favourite text-based adventure games?

I’m going to assume a lot of IF fans have at one point been interested in those old test-based adventure games too, right? the ones where you don’t choose, but you have to put the prompts in yourself? what are some of your classic favourites? (don’t hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy because EVERYONE knows it and is therefore too boring to discuss haha)

my favourite has to be Spider and Web, a spy thriller where you have to navigate events that have already happened as if you were telling a story. if you do something wrong, the person interrogating you will tell you you’re lying and i LOVE that kind of storytelling.


I’ve always been a fan of Steve Meretzky’s A mind forever voyaging; I didn’t and still don’t agree with the political message he was trying to send with that game, but it’s still my favorite nevertheless. It was one of the first games that tried to be anything more than just something to play; it had barely any puzzles to speak of and the whole point was to wander around the simulated world, collect data, and, well, repeat. The world wasn’t as good as it could have been because he was limited by the tech the 80s had to offer, but it was the first of its type. Honestly, anything by that guy is great by default because I loved planetfall, stationfall, hitchhikers guide which he cowrote with Adams, even leather goddesses, which was more funny than anything, and sorcerer. The only one of his games that I didn’t like was Zork zero, and that was during the age of infocom‘s collapse

Spider and web is definitely one of Andrew Plotkin‘s best games; the story is easy to relate to, if you’re a fan of spy fiction that is, the plot has that surreal quality to it like basically all of his other games, and the puzzles are awesome, although not as good as the ones in Hadean lands

My first was Zork…

I also remember the Journey into Xanth but was a big fan of the books as well!

Would be cool to dust off my emulator for some of your gems some day!!

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I enjoyed Zork a lot as well. I actually preferred it over HHGttG, which, if I’m remembering correctly, just killed you off if you didn’t adhere to the choices Arthur made in the book, which…doesn’t make for the best gaming experience imo. I could be misremembering, though, as it’s been years since I’ve played.

I’ve heard Spider and Web mentioned twice now in the last few days, despite never hearing of it before. Maybe I need to check it out.

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I play some newer ones but I’ve never played any of the old ones. I got frustrated with them too easily. They tended to be finnicky and have difficult puzzles, and I couldn’t deal with the punishing gameplay.

I think my favorite would be either Photopia, Coloratura (by the same author of Creatures Such as We) or The Weight of a Soul, all of which are character-heavy and puzzle-light, short, and really evocative.


I’m in a similar situation here, where I only played a little of the old text games. Emily Short’s Galatea left a deep impression on me, but I only found out about it through Choice of Robots. I like the endings where Galatea and PC switch places, or the ones where PC describes more of the exhibit to her.

Do I need to spoiler a game that’s over 20 years old at this point? I hope not.

For newer (think ~2012) stuff, I remembered playing and adoring Porpentine’s Howling Dogs and Tsukareta’s You Are Made For Loneliness. I missed feeling unsettled and uneased by them, though I won’t necessarily classify either as horror.

The first few sections of hitchhikers guide does correspond with what happened in the book, but afterwards, it goes completely off the rails and even readers of the book will be completely befuddled. I actually liked a lot of the older games for the exact reasons why some people don’t; I absolutely love the challenging puzzles. On the other hand, I’m not the greatest fan of Galatea, photopia, or some of the newer ones; I like a good story, but I also like testing my brain so games that can balance a good story with challenging puzzles is exactly what I need. Graham Nelson‘s curses, although unbelievably brutal if you’re not good at puzzles has a plot if you’re looking at it properly, and the puzzles are brutal but fair; The original MIT version of Zork was actually not my cup of tea because of how the layout was a complete mess, but the trilogy that infocom developed from that original was a lot better, especially the final one. Not to mention, the insane universe of dark got flushed out a lot in the enchanter trilogy, and other Zork games that they released although it depends on who you ask if any of them are canon or not