RootShell June 2, 2008 3:25 PM

For all of those that don't know, you can download hundreds of games from the www.ifarchive.org website, where everything is FREEWARE and no ilegal game can be found.

There are a lot of sites related to interactive fiction worldwide, so I'll leave that up for another time, right now i just wanted to let us all know, that you can find extremelly good interactive fiction (text based) games at the IFArchive site.

Thank you for keeping text games alive.

Kind regards,

[Edit: We will continue to feature IF games here at JIG, especially those tailored to a more casual audience. If you have suggestions about specific ones that would work well with this site, please use the Suggest a game form found in the menu on every page of JIG. Thanks! -Jay]

thunderbird June 2, 2008 4:30 PM

Thank you for putting Galatea up! It's one of my favourite games. There's always something new to discover, and often I'll stumble across something and can't remember how to get back to it - it's just so deep and fascinating.

The Dionysus ending is my favourite. creeeeepy!

Blizzardfyr June 2, 2008 10:18 PM

How do you download Gargoyle? I am confused by the multitude of files on the download page... which one do I use?

delzoup June 3, 2008 12:58 PM

@ Blizzardfyr
You want the 2nd link from the bottom, assuming that your operating system is windows. (The file names explain what OS they are intended. However but for me, the file names were trundicated until I clicked on them.)

Also, the Delightful Wallpaper was featured before back in Jan '06 with more games from that creator. So I guess if it tickled your fancy, that's where you can find more :D


I absolutely love Galatea, the atmosphere, even without music or pictures is amazing. The only ending I've got is the hilltop


LOVE Galatea!


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