A Dark Room

by Michael Townsend

RPG
2013

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(8)
4 star:
(12)
3 star:
(9)
2 star:
(0)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 6
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1-5 of 5


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Immersion extreme!, October 17, 2020
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

Not quite IF as I imagine it, but hey, it's text, it's a game (of sorts) and I can assure you it does not take long to get fully immersed in this simulation of a society developing.

It is amazing what sparse text and a few action buttons (with reload-timer) combined with human imagination and empathy will do to suck you into this world, how little of a nudge a brain needs to be there in that other world.


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A surprisingly deep and evocative resource management game, October 13, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: 2-4 hours

How can you describe A Dark Room? It is truly unlike anything I've played before. The style is simple: black and white screens, all lowercase letters, just text and ASCII maps to move around. But the game designer was able to accomplish so much with those elements and you are drawn into the game so deeply that you feel like you are living it out. The game only takes 2-4 hours to playthrough, depending on the choices that you make, and I remember during my first playthrough being so immersed in the game that I pretty much finished it in one session, all the while my family went about their Saturday morning around me.

You play the main character, who at the beginning of the game wakes up not really remembering how they got there. A friend helps take care of you for a little bit, but shortly you are working together with her, collecting resources, crafting equipment and stepping out of your little camp to explore the world. You can recruit others to help you and you can also find resources out on the map, but you will have to fight your way through monsters and men to get them. The combat is RPG style, with you selecting an attack, then having a cool down period before you can pick another one. There are consequences to dying, but not so severe as to set you back much, rather you will just want to get out there and try again.

I'm struggling with what to write about this game without spoiling portions of it. Also, it is hard to compare it to anything because there is nothing quite like it. I would just recommend playing it for 10-15 minutes and I'm pretty sure you will be hooked after that.

There is some replayability to this game as well, after it is over the game suggests that you try again with a new strategy, one that I didn't even consider on my first run. Doing it this other way yields a very different experience and a different ending as well. Finally, after you beat the game you can read the designers' notes, which provide a lot of insight into what just happened.

This is one I might come back and give 5-stars to at some point, depending on how it grows on me and what it feels like playing it again after awhile.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A fun time waster particularly if you enjoyed the old BASIC games, May 10, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

A brilliant minimalist RPG that hearkens back to 80’s games made in BASIC only with the polish and creativity of today’s designers.

I have a soft spot for games that are light on exposition and throw you into a scene. The opening here has you in a dark room with the ability to build a fire, your other goals unknown. From there the most complex the game gets visually is an overworld map using ASCII characters. Despite this the story develops at a near perfect pace with ample doses of hope and horror. To say more would be pointless, other than it’s accessible to anyone and isn’t terribly difficult if you’re patient. I’ve also played it through three times because it’s that damn good (there's also more than one ending depending on your strategy).

I've only played the iOS port by Amir Rajan which I hear is a bit more polished and fleshed out.


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Google Translate is great!, January 17, 2017
by IFforL2 (Chiayi, Taiwan)
Related reviews: Easy English

This minimalist idle game is available in lots and lots of languages. Not-so-unfortunately, after reading through the start of the Mandarin and Spanish versions, I must deduce that they were created using Google Translate. (I may be wrong, and I'd gladly eat a humble pie from Michael Townshend.) That's actually not so bad, as this game is one of a handful that make the most of a few short phrases. Julian Churchill's Tiny Text Adventure is another.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Fun, but occasionally too slow, November 25, 2015

Fun to play in short bursts or to give you something interesting to do during a long commute. The UI works decently well for mobile, unlike most parser-based IF.

There's not a lot of text or descriptions in the game (by IF standards). There's no graphics. There's just words, numbers and sometimes ASCII symbols. Despite the lack of text content, I myself still able to paint a mental picture of what was occurring. In some ways, the lack of concise description makes this easier and invites you to participate more in immersing yourself in the world.

As far as actual gameplay (without spoiling much), there's a lot of variety in what you do as you progress through the game. Not just in terms of the actions you take in the game, but in how you interact with the game itself. There's lots of downtime, especially as you get further in the game, while you wait for timers to tick down. As a pacing device, I think it works okay, since it gives you long moments of not having to make tough decisions or having to focus too hard on what's going on. However, I still felt a bit bored by the amount of time I was expected to wait for certain things to get done. It's hard to explain this "waiting around" mechanic well - I feel like there's some positive aspects to it that I'm not able to describe. Usually, I have no patience for games that make you do repetitive tasks for long periods of time. However, there's something about the presentation and text-heavy nature of this game that makes this more forgivable and somehow seems to enhance the game. I feel it wouldn't be as substantial or enjoyable if they cut all the timers out.

Anyway, if you're looking for something you can play on your phone that actually works comfortably on such a device, you should give this a try. You can play it whenever you have downtime and, despite the inherently repetitive nature of the "incremental" gameplay, it will still mete out just enough new content and story that you'll probably want to keep playing to see more.

I give this 3 stars because I had fun playing it. However, I had points where I was outright bored by having to sit there and wait for timers to tick down. Also, this isn't really a substantial experience compared to other IF. There's really not a lot of text content here and I felt the story was pretty sparse. More content and variety would've bumped up the rating, for me.



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