Examples of IF that challenge expectations of the medium?


I’m doing some research into IF for a digital narrative project at my company. I’ve played quite a few examples over the years (most of the Infocom releases, plus more notable community works like Galatea and A Change in the Weather). I’m trying to research whether there are examples of IF that break its usual conventions; not necessarily just more literary works, but things like:

  • IF done well in third person, past tense
  • IF in which the player is not the protagonist
  • IF in which the player acts as multiple characters
  • IF which unfolds through something other than spatial exploration (this might be a tough one)
  • IF as a non-solitary (perhaps multiplayer?) experience
  • IF that uses something other than the traditional challenge-response mechanic
  • puzzleless IF done well, where player motivation to explore the story is strong

Anyone care to make some suggestions?

At least for that one I can help out. Eric Eve’s “Shelter from the Storm” offers any combination of first, second and third person with past and present tense. The player chooses a combination at the start of the game, but can change that preference later in the game:


Jon Ingold’s My Angel is notable for providing an optional presentation in novel form, divorcing input from game output.

Edit: Initially spelt his first name as “John.” sigh

IFDB advanced searches, lists, and polls can help you out with a lot of these:

Third person, past tense games with at least a three-star rating.

Games with complex player/protagonist relationships.
Games with the PC as antihero or villain.

Multiple protagonists.

Conversation games may qualify. The Space Under the Window might as well.

Traditional muds arose with something like this intention. You might also be interested in Guncho.

Hypertext, CYOA, and keyword games kind of sort of work here. The Space Under the Window is an especially good example, though for exactly that reason some people would probably class it as “not really IF.”

“Artistic IF” poll.
Puzzleless games with at least three stars.

You may also be interested in my “Reading IF” page, which lists some unusual formal experiments.

For this you might also want to check out single-room games, though not all of these might fit your criterion; in some of them you’re definitely exploring the single room, and sometimes getting up and down on things is important. (The third hit on that search is Aisle, which you definitely want to play.)

The split-up functionality poll doesn’t have Lea Albaugh’s IntroComp entry Memento Moratori, which isn’t a finished game but which you probably want to see.

I assume you’ve played Photopia? It meets at least two of your criteria (multiple viewpoint characters, puzzleless).

Thank you all - fantastic responses there. I’ll go and immerse myself some more :slight_smile: