I’ve been back on the interactive fiction games lately, mainly because it’s a great way to cleanse the gaming palette after a parade of samey shooters with identical names. The best text adventure games can easily trump a modern title and perfectly illustrates what games are capable of when they aren’t too busy chasing the latest graphics.
If you think that sounds hyperbolic then I suggest you go and play Trinity
and A Mind Forever Voyaging
, then reassess things.
Alternatively, if you haven’t got the time to manage either of those then you can play Aisle instead.
Aisle is a one-move game. It starts you off in an aisle at the supermarket, specifically the pasta aisle. There’s a brunette standing at one end of the aisle and you’re holding a bag of fresh gnocchi. That’s literally all the information you’re given, meaning you’ll need several moves just to get a handle on things. The first thing anyone does when they play a text adventure is ‘LOOK’ – but in Aisle that’ll also be the last thing you do.
Aisle is clever in three different ways – conceptually, technically and structurally. Conceptually it rubbishes the idea that many gamers have that text adventure games are always long, difficult and obtuse by being the exact opposite. It’s technically great because it takes full advantage of the tiny space it operates in – the parser accepts an astonishing number of words, like a mini-Scribblenauts.
Finally, it’s structurally unique in the way it plays with the identity of the character, allowing the player to define the protagonist through a single command. Typing in ‘LOOK’ hints at a sad, deeply introspective person, while ‘SCREAM’ reveals a sinister, unbalanced mind and ‘SMILE’ gives the story a romantic, happy ending. Aisle allows a fantastic amount of player control and agency for a title that takes at most a minute to finish.
In short; Aisle is good. You should play it, then tell us in the forums
what your favourite endings are. You can play it online by clicking the image above.