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Extensive interaction and characterization, October 21, 2007
This is the work I recommend most highly of all interactive fiction.
Galatea exemplifies wonderful characterization, character interaction, and open-ended (within a very small framework, granted) gameplay. The entirety of the game takes place in one room and is made up of interactions (primarly conversation) with the statue-character named Galatea. Reaching an ending is not hard, but making the choices to find every ending that one wants is a challenging endeavor.
Facade (known as a landmark in character interaction and AI) is very derivative of this system of gameplay, though it is far less interesting or involving.