Text adventures, or as the hipsters like to call it, “Interactive Fiction,” is having a good resurgance lately. Want to get in on the action, but were born after the advent of hard drives and graphics cards? The above chart can help you start playing text-based games with the skill of a long-haired hacker eating Chinese food in front of a green-screen terminal deep in the bowels of MIT.
For more details on just how to do it all, check out A Beginner’s guide to Playing IF. Then grab one of the games on this list.
I personally recommend starting with Zork, the grandaddy of all commercial-grade IF, and a true Adventure Game in the classic sense. It’s fun, and it gives you some grounding for the many twists and turns IF has taken since the old days of puzzles and exploration. It’s also freely available without piracy, thanks to Activision’s largess. Many of the other games on the list are more modern, and more experimental, but almost all are free: IF is a labor of love these days, not a commercial money-maker. (There are also extensive hints kicking around for Zork, from translatiosn of Infocom’s famous InvisiClues to straight-up walkthroughs. Here’s a link to a web version.)
The cool image above was created by Andrew Plotkin and designed by Lea Albaugh, and is made available under a CC license by The People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction. Andrew’s Hunter, in Darkness is one of my favorite works of IF, and you don’t need to have played Hunt the Wumpus to appreciate it.