Most parser games tend to keep a pretty stately pace, allowing the player to move around and explore, and only ratcheting the plot forward in response to player actions. There are exceptions, though: a handful of pieces describe a world already and continuously in motion, or cut rapidly from one scene to another with just a few moves in each — presenting an experience paced more like a film than like Adventure.
Quite a few of these are by J. Robinson Wheeler, which is unsurprising given that that style is a bit of a specialty of his (perhaps reflecting the fact that he’s also a filmmaker and takes a cinematic approach to his IF stories).
Moonbase Indigo, J. Robinson Wheeler. Inspired by Moore-era Bond, with a lot of the tropes you might expect in that context.
Centipede, J. Robinson Wheeler. A Starship-Troopers-esque reinterpretation of the classic arcade game.
The Tale of the Kissing Bandit, J. Robinson Wheeler. Playful, lightly romantic.
Being Andrew Plotkin, J. Robinson Wheeler. If Being John Malkovich where about zarf, instead. There are a fair number of community and classic IF in-jokes in this one, but also some entertaining riffs on different narrative styles.
Everybody Dies, Jim Munroe. Touches of both realism and mysticism, together with some excellent illustration.
Guilded Youth, Jim Munroe. Told through a series of vignettes that take place both on and off-line.
Dial C for Cupcakes, Ryan Veeder. There are some puzzles in this one, but also a fair amount of scene progression. As is typical for Veeder’s games, the puzzles are not tremendously hard.
Attack of the Yeti Robot Zombies, Øyvind Thorsby. The conceit of this game is that you’re meant to play once and never undo. If you commit to an action, you’re stuck with it.
Andromeda Dreaming, Joey Jones. Most of the games set in Marco Innocenti’s shared Andromeda world are fairly puzzle-based, but this one focuses more on an unfolding story.
If this sort of thing interests you, see also: IFDB poll for Autonomic Narration (where you can also add your own suggestions).
5 thoughts on “Fast-Paced Parser Games”
I’d throw most CEJ Pacian games in there, too – particularly Rogue of the Multiverse.
I feel that Kaged merits a mention. It’s not a purebred example, it alternates between fast-paced chase scenes and the more leisurely exploration typical of adventure games, but the chase scenes are very well-designed and one of the most memorable parts of the game.
Both fair suggestions (at least, as far as I can recall — I haven’t played Kaged since 2000, and some of the details are a bit hazy for me now).
Ah! this is interesting! We have here, in Spain, an IF author that sometimes makes long detailed fast parser action games, very arcade, sometimes with parser control in real time with the action. I can count three games (all in Spanish, sorry), but I think you can enjoy launching them up to see the technical feat he has done in Glulx, with animations and complex graphics (but with an amateur but good style).
Indeed I recommend to launch up Saboteur first because you control the spy in arcade style. Go left, go right, hide inside barrel, shoot, etc.