There's a thread on the intfiction forum regarding the creation of a top 50 list for Interactive Fiction. Ok, fair 'nuff... I'm in. I've probably played fewer IF games than many hardcore fans, so I've limited myself to a top 10 list. It's not the most varied list around, reflecting my own personal bias towards old school Infocom games and mystery stories. Still, maybe you'll find a few reasons to try out these games on IFDB.
- The Witness
This is my all-time favorite interactive fiction story and really one of the first that I was able to solve without too many hints. It's definitely old-school with all the good and bad of what was state of the art Infocom in the 1980s. It also included great "feelies" in the package. My own work-in-progress game "The Z-Machine Matter" has a modest tip of the hat to The Witness and other IF mystery games.
- Border Zone
Another great Infocom title, Border Zone was an espionage story that took place in 3 acts with a real-time clock. It's tricky, but a fun story where you have to move quickly. Definitely gets your heart racing! I was finally able to pick up a copy on eBay many years after having lost my earlier version in misguided spring cleaning years ago. What memories this game had for me!
While I never finished Trinity, I still think it is one of the coolest concepts for a game. Great historical story telling that goes into a while other level of mythology working on multiple levels. Also included a very cool comic book and great props.
- An Act of Murder
This is a great short "who done it" mystery by Chris Huang. This was one of the games that got me back into Interactive Fiction after a long absence. It's very approachable and does a great job of creating a randomized mystery story. Huang's story is also an inspiration to my own game.
While Photopia is more story than game, it's an excellent example of a more experimental style of IF that is actually interesting and moving. Definitely worth trying out. Extremely compelling writing.
- Lord Bellwater's Secret
This is a short one-room mystery. While it has some quirks and some puzzles that are not completely logical, it's still a pretty darned good piece of entertainment. The writing is strong and there's some good surprises for such a tight-knit game.
- Spider & Web
An intriguing piece of IF with some interesting narrative techniques and solid writing by Andrew Plotkin. It might take you a few attempts for the game to pull you in, but once it does, it's a compelling story.
- The King of Shreds and Patches
Admittedly, I'm late to this game, trying it for the first time with the recently released Kindle version. I could use Zoom on my Mac, but I really wanted to see whether IF could work well on the Kindle. I'm just blown away at what a great job Jimmy Maher has done exploiting the Kindle UI. This truly captures what an interactive novel should feel like. Elizabethan stories are not usually my cup of tea, but this is so well done I'm willing to stretch a bit. If you have a Kindle, how can you not try this out?
- Make it Good
This is the most awesome post-Infocom detective mystery story out there. It's truly an epic piece of work taking Jon Ingold several years to deliver this story. But it was worth it.
- Lost Pig
Despite the fact that it's not a mystery story, this is a fun game with a helluva great narrative voice. It's fun, it's entertaining and it's not crazy hard.