Interactive Fiction is alive and well and being written in Scotland. Yes, the purest, most literate and graphically rich form of gaming has not died and been buried in an unmarked, unregarded grave, unmourned, dismissed and forgotten.
If you’re not ‘au fait’ (literally ‘with brains’) with Interactive Fiction, it’s the old fashioned kind of game in which the player is presented with nothing but text, in the form of words, which must be ‘read’ in order to understand the nuances of the game such as location, character, exits, items and inventory. You even read explosions, gunshot wounds and unnecessary, awkward sex scenes.
Text adventures were epitomised by the glorious era of Infocom, wherein games such as Bureaucracy, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Leather Goddesses Of Phobos and Zork were considered sophisticated, absorbing, complex and bloody difficult (hint: don’t neglect the small dog in HHGTTG).
Thanks to the introduction of smartphones, tablets and e-book readers, the genre has undergone a quiet resurgence. Scottish author Gavin Inglis has now contributed to the scene with the launch of Eerie Estate Agent, a text adventure in which the player takes the role of an estate agent who’s job is to rent out a haunted property, with no regard to the poor tenants, so your despotic boss doesn’t fire you.
Published by US company Choice of Games, Eerie Estate Agent is available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle. There’s even a Chrome version for those who insist on rocking their mobile devices old school, or who inadvertently bought a Windows Phone.
Set in the dour, historically drenched streets of Edinburgh, Eerie Estate Agent (not realtor, you’ll notice…) does away with the old Interactive Fiction convention of typing in instructions. Instead players can speed through the riveting prose with the use of multiple choice options, choosing from a selection of responses and options in a way which will delight the sausage-fingered, illiterate and impatient.
You can insert the names of your own and other characters within the game, allowing you to indulge yourself in petulant wrath, nurse long-term grudges or indulge ludicrous crushes by making your real life protagonists and rivals part of the narrative.
You can also choose various attributes for your character, which opens up new choices and directs the story in different ways, which is a lovely little touch and allowed us to pretend, if only for a fleetingly insignificant moment that we were horticulturally adept and could spot the difference between a hedge and a pot of tomatoes.
We’re massive fans of interactive fiction. If it were up to us we’d make it mandatory that every developer has to do at least one IF title before they get to do anything in 3D. Of course, it goes without saying that writers of said IF which didn’t come up to scratch, or which included space marines (who weren’t violently gutted in the first hour) would be forbidden from writing for games for ever and ever, amen.
We like this game very much. We think you’d like it too. If not, there’s very clearly something deeply, fundamentally wrong with you. It’s fun, creepy, exciting, intriguing and well put together. We think Mr Inglis should write more. You can download it now for your iOS device, your Android device, or for the Google Chrome browser.
More of this sort of thing please.