Most games have some amount of text in them: it’s the simplest way to tell a story, after all. Some games, however, have a little bit of fun with their use of the written word.
Here are three tongue-in-cheek, free games that you can play right now to get a quasi-literary fix:
Stride and Prejudice
Created by No Crusts Interactive
Length: 61 Chapters
Platform: iOS and Android
Jane Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice maintains a level of fascination uncharacteristic of other works from that period. Its popularity inspired a parody novel and film, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which in turn launched the thankfully short-lived trend of “adding a horror movie monster to a classic novel and calling it comedy.”
Now, we’ve gone a step even further to literary nirvana with Stride and Prejudice (available for iOS and Android), an “endless runner” style game based on Austen’s masterpiece. It’s “based” on it in a very literal sense: the ground on which the character runs consists of sentences from the book. The goal is to run across the story’s entire text, jumping from sentence to sentence as the words speed up.
The format of Stride and Prejudice — a character running across blocks of text — recalls the only Mario game I was allowed to play during school, Mario Teaches Typing, which is clearly the best educational Mario game. That may not be saying much, since its competition consists of Mario is Missing, but hey, I’m typing this right now, so thank you Mario! And speaking of Mario…
Created by Lexaloffle Games
Length: Endless, just like our suffering.
Luigi is the second-fiddle of the Mario Brothers: his name isn’t in the title and he doesn’t even show up unless someone presses “start” on the second controller. So, if there isn’t a second player, where is he? If Ennuigi is to be believed, he’s wandering around a crumbling Mushroom Kingdom smoking an endless supply of cigarettes and ruminating on the absurdities of his life.
“I had a dream, I had a nightmare, of swimming, forever, until at last my arms gave out, my time was up. That moment of release, of letting the water take me, was the dream. The nightmare was that it all started again.”
— Luigi, on the “Minus World” glitch
Ennuigi is interactive in a minimal sense. Luigi is controlled using the arrow keys: left and right will move him around a random selection of environments from Super Mario Bros; pressing the down key makes him take a drag from the cigarette hanging off his lip. Pressing up will make Luigi look towards the heavens for a salvation he knows will never arrive, his innermost thoughts scrolling to the top of the screen and slowly fading into the nothingness that awaits us all.
One could say that Luigi’s inability to affect his world in any meaningful manner, apart from slowly smoking himself into a coward’s grave while philosophizing about the suffering he’s caused himself and others, makes Ennuigi one of the most realistic games ever created.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Escape from the Man-Sized Cabinet
Created by: An intern at CBS, probably
Length: 10-15 minutes
Price: Free, although it’s actually an ad for a show…
What would you do if you were stuck in a cabinet that just happened to be the perfect size to fit your body? Would you claw and pound at the door in the vain hope that a passerby would hear your cries for help? How about quietly waiting for someone to notice that you’re missing and come looking for you?
Or, would you find a portal to a magical realm of fantasy and go on a quest to slay an evil overlord who lives in a castle built from frozen skulls?
In the Twine game named after him, Stephen Colbert chooses the last option. Although, technically, you could choose the other two and subsequently die and restart the game… but where’s the fun in that?
Escape from the Man-Sized Cabinet has the graphical and textual style of a classic text adventure. Unlike such games, Colbert doesn’t have a text parser and the player cannot type in commands. It’s a Twine game, so the player’s interaction involves clicking links to navigate from page to page.
There are enough branching paths and options to keep things interesting, and getting a bad ending only puts the player a few choices back, allowing many possibilities to be explored in a short amount of time.
The question still stands, though: if the titular cabinet is “man-sized,” does that mean that the entire fantasy world inside it is also the same size as Stephen Colbert? I’m not going to spoil the ending for you, but the answer is yes.