Inventory management is a tedious part of videogames. I’ve never found myself daydreaming of the minuscule inventory in Resident Evil (1996) (though I do remember that opting for playing as Jill netted you two more slots). Nor have I ever found myself enjoying the meticulous disposal of items over-encumbering Geralt of The Witcher 3 (2015). Even with the largest saddlebags hanging onto my dear steed Roach in that game, I often had to spend minutes at a time digging through and tossing out the most unnecessary junk to make room for something new and shiny. And in Witcher 3-time those minutes eventually became hours upon hours over the length of its massive campaign. That’s hours of just managing my inventory. Inventory management sucks, except when it doesn’t have to.
Game designer Dan Harris’ latest game jam title, aptly named Inventory, is part-Twine-like text adventure and part puzzle game. In this game, your inventory is the puzzle. The player is tasked as a father in a post-apocalyptic world that an ominous “sickness” has destroyed, constantly managing all that he can carry within his ever-dwindling inventory.
The inventory’s necessities are divided into three necessary sections: attack (weapons), health (first aid kits, food), and “story” (from gas cans to keys). Managing how all the pieces fit, however, is a tad more complicated. In the game, there are meters for each of the three components, and a collection of items to squeeze into your rectangular suitcase. Stacking these items on top of one another is the simple part, but doing so in a way that fulfills the meters is where it gets tricky.
Inventory was made during a recent Ludum Dare game jam (the world’s largest online, recurring jam), within the event theme “Entire Game on One Screen.” With such broad guidance, the resulting collection of game jam titles is as absurd and diverse as one can imagine. Harris’ game is the simplest take on the theme: a puzzle game, a text adventure, all neatly laid out within a single screen.
Fulfill your post-apocalyptic suitcase-organizing needs in Inventory here in your browser, or download it for PC.
Edit: A previous version of this article noted that Inventory was the product of Ludum Dare 35 instead of 31, it has been amended to correct this mistake.