Author: Sam Barlow
Development System: Inform
Cruelty Rating: Merciful
Length Of Play: One-Move Game
My Rating: 7
Awards: Best Use of Medium — 1999 XYZZY Awards
Perhaps the first serious game that would automatically end after one move. The premise is quite simple as you play an ordinary man in an ordinary supermarket who has stopped in the pasta aisle next to a woman who is also shopping. There are exactly 136 possible moves you can make that produce 136 separate endings. There is neither a puzzle nor a plot, and one would be hard pressed to say this is even a character study, as some of the endings’ portrayal of your character’s history contradict each other.
I do wish there was something more here to unravel, but as it stands this is quite a pleasant diversion thanks to the imagination and quality writing of Sam Barlow. More importantly, Aisle inspired many future authors in experimenting with the genre, including a few entertaining games that mimic this one.
I still come back and play Aisle about every five years. There’s just something about the protagonist’s world view that makes me smile.