Interactive fiction games, or as some prefer to call them, text based games, were a certain kind of phenomenon.

The idea for their creation was borrowed from the fledgling paragraph literature, which offered readers several possible endings, all depending on the choices they made during reading. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

However, before they arrived in the digital world, they made their debut in paper form almost 50 years ago. In such a format, they were quite well-received, and one of the more popular titles from this time, Tunnels & Trolls, still has its fans today.

Historical Context – The birth of interactive fiction

The first text-based games appeared in the second half of the 1970s, but their peak popularity came in the first half of the 1980s. The limited capabilities of computers at that time meant that games had modest graphics or no graphics at all, like in the Zork game, for example.

Does that mean they were boring? Far from it! While today’s creators strive to develop the most realistic and perfect graphics, text-based games primarily relied on the player’s imagination and logical thinking skills.

In the second half of the 1980s, the popularity of text-based games began to decline, and in the 1990s, they were forgotten. Fortunately, only for a while!

Best Text-Based Games in the Modern Age

There are many contemporary titles that inherit the legacy of the old, good text games, primarily focusing on narration. They still offer captivating worlds and stories that linger in memory. Here’s a list of some of them:

Ai Dungeon 2021-01-15 Text based RPG Latitude
Roadwarden 2022-09-12 RPG Moral Anxiety Studio
Stories Untold 2017-02-27 Adventure No Code
Will A Wonderful World 2017-06-06 Adventure 4D Door Games
The Life And Suffering Of Sir Brante 2021-03-04 RPG Sever
60 Seconds Reatomized 2019-07-25 Adventure Robot Gentleman
Sorcery Parts 1 And 2 2016-02-02 Adventure inkle Ltd
Sorcery Part 3 2016-04-05 Adventure inkle Ltd
Sorcery Part 4 2016-09-22 Adventure inkle Ltd
Sunless Sea 2015-02-06 Adventure Failbetter Games
Doki Doki Literature Club Plus 2021-06-30 Visual novel, horror Team Salvato
80 Days 2015-09-28 Indie Cape Guy Ltd
Citizen Sleeper 2022-05-05 RPG Jump Over The Age
The Innsmouth Case 2020-06-23 RPG Robot Pumpkin Games GmbH

A Dark Room

Release date:2013-11-08
Genre:Text-based RPG
Developer:Doublespeak Games

The game starts in a dark room, where our hero wakes up after a strange event, with the only thought in mind being… to survive.

A Dark Room is a typical clicker (you can complete the entire game using only the mouse). Although simple visually, it’s incredibly engaging in terms of gameplay. It compels the player to continuous logical and strategy thinking. All decisions are up to us; however, if we want to progress, they must be well-thought-out.

Key features
  • A return to the roots of text games
  • Playable in browser (minimal hardware requirements)
  • Interesting story and engaging gameplay
  • Excellent, spine-chilling soundtrack

Night House

Release date:2016-10-01
Genre:Text-based RPG
Developer:Bitter Karella

The protagonist of Night House is an eight-year-old boy who, upon waking one night, realizes he’s completely alone at home. He decides to uncover what happened to his family, but in the darkness, everything looks different…

Another clicker with plenty of puzzles to solve. During the game, you gather items to later use or exchange. The horror atmosphere is enhanced by an excellent soundtrack, and plot twists can be pleasantly surprising (of course, in a positive way).

Key features
  • One of the best interactive fiction horrors
  • Unexpected plot twists
  • Goosebump-inducing soundtrack

80 Days

Release date:2015-09-28
Developer:Cape Guy Ltd

80 Days is based on the novel “Around the World in Eighty Days” by Julius Verne, but our hero isn’t Phileas Fogg; it’s his faithful companion, Jean Passepartout. Phileas takes up the challenge, and together they embark on a journey around the world—thus begins our hero’s grand adventure.

During gameplay, boredom is surely out of the question. Passepartout must manage finances, take care of his employer’s health, and control what’s most crucial in this adventure… time. You’ll also have the chance to acquire, sell, and buy items, with each decision potentially influencing the course of the journey.

Key features
  • 170 cities to explore
  • Multiple ways to experience the adventure
  • Time constraints for continuous action
  • Numerous secrets and Easter Eggs waiting to be discovered

Sorcery! Parts 1 & 2

Release date:2016-02-02
Developer:inkle Ltd

Sorcery! is a series (consisting of 4 parts) of adventure games where the main character is Analander. His main task is to recover the stolen Crown of Kings from the Archmage Mampang.

Sorcery! and especially its first two parts, are atmospheric games full of adventures and puzzles. Analander sets out into the world armed with a sword and magical spells. Throughout the game, everyone has the chance to create their own story.

Key features
  • Wonderful locations waiting to be discovered
  • Unique combat system
  • Freedom of choice
  • The games are based on Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! gamebook novels

Choice of the Dragon

Release date:2010 -01-01
Developer:Choice of Games

Choice of the Dragon is an adventure game where you create your own story as a… dragon. Gentle and docile or cruel—devouring princesses for fun.

Choice of the Dragon is almost entirely text-based. However, the writing style is sharp and full of sarcastic humour, guaranteeing great fun. During gameplay, you decide not only what personality your dragon will have, but also its gender and appearance. Remember! Every seemingly innocent choice can have an impact on the story.

Key features
  • A game mostly consisting of text
  • Experience adventures as a mythical creature
  • Extensive possibilities for choosing the narrative path and character development
  • Humorous motifs


While the interactive fiction game market doesn’t offer too many titles, among the contemporary ones, there are several truly noteworthy. We hope you enjoyed our list. Do you have any suggestions of your own? Let us know!