Probably the most obscure and underrated genre of gaming is text-based interactive fiction, made popular with the Zork series in the 1980s. Commercial text adventure games are long gone, but hobbyists like Andrew Plotkin and Adam Cadre continue to push the boundaries of the genre.
I finished Plotkin’s Shade in only 15 minutes, but it continues to resonate like only the best short fiction can. Take a few minutes to play it online right now, and let me know what you think of his strange and beautiful world.
A couple hints are below, for those unfamiliar with Interactive Fiction.
- Before you can do anything in the game, you’ll need to get off the futon. Type stand up or get up when you’re ready to get started.
- Type l or look to get a description of your surroundings. (Also, look under object and look in object are useful.) x noun or examine noun to examine something. go location or enter location to go to a particular area.
- Many common verbs work as you’d expect. open, read, turn on, use, take, fill, eat, drink, push, empty, dig, and so on. Don’t worry; you can’t die in this game.
- Try things more than once. If you get stuck, look, read and examine everything nearby again and you’ll probably get a clue. Worst case scenario, post a comment here and I’ll help out.