Author: Adam Cadre Year: 2002 Development System: Inform 6 Cruelty Rating: N/A Length Of Play: About 5-10 minutes for each run through; took me a few hours to solve the puzzle.
My Rating: 7
Awards: Best Individual Puzzle; Best NPCs; Best Individual NPC — 2002 XYZZY Awards
I was a senior in college when this game was released and played it the moment it dropped. I took copious notes while playing and brought those notes to my classes, occasionally ignoring my professors to hammer out this puzzle. No regrets.
Author: half sick of shadows Year: 2004 Development System: Inform 6 Cruelty Rating: Cruel, but the game has a finite number of moves Length Of Play: 5-15 minutes each playthrough; about 3 hours for me to solve the puzzle
My Rating: 9
Awards: 3rd Place — 10th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition Best Individual Puzzle — 2004 XYZZY Awards
“The encounter could create a time paradox. The results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe!…Granted, that’s the worst-case scenario.” — Doc Brown, Back to the Future 2
And such is the world logic of All Things Devours. The inventor of a time-travel machine, Natalie Williams comes to the same realization about paradoxes and sets out to destroy the machine. However, she soon realizes that her plans have been taken and she must find them so that the machine can never be made again. And soon the player realizes that time travel is necessary to find those papers, and there’s a total span of nine minutes in which to work to avoid the guards, avoid your present self, and avoid creating a paradox for your present self.
Martha is, indeed, quite dead. At the same time, she is quite lucky. I spent six hours in this world and grew increasingly jealous of Martha every minute. Because by being dead, Martha never had to play this game. Despite my jealousy, I would like to think Martha’s spirit was looking out for me, as a repetitive game-crashing bug kept me from finishing.
Publisher: Fullbright Company Developer: Fullbright Company Year: 2013 Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux, PS4, XBox One, Switch
Walking simulators (a game where there are virtually no puzzles and you walk around unveiling the story) are fairly popular now, but they were few and far between for the first thirty years of gaming. An early one that comes to mind is Infocom’s A Mind Forever Voyaging, though being a text-only game it still felt like there was quite a bit of work to do. The Dark Eye comes close, though there’s a lot of guessing as how to advance the story and there are some binary choices to make. I would guess the first big modern version of the genre is Journey, though it wasn’t ported to the PC until 2019; no doubt it inspired the wave of PC games to come. And it appears the wave started with the excellent Gone Home.
Publisher: City From Naught Developer: City From Naught Year: 2021 Platform: Windows
I worked in a video store in the late ’90s and my manager was the only person who could get rid of customer late fees. One day a verbally abusive regular came into the store and I knew she had a late fee so high the computer system wouldn’t let her rent unless she paid it off. I was not in the mood for that confrontation, so in a panic I tried to wildly guess my manager’s 4-digit password. I nailed it on the second try. Bye bye late fees!
Publisher: 5am Games Developer: 5am Games Year: 2022 Platform: Windows, Mac, Switch
Toying with lexicon has been an adventure game staple since the beginning, though it’s largely become a niche since the VGA era. Modern games that attempt to merge graphics and text gameplay have a daunting task of providing both a coherent story and an element of exploration while also engaging the brain with enough challenge. 5am Games, an all-women team from Switzerland, took on this challenge with their first game, Letters – a written adventure, and have largely succeeded. While the novelty of its unique gameplay mechanic wears off over time, the game’s charming aesthetic, word-driven approach and endearing young protagonist make for an earnest and delightfully unusual adventure.
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games Developer: Technocrat Games Year: 2015 Platform: Windows, iOS
I’ve always been cautious to play games that take place in cyberspace after my brutal first experience with Ripper. While it’s still generally not my cup of tea, I am happy to report that Technobabylon won me over despite (and in sometimes because of) it’s tech immersion.
I realize music from teenager years is probably overrated, but man I still think the golden era of country music was the first half of the 1990s. Just so many good singers that didn’t emphasize twang and drawl, but still played acoustic guitars and not every song was about rugged individualism. Now get off my lawn.