Tag Archives: Interactive Fiction

All Roads

Author: Jon Ingold
Year: 2001
Development System: Inform
Cruelty Rating: Merciful
Length of Play: 1-2 Hours

My Rating: 6

Awards: Best Game, Best Story, Best Setting — 2001 XYZZY Awards
1st Place — 7th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition

I normally am a sucker for anything involving time travel and paradoxes and I tend to prefer linear gameplay. Jon Ingold is also one of my favorite authors. So All Roads should be right up my alley. I judged the 2001 IF competition and remember giving this one a score of “6” and then being surprised it took first place and won a whole slew of XYZZY awards. I decided to play it again recently to see if time would change my mind, but I left once again feeling underwhelmed.

Continue reading All Roads

Fail-Safe

Author: Jon Ingold
Year: 2000
Development System: Inform
Cruelty Rating: Cruel (but the game is so short it doesn’t matter)
Length of Play: 1-2 Hours

My Rating: 8

I’ve always enjoyed games that take place in space, especially on failing space vessels (e.g. Mission Critical, Seedship). I fell immediately for Fail-Safe’s hook, which entails playing the role of mission control talking to the lone survivor on a failing space vessel.

Continue reading Fail-Safe

No Time To Squeal

Author: Mike Sousa & Robb Sherwin
Year: 2001
Development System: TADS
Cruelty Rating: Polite
Length of Play: 2 Hours

My Rating: 4

Mike Sousa and Robb Sherwin as a pairing makes sense, as the former’s strength is coding and the latter’s strength is writing. So I was pretty stoked when I first played this. But instead of combining their strengths, it appears this was developed like a McCartney/Lennon song where they just jam two separate numbers together and hope it works.

Continue reading No Time To Squeal

Taco Fiction

Author: Ryan Veeder
Year: 2011
Development System: Inform
Cruelty Rating: Polite
Length of Play: 2 Hours

My Rating: 7

Taco Fiction has one of the more intriguing openers I’ve ever played. You are a petty thief in need of some cash, and the opening prompt gives you specific directions on how you’re going to rob the taco joint next door. If the protagonist were the violent sort this could be off-putting, but the game lets you know he has no interest in hurting anyone.

Continue reading Taco Fiction

MST3K Presents “Detective”

Author: C.E. Forman, Graeme Cree, and Stuart Moore
Year: 1995
Development System: Inform
Cruelty Rating: Merciful
Length of Play: 30 Minutes

My Rating: 7

One of the few games that has made me legit laugh out loud, Detective was the perfect game to get the MSTK3 treatment. It was a seriously earnest mystery written by a 12-year old Matt Barringer and he made nearly every possible mistake one could make–instant death rooms, unimplemented objects, doors that only go one-way, etc.–but since there are really no puzzles, the game can be won in a short time.

Continue reading MST3K Presents “Detective”

At Wit’s End

Author: Mike Sousa
Year: 2000
Development System: TADS
Cruelty Rating: Cruel
Length of Play: 3-4 Hours

My Rating: 4

I really wanted to love this game. Thrown into the middle of an at-bat during the American League Championship Series, it has one of the better hooks I’ve seen, and I honestly would have played an entire baseball game coded by Sousa. Ultimately, however, this game can’t decide what it wants to be and it left me deeply frustrated.

Continue reading At Wit’s End

Tapestry

Author: Daniel Ravipinto
Year: 1996
Development System: Inform
Cruelty Rating: Merciful
Length of Play: 2 hours

My Rating: 5

Awards: Best Story — 1996 XYZZY Awards

Tapestry was one of those games that was pretty revolutionary when it was released. Replaying parts of one’s life wasn’t a new concept by any means, but the storytelling device was ripe for the interactive-fiction treatment. As such it wooed me at the time, but replaying it all these years later I mostly just see the flaws.

Continue reading Tapestry

Babel

Author: Ian Finley
Year: 1997
Development System: TADS
Cruelty Rating: Polite
Length of Play: 3-5 hours

My Rating: 10

Awards: Best Writing — 1997 XYZZY Awards

In 1999 I discovered the IF Archive and the first game I played was not Babel. It was Heist, by Andy Phillips. While I was terrible at it, I was impressed by the parser since the last new text adventure I had played was Bureaucracy. The second game I decided to try was Babel, and I was simply blown away.

Continue reading Babel

Galatea

Author: Emily Short
Year: 2000
Development System: Inform
Cruelty Rating: Merciful
Length of Play: 15 minutes

My Rating: 6

Awards: Best Individual NPC — 2000 XYZZY Awards

Galatea is an impressive piece of coding of an art critic interacting with a statue. Around the turn of the century there were many games that tried to create incredibly in-depth characters that would respond to anything, not to mention Scribblenauts, which tried to allow for a near infinite amount of actions. Of all in this genre I’ve tried, Galatea is the most successful at being interesting; yet, the shine wears off quickly and I stopped caring quicker than I thought possible.

Continue reading Galatea