Tavern Crawler

Author: Josh Labelle
Year: 2020
Development System: Twine
Cruelty Rating: Merciful
Length Of Play: about 30 minutes

My Rating: 7

Awards: 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition — 1st Place

I don’t love RPGs as much as I did when I was younger, but can still get roped in if the focus on story outweighs the focus on stats. Tavern Crawler does just that and succeeded in keeping me interested for a couple playthroughs.

You play as a gender neutral hero (with a choice of fighter, mage, or thief) who tags along with a female mage and a male fighter on a quest to slay a dragon and collect a handsome reward. What follows is a charming quest with plenty of plot twists and character development. You can take on many optional quests which can improve your stats but mostly focus on story development and a lot of your time is focused on building or destroying your relationship with your two partners.

Another cool feature is that you can decide to play in a more traditional RPG mode where you can focus on building your stats, but almost every puzzle can also be solved even with poor stats if you make the right choices. Saving and restoring is also easy along the way and there’s no way to get stuck. There are multiple endings and every playthrough also has an epilogue that shows you how your actions affected others as well.

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