Liminal Works

Recommendations by Karona

What distinguishes these works is the feeling I get while playing them -- the pang of ephemeral beauty, the bittersweetness of nostalgia, or a sense of mystery.

Most of these works were recommended to me by members of the Interactive Fiction Community Forum.

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1. The Ascent of the Gothic Tower
by Ryan Veeder
(2014)
Average member rating: (32 ratings)

Karona says:

In this work the puzzles are few, and the stakes are low. What sets it apart is that it captures the experience of exploration that yields small but satisfying surprises.

2. Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home
by Andrew Plotkin
(2010)
Average member rating: (86 ratings)

Karona says:

In every work by Plotkin I have experienced he has demonstrated that he is a wordsmith, but this one is the most atmospheric. Even the suboptimal ending I encountered elicited feelings that make it a candidate for this list.

3. The Land of Breakfast and Lunch
by Daniel Talsky
(2020)
Average member rating: (9 ratings)

Karona says:

This work showed me that there is potential for parser works that are mostly puzzleless and lack an overarching narrative. I was most affected by The Land of Unrealized Possibilities and The Land of Unlaunched Vessels II.

4. Metamorphoses
by Emily Short
(2000)
Average member rating: (128 ratings)

Karona says:

Every puzzle in a work increases the likelihood that I will not experience the feeling that qualifies it for this list. In Emily Short’s adept hands Metamorphoses ends up qualifying despite being a puzzle-oriented work. The fact that we encounter only brief moments of narrative only increases the bittersweetness of having learned the right questions while knowing they will remain unanswered. (The puzzles are quite good too.)

5. Red Door Yellow Door
by Charm Cochran
(2023)
Average member rating: (12 ratings)

Karona says:

Like most of the other works on this list, this work is characterized by abrupt transitions. Even so, it barely qualifies because it offers little in the way of the vibe I am looking for. When it comes to the out-of-place elements in this work, most of them exist to provide the player with puzzles to solve; once the puzzle is solved, there is significantly less liminality. But it has its moments.

Note that unlike the other listed works Red Door Yellow Door contains scenes of absolute horror.


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