- What are text adventure games?
- The three best free text adventure games
- 1. Counterfeit Monkey - Emily Short (2012)
- 2. Anchorhead - Michael Gentry (1998)
- 3. Superluminal Vagrant Twin - C.E.J. Pacian (2016)
- The interactive fiction and text adventure games community
- Hosting your own text game or file
Text adventure games are making a comeback in 2023. They are easier to make and easier to share through simple hosting. You can play many of them for free online. And they’re fun!
Let’s take a look at the three best free text adventure games in 2023. We’ll move from the origin of text adventure games to today’s interactive fiction.
What are text adventure games?
Also known as interactive fiction, text adventure games are an ancestor of video games. A player reads a series of descriptions of a fictional environment on the computer. Then they enter text-based commands to interact with the digital world. These commands determine the plot.
Sounds dull. It isn’t.
The history of text adventure games dates back to 1976. Colossal Cave Adventure became the first known text-based game. It was created by Will Crowther and later updated by Don Woods. In this game, the player explores a mysterious cave and solves puzzles to find gold and treasure.
In the 1980s, TA games became more popular with titles such as Zork and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. These classic games incorporate more complex narratives and puzzles. They often include elements of humor and pop culture references.
In the 1990s, text adventure games began to decline in popularity. The rise of graphical adventure games and other video game genres had more interest at the time. Still, text adventure games continued to be released, often by independent developers.
Today, text adventure games have made a resurgence in popularity. The rise of interactive fiction brought new game-creation tools. It’s easier now for developers to create and share TA games.
Who decides on the best text adventure games?
We have chosen IFDB as the authoritative source for our top three free text adventure games.
The popular Internet Fiction Database (IFDB) is an online game catalog and recommendation engine.
IFDB hosts the IFDB Top 100 list. This is an automatically updated list utilizing an IMDb-style Bayes estimator to calculate weighted ratings based on all IFDB ratings. That is to say, IFDB uses a computer algorithm to figure out which games are best. At least, best according to experienced IFDB member-posted reviews. The list updates daily.
So, here we go.
_Related Article: _How to build a text game with Twine
The three best free text adventure games
Let’s look at each one in turn.
1. Counterfeit Monkey - Emily Short (2012)
Average member rating: 5 Stars (201 ratings)
Counterfeit Monkey is known for its clever writing and witty humor. The Counterfeit Monkey text adventure takes place in a surreal and whimsical world. Players must navigate through a series of bizarre and humorous scenarios.
The game centers around a character named Theta. Theta is on a mission to recover a stolen time machine from a group of pirates. As Theta, the player must use wit and cunning to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles.
A unique “wordplay” mechanism is used. Players manipulate and combine words to create new objects and abilities.
The “Location” command brings up a useful map. Enter commands on the screen and navigate through its intriguing world.
2. Anchorhead - Michael Gentry (1998)
Average member rating: 4.5 Stars (354 ratings)
You take a deep breath of salty air as the first raindrops begin to spatter the pavement. The swollen, slate-colored clouds that blanket the sky mutter ominous portents amongst themselves over the little coastal town of Anchorhead.
Travel to the haunted coastal town of Anchorhead, Massachusetts. Uncover the roots of a horrific conspiracy inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Search through musty archives and tomes of esoteric lore, dodge hostile townsfolk, and combat a generation-spanning evil that threatens your family and the entire world.
A helpful menu is available as you enter the game.
3. Superluminal Vagrant Twin - C.E.J. Pacian (2016)
Average member rating: 4.5 Stars (98 ratings)
Superluminal Vagrant Twin follows the story of a twin separated from their sibling in a space-time accident. The game is set in a futuristic world where space travel is normal. The player navigates locations and challenges to reunite with their twin and prevent a catastrophic event. The game features complex puzzles, branching narratives, and multiple endings. This creates a unique experience each time it is played.
The opening screen tells you what you need to know.
The interactive fiction and text adventure games community
Dedicated to discussing all things IF, the IFCF welcomes all in the IF and text game community. Among its features are writing, announcing new titles, technical development, authoring, playing, and competitions.
The IFTF supports “the ongoing maintenance, improvement, and preservation of the tools and services crucial to the creation and distribution of interactive fiction, as well as the development of new projects to foster the continued growth of this art form.”
These projects include:
Hosting your own text game or file
All it takes is three simple steps!
1. Provide a link-name for your text adventure game.
2. Drag & drop or upload your game files as a zip.
3. Press the big, blue “Upload” button.
Safe, secure, fast. Tiiny.host also offers password protection and other useful features.
Visit Tiiny.host today for more information.