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Necrotic Drift

by Robb Sherwin profile

Episode 2 of New Haz

Web Site

(based on 18 ratings)
7 member reviews

About the Story

Necrotic Drift is a survival horror text adventure... but with graphics and sound! An homage to the old Magnetic Scrolls game in presentation, Necrotic Drift follows the story of gaming store employee Jarret Duffy when all hell breaks loose in his mall.

Getting past the waves of undead in his path will require ingenuity, imagination, empty demands for the return of pre-casting, the ability to use common mall objects as weapons and twenty-six alphabetic keycaps working together with a functional 'enter' key.

It's text, baby! (... with pictures, natch.)

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: June 20, 2004
Current Version: 1.02
License: Freeware
Development System: Hugo
Baf's Guide ID: 2358
IFIDs:  HUGO-30-2E-3D-09-22-04
TUID: uaxh30z0kh7n8nt3


Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle; Winner, Best Individual NPC; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2004 XYZZY Awards

Editorial Reviews

Dead to Rites
"Necrotic Drift" is easily the best of Robb Sherwin's games to date with the most solid design and implementation, and the best blend of story and interaction. The writing is excellent, and the characters are some of the best-written in interactive fiction. If you were planning to try some Sherwin and just never got around to it, this would be an excellent place to start. Emily Short
See the full review

Necrotic Drift contains all the elements you'd expect of Robb --
bittersweet schmaltz, randomised combat, human, sympathetic characters,
tangential epigrammatic title, brilliant squick-out humour, big
textdumps and a streak of geek a mile wide. There are plenty of
references to previous Sherwin games, particularly Fallacy of Dawn and
Chicks Dig Jerks. It's his biggest and most skilful game to date.
See the full review

Jarret Duffy has life skills problems. He's earning $5.51 an hour as the assistant manager of Benji's Gaming and Role-Playing Emporium, is fumbling his way through an on again/off again relationship with Audrey Case, and keeps renting The Fellowship of the Ring to point out trivia to his roommates. Years ago he was voted Best Role-Player at an RPG convention, but he's missed a few saving throws since then.
See the full review

Play This Thing!
Necrotic Drift is one of my favorite games to bring out whenever discussing the relationship between player and protagonist.
See the full review


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Number of Reviews: 3
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
A tale about growing up... with zombies, February 4, 2009
by Jimmy Maher (Oslo, Norway)

Duffy, the protagonist of Necrotic Drift, is a loser of epic proportions. He's 28 years old and working in an RPG and card game shop for about $5.50 an hour while living with three roommates in a roach motel of an apartment. His biggest accomplishment in life so far has been winning an award at a Dungeons and Dragons convention five years ago. Stuck in perpetual adolescence as he is, his life is going absolutely nowhere. He has just three positives to look to: he's NOT living with his mom; two of his three roommates actually manage to make him look good by comparison; and he has a girlfriend, Audrey, who is by any objective standard far too good for him. Positive #3 may not stand for very much longer, though, because Audrey is just about to finally run out of patience with him.

After some character-building, Necrotic Drift kicks in for real when Duffy, Audrey, and a few others are trapped inside the mall one evening by an array of undead pulled straight from the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual. Duffy, who knows the D&D rules by heart, at last can apply all this previously useless knowledge to saving his friends, and perhaps begin to repair his pathetic existence in the process.

Necrotic Drift is a Robb Sherwin game. That means plenty of gross-out frat-boy humor, a bewildering blizzard of gaming, sports, and pop culture references, and a general wallowing in American suburban mall culture. Luckily, that also means plenty of genuine wit, some surprising character insights, and some real soul underneath all the gags. Certainly some of the jokes are going to resonate more with some than with others. If you grew up nerd in the 1980's, you'll likely find a lot of this -- such as the just-mentioned fact that all of undead in the mall are just D&D Monster Manual entries brought to life, strengths and weaknesses intact -- funnier than others might. Of course, and for better or for worse, a pretty good chunk of us playing IF today are indeed aging 1980s nerds.

Couched within all of the gags and puzzles is the real heart of the game, which is Duffy's relationship with Audrey and his need to grow the hell up. I wouldn't say it's amazing storytelling -- some of Mr. Sherwin's attempts at earnestness, particularly in dialog, are downright clunky, and there's a curiously unresolved feeling to the whole thing in the end -- but the game manages to be touching in spite of it all.

Did I mention this was a Robb Sherwin game? Well, that always means a nice collection of bugs and other technical flaws. Certainly they're not as bad here as in some of his other efforts, but they're noticeable enough nonetheless. The menu-based conversation system broke on me toward the end of the game, offering totally inappropriate remarks applying to stuff I'd done ages ago. There's also piles of unimplemented scenery, and not enough attention has been paid to the parser, leading to occasional frustrations. Many perfectly reasonable actions were left completely unprovided-for. (Spoiler - click to show)When I was looking for a virgin to drink the holy water for the ritual at the end of the game, I wanted to call on Trett, my fellow employee at the game store. I would have bet money that guy had never had sex. But then in the epilogue we learn that the plump little fellow not only had sex but filmed it (ewww...), so what do I know?

Still, and like much of Mr. Sherwin's work, Necrotic Drift is somehow endearingly more than the sum of its parts. Oh, and the graphics and music are pretty cool too, as is the Magnetic Scrolls homage of the game's on-screen presentation and accompanying manual. (There's that 1980s nerd culture again...)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Heya, I'm drooling, August 13, 2019
by Stephane F. (Nancy, France)

(Sorry for bad or awkward English, me is french)

As a total puzzle hater, I felt in love recently with Robb Sherwin's games (whose puzzles are still too hard for me, but at least, they are rare and they're not the main point of his games). Sherwin's writing is unique, both creepy and funny, sometimes melancholic - its melancholy being hidden under ten tons of dirty words and cynism.

Playing Necrotic Drift I had the feeling of reading a novel, but it wasn't a problem : reading a novel and sometimes typing the obvious actions of the main character, to continue the story, is enough to make an « interactive fiction » for me. The « feeling of being playing » is playing. But I'm sure Robb could become a « real » writer too.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Featured on Radio K #8, December 22, 2016
by Adam Cadre (Albany, California)

Clare Parker Fischer and I discuss Necrotic Drift at

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The following polls include votes for Necrotic Drift:

Once More, With Feelies by Ghalev
I'm polling to learn of modern (post-commercial-era) IF that revels in the tradition of providing additional documentation & related materials which are evocative and deepen your enjoyment of the game. What games have gone that extra...

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I've been thinking about games that provide really brilliant moments. This is not about the overall quality of the game: there are plenty of excellent games that never deliver a clear, standout moment of unalloyed excellence. And surely...

Games with graphics and/or sound by eyesack
I couldn't find an easy way to search for this, so I figured I'd ask the hivemind: What games use graphics and/or sound to enhance the gameplay, similar to City of Secrets and Necrotic Drift?

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This is version 13 of this page, edited by Petter Sjölund on 20 August 2021 at 8:20am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item