Replay-focused games

A particular interest of mine right now, from both a design and player perspective, is IF that requires one to replay multiple times because it’s impossible to get all the information/do everything required to win on the first, second, third, or even umpteenth play-through. These seem to occupy their own sort-of-genre in the IF tradition, and I’m trying to play as many as I can. IFDB has a “replay” tag, conveniently enough, but are there any games not listed there that should be, or are any games on that list that particularly stand out to anyone? I’m especially interested in games where the replay aspect ties strongly into theme, narrative, and/or character, and isn’t just a puzzle mechanic.

As far as my own experience goes so far, I’m currently neck-deep in Make It Good, have struggled mightily but thus far failed with Varicella, and have made a small amount of progress with All Things Devours.

I think what you want are generally referred to as “accretive-PC” games. Varicella, Spider and Web, All Things Devours, and Damnatio Memoriae are the first ones that come to mind for me.

Ah, thanks, that’s the term I was looking for. I haven’t played Spider & Web yet, I didn’t realize it fell into that camp.

It doesn’t quite require replaying, but…you’ll see.

I would also suggest Shrapnel. Wait, wasn’t that on your Best IF list we were just talking about? Anyway, Shrapnel.

You might also try Captain Verdeterre’s Plunder for a game that isn’t quite accretive PC but is definitely about using information from one playthroughs for the next one. It’s not that you need this information to win, because you can’t do everything perfectly, but you need it to maximize your score.

Heated is a really short one about optimizing a playthrough, though it has certain problems. I love what happens if you try to cheat the toilet puzzle, though.


Non-parser choice-based IF is almost exclusively replay focused.

Oh and “Bigger Than You Think” has replay as part of its mechanic, and “Rematch” feels a lot like playing “Varicella” in terms of the intricacy of what you need to line up but each time through the game is only one move.

I haven’t seen Aisle mentioned yet - surely one of the classics in this genre?

And Alabaster, particularly, I think – isn’t it designed to use information from previous plays?

Also Slouching Toward Bedlam, where the restarts etc. are even diegetic.

Thanks for the suggestions! IF that creates replayability through branching and/or different endings kind of falls out of the scope I’ve what I’m talking about, although optimization puzzles like Captain Verdeterre’s Plunder seem like a related animal, though I hadn’t thought about it like that before. So that’s something to look into.

To, uh, derail my own thread slightly: Shrapnel is actually probably the third or so IF I ever played, after Adventure and Zork, and pretty much single-handedly is what made me want to both play more and to write it. It was also the first time I realized adventure games didn’t have to have puzzles, that they could use interactivity in different ways, and that made me think I could maybe write one too (of course, shortly after that I played Varicella, which is like the anti-Shrapnel, in terms of gameplay at least).

I think people play Adam Cadre’s '9:05’ at least twice.