IF titles that feel like games

Hello! I am new here so apologies if any terms are used incorrectly.

I’m looking for recommendations of interactive fiction titles that feel more like playing a game than “player determines the narrative” as the sole mechanic. Particularly in choice-based/hypertext titles. I very much love both experiences but am having more difficulty finding titles that manage to gamify the story. Parser titles tend to play more game-like to me, but sometimes feel like the game mechanic is “figure out what the author wants you to input” which is less satisfying.

I recently played Stay? by E. Jade Lomax and it felt very game-y to me–there was a clear puzzle to solve and several ways I could get to that solution which all felt well-integrated into the story.

I’m new-ish to IF so all recommendations are welcome. Thanks :slight_smile:



I wonder whether the subgenre of choice-based games that implement aspects of the parser world model might be a good fit for what you’re looking for? If so, I’d recommend Long Way to the Nearest Star (explore a derelict spaceship while engaging with an ambiguous, well-written AI), Bones of Rosalinda (you’re a skeleton teamed up with a talking rat to foil the schemes of a necromancer), and Murder in Fairyland (as it says on the tin, though this fairyland is also a computer) as a good set to get you started.

The Lady Thalia games are also delightful while boasting enjoyable heist-y gameplay; here’s the first.


You might enjoy by Agnieszka Trzaska’s games, for instance the excellent Chuck and the Arena or the very different (more RPG-like) 4x4 Archipelago.


John Ayliff is who I want to be like when I grow up. :wink:

Specifically, his Seedship game is what brought me to these forums. I downloaded that game on my phone and played it religiously for many years. Check out his other games, for sure.

@rovarsson suggested A Dark Room to me and it is very well done too.

I’ll be watching this topic closely. :slight_smile:


There’s this list on IFDB: IF Arcade - Recommended List (ifdb.org).

I think a lot of puzzle-boxes/one room games would fit your question:
-The Magic Word - Details (ifdb.org)
-The Weapon - Details (ifdb.org)
-Suveh Nux - Details (ifdb.org)
-The Box - Details (ifdb.org)

There has been a growing trend of replayable optimisation games, where you can beat your own high-score or brag about it on the forum:
-Captain Verdeterre was already mentioned in the Recommended List above.
-Sugarlawn - Details (ifdb.org)
-The Curse of the Scarab - Details (ifdb.org)
-Museum Heist - Details (ifdb.org)

And a few recent hybrid click-parsers:
-Gruesome - Details (ifdb.org)
-Escape from Hell - Details (ifdb.org)

And I’m going to add this just for the heck of it:
-Conan Kill Everything - Details (ifdb.org)


There are also 16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonalds and Hallowmoor.


Oh, wow! So many interesting suggestions so quickly! Thanks, folks. This’ll make a sick day much more enjoyable


Snuggled under a blanket with a cup of tea and an IF-game. Almost makes me wish I had the flu…

Hope you feel better soon. Enjoy the playtime!


This is really interesting to see, on a slightly off topic way, as stumbling upon insights such as this, are extremely rare (the fact that people are interested in a more game-ish experience, which gave me a little bit of hope, it’s in great deficit that). Especially, if you’ve something related to it. Jumping ship, without knowing what’s what is not always the best idea… Is the same advice that left my keyboard earlier today as well, weird. So maybe there be some hope after all for some new ventures. Have long given up writing “book” like games anyway (with the classic 4-5 choices). Sorry for the long, needless rambling.


In a different vein, there are indeed parser games with a strictly limited vocabulary. Treasures of a Slaver’s Kingdom is great; so is Superluminal Vagrant Twin; and Arthur DiBianca has made a lot of games like that, including The Temple of Shorgil and Skies Above. Such games have a parser interface, but function more or less like choice games.


Check out Inkle’s offerings (these are commercial but well worth it if you enjoy them). Specifically 80 Days, Overboard, and Sorcery.


I also just played Stay? and loved it! I would second Chuk and the Arena and The Bones of Rosalinda, and I’ll add a few more of my favorites which are sort of similarly gamelike:

The Master of the Land
The Missing Ring
The Absence of Miriam Lane

They’re all choice-based but more focused on location/exploration.


Inside The Facility by Arthur DiBianca is a great reduced parser game that was recently remastered with a mouse only interface.


Kerkerkruip is an entire roguelike dungeon crawler in parser format!


Use Your Psychic Powers at Applebee’s is a good one! It’s choice-based, and you can focus more on the story aspects or more on the game aspects as you prefer.


I’d recommend Zeppelin Adventure and/or anything else by Robin Johnson! (Someone else already mentioned Gruesome)


Julian Churchill’s Tiny Text Adventure for Android has a world model, tracks inventory, allows actions to be used on items (and using one item on another item iirc). It looks much like a typical choice-based game, but it plays more like a parser-game.

IIRC there is full source code available somewhere as well and there is a sequel using the same engine.