Top #10 I.F Games

  1. SpellBreaker

An old text based adventure game (or interactive fiction as its now known) this was actually my first ever PC game that I purchased, I bought it for £5 in Southgate, North London. I didn’t have own a PC when I bought it and I installed it on the machines in college (PCs back then were ripe for this sort of security breach). I totally completed it , on my own, no help, all my own brain work and it used a lot of lateral thinking and as I recall (we’re talking 1987 so the memory is vague) time travel elements where you had to go back in time and fix things up so your future self could proceed unhindered, so a proper mind-fcuk type game. Loved it. Very intelligent and the sort of game where you need brains, patience, outside-the-box thinking, and a pen and paper to joint clues down.

2. Valkyrie 17

A text adventure game (or interactive fiction as they are now called) this was great fun. I always liked these text verb/noun type games but this one was special in that it had heaps of humours and really clever puzzles. The puzzles were logically so you could work it out with enough thought applied and not just random, like for example in the game The Hobbit, which was utterly diabolical. I always felt cheated by games that offered illogical puzzles but this one totally delivered. Great game and I have fond memories of playing this in my bedroom during dark winter months when the central heating was knackered in our council flat and I had to wear 2 sweaters.


3. Mindshadow

An excellent text adventure game where you awaken on an island with no memory. Really cool game!

4. The Hulk

This was one of my first loves.. I think it was probably the 2nd text adventure I ever played ( i think the first was playing the original Crowther+Woods, “advent” game on the RM380Z machines at school, and I fell in love with text adventures there after. The pinnacle of which is the Infocom games. It forced me to think in a very different way to understand the mechanics and then the little reveals and tricks like the nonsensical map (if you ever bothered to try to map it that is) and the repetition of the rooms etc really made me more alert and keen to understand how to complete it. In hindsight.. its really simply. The graphics are still great but the parser and limited words make you sometimes fighting the game itself rather than the puzzles which can be deflating but nevertheless, this one was an icon. I solved it.. unaided.. and it took me perhaps 2 months to do so, but when I did, I felt I had basically level’d up my entire life.

5. Earthbound

A rare bird this one, I stumbled upon it when there was still in HMW in Dalston Junction back in 1985 and bought it for £1.99. It had a great initial start puzzle and got me hooked and I completed it all by myself, zero help. A tough game with lots of side quests for extra points, I think I completed the main game at 50% ish, so clearly there was a lot of stuff I never got around to discovering.

6. Rebel Planet

Based on the Fighting Fantasy book of the same name this was a sci-fi that was really quite tough! I think it took me many many months to actually complete this one but it gave me a sense of real achievement.

7. Trinity

One of Infocom’s greats, probably the most intellectual adventure game ever produced. It’s a close run with Spellbreaker, but I prefer Spellbreaker simply because some of the puzzles in that one are random so you need to work it out yourself. But certainly in terms of geo-politics, history and cold war era, this one isn’t far off the best of the best. I remember me and the guys in my college playing this and using collaborative heads to work stuff out. Fantastic.

8. Sorcerer of Claymorgue Castle

I love Scott Adams’ work but bloody hell is his descriptions terse. The brevity of his style means there’s not a lot to play with and you can be battling the parser instead of the puzzles. Nevertheless, that aside, this one is a great idea and a real tough one to get to grips with.

9. Colossal Adventure

The classic! Level-9’s version is IMHO the best. Great descriptions plus they added some extra rooms and puzzles. Everyone needs to play ‘Advent’ at least once in their lives.

10. Wizard Scrolls

A real quick and cheap adventure but it has a certain charm and I had a fun time solving this one as a lonely 14 year old stuck in his bedroom.