Sunless Skies

Sunless Skies promises a gloriously Victorian sci-fi tale

Rejoice! The stars are right! The stars are right because they are being murdered. Sunless Sea (2015) introduced players to the lonely madness and terror of an underground sea. Its expansion pack, Zubmariner, is set to take players to the claustrophobic depths of that ocean on October 11. Now, the sequel to Sunless Sea has been announced—named Sunless Skies—and promises to take its blend of well-written prose and pensive cosmic horror out into the actual cosmos. Fallen London is going to space. Sunless Sea begins with an epigraph from Joseph Conrad, expressing the central theme of the game: “The Sea…


Creating voice-driven interactive fiction just got a lot easier

Interactive fiction has seen a resurgence in the past few years. From Chris Klimas’s freeware hypertext software Twine, to the visual novel Python engine Ren’Py, branching narrative stories are more popular than ever in videogames. But most interactive fiction games rely on written text, usually through hyperlinking passages or narrative decisions. These stories tend to stay in the digital world, rarely calling on the player to interact with the game outside of using their mouse and keyboard. Amazon’s new program, the Interactive Adventure Game Tool, allows writers and developers around the world to create interactive fiction stories that rely on…


TextureWriter might be the best interactive fiction tool for beginners

Header image by Paul Downey An announcement on Twitter last week revealed a new piece of software called TextureWriter, which supposedly makes creating interactive fiction easier than ever. Joining other IF (interactive fiction) tools like Twine and Inform, TextureWriter offers a different and more intuitive way to navigate through a story. Like Twine and Inform, TextureWriter doesn’t require any coding knowledge to create a story. But it also incorporates a much more user-friendly interface than the others, using a simple click and drag button prompt called an “interaction word.” Interactive fiction simulates environments where players can choose different paths for characters,…


There’s a game about exploring sexuality while fighting bird people you need to play

You know those moments between wakefulness and sleeping, where the edges of dreams get soft, and bits of them kinda seep into the real world? Now imagine that happening in the middle of the day, while you’re wide awake. And you’re at summer camp. This is more or less the premise of BIRDLAND (2015), An interactive fiction game, written by Brendan Patrick Hennessy and illustrated by Izzy Marbella, where all the anxieties and identity making moments of teenage-hood are complicated by robot-like anthropomorphic birds. it’s the human aspects that are the backbone Made for the 2015 Interactive Fiction Competition and created in Twine, BIRDLAND won six…


A cyberpunk text adventure explores life outside of the gender binary

“Well, here we are again,” NUGK tell me. The last time I was here, TODN was saying the exact same thing. Usernames here, including my own, are made up of a mixture of four letters, shifting each time. The post-apocalyptic world is dark, fashioned only with unnerving sounds and dimly lit text. This is the world of  _transfer. Selected as part of IndieCade 2016, _transfer, developed by Hyacinth Nil and written by Reed Lewis, of the newly-formed Abyssal Studio, tackles uncomfortable issues of identity and memory. _transfer’s post-apocalyptic theme is more than just a stylistic choice Using a DOS-like interface, the player interacts…

with those we love alive map2

Twinescapes, or The Rise of Spatial Hypertext

At least 100 pages of four novels. At least 20 pages of maybe half a dozen others. Not one book finished, not even in rough draft. These are the vital statistics of my long war with fiction. For most of my life now it’s been my fondest wish to write and to publish a novel. Sometimes I’ve wanted to author a book of the Great-American-sort, other times my ambitions have been more humble, or more genre-bound. Sometimes my drafts have been muddy slogs through self doubt, other times they came as if poured from a vase by a woman in…


A play about male clinical depression is now also an interactive story

An Interview is not all black—little pops of colour occasionally surface—but you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve fallen into a world of blackness. And so you have. An Interview is Manos Agianniotakis’ interactive adaptation of Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn’s play “Fake It ‘Til You Make It.” The pair’s performances grapple with the issue of clinical depression, particularly as it affects men. Here’s how they describe the show: Expect home made music, stupid dancing, onstage arguments, real life stories, tears and truths in this wickedly heartwarming and funny celebration of the wonders and pitfalls of the human brain. Consequently,…


Ride through a snapshot of Italy in the wake of its 1970s social revolution

More than just an escape, the quintessential road trip both captures and distills a moment in time. The car’s make, model, and condition—all of it tells the story of not only an era, but its owner and the life that brought them to this long stretch of pavement. Maybe you’re riding a VW Camper full of ash stains and pilling carpets. Or, it could be a Ford Sierra, still carrying the faint scent of your mom’s perfume. Perhaps your road trip vehicle is actually more like a getaway car: a beautiful, vintage Mercedes that’s one rich girl’s ticket out of…