Interactive Fiction

All these are works of “interactive fiction,” also known as “text adventures,” also known as “those things people used to play on computers before there were graphics, you know, like Zork?” Emily Short calls it “interactive storytelling,” which is probably the best way of thinking of it: These are written stories that you play like games, or games that read like written stories.

The games understand (simple) English instructions, so you should be safe to dive right in and learn as you go; if you’d rather read some instructions first, though, this is a decent place to start.

And now, on to the games:

> Improv: Origins (2022) play online | download
You’ve just graduated from Metropolitan College, and it’s time to take what you learned en route to your degree in Ingenuity and apply it to your first paying gig. But it may prove to be more of a challenge than you bargained for, even for someone with superpowers.

> The Frenetic Five vs. The Seven Deadly Dwarves (2002) play online | download
A late-night poker game. A hostage situation. A mysterious dungeon. The original Frenetic Five trilogy reaches its ever-puzzling conclusion.

> The Frenetic Five vs. Mr. Redundancy Man (1999) play online | download
A trip to the copy shop takes an unexpected turn after the SuperTemps agency sends you on an even stranger mission than your first one. (XYZZY Award finalist for Best Non-Player Characters and Best Individual Puzzle.)

> Spyder and Jeb (1998) play online | download
This game will make a lot more sense, or at least be a lot funnier, if you’ve previously played Andrew Plotkin’s award-winning Spider and Web. Even if you haven’t, though, it’s still a game of intrigue, puzzles, and one very special barometer.

> The Frenetic Five vs. Sturm und Drang (1997) play online | download
The game that started it all: You and your team must take on a villainous duo with designs on subjecting the Metropolitan area to their most fiendish invention: the melodramaturge. (XYZZY Award winner for Best Non-Player Characters.)

> Lost New York (1995) play online | download
A trip to the Statue of Liberty turns into a voyage through time, as you must find your way home while navigating the ups and downs of New York’s history. (XYZZY Award finalist in six categories, including Best Game and Best Writing.)

> Undo (1994) play online | download
This started as an absurdist joke. Come to think of it, it also ended as an absurdist joke. You have now been warned.