10 Best Text Adventure Games
Text adventure games are a retro concept. At the time, graphics were much rarer when it came to computers as a whole, let alone in the extremely narrow realm of computer games. But as boring as what a book essentially plays might seem, there are actually some that are quite good even by today’s standards.
Some of the best ones are actually based on popular novels, but the benefit of being a text adventure game is the added element to choosing what you want to do. This kind of interactive journey is sometimes supplemented with pictures to better show where you are, but text adventure games are just that – mostly text.
ten The Hobbit
It’s no surprise that The Lord of the Rings, with all of its many video game adaptations, translates well into a text-based adventure game. Well, it’s not that, it’s actually the Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit, and making it a choice-filled journey adds some interesting new mystique.
The text-adventure version of JRR Tolkien’s classic series cuts out a lot of the story, especially the number of characters, but being able to talk to Gandalf in a semi-credible way is worth the cost of entry. The cost being absolutely free, as virtually any DOS game like this can be found online and played in your browser.
9 planet fall
Infocom was a 1980s company that produced a number of text-based adventure games, also known as interactive fiction. One such game that was particularly well received was Planetfall, and for a number of good reasons. This game really feels like playing a good sci-fi movie.
The problem with many text-based adventure games is their lack of options for progress and somewhat obscure solutions to puzzles. These things are rarely true for Planetfall, and the game has actually been praised for pushing the idea that video games can be a way to create art.
8 spider and web
The most important thing for a text adventure is descriptive writing, since you have to imagine the setting and the characters yourself. Spider and Web takes this idea to another level, revealing details about the world and characters, including which character you are playing, as you progress.
What’s interesting is the format of the game. It’s similar to stories like the novel Frankenstein which are actually a story within a story. In this case, you need to tell your apparent captors a story that will convince them that you’re not lying, otherwise they might end your story violently.
seven The Fellowship of the Ring
This text-based adventure game is the sequel to The Hobbit and improves on a number of things the previous entry in the series struggled with. Namely, it is in the quantity of words that the program recognizes ranging from 400 to 800. This makes the game less frustrating to interface.
The triumph of The Fellowship of the Ring lies in its many options for interacting with its world and its characters. There’s a reason these games are called interactive fiction; you can choose what you want to do, and the best games of this genre will allow you to do anything.
6 night house
Night House is an interesting game, not only in its subject matter, but also because of its recent release, available to play from 2016. Set in a house in the early 90s, you play as a young child wandering around during the night . Retro and horror really go together.
The meat of the game is exploring the house and seeing that things don’t seem right, at which point the horror elements start to appear. Being a modern game, a lot of care is taken to make Night House less frustrating than early text adventure games and there are a bunch of quality of life features like a map and compass included for easy navigation.
5 Untold Stories: The Abandonment of Home
Another modern game, The House Abandon is part of a collection of four games called Stories Untold. The game is played on a small computer on the player character’s desktop. The House Abandon was designed by one of the Alien Isolation developers, and you can see the resemblance.
What begins as a simple text adventure game slowly begins to warp as the actions you take in the computer game begin to happen in the real world of the player character. It’s definitely a horror game, and a solid one at that, so if you can’t handle the scary stuff, this one might not be worth the stress.
4 The castle of dreams
The main thing to know when playing a text adventure is that the road ahead won’t always be clear. Imagine how difficult it would be to communicate to a player what to do in a modern game if there were no graphics. This is where The Dreamhold comes in.
The concept behind this text adventure is to be as accessible as possible to new players. This means making the puzzles clear and the solutions easy to understand, while not being obvious. It also provides commentary on the genre as a whole, particularly the more egregious examples of obscure puzzle solutions in older text-adventure games.
3 AI Dungeon
The most modern game on this list, due to the seriously advanced technology included, is AI Dungeon. It plays exactly how you think it does, an AI-generated text-based adventure game. The usual format is a fantasy story set in a kingdom with dragons and wizards, but there really is endless possibility here.
The best part of AI Dungeon is how the program reacts to your choices, way ahead of other awesome AIs in video games. As a medieval farmer, you can say, “I’m flying”. and the game will roll with it and create a narrative where you can fly. There are issues, sure, but the game as a whole is both impressive and hilarious in the results of your decisions.
Zork is the text adventure game. Met with international acclaim, the game is a fairly basic adventure, but told with the benefit of letting you decide how you want to progress through the story. It does a great job of introducing gamers to the gaming world and making them want to play more.
What’s interesting about Zork is how well produced it was and how it was seemingly ahead of its time. It would be years before a text adventure game of the same level was produced. You can even play the game on a secret computer in Call of Duty: Black Ops, as Infocom, the company that created Zork has been acquired by Activision.
1 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy really is the perfect book to fit into a text-based adventure because of its rich world and characters. It makes interacting with them in a way that feels real, at least more real than in a book, all the more satisfying and this game exceeds expectations in that regard.
If its fidelity to the novel is limited, that’s for the best, as some puzzles are different from how the book presents them, thus avoiding cheating. Overall, it’s the richness of the writing and the incredible thoroughness that make this text adventure one of the best interactive fictions ever produced.
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