Viv plays through past IF games

Thinking that I really should go back and play some old favourite games, and some I’ve never tried, I’m starting this thread as a statement of intent!

I intend to play through old games, and note thoughts on them here as I go. This won’t be a quick project, and with recurring 3-month long neurological flares (next one likely starting mid June) my time and energy is very limited. But I really, really would like to go back to the old games, both familiar to me and ones new.

For starters I have just looked up my own personal list of my top 10 favourite IF games (just the top 10, but there are many many others that I admire). It is on IFDB at Viv’s top 10 favourite IF games - Recommended List

Looking through that list I am especially keen to go back to the earliest games on my list, because those are the ones I played the longest time ago. So from the 1980s The Hobbit, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Guild of Thieves. And from the early 1990s Curses, which I played about halfway through soon after it was first released in 1993. But really need to have a fresh go. Aided by a modern walkthrough if need be!

I’ve just dug out my Lost Treasures of Infocom I and II game files to get Hitchhiker’s ready. And of course then that leads me to think I should have a fresh look at some of the other Infocom games. I played quite a lot of them back in the 1980s. But there are others I haven’t played. So yup, get to those too.

And I would very much like to look at some more recent games I didn’t get to, including a number of IFComp and SpringThing winning games. Which are a priority. And in the more modern era also opens up more choice based games rather than just parser.

So yup, a plan! Not sure which game I will start with. Those Infocom games are calling … But will report back in due course.

There will be spoilers in this thread, but I will endeavour to hide the key things as appropriate, as well as speak in more general terms. So it should be safe for most folks.


Preparing to start up my first play through, and I’m going to be looking at Knight Orc (1987) from Level 9 (Knight Orc - Details).

My initial reaction was to play it in the Commodore 64 format - I was a C64 owner back in the day. But it’s proving a bit too much of a hassle, and the graphics though nice aren’t enough to deal with the problems they then cause. So I’m going for the ZX Spectrum version instead, linked from the IFDB page, and using the Fuse emulator which I already have on my Mac. That allows saving snapshots, though I’m helped that the game is a three-part one, each part of which I can load separately on the Speccy.

More soon after I’ve had a good play! Meanwhile here’s a very thorough set of old reviews/articles about the C64 version (that I am not playing). - The Gamebase Collection


Looking forward to reading more of this!

I doubt you want to start over again, and emulators are obviously closer to the original experience, but I personally find it more comfortable to play Level 9 games with the Level9 interpreter (included in Gargoyle and Spatterlight), which offers all the modern conveniences of instant save and restore, multiple undo, screenreader support and so on.

EDIT: And most of the original pictures as well, though not the Commodore 64 ones as far as I know.

Reminds me that I should try to add support for more file formats to it.


Quick update: I’m going to play on the DOS version, with the pictures mostly off. Cos the font is so much nicer to read than the Speccy one! Playing in DOSBox on my Mac.


Ooh that might be nice. Which format of game files does it support? Because it’s not liking my Speccy or C64 files. Cheers!


That is the downside, it is pretty picky when it comes to supported formats. The easiest is probably to save a snapshot in .sna format while running the Spectrum version in Fuse.


I’ve just got it working following tips at

I renamed the GAMEDAT files to knightorc1.sna etc. And lower cased the .PIC to .pic files. And it now loads in Gargoyle and Spatterlight, using the DOS version. I will mainly play with the images off, but this is going to be so much better.

Thank you very much! :heart_eyes:


DM me and i’ll send you a free copy of the remaster, if you want.


Taking a slight detour from Knight Orc tonight - I haven’t had long enough this week to give it a good play. Hopefully next week! However tonight I had a go at a shorter game, a replay for me. So here are some thoughts. Beware there are spoilers.

All Roads by Jon Ingold (2001)

This relatively short parser game won IF Comp in 2001. It sees you as a character who can step mysteriously between scenes, while you play through a story of intrigue in Renaissance Venice.

There’s a lot to like about it. There are very few puzzles to tackle, and for its time it’s remarkably story based, an almost puzzle less style of parser game that became more prominent later on. It’s also very forgiving to the player, though there are no hints in game. There is a walkthrough available online from IFDB.

The best thing for me is the sense of place. While you jump frequently between scenes each place you find yourself is richly evoked. There is also repetition in places, as you revisit certain scenes in different ways. It builds a strong sense of immersion. Venice is a magical almost dreamlike place, especially if you go there when it’s not packed full of tourists (my husband and I usually go in the depths of winter). This captured that for me.

Less successful for me is the overarching story which is gradually revealed. I’m not going to detail this fully, but there are things that you uncover, especially later on, which I found more confusing than anything else. But I was happy leaving a sense of mystery.

So if you want a dreamlike puzzle less story set in a past Venice check this out. But if you want a mass of puzzles, or want to know exactly what is going on, you may be frustrated.

As a footnote this prompted me to look back at other entries in 2001 IFComp (IFComp 2001). What a mass of them! 51 entries that year, which given this was 22 years ago seems huge. IFComp has a marvellously deep and rich tradition of indie interactive fiction games that I have enjoyed since the very start. I really must add more old ones to my replay list.


Sorry this has taken so long to finish: I’ve been very ill.

I’ve now played through much of Knight Orc (1987), largely following a walkthrough for speed, but also having sessions exploring sections separately myself. I ended up mainly playing the Spectrum version. Though I got an Amiga graphics version to work in Gargoyle it didn’t cope well with transitions between game parts. Whereas the Speccy has parts 1, 2 and 3 game files I can play separately in a Speccy emulator. Note you need a copy (digital or print) of the originally included novella and instructions to answer a copy protection question at a key point.

