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Text Adventures: reviews, comments, opinions

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Usually I play one or two text adventures a year. But thanks to Emily Short’s column IF only (now discontinued Mini Frown) at rockpapershotgun I’ve already completed 5 text adventures this year and I’m certainly not done with them yet.  I’ll be posting a couple of short “mini reviews” of mainly older text adventures in this thread.

by Michael S. Gentry (1998)

Another day in the trenches. Another day of tooth-and-nail against a horde of sons of bitches who would chisel you out if you gave them half a second or half a chance. And if they can’t take you down with a well-placed stab in the back, then they’ll just wait you out and let the big, creaking wheel of routine slowly drive you mad. Don’t let them get to you. You’ve got to stay one step ahead. You’ve got to keep it covered. Get a grip on it. Stay in the loop. And above all, you must remain. Totally. Frosty.

I couldn’t wait to play Little Blue Men when I found out the developer of my beloved Anchorhead had produced more than just one game, and I wasn’t disappointed. Short but lots of fun. Surreal horror taking place in an office setting. Not very difficult, although I got seriously stuck once. Great descriptions, this Gentry guy can write. The only problem I had with the game is that solutions to puzzles consist of a series of partial solutions, which is fine in theory. But it’s possible to figure out one part of the entire sequence and screw up an earlier part, for instance, by using an object too soon. (Some people might call that a dead end…) To be fair, with hindsight it was fun and not hard to figure out what I should have done differently. Save often, restore often.

The game offers hints, has several endings, and you can download it here or play it online. The disclaimer states that despite all the violence, unwarranted hostility towards others, strong language and negative vibes of various sorts, at its most fundamental level Little Blue Men is about learning to love yourself. No kidding. I can testify to that.

     

...omnis tua culpa… (Stories Untold)

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Welcome back Karlok & with a very nice & in my mind much needed idea for a thread! Will you be looking at newer games as well as older ones?

     
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That’s a great idea Karlok. I got the tip to install Frotz on my iPhone some 6 months ago, and I’ve already played 4 games on it. The problem with playing games on a portable device is that they have to be fairly simple because it’s hard to make notes. That’s the reasom why I am now stuck in Toby’s Nose. I will finish it on my PC one day though.

     
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Which 4 games, did you like them, would you recommend them? Come on, tell us, that’s what this thread is for. Smile I use Frotz too for older games. So far I’ve refused to play anything on the tiny screen of my iPhone when my PC is much more comfortable. But I’d love to play Device 6, so who knows… one day…

Toby’s Nose is on my to play list because Emily mentioned it a couple of times in her column. I’m currently playing the Gateway Remake and I’m very much looking forward to Bob Bates’ Thaumistry.

     

...omnis tua culpa… (Stories Untold)

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Karlok - 13 September 2017 08:50 AM

I’m currently playing the Gateway Remake

Gateway Remake as in remake of the Legend game? How is it? I want to check that

 

     
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It’s now point-and-click, choose from available verbs etc. Works fine. (I prefer text input though, even in the old days with Legend already providing long lists of words to select.) Plus improved graphics. I have only just started, but the story and everything else appears the same as the original game.

     

...omnis tua culpa… (Stories Untold)

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Karlok - 13 September 2017 08:50 AM

Which 4 games, did you like them, would you recommend them? Come on, tell us, that’s what this thread is for. :

True, but I was so tired yesterday!

In Bronze you return to the castle after having been away for seven days. Roaming the castle brings back memories of the long time you spent there as the Beast’s last victim. You find clues to help you how to rid the Beast and the castle of their curse once and for all. It’s up to you what to do with those clues! Bronze is an interesting look at the Beauty and the Beast’s fairy-tale, set in a dreamy castle in which time has stood still since you left. It’s a fairly big game and it’s handy to draw maps, but since I played it on the iPhone I found maps online so I could easily switch between the map and the game. It’s not a very hard game, suitable for children, but you need to pay good attention to everything you see and hear.

