The first time I encountered a Text adventure game for DOS (or so I thought) was in the movie Big (Tom Hanks becoming a grown up due to a wishing machine). Turns out that game wasn’t real (although someone made a version of it not too long ago), but it did open up a world of games in which you have to write down ‘look around’, ‘go north’ or ‘open door’ quite a lot while trying to figure out what the hell is going on.
Although a lot of these games did seem to be quite similar to each other, there have been a few that have stood out and get the label of ‘classic‘ or ‘groundbreaking‘. I didn’t rank them. I found it too difficult to choose. Still, if you’re looking for a good text-based adventure that still holds its own in the day of ‘Witcher 3‘ and ‘Bioshock‘, these are the games worth trying out.
Maybe the best one ever (despite promising not to rank them). What’s going on in this one? Via Abandonia: The Planetfall story begins just after you have transferred to the Spaceship Feinstein where you’re superior, Ensign First Class Blather, is making your life miserable. You have been assigned the rank of Ensign 7th Class and your most important duties are that of custodian. Obviously this is not why you enlisted in the Stellar Patrol. Just as you are contemplating going absent without leave your fortunes take a dramatic turn and you find yourself in a situation that just may define the rest of your Stellar Patrol career.
It came out in 1983 and is the perfect game to introduce you into what the 1980s were like for a lot of gamers back then. It might not have the graphics of GTA V, but the story is just as compelling and does an excellent job of drawing you in.
Stationfall is the sequel to Planetfall. It has the same main characters, the same type of puzzles and the same type of setting, with impending doom waiting around every corner. It’s possible to play it without going through the first one, but it does take out some of the fun because Planetfall does an amazing job of developing the characters.
Quite a complicated and groundbreaking game at the time. Not just because of the graphics, but because of the mechanics. You know how video games these days love to talk to you about choices and different endings pending on your decisions? Well, in the 1983 Hobbit, characters would behave differently each time you played. Yes, they had some sort of free will.
As for the story – You’re Bilbo, and only Thorin and Gandalf at your side. The options of conversation on this game are quite impressive and it’s considered to be quite a difficult game, but it should be a very pleasurable experience, even for those who aren’t suckers for anything that’s Lord of the Rings.
Eric the Unready
So what’s so special about Eric the Unready? It takes a terrible knight, maybe the worst one ever, that’s off to save the only person (a princess) that believes in him. It’s a game that surprises you at every corner and while seemingly difficult at first is very easy and simple to sift through. It’s funny. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s one of a kind, still after all these years.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Don’t panic, this isn’t a mistake. Sometimes, adapting things from radio to books and then to a console works. While nothing can quite capture the magic of one of the best books ever written, the video game captures the craziness, randomness and overall fun of the original creation.
A Mind Forever Voyaging
More like a book then a game in which you have to solve puzzles, it’s a critique of the Reagan era and still one of the most impressive text based games ever made that’s incredibly difficult to stop playing, even if what you do most of the time is explore the town you’re sent to 10 years in the future (from the 1980’s).
The cover alone for this game is awesome, but there’s so much more. The graphics (in color!!!) are quite fantastic for this type of game, but it’s not great because of that. First off, the story has a little twist of competition – another adventurer trying to get the same items and places you are. Also, the text and commands you use are a bit less rigid than in other games, making it a much better experience.