Recommend a few good text adventure games!
August 6, 2007 2:48 PM   Subscribe

Recommend a few good text adventure games!

Lately I've had the urge to play text adventure games, but I'm not sure what to play. I've been googling, but I'm overwhelmed by the variety of games available and can't seem to find a useful review site.

So... what should I play? Recommendations that are clever, whimsical, literate, funny, atmospheric and captivating are a plus. I'm interested in classics of the genre as well as little known gems.

(Just so you know, I've played two text-based games before, The Golden Wombat of Destiny -wonderful!- and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was great but followed a touch too close to the books for me to really enjoy as original.)
posted by warble to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (40 answers total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
 
Kingdom of Loathing
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:53 PM on August 6, 2007


Why not the granddaddy of them all? Colossal Cave / Adventure / ADVENT
posted by mrbill at 2:53 PM on August 6, 2007


When it comes to the modern hobbyist stuff, you want the IF Scoreboard, the IF Wiki, and the list of interpreters for different platforms.
posted by inkyz at 2:56 PM on August 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seconding Kingdom of Loathing.
posted by lalex at 3:01 PM on August 6, 2007


I've been googling, but I'm overwhelmed by the variety of games available and can't seem to find a useful review site.

You've linked to the IF Archive yourself, there, but it is fairly useful -- take a look at the games with five stars and read the quick reviews to see what appeals to you. There are often links to longer reviews, as well.
posted by redfoxtail at 3:03 PM on August 6, 2007


Kingdom of Loathing is delightful, but it's not a text adventure game/IF.
posted by redfoxtail at 3:04 PM on August 6, 2007


Trinity. Absolutely my favorite of all the Infocom games that I played.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:06 PM on August 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


While KoL is a fun web game and all, I'm not sure it qualifies as a text adventure, although I don't know what I would call it.

As far as fun text adventures go, Slouching Toward Bedlam was fun for me, and very well regarded. Really, I'd just pick names from the yearly IF competition and play them.

Enjoy!
posted by Inkoate at 3:06 PM on August 6, 2007


Spider & Web (available at the IF archive) was fantastic.
posted by sonofslim at 3:09 PM on August 6, 2007


Some of the best works are from Adam Cadre, most notably the excellent Interstate Zero and Photopia.
posted by majick at 3:16 PM on August 6, 2007


I've been out of the Inform scene for a while, but I can highly recommend anything by Adam Cadre or Andrew Plotkin. In particular Adam's Photopia blew my mind, it should be required reading (playing? experiencing?) for anyone who's interested in interactive fiction.

On preview - what majick said :)
posted by herichon at 3:20 PM on August 6, 2007


Start with the Infocom games. They're the archetypes of the genre and the obvious place to start before you get into contemporary IF. I'd start with the Zork/Enchanter games, and maybe toss Planetfall in there for a change of pace. That should last you a while. Also, don't overlook the handful of games made by Legend Entertainment. They have graphics to complement the text. Particularly good are the two Gateway games, based on Frederick Pohl books.

When you get into the newer stuff, a good resource for finding games is the XYZZY awards. There are also links to reviews for a lot of the games listed there.
posted by shadow vector at 3:24 PM on August 6, 2007


If you want classics of the genre, you should check out the Zork Trilogy and the Enchanter trilogy. I spent a lot of time with those in the mid-late 80's. I bet they would still be fun to play through if you haven't seen them before.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:27 PM on August 6, 2007


Are the Zork games online anywhere? I can't really search them out from work, but I had a lot more fun with them than with HHGTTG.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:32 PM on August 6, 2007


Ah, I mean: What Pater Aletheias said.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:32 PM on August 6, 2007


Plotkin and Cadre're great, but I also like Emily Short's work. Oh, and Anchorhead, although I haven't beaten it. Still.
posted by cobaltnine at 3:52 PM on August 6, 2007


There's no alternative: Leather Goddesses of Phobos was fucking awesome.
posted by symphonik at 4:05 PM on August 6, 2007


Here to rep for Adam Cadre, especially Photopia.

What's also worth considering is playing on a Palm. There are interpreters for it which make it *much* easier -- instead of typing "open the green door" you click on "green door" and choose "open" from the pop-up. Sounds small, is ace.
posted by bonaldi at 4:13 PM on August 6, 2007


Trinity from Infocom for sure, and absolutely top marks for Graham Nelson's Curses — I got so immersed in that it meddled with my dreams. Christminster is a good one, one of the very few good games with a school/university setting (better than Infocom's Lurking Horror, I think). One of the coolest atmosphere pieces from Infocom and a very underrated title was Border Zone, if you like a grim cold war ambience. All of those are pretty well balanced between puzzle-solving, plot, and atmosphere/exploration, but who knows which direction your tastes lean? Drop me an email.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:18 PM on August 6, 2007


If you liked Hitchhiker's, you must play Bureaucracy, which is written by Douglas Adams, is hilarious, and doesn't follow the plot of any book.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 5:06 PM on August 6, 2007


Just got home and looked through all the IF games I've accumulated; I'd add expand my recommendations to include Edifice (just for one stellar puzzle) and Rematch.
posted by sonofslim at 5:17 PM on August 6, 2007


I second Spider and Web - the central puzzle is so, so good, you'll feel absolutely brilliant when you solve it.

