Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Dark Room

Sometimes great games come in unassuming, text based, browser windows. A Dark Room, also a game for iOS, is a text based, somewhat role playing, idle game that begins with nothing more than... a dark room.

It was released on browser in 2013, and became available in the app store in 2014. There is also a prequel, which was released after the first game like some kind of Star Wars, but it's not available on the web.

Before I played the game, I had no more knowledge of it than the general idea that I would be creating some kind of small town and it was quite the roller coaster ride. Be aware that everything past this paragraph will reveal parts of the story! The fact that I would be worried about spoiling the plot of a text based idle game should be a pretty good indication that it gets pretty interesting. If you're already intrigued, go ahead and ignore the rest of this post (or, you know, come back later if you'd like to read the words that I typed).

First of all, there is an option to turn out the lights. I don't know why, but it makes the game a little more interesting. It also makes my pictures on this post not look like they are part of the paragraphs.

Things start off slow...

For awhile there is nothing to do but wait, and stoke the fire...

Then things get real, real quick. You continue to stoke the fire and warm up the room, and it was actually super suspenseful right away. I'm sitting there, just clicking this button, waiting to find out who this mysterious stranger is who just barged into my room out of nowhere. As the room is warming up, you realize the fact that the fire needs wood to burn, and you are able to click between A Firelit Room and A Silent Forest to gather wood.

Once the room starts to warm up, the stranger wakes up. She knows how to build things, and the adventure starts to unfold as you collect wood to create things and, eventually, huts, where other ragged strangers can stumble into and collapse at their leisure. The Silent Forest turns into A Lonely Hut as you start to establish your little town, still not really sure how or why any of you are there.

Your village starts to gain supplies and stuff, the new family helping to gather wood and, later on, other resources.

Now, I hate to burst your bubble, but you already read this far anyway so I'm guessing you don't mind spoilers, so I'll let you know - you don't have to constantly stoke the fire. As long as it doesn't go out, you're good. However, I think it's symbolic and I like doing it.

The game starts to get really awesome as you build the rest of the building options and grow the town's population. Once you build a trading post and a smokehouse, you can buy a compass and you get to actively adventure in the text-drawn map world around you.

The map is different every time you reset the game, and exploring it and finding things in the wilderness are essential to unlocking everything and beating the game.

You actually fight monsters, and other things, as you explore the wilderness, adventuring through caves and abandoned homes and other places for supplies.

Events occur during the game that you choose how to handle...

...but don't worry, they don't interfere with the idle aspect of the game - not interacting with an event won't halt the generation of resources, so you can continue to tab in and out or leave the game to run while you go to the store, as you would with any good idle game.

I won't spoil the ending, and to be fair a lot goes unanswered when you finish it, but I've already played through this game three times and I really wish it wasn't so short. We know I'm a fan of text based games, and this is one of the best text based browser games I've played in a long time.

Check out doublespeakgames for another game they have that I am apparently terrible at, but it's pretty fun.

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