The Act of Misdirection is a confusing horror game in which you play a famous great magician. But even for you things turn out to not be what they seem… The ending is quite confusing but I found this a very intriguing game. Worth trying, but not very suitable for kids I think, although it is quite easy to play this game.

In Lost Pig, Grunk the pig herder loses a pig in the woods. He finds it easily but catching it is much harder! Suddenly they are in a grotto underneath the woods with no easy way out. So Grunk and the pig set out exploring the grotto. They have different goals: the pig just wants food, and Grunk wants to get out with the pig! Grunk is a simple person who thinks simple thoughts, which gives rise to funny situations. Very suitable for kids, not very hard and great fun to play.

Slouching towards Bedlam. I didn’t get this game. When it starts you find yourself in some asylum and you have to find out who you are and what to do. The only goal I reached was to get myself hanged. I don’t think that that is the goal of this game.

Child’s Play. You are some 10 months old and it’s playgroup day. Playgroup day is OK but now the red-haired girl is here. And she wants your toys. You don’t like that.
Being 10 months old you can’t talk, which gives you a severe handicap. This game is about dealing with that. I must say I didn’t like it much, but that is not because it’s a bad game. It’s well-made, describing enough details and giving you much space to experiment in finding ways to get what you want. It’s just not a game for me.

That’s it! Smile

     
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I’ve never been much of a text adventure player, but lately, I’ve tried several that made me rediscover the genre under a positive light.

Thanks to tsa and my love for all things Sherlock Holmes, I got intrigued by Toby’s nose. It’s exceptionally well written - it was quite a challenge indeed, both in terms of style and of game mechanics, to make us discover a world and solve a crime mainly through the use of smell. Most of the storyline you need to unravel is subtly hinted at instead of being blandly and abruptly laid out, leaving enough work to the player’s imagination and deduction skills.

Afer that, I set my heart on Ad Verbum, another quite original piece of interactive fiction which mostly revolves around wordplay. It’s been around since 2000, so most genre-enthusiasts here have probably played it by now, but I’ll recommend it to outsiders like me who enjoy word games, coming up with scarcely used synonyms for everyday things, and a little surreal humour. A fair command of the English language is required to fully appreciate it.

Earlier this week, I played Oppositely Opal. You are a witch, on your way to a potion-making competion you’re really set on winning. Your rival, however, has other plans for you… In a world where nothing seems to work as intended, can you manage to free yourself in time for the contest? I found this game really funny, with hilarious descriptions, enticing mechanics, and an interesting protagonist for whom you’ll end up rooting despite her supposedly dislikeable nature. It’s very lighthearted, and the options at hand prevent it from being boring even when you’re truly stuck.

     

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I happen to have created two text adventures with ADRIFT. Space Detective is about detective in science fiction setting who has memory loss. (Note that his memories are playable part of game.) Noble Crook is about conman in hotel who has to stop closing down luxury hotel while running his operation there. (BTW, me and small team i found over internet try to make point’n'click version of Noble Crook.)

http://www.adrift.co/game/1472
http://www.adrift.co/game/1473

     
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I’ve played very few text adventures, so my contributions to this thread will be minimal, but I highly recommend The King of Shreds and Patches. It’s basically Shakespeare vs. Cthulhu—and if that doesn’t sell you on it, I don’t know what will.

It’s a long, meaty game, with a well-constructed horror/mystery story, modern design sensibilities (auto-map, list of current goals, no dead-ends…), and some memorable scenes. It’s not particularly challenging, and probably talks a bit too much, and it’s definitely not among those IF games that try to do something novel or experimental, but it’s fun, highly polished, and I liked it quite a bit.

