A Dark Room

I don’t know if this counts as interactive fiction. It is classified under webtoys in Jayisgames and is part resource management, part roguelike, even part flash game.

The premise is simple: you start in a dark room, and all you can do, for a while, is light and stoke a fire. After a while, though, NPCs who will do various tasks for you enter the scene. Some will build structures for; others will gather wood- it’s up to you… You get to build a village of your own, with villagers arriving from around the woods, and you build up resources by allocating different numbers of villagers to different roles.

This game is not a passive text-based game. Spontaneous/random events pop up occasionally; in the rogue-like segment of the game, the PC gets to explore a monster-ridden, almost barren world. There is combat! Monsters! Villages to build! A whole world to explore! All oddly satisfying.

A Dark Room creates a quietly foreboding atmosphere through its bare-bones descriptions. And though the PC builds a village, there is no real sense of interaction with characters: it is all really role assignment. Depending on how you see it, it can either be dry and alienating, or rather foreboding. Combat can be frustrating as your weapon choice is limited by a ‘cooldown period’, in which a certain amount of time must pass before you can use the same weapon again.

A Dark Room, however, has a coherent storyline, satisfying gameplay (for me, at least, because… well, hoarding!) and a very handy save feature, which made up for its awkward bugs.

EDIT: Those who enjoy the game are encouraged to try the mobile version. The user interface is very different, but very well-designed. I am led to believe that there are also more endings and more story in the mobile version.