As far as Infocom games go, I recommend Planetfall. Lots of atmosphere, clever but not impossible puzzles.
posted by aparrish at 5:31 PM on August 6, 2007


Planetfall is good and holds a really special place in a lot of people's hearts (for one reason above all: the greatest NPC ever). In terms of satisfying puzzles and tense gameplay, the sequel Stationfall was even better.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:42 PM on August 6, 2007


It's not that kind of seal.
posted by Flunkie at 7:05 PM on August 6, 2007


One of the coolest atmosphere pieces from Infocom and a very underrated title was Border Zone, if you like a grim cold war ambience.

Was that the one with the real time clock? I was always too scared to try it (I type and think slow).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:07 PM on August 6, 2007


So glad to see Zork made the list. Wasted many a night in the eighties with that game. One of the definite classics.
posted by wile e at 7:20 PM on August 6, 2007


There's no alternative: Leather Goddesses of Phobos was fucking awesome.

Well yeah, if you played it in lewd mode.

[to others] KoL is a web-based BBS game, mkay?
posted by fleacircus at 8:30 PM on August 6, 2007


Try Galatea. It's not an 'adventure' game persay, but it is clever, whimsical, literate, atmospheric, and captivating. It has about 15 different possible endings -- some of these will take you 5 minutes, others... well, others will take longer. (There's a way you can find all of the endings online, but I'm not gonna help you out with that -- you need to play it at least once on your own.)

You really just need to try it. You can play it online here, although I personally dislike that interface. Instead, I'd recommend downloading Gargoyle, the classiest IF player I've ever found. If you do that, here's a link to it, and other of Short's works. It's at the bottom.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 9:16 PM on August 6, 2007


You can play Zork through AIM occasionally, although "he" hasn't been online lately.
posted by neuron at 9:26 PM on August 6, 2007


The aforementioned Anchorhead is probably the best text adventure I have ever played ... and I've played quite a bit.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 10:34 PM on August 6, 2007


For a completely difference experience, try to find a copy of "Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head of Tails of It". It's a series of mini-games based on language tricks like puns, homonyms, idioms, and spoonerisms. HIGHLY recommended.
posted by cosmicbandito at 10:39 PM on August 6, 2007


You might find Baf's Guide useful for reviews and scoring. Seconding Graham Nelson and Emily Short. For a much simpler and easier game, I enjoyed The Horror of Rylvania.
posted by paduasoy at 12:03 AM on August 7, 2007


If you search Ebay, you may be able to find the Infocom Classic Text Adventure Masterpieces which is a collection of all of their text adventures. I have had the CD for about ten years and get it out to play every once in awhile.
posted by JJ86 at 5:57 AM on August 7, 2007


neuron: AOL's been kicking infocombot off the AIM network for years. I don't know why.
posted by waxpancake at 6:58 AM on August 7, 2007


Wow, lots of great suggestions here. I'm looking through all the links and this looks awesome. Thanks everybody! The games which were rec'ed multiple times I will especially check out.

This question has been pushed off the front page now, but I'll keep an eye on this thread so if anybody has any further suggestions...
posted by warble at 7:10 AM on August 7, 2007


Note that some of the Infocom originals are *hard*. For that matter, so are some of the more recent classics.

If you want to try some shorter games, then you can't go far wrong in trying out the highly placed games in the annual IF competition. Failing that, Andrew Plotkin's games are usually of a very high standard indeed, although they can be both difficult and cruel to the player...Spider and Web is perhaps his most accessible game, and even that has it's clever twists.

Read baf's guide to the if-archive for further ideas...
posted by pharm at 7:54 AM on August 7, 2007


If you're short on time, I reccomend Pick up the Phone Booth and Die. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes to play.
posted by cosmicbandito at 8:08 AM on August 7, 2007


Note that some of the Infocom originals are *hard*.

If warble can handle the babel fish puzzle in hitchhiker's guide, the his/her difficulty tolerance is probably sufficient.
posted by juv3nal at 10:49 AM on August 7, 2007


the-->then
posted by juv3nal at 10:50 AM on August 7, 2007


The Hamlet text adventure game
posted by 912 Greens at 12:41 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


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