Staff Picks — Emily’s Top 10 Games for those Interested in Interactive Fiction

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Staff Picks — Emily’s Top 10 Games for those Interested in Interactive Fiction

During the month of December, Loyola Libraries staff make lists and check them twice. What are these lists about? Anything! You can look at past years’ lists here, and stay tuned for more lists all month long! Without further ado…

Interactive fiction is one of the lowest-resolution forms of games you can find online but is chock-full of imaginative potential. Sometimes called “text adventures,” interactive fiction dates back to the mid-seventies with classic titles such as Colossal Cave Adventure and the Zork series. Rather than disappearing, there remains a small but vibrant community of interactive fiction developers and enthusiasts today who continue to push the limits of the medium with new platforms and techniques for telling stories.

Interactive fiction ranges from simple choose-your-own-adventure style branching narratives to complex loops, puzzles, and procedurally-generated maps and text. Works span all genres, including humor, romance, and adventure, and offer a novel way of presenting and understanding social issues of the past and present. They give the reader the opportunity to experience life through another person’s eyes.

The following games are great for a mental reset break from studying or as entertainment over the holidays.

Lost Pig

A humorous game told from the viewpoint of an Orc protagonist that pays homage to old-fashioned IF. Features clever but not too difficult puzzles and an amusing narrative style.

15 minutes

A tidy yet tricky time travel/puzzle adventure. The premise is simple. You have fifteen minutes before your Physics professor discovers your botched final exam and recommends your expulsion. You also have a time machine. Then things start to get weird…


More an interactive story than a game, Photopia is a bittersweet meditation on creativity, fate and interconnectedness told through a series of intertwined vignettes.


A “one-room” puzzle game devoted to finishing your thesis and avoiding the fight of the century with your girlfriend if you don’t. Unusual in that it allows you to choose your gender and adjusts the text and puzzles accordingly. The game builds a rich portrayal of Violet by casting her as the charming (and Australian) narrator, giving you the chance to see both sides of a relationship in jeopardy.

Suveh Nux

Another “one-room” game told from the perspective of a magician’s servant. Has your master betrayed you, or is he in dire need of your aid? Deduce the logic behind a foreign system of magic to break your way out of a tight spot. You may make a friend along the way.


A tongue-in-cheek Steampunk romance. Ride along with the melodramatic local hero Troy Sterling as he attempts to foil an evil plot against and win the admiration of the operatic diva, Melody Sweet.


A lateral thinking game of transformations and self-discovery from IF virtuoso Emily Short. The beautiful narration builds a rich neo-Platonic world lying between the physical and the abstract. Puzzles have multiple solutions, and the character of the protagonist, as well has her final destiny, is gradually shaped and revealed by the solutions you choose.

Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!

A hilarious campy horror story set in the 1950s in which teen-aged protagonist Bonnie Noodleman must deal with social norms and stereotypes while investigating and foiling a deadly alien invasion. The game includes illustrations and menu-style conversations that let you interact, joke, and play with a large cast of well-rounded NPCs.

16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonalds

Keep playing to find all sixteen.


A game about playing another game, this story is not what it appears at first. This darkly funny game takes a harsh satirical look at video games and capitalism and stretches the imagination about what constitutes gameplay. It manages to explore the humor of its primary subject while also painting a sad portrait of familial dysfunction and missed connections.


Emily is an Instruction and Information Services Intern in Cudahy Library/IC. She’s the one with purple hair. Predictably she enjoys music, cats, and knitting, and thinks Interactive Fiction is a great way to goof off while it looks like you’re working.

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