Best text-based adventure games of 2021 (so far)

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2021 looks to be shaping up to be a good year for indie titles, and some of this year’s best releases come in the form of text-based adventure games.

With the emergence of so many new gaming platforms, it has arguably become easier than ever to find new games to play. Many online stores such as To smoke include tags for easy navigation through different genres or features. People who enjoyed a particular element of a previous game they played can browse dozens of similar options, giving them the opportunity to explore smaller titles that might otherwise have gone overlooked. Players can search for everything from experimental early access games to fully fleshed out projects that just haven’t received the publicity that an AAA game might have.


Indie games have been in the spotlight in recent months. INDIE Live Expo 2021 showcased over 300 games, and many independent publishers will be in attendance at this year’s E3 Expo. Considering the importance that indie games have had on the game as a whole, seizing the opportunity to highlight the smaller titles to come is a good thing. However, amid the cutting edge gameplay featured in many indie releases, text-based adventure games sometimes tend to be overlooked despite their long history in the gaming world.

Related: INDIE Live Expo 2021’s Most Interesting Game Reveals

Part of the reason could be that some players are put off by the unique gameplay featured in text games. Most tend to lack combat or other highly interactive features, although there are some text-based adventures that include plenty of mechanics that allow for player interaction. Others might struggle to adapt to games that rely so heavily on writing to convey information, though more and more text-based adventures include visuals as well. Here are some text-based adventure games that stand out and make getting engaged easily.

The best textual adventures of 2021: to the sea!

Best text-based adventure games of 2021 (so far)

Replayability is an important aspect of many text-based adventure games. It tends to be easier to allow player freedom and divergent story paths in a mostly text-based format. At the sea! is a good example. The premise is designed as a mysterious murder, with a big twist – the sleuth is actually the murderer, and players only have eight hours to escape justice and make sure another character takes the fall. The game’s simulated story world features NPCs that move and act regardless of the player’s choices, turning At the sea! in a constantly evolving adventure.

Best Textual Adventures of 2021: Lacuna – A Sci-Fi Noir Adventure

Best text-based adventure games of 2021 (so far)

Gap is a text-based, dialogue-based adventure set in a dark sci-fi universe where players are tasked with solving a murder that could impact the entire solar system. The game is divided into multiple endings based on player actions, and the conversation choices are often timed and non-repetitive, giving every decision a sense of finality. The story moves forward at an almost constant pace, which helps add to the tension just as much as the noir-esque art direction. Gap is arguably one of the most unique visual novels currently on Steam.

The Best Textual Adventures of 2021: The Rest – Act 1

Best text-based adventure games of 2021 (so far)

The rest is a visual novel, with fewer opportunities for player movement and interactivity than some other text-based adventures. However, it makes up for that with its dedication to its history and vibe. Hand-drawn art and unique sound design help create a backdrop for the game’s mystery. The rest – Act 1 released in June 2021, with Act 2 release scheduled for July. At just over 40,000 words, the game provides a fair amount of substance while still being fast enough for players to keep up with future acts of. The restcaptivating story. The rest, as well as the other games listed here, can all be found in the To smoke store now.

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