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Annotated list of best sci-fi games

Recommendations by MathBrush

A few months ago, I thought, "There really aren't that many sci-fi IF games". Then I started going through old games I had played, and downlaoded TADS, and was shocked at how many great sci-fi games there are. This is a list of my favorite science fiction games with a short blurb about each. Some horror-type games are not on this list, and time travel games are common enough to have their own list.

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1. Worlds Apart
by Suzanne Britton
(1999)
Average member rating: (73 ratings)

MathBrush says:

My very favorite sci-fi game. I love reading sci-fi novels, and this book is just a great sci-fi novel in puzzle form. You play a healer in a very different world from ours. This is a TADS game. It's worth downloading the interpreter (not available on mobile) just for this game.

2. Spider and Web, by Andrew Plotkin (1998)
Average member rating: (213 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Just as Worlds Apart is one of the best-written sci-fi games, Spider and Web has some of the best puzzles, including what many consider the best single puzzle of all time. You play with numerous gadgets and tools in the not-too-distant future.

3. Rogue of the Multiverse
by C.E.J. Pacian
(2010)
Average member rating: (60 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A laugh-out-loud game that is half a simulation and half a thrill ride. You play a convict used for matter transfer experiments under the eye of the saurian Dr. Sliss. This is a TADS game.

4. Coloratura
by Lynnea Glasser
(2013)
Average member rating: (64 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A very popular competition game from recent years that I really enjoyed. You play the part of the alien who escapes on a ship. Your efforts to get home cause some trouble for the crew...

5. Superluminal Vagrant Twin
by C.E.J. Pacian
(2016)
Average member rating: (43 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A polished, mid-length game about raising money to free your twin. Novice-friendly but still complex. One of Pacian's best games.

6. Floatpoint
by Emily Short
(2006)
Average member rating: (83 ratings)

MathBrush says:

One of my two favorite Emily Short games (the other being Glass). You are trying to reconcile Earth with a distant colony that is pretty alien. The recording and playback features (which some players have apparently missed before) are the best feature of this game.

7. howling dogs
by Porpentine
(2012)
Average member rating: (84 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A twine game by Porpentine. In this game, you are a prisoner who uses an alternate reality machine every day. Porpentine is the best Twine writer I've seen.

8. Delusions, by C. E. Forman (1996)
Average member rating: (35 ratings)
MathBrush says:

A game about reality and truth. You play a tester of a virtual reality machine. Intricate and long.

9. Babel
by Ian Finley
(1997)
Average member rating: (117 ratings)

MathBrush says:

The most popular TADS game of all time. You wake up on a cold floor in an arctic base wearing a medical gown with no memory of who you are.

10. Gun Mute
by C.E.J. Pacian
(2008)
Average member rating: (112 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Has some parts that are PG-13 (just enough to be mildly annoying), but this shoot-em-up is a lot of fun. You are a cowboy in a post-apocalyptic world shooting through a sequence of a dozen robots/mutants.

11. Glowgrass, by Nate Cull (1997)
Average member rating: (73 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Another great TADS game. You play an archaelogist from the distant future investigating some ancient ruins. Has one of the most lovable NPC's of all time.

12. Rover's Day Out
by Jack Welch and Ben Collins-Sussman
(2009)
Average member rating: (41 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A unique game; you play as a woman and her dog, which are actually symbolic representations for a ship and a rover.

13. Fail-Safe
by Jon Ingold
(2000)
Average member rating: (80 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A game set on a spaceship, with a twist. My favorite Jon Ingold game.

14. The Weapon
by Sean Barrett
(2001)
Average member rating: (24 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A one-room game where you try to disarm a "Halo"-like weapon on a spaceship.

15. Slouching Towards Bedlam
by Star Foster and Daniel Ravipinto
(2003)
Average member rating: (161 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A very popular steampunk game where you investigate the death of a man with a mysterious illness. Turns IF conventions on their head.

16. Chlorophyll
by Steph Cherrywell
(2015)
Average member rating: (33 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A very well-implemented game where you play as a teenager 'xyloid' (a