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.

My father’s long long legs

by Michael Lutz. Playable here: http://correlatedcontents.com/misc/Father.html

my father's long, long legs | michael lutz

When you were young, your father started digging in the basement. His explanations for this were always flippant and you knew he couldn’t be telling the truth.

Now you and your brother have grown up and as far as you know your father is still digging in the basement.

There’s only one way to find out…

The greatest strength of this Twine creation is the pacing and the growing sense of dread and creepiness often associated with Edgar Allen Poe or that great master H. P. Lovecraft.

The visual aspect of this game adds as much to the gameplay experience as much as the text, as the author uses several visual effects which enhances the atmosphere of the game. Hence, credit must go to the Twine storytelling platform, as the writing itself does not fully inspire fear.

There is, however, little interactivity per se, as the storyline is completely linear, apart from a twisty bit near the end. Play if you like atmospheric, creepy games which will make you turn up the lights.


by Chris Klimas

“Mercy, always,” you intone.

You are a doctor, but nowadays you take lives- painlessly, yes- instead of saving them. The smallpox takes its victims quickly.

Language: Very moody… it is very melancholic and is not so much about the epidemic itself as it is about the emotions the PC goes through. There are details in the actions which hint, but never do reveal, a painful past. It sounds melodramatic, but it is done quite subtly.

Plot: I thought gameplay was quite linear, but it is oddly suitable in this context, since epidemics seem to have a life of their own.


By Doug Egan.

Finally finished this game today, after puzzling over it on and off for months. You are a public health inspector inspecting the dubious safety and minimal cleanliness of Nikolai’s Grill and Bar, while scandal boils over regarding the disappearance of an exotic dancer. Highly enjoyable.

Plot: The plot was well-conceived, even if it was not the most original– then again, some of the best stories are hardly original. The gradual reveal of little details was tantalising

Language: The creepiness was not overplayed- not too much, at least. The denouement and final reveal was a tad obvious, but the buildup, especially in the beginning, when the player is still poking about, is solid enough. There are some gory details

Mechanics: This game has a rather extensive adaptive hint system, which I admit I peeked at a few times, but otherwise there are plenty of hints and what the player needs to do is quite obvious.

You break mimesis to pay your respects to Will Crowther.