     

Currently playing: The Pillars of the Earth, bk 1 | Atlantis I | Baldur’s Gate II EE
Recently finished: Ticket to Earth, ep. 1-2 (4/5) | Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can (3/5) | The Longest Journey (R) (3/5) | Baldur’s Gate EE (3/5) | Sinking Island (R) (3.5/5) | Enigmatis 3 (2.5/5) | Enigmatis 2 (3.5/5)

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I’m still working on 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery... 6 months later.

The historical detail and immersion is great, but this game… is absolutely huge. Most of my time has been spent mapping, and while it’s been enjoyable it does feel a little too big. I have solved a few puzzles but there is also a time limit so I’m not worrying too much about doing every day perfectly since I’ll most likely be restoring to much earlier to do the puzzles in time. What is annoying is you also have to eat and sleep, as well as get money from the bank every day.

For anyone interested, here’s my map so far (nowhere near done)

     

Resident Puzzle Analyst
Now playing: The Journey Down
Recently finished: Last Day of June (7.5/10) The Initiate (5/10) The Wardrobe (4/10) Tacoma (7/10) Darkside Detective (7/10) Aporia: Beyond The Valley (5/10) The Low Road (6/10) The Lion’s Song (6/10) The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker (6.5/10) RiME (6/10) The Fidelio Incident (6.5/10)

(6=good, 7=recommended, 8=must play, 9=classic, 10=masterpiece)

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Oscar - 14 September 2017 05:36 AM

For anyone interested, here’s my map so far (nowhere near done)

That does look pretty sprawling! What are you using to make the map?

     
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Phlebas - 14 September 2017 06:43 AM
Oscar - 14 September 2017 05:36 AM

For anyone interested, here’s my map so far (nowhere near done)

That does look pretty sprawling! What are you using to make the map?

Trizbort

     

Resident Puzzle Analyst
Now playing: The Journey Down
Recently finished: Last Day of June (7.5/10) The Initiate (5/10) The Wardrobe (4/10) Tacoma (7/10) Darkside Detective (7/10) Aporia: Beyond The Valley (5/10) The Low Road (6/10) The Lion’s Song (6/10) The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker (6.5/10) RiME (6/10) The Fidelio Incident (6.5/10)

(6=good, 7=recommended, 8=must play, 9=classic, 10=masterpiece)

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Some good game recommendations here. Tsa, I tried Slouching towards bedlam and didn’t like it enough to continue. Lost Pig is a funny little game. See the list of text adventure community playthroughs.  https://adventuregamers.com/forums/viewthread/8842/

Oscar - 14 September 2017 05:36 AM

For anyone interested, here’s my map so far (nowhere near done)

I printed the map included in the manual on 4 A4 sheets and taped them together.

     

...omnis tua culpa… (Stories Untold)

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Rematch by Andrew Pontious (2000)

Another one I liked a lot. One single move and the game is over, just like Aisle by Sam Barlow. Rematch is a complex puzzle with a complex solution, based on the “resurrection fallacy”, like Groundhog Day or the great text adventure Spider and Web. You’re in a pool hall with two friends and you have this one move to prevent a rather unpleasant event from happening. But it will take many moves to collect the necessary info by exploring, talking to people, examining objects. The parser can handle command lines with several verbs and objects. You only need to enter the convenient command AUTO once and the game will automatically restart every time you fail— hundreds of times in my case.  Shifty Eyed

     

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Karlok - 14 September 2017 09:47 AM

Rematch by Andrew Pontious (2000)

Another one I liked a lot. One single move and the game is over, just like Aisle by Sam Barlow.

The parser can handle command lines with several verbs and objects.

Hmm. So you only get one ‘command’, but it can actually be multiple commands in a single line? Or have I misunderstood?

(I liked Aisle a lot, but found it a bit frustrating that the results weren’t all consistent - I appreciated that there were multiple complete stories in there depending on which cues you followed up, but thinking in terms of investigation it made it a bit less satisfying. If this is more puzzle-oriented I guess it has to be consistent to be solvable.)

     
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