my favoritesRecommendations by namekuseijin (anywhere but home)
Everyone got theirs, here are mine. They're in no particular order and feature varying difficulty and/or size. Every single one is great.
I also have my favorite authors and I'm biased towards their IF. Good thing this is my favorites list, not yours. :) I still insist you try some of them.
If there's not many Infocom titles there, it's only because I've not played them back in the heyday. I found Deadline, Infidel and Trinity, among others, to be all quite excellent, but have not finished yet.
I'll probably come back to it later to add more excellence.
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1. Spider and Web
by Andrew Plotkin
Average member rating: (273 ratings)
A spy thriller with a puzzling narrative structure playing with the player expectations that really showcases the expressive power of interactive fiction. Excellent prose and puzzles. The mind boggles.
by Ben Collins-Sussman, Jack Welch
Average member rating: (37 ratings)
This was the winner of a one-room escape competition, with merits even against Plotkin's equally excellent Dual Transform
. You and your partner Muddy are thrown in jail after an unsuccessful train robbery: you've got until the morning to bust out or else face the scaffold. It's a western with top-notch prose, characterization and puzzles. They've crammed a lot of goodies behind those bars.
by Emily Short
Average member rating: (115 ratings)
An early entry by celebrated Short following the exploits of a wizard's apprentice. Your master has sent you to retrieve some magical items, and you're still wearing your robe and ball of yarn! There's something magical about the quite poetic prose and sights in the work that stick with me to this day. It's puzzle-heavy but very logical.
4. Love, Hate and the Mysterious Ocean Tower
by C.E.J. Pacian
Average member rating: (39 ratings)
This is a quite short IF, puzzleless and pretty linear with a few choices and different endings, well worth some replays. It features Pacian's trademark sense of, sorry for the pun, pace and a moody vista of a fantasy steampunk world of sorts close to an appocaliptic end. Characterization is consistent with the theme as well as the choices. Made for a speed-IF contest.
5. Endless, Nameless
by Adam Cadre
Average member rating: (45 ratings)
Cadre is another author I admire much. This one looks like a pasteurized text-adventure from the 80's with a nameless character in his lone quest in a fantasy world. Beneath it, lies much, a lot more. LOL
by Eric Eve
Average member rating: (56 ratings)
You decided to stay in a city just recently evacuated under risk of hazard. You couldn't simply leave her behind. Eve's Nightfall is a exercise in tension and night chasing. It also feature an autopilot through the map's many locations that is quite handy. Moody and downright creepy sometimes. Puzzleless but still puzzling.
7. Slouching Towards Bedlam
by Star Foster and Daniel Ravipinto
Average member rating: (196 ratings)
It's impossible not list this one. It's one of the highwatermarks in the IF scene ever since it was published to high acclaim. Nothing more to be said: play this steampunk IF and prepare to be mindblown.
by Graham Nelson
Average member rating: (120 ratings)
The 90's classic that revitalized the genre both by being a poster child for the then new Inform authoring tool and by being an incredibly competent puzzle-feast with an interesting story married to quality prose. Infocom would be proud.
9. The Horror of Rylvania, by D. A. Leary (1993)
Average member rating: (8 ratings)
This is probably the best early TADS game and one of the first IF I've played, aside from minor text-adventures in Basic from the 80's. Genuinely scary and moody, coupled with quite excellent prose. Adventions tried to sell this and others well after Infocom's demise. I don't know how successful they were, but if only they ditched the stupid geeky Unnkulia crap in favor of more elaborate IF like this one, perhaps we'd have a very different IF scene nowadays. Play it.
by Jon Ingold
Average member rating: (101 ratings)
A scifi where you catch a distress signal and get around to help the clueless survivor of a spaceship. I find this an easily accessible IF for beginners, which is why I pick it among many other of Ingold's excellent IF. Plus, the concept of detachment you get from having the IF narrator be a separate character is a fine novelty and allows for some fine playing with IF tropes.
by Mike Snyder
Average member rating: (14 ratings)
A pretty good parserless fantasy text-adventure. You play a spirit trying to get back into the land of living after being unjustly murdered. You learn of a certain black potion that will do just that if you can acquire and drink it during a certain event. Turns out the event coincides with a full battle between the army of skulls and the witches sisterhood. Expect inventory management, branching map (with automap) and more.
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