It's easy to dismiss text adventures as a relic of gaming's past. Something that people played way before graphics and boob physics had been invented. But having indulged one recently I honestly believe that they could - as a genre - find a place amongst today's technically bewildering, big-budget blockbuster releases. No. I have not gone mental.
The game was 'Text Zedventure' and it was recently released on - what else? - Xbox Live Indie Games. It cost 80 Microsoft Points, which is the equivalent of 65 pence, one dollar or, if you prefer, one euro. So next to nothing really. And I really bloody enjoyed it. No graphics. Only the most primitive of sounds. Just words and some imagination. It's pretty much the most stripped down a game could be before it'd need redefining as a book.
Above: An exciting screenshot from Text Zedventure. It's just words
Yet despite its simplistic, bare-bones nature, Text Zedventure creates the kind of tension and atmosphere that most games fail miserably to conjure up. The game comprises three chapters, each taking place in different locations in a city struck down by a mysterious infection. Your objective in each of the chapters is to escape before being savaged by the infected.
It's not War and Peace. The writing is efficiently to the point. Scenarios are described in just one or two sentences and choices are made by pressing one of the controller face buttons. But it’s gripping and there are some interesting situations and dilemmas that really made me stop and think about my next decision. I must have finished all three chapters in well under an hour, but went back and played through them again, just to explore the other possibilities.
Above: Some text composed and presented as an adventure
And it convinced me that if there was an unexpected and completely unlikely text adventure renaissance, I would be a happy gamer. As a stupidly affordable diversion that took a minute or so to download, it kept me entertained for an entire evening. Maybe I'm easily pleased, but there are plenty of full price games that fail to hold my interest or attention for that long.
So that's why I'm asking the question: Would you play a text adventure on your console? Or does the very idea of sitting down and playing a game that consists entirely of words make you fall asleep?
And if you are interested, why not giveText Zedventure a little try? I'd love to know if you found it refreshingly enjoyable or painfully dull.