There are 3 main parts to the game, and I’m mainly going to talk about part 1, where you are an orc running around a multi-NPC world. Things change a lot in part 2, but I’m going to avoid major spoilers in my discussion. Part 1 was most interesting for me.

Part 1 is manic! It’s like playing a Multi User Dungeon (MUD) game. I played a lot of these at university in the early 1990s, as well as a little by dialup phone in the 1980s, and the sense of familiarity was uncannily strong. The world is a medieval Arthurian esque one, filled with other adventurer characters, who interact separately from you, can complicate your play, and you can even hear them shouting out to each other in the distance. So MUD like. You are a lowly orc, their target in many ways, though you can partly disguise yourself. Their goal is to get shiny gold treasure. Yours is different.

You can even be killed in the game, and if that happens you are resurrected in a mystical area, then returned to the game. Even this is like playing a MUD. That’s how MUDs cope with player death. And like them the objects you were carrying are left where you died. It’s just MUD all over.

A really nice thing about the game is it has lots of player shortcuts. You can type FIND LOCATION to find somewhere you know about but haven’t been to yet. Or GO TO LOCATION to go somewhere. Or to get there fast (there are times where this is handy) RUN TO LOCATION. You can even FOLLOW CHARACTER e.g. FOLLOW GOAT, if that’s useful (it is occasionally). All this means you don’t have to draw a map as you play. And if anything it adds to the sheer hectic and manic nature of the game.

The puzzles are minimal in this opening part. You end up having to gather a large number of certain kind of item. And there are a few challenges along the way, as well as just finding things. However the puzzles are clever, and amusing, and wittily written.

After a certain point the game play shifts, and it starts to become clearer why the game is designed to work in the way it does. I am not going to go into detailed spoilers here. The later parts also have vastly trickier puzzles, extra complicated by the emergent gameplay from the other NPCs. Everything is ramped up to a whole new level of manicness, and the potential of NPCs to mess plans up grows vastly. Even with a walkthrough you are typically unable to do things as expected. Nor can you necessarily repeat the same moves in a later game. Fortunately if your character dies they can come back to life and try again. But it’s still fraught. And you absolutely need the parser’s extra commands to follow other characters, and get around very fast.

I got about 2/3 through but was struggling with the unpredictable nature of the game, and a walkthrough that didn’t quite match the Spectrum version I was playing. I could have persevered, but it stopped being a lot of fun. And my time and energy are limited.

So in a nutshell, a very interesting game, but extremely hard in places, and phenomenally unpredictable. If you think Melbourne House’s The Hobbit has wacky NPCs that can mess things up that game has nothing on this one. If you’re the type of player that gets exasperated replaying the same stuff over and over again yet things going wrong then this probably isn’t the game for you. But if you like the idea of an old style game full of wacky ideas and bonkers NPC interactions give it a go. Oh and if like me you’ve ever played MUDs this is a must check out.


At the moment I’m expecting the next game I write about to be Andrew Williams’s Snare (1997), a game inspired by and set in the universe of British scifi TV series Blake’s 7. How far I get into this game remains to be seen. But looking forward to giving it a good go.


Next up and it’s Andrew Williams’s Snare (1997), inspired by scifi BBC TV series Blake’s 7.

I played this a lot tonight. And had a lot of fun. It captures the spirit of the 1970s/80s scifi TV programme Blake’s 7, as well as the characters of its early core cast. You very much feel you’re part of a bunch of misfit renegades, with your own spaceship, and going on missions to other locations.

When the game starts you play Avon, one of the key characters from the series. Though I think there might have been a chance to get a better outcome, the ultimate ending of this opening section is probably fixed. Which leads into the main section where you play the group’s leader Blake, now on their spaceship the Liberator. Which is populated with fellow crew members. And you soon uncover a mystery which leads you to a familiar foe (well familiar from the telly version, though the crew at the point they’re at here haven’t met him yet). Who you pursue via various locations and through space using your ship. Note that play is possible despite the game telling you mid way that you’ve reached the end of the implemented section. No, there’s more, and you can play on.

The implementation is pretty smooth and I didn’t often have to fight the parser. I also liked how the game handled teleporting and navigating the ship. It’s neat how you can ask the ship’s computer for information on people, places etc. I was a bit concerned that as I moved on in the story I might have left something behind that I really needed later. No big worries though: the game is quick enough that I could replay if necessary.

In the end I was close to the person I was ultimately seeking, and had something to try to distract his pet on the way to him. But I couldn’t open the something, and died spectacularly. Frustratingly I had a gun, but couldn’t use it, e.g. to shoot the thing.

If you can get past this stage it should be possible to play on quite a bit further. The game’s Inform debugging commands are functional, so you can e.g. PURLOIN, GONEAR and significantly TREE. There are a number of additional locations to find, and also characters. Though again I hit a big sticking point.

There are also lots of in-joke references in the game to the wider Blake’s 7 world. Importantly the writing of key characters Avon and Vila is especially strong. And if you mess up spectacularly in one place a very familiar baddie appears, which is worth seeing.

That was a lot of fun. If you like Blake’s 7 try it out. If you like scifi give it a go. And if you can get past the lizard by somehow opening the tin of lizard food please let me know how!