A Few Underplayed Pieces from the Archive

Recent discussions got me thinking about some rather substantial games that rarely get mentioned, and that I suspect a lot of people may not have played. Here are a few I liked but rarely hear people talk about:

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First Things First, J. Robinson Wheeler. Many years in the making, this is a time-travel story — but unlike Moebius, All Things Devours, Vicious Cycles, and many other examples, it runs on a long loop rather than a short one. Instead of jaunting a few minutes back and forth at a critical time, you’re taking a leap of decades, seeing trees be planted and grow, seeing the building of a house and then what it looks like when completed, and so on.

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Adventurer’s Consumer Guide, Øyvind Thorsby. One of my favorite games that not very many people seem to have played. An unabashed puzzlefest, but a highly enjoyable one: not too linear, with several interesting objects that have multiple uses. Thorsby has a theory about IF that doesn’t need the player to overuse the EXAMINE verb, which means that the feel and pace of this one is a little atypical — but it’s a strong design and well worth trying out.

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Return to Ditch Day, Mike Roberts. A puzzle fest, and an extremely polished one, with lots of conveniences built into the gameplay. It was a flagship example of what TADS 3 could do, and its quality still outshines a lot of what’s out there.

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Blighted Isle, Eric Eve. An expansive game about a shipwrecked man and a strange isle that seems somewhat out of time. There’s a lot to do in this one, and several possible paths through major plot points.

Want to see (or suggest) others? This IFDB poll for “forgotten gems” has more.