Great fiction in online game form
March 30, 2015 10:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some short, easy, free, browser-based online games to play-- ideally ones that approximate narrative fiction in some way (well-defined plotline, focused exploration of a particular theme, etc.). The two I've got so far are One Chance and Every Day the Same Dream. What else should I be trying?

I know there are about a billion lists on this subject, but the ones I've read seem to be full of broken links and dubious choices. Ideally, I'd like to find games that well-attested to be playable, fun and thought-provoking, in the space of approximately 10-15 minutes. 100% online only-- unfortunately, I can't download anything. What would you recommend, Metafilter?
posted by yersinia to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to explore twine games. I'm a big fan of Porpentine-- All I Want Is For All My Friends To Become Insanely Powerful (TW for rape culture metaphors) and High-End Customizable Sauna Experience are my favorite short ones.Depression Quest is pretty interesting and well done. Search MeFi and AskMe and you'll find lots more Twine games.
posted by NoraReed at 12:35 AM on March 31, 2015

Twine and Interactive Fiction! A lot of IF is downloadable, but some is web-based, as here. There's also a web-based interpreter that you can search for games you're interested in on the IFArchive. Searching quickly, I see you can play a lot of Emily Short's games on the Parchment web interface.

As for Twine, try checking out:
Sabbat (NSFW)
Their angelic understanding
The Domovoi


Here's a story about Twine with recommendations (including Howling Dogs, also by Porpentine)
posted by flibbertigibbet at 6:28 AM on March 31, 2015

Horse Master.
posted by valrus at 6:44 AM on March 31, 2015


My Father's Long, Long Legs (Michael Lutz) -- dark family trauma horror
Horse Master (Tom McHenry) -- dystopia and animal breeding

Science Fiction:

* Solarium (Alan DeNiro) -- semi-mystical exploration of the Cold War
howling dogs (Porpentine) -- dystopian/surreal
A(s)century (Austin Walker) -- cyberpunk
Star Court (anna anthropy) -- replayable lighthearted future courtroom challenge


Bigger Than You Think (Andrew Plotkin) -- surreal/puzzle-based with some visionary moments
* Magical Makeover (S. Woodson) -- light Y/A, school of Diana Wynne Jones, plus satire on makeover games for girls
* Witch's Girl (Geoff Moore) -- light-hearted with some puzzles

Slice of Life:

Guilded Youth (Jim Munroe) -- story of teenagers who meet on a BBS; requires some typing
Anhedonia (Maddox Pratt) -- one take on the experience of depression
Even Cowgirls Bleed (Christine Love) -- doomed romance and characters with baggage
Venus Meets Venus (kaleidofish) -- challenging romance touching on trans issues
Coming Out Simulator 2014 (Nicky Case) -- conversations around a character coming out to his parents. IGF nominee.
18 Cadence (Aaron Reed) -- the history of a house and its inhabitants, from which you can extract your own meaning and poetry
The Play (Deirdra "Squinky" Kiai) -- a game of trying to direct actors so that your production doesn't fall apart completely

Stories riffing on what games mean to us:
(These require some game-trope knowledge but are primarily narrative in focus.)

King of Bees in Fantasy Land (Brendan Patrick Hennessy) -- on the shaping of perspective
* The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo (Michael Lutz) -- horror and games, the horror of games
* ULTRA BUSINESS TYCOON III (Porpentine) -- the impact of games in childhood; you will need the NFO to complete this
* Creatures Such As We (Lynnea Glasser) -- love, dating, and game design, on a moonbase

* Starred pieces are ones that I think might run longer than your time limit, especially if you want to see all the endings, but you could probably play them in chunks. You may also like the Storycade website as a source of reviews, since it strongly focuses on this kind of game.
posted by emshort at 8:30 AM on March 31, 2015 [6 favorites]

I was going to be mad at emshort for poaching my Horse Master recommendation in her far superior comment, but then I was like, wait, THAT emshort?!

Presumably she did not link her own work either out of modesty or to avoid breaking a Rule, so above I have done everyone involved the favor of linking it instead. IF is not super my thing so I have only played Galatea, but based on that I feel comfortable recommending her entire oeuvre as worth considering.
posted by valrus at 7:09 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

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