My favourite games of all time

Recommendations by Nomad

I like parser games with easy puzzles that play in a detailed game world. That's two completely different things: I love to dive into a game world, explore its locations, backgrounds, lores and laws, NPCs and their relations. And there should be an engaging plot to guide me, with puzzles. I'm horrible in playing so the puzzles should be easy, sorry about that. A simple story is okay as long as it's told with skill and heart. Game worlds and stories that make me gape are welcome. Pitch black humour is a plus, a moral cudgel is a minus. I dislike choice-based games except for some. Some are cool. Probably when they present an impressive game world, realistic choices and some kind of game mechanic that goes beyond simple CYOA.

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1. Curses
by Graham Nelson
(1993)
Average member rating: (129 ratings)

Nomad says:

This game made me try out Inform myself. A house to explore, plenty puzzles, new locations opening up, sub-plots, interactive dreams, time travel - this game has a structure like a fever dream, but without being surreal, everything makes sense. It branches out like a broccoli, but while I'm not too fond of broccoli, I'm deeply in love with this game.

2. Anchorhead
by Michael Gentry
(1998)
Average member rating: (383 ratings)

Nomad says:

The all-time classic of second generation IF. Or third or fourth generation is you want to further partition pre-Inform IF. A vivid game world, a truly Lovecraftian story, okay puzzles. If you like parser games you'll like Anchorhead, full stop.

3. Thaumistry: In Charm's Way
by Bob Bates
(2017)
Average member rating: (13 ratings)

Nomad says:

Wow, a classic Infocom-style text adventure from 2017! Commercial! Polished to the max! Comes with digital feelies! Contains puns, cameos, and an Enchanter-style magic system! There's nothing not love about this game. It's highly likely it became such a smash hit because I beta-tested it.

4. Schief
by Olaf Nowacki
(2022)
Average member rating: (2 ratings)

Nomad says:

This one exists in English as well (Wry), but my German is quite okay, so I tried the German version. I loved the humour of the game. It mainly takes place in one room where you wait for something, and you can end the game by simply doing nothing, but when you mess with your surroundings you'll cause havoc, and trying to fix something causes even more havoc. It's hilarious, and everything's described with a distant, very dry sense of humour which makes you laugh even harder. If you know German just give it a try, it's very easy to get into, and after your first attempt to fix something you'll want to continue. Pure madness.

5. Eric the Unready
by Bob Bates
(1993)
Average member rating: (40 ratings)

Nomad says:

The story is a bit generic, though well told. The humour shines though. Quirky slapstick humour, an explosion of silly, cranky, funny ideas. The game world matches that - based in medieval times it contains fantasy or present day elements wherever a joke needs some to work. Well implemented, too. Bob Bates at his best.

6. Spellcasting 101 - Sorcerers Get All The Girls
by Steve Meretzky
(1990)
Average member rating: (24 ratings)

Nomad says:

Steve Meretzky at the zenith of his work. Clever and/or nerdy humour and a space-opera-like plot, much like in Leather Goddesses of Phobos, but without the constraints of drastically limited memory. The mere memory of the tabletop RPG players (which part was that again?) still makes me laugh.

7. Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It
by Jeff O'Neill
(1987)
Average member rating: (58 ratings)

Nomad says:

This one is not on many Best-of lists. I loved it though. It introduced me to wordplay-focused games - no idea if that had been done before, but it blew me away. Also, very funny. Very difficult to beat as it involved a lot of guessing, especially for me as a non-native speaker. Still, the concept - mindblowing.

8. Die Kathedrale
by Harald Evers, Andreas Niedermeier
(1991)
Average member rating: (1 rating)

Nomad says:

Uuhhh... Dan Brown. 'Nuff said. Well, it's in German, and it's the chef d'oeuvre of German studio Weltenschmiede. The packaging is as awesome as the game. Game author Harald Evers even released a matching novel. If you're German and a text adventure nerd (there should be around 5 people worldwide that match this description) this is a must-play.

9. Cutthroats
by Michael Berlyn, Jerry Wolper
(1984)
Average member rating: (19 ratings)

Nomad says:

Yeah, it has flaws. Like, the dives are monotonous, the end game is a bit dull, and there's a few bugs. BUT: It has Caribbean vibes galore, and when I played it for the first time I was amazed by all those people minding their own (and unfortunately also my) business. The island seemed to be alive! This game sticks out in terms of atmosphere, despite the memory restrictions leading to rather brief texts.

10. Hollywood Hijinx
by Dave Anderson, Liz Cyr-Jones
(1986)
Average member rating: (30 ratings)

Nomad says:

I enjoy treasure hunts, but I slightly dislike the fantasy scenario Zork came with. Hollywood Hijinx brought a fresh scenario, lots of quirky ideas, and rewarding puzzles. I enjoyed every bit of it (except for the maze)!

11. Jinxter
by Georgina Sinclair, Michael Bywater
(1987)
Average member rating: (12 ratings)

Nomad says:

Magnetic Scrolls' parser was on par with Infocom's, and they had graphics! Okay, the graphics reduced the text window to 3 lines 40 letters, so you had to turn them off eventually.
Jinxter was especially enjoyable due to its quirky setting - a classic treasure hunt with witchcraft and fantasy creatures, but in a ca. 1950 United Kingdom. Very fresh humour. Awesome packaging. Highly recommended.


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