I think it’s harder to pick 1 favorite infocom game than it is to eat just one Lay’s Potato Chip. Favorites are Trinity, A Mind Forever Voyaging and Beyond Zork. But then you have the classics like Planetfall and Enchanter at 4 and 5. So many good games to choose from, aaarg!
I know this is not a common choice, but for me the best Infocom game was The Witness. It’s a mystery story, written in a somewhat noir hard-boiled fashion, which is a genre of fiction that I like. But what makes the game work so well is IT’S A GAME YOU CAN ACTUALLY FINISH! It’s not particularly hard and there’s no need for perfect timing to finish it successfully.
If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to get a copy and give it a whirl. It was included in the Lost Treasures of Infocom as well as pretty much every other collection they put together.
Spellbreaker deserves to be higher on that list. Certainly above Sorcerer. The hands-down most well-designed puzzles in any Infocom game, or in any game really. What little story it has is amazing too.
Cannot deny that. Spellbreaker is quite good. Why the hell didn’t anyone write a series of novels based on the Zork universe? I mean, there was the Infocom books by Avon, but come on. Zork is one of the greatest game universes imaginable, only second to the Elder Scrolls and Final Fantasy universe. It deserves something akin to the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.
I had played (and loved) a number of Scott Adams titles, as well as Zork II and III, before I found Planetfall. It was a turning point; the experience has stayed with me to this day.
I was already very much on board with the idea of text adventures, but Planetfall awakened me to the possibilities of interactive fiction.
Yes, you’re wandering a deserted location picking up everything that isn’t nailed down, but this time there are legitimate reasons. Over time you discover a civilization, with a history and a terrible problem, and you get to be the hero. This is a science fiction adventure, with some decent world-building. There are fascinating gadgets to poke at, and you can figure out what to do with them. It’s clear that you’re making some progress. And Floyd’s comments add so much flavor and background to everything.
One other significant aspect made the world seem larger and more interesting:
The red herrings. Other games had rooms where nothing important happened, but Planetfall also had unopenable doors, seemingly useful but unreachable objects, and obviously important objects that couldn’t be used for anything. I was really surprised when I won, because there was so much I hadn’t done yet. Some disagree, but this was a very positive attribute in my mind.
I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the Infocom canon, and I have a lot of love for these games. To me, Planetfall is the shiniest gem in the pile.
Results so far…
By comparison, the top 10 Infocom games from the IFDB Top 100 list:
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
- A Mind Forever Voyaging
- Lurking Horror
- Leather Goddesses of Phobos
@blindHunter, there was in fact a small series of Zork-themed novels: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zork_books?wprov=sfti1
The single one I read in high school did not inspire me to want to read any more. It seems a pretty transparent attempt by Activision to wring some extra money from the IP they bought when Infocom went under.
Trinity, definitely, it’s so imaginative and beautifully written, I like how it’s basically a cold-war Alice in Wonderland
After that Spellbreaker, I still remember I really liked the spell system, the puzzles, and the setting: for me it stuck out from the others in the trilogy
Also The Lurking Horror, as far as I know it’s the only Infocom horror title, I liked the game setting and story but had a lot of trouble with the puzzles !
This is difficult!
Trinity is the most hauntingly beautiful.
I know Sorcerer might be an unpopular choice, given how Spellbreaker is probably an objectively better game in most respects, but I love the dark feel of Sorcerer and the
time travel puzzle is one of my favorite Infocom puzzles. I remember loving that the first time I came across it.
It’s hard not to mention Zork I, which might be a bit more primitive in a technical sense compared to many of the later games, but that’s the one I played most often as a kid and in my head I have very, very specific images as to how everything in that section of the GUE looks and it is that game more than any other which kicked off my love of IF.
I’d argue that Zork II has the antagonist that I most love to hate. I really, really, hate the Wizard of Frobozz and
there are few commands in any Infocom game as emotionally satisfying as “DEMON, KILL WIZARD.”
Although some of the puzzles in Ballyhoo need some work, I would argue that that game has the most evocative atmosphere and well-implemented characters.
Arrggh, this is too hard. I’m just coming up with a list of why I like different games!
I thought Trinity was the best because I learned so much from it. It was well-implemented and well-written. It had great ‘feelies’ which really tied into the game-play.
I’m with you on Sorceror - Enchanter is a classic and I haven’t played Spellbreaker, and the copy of Sorcerer I played back in the day was something my dad “got from a guy at work” without the necessary code feelie, but the beginning of that being contained in the (school?) and seeing all these potions that made sense and I could predict what to do with them made me very excited.
Surely everyone who loves the Enchanter trilogy has discovered @Draconis Scroll Thief which actually is good enough to be considered a legit Enchanter-series entry.
Ok, so I do love the Enchanter trilogy. In fact, I just replayed the first one with my wife about a month ago. It was her first time playing all the way through it, which was cool for me, since I’ve played it many times since I was a kid.
However, I have not heard of Scroll Thief. You’ve given me something to check out!
HH is a great game, one of my favorites. My wife played it when she was pregnant and bed-ridden with our first child. It was the first Infocom game she had ever played all the way through to the end on her own and she really enjoyed it.
Planetfall and Enchanter for me (tie).
A Mind Forever Voyaging. Broke my heart every time. Although WIshbringer was my very first computer game.
Oh Trinity! I forgot about that until just this moment. What a game. I’m going to go play it now.
I almost find it harder to name the games I liked the least - Ballyhoo never caught me, Zork I-III are really old designwise, and I found Border Zone to be a bit… pale.
But in order to stick to the question - a game not mentioned so far that I liked equally among the others is Cutthroats. Maybe not for the game aspects, but the setting and atmosphere are described very well and are always present, and while on the island the game gave you the feeling of being part of a vibrant game world where things are going on even if you just sit in a beach chair and watch the locals doing their business. I like that - autonomous game worlds where you run around like a tourist.
I agree. One of the most effective ways text adventures created immersion was through the apparent autonomy of the NPCs, the more lifelike the better. It made the user feel more empathetically connected to the story, just like it still does in modern gaming: there are environments in which players will stay just because it is such a vibrant copy of an idealized real life. Like that Yakuza series–brawler beat-em-up but the neighborhood of Kamurocho is so immersively “real” that the entire game can be set there and no one says boo, this map is repetitive.
Trinity and A Mind Forever Voyaging were amazing experiences.
Wishbringer was the first game I solved with no hints, and I still find it delightfully whimsical. I still play it straight through from memory every couple of years because it’s like revisiting an old friend.
Lovecraftian horror is a huge interest of mine, so Lurking Horror is high on my list.
Spellbreaker’s puzzles are richly designed.
I appreciate the chutzpah of Infidel and its ending.
I love, or at least admire, nearly all the Infocom games. But (and this isn’t what you asked) I think I’d rate Anchorhead higher than any of Infocom’s works. (I’m perhaps a little biased because I was a beta tester, but I loved it from the start.)
Shoot, let’s just go with Trinity. Vote submitted.