Text Based Games The New Rage

There has been a renaissance in the gaming world.  The games have gotten harder.  And the games have gotten more simple simultaneously.  One of these has been the simple text based games that began back in the 90’s.  Yeah, before the aughts even.  Pre-Y2k even.  A long time ago. But they are enchanting.  Truly enjoyable feats of imagination and challenging game play.  One such game that recently rocked my world was “A Dark Room”.  If you click this link right here – you will not come out for another 600 minutes or so. At least, that is what happened to me. Personally I played the iPhone version, but it is the same experience either way.

There is something simple and mysterious about text.  No.  That is incorrect.  There is something simple and mysterious about mankind’s ability to imagine the impossible and dream beyond the reality at hand.  Pique that imagination, chain it to do your bidding and anything is possible. This is how PC version begins:
dark-room

This game holds secrets.  There is something else going on here and a lot has been made of the more sinister aspects of this game.  But for me I just buzzed right by all that and sunk my teeth into the overall challenge of the game.  Where am I?  What is my goal?  How do I do it as quickly as possible.  Dangggit!  I died.  That didn’t work.  Let’s try something new.

The long and short of it is that you need to begin to set up your society of huts and villagers in order to build more resources to explore out and around the surrounding territories.  Once you get further out you will be able to build more and more advanced things that will help you explore even further.  Which will help you uncover the larger story and the bigger picture of what is going on here in this darkness.  And as you explore the surrounding areas it is based on a fantastic ascii art map that is throwback its modern again.

map

To read the above map, A is your village.  The @ symbol is you as you wander about.  And the various items you discover on the map are denoted by other letters.  V is a cave, P is a friendly village that you have converted (subjugated?).  It will become quickly apparent how the system works as you go.  And the deeper down the rabbit hole you go the more you will enjoy your encounter with “A Dark Room.”

Here was the final stats of my particular game.  If you are so inclined to attempt to beat my time I guarantee you that you could do it easily.

image
Then after beating “A Dark Room” I had a yen for another text based game and went hunting for Zork.  If you don’t remember Zork then you are a young whipper snapper and you don’t know what you were missing.  Zork is the grand daddy of all text based games and created this whole genre.  I found that you can play Zork online today out at http://www.crazygames.com/game/zork

I liken Zork to Myst – very very similar.  Although Myst had photos of places that helped set the stage.  Zork utilizes paragraphs of text.  But both required you to explore and hunt and find things.  Solve puzzles and utilize the things you find elsewhere in order to explore further. Right?   So Myst obviously wasn’t a text based game, but you dealt with stills.  Literal still shots of a location.  I’m sure you young guys don’t even know how that’s even possible.  But it was one of the greatest games I’ve ever played.  And Riven?  AH!  Amazing.

myst

If you are interested in trying Myst out, there are versions of Myst available on both the iPad and iPhone for download today here.

Anyway, all that to say… the old games still have moxy and life.  They are sexy in their minimalism.  They are exciting in their possibility.  I highly recommend playing all the text based games you can get your hands on.  They are just magical in every way.  Trust me on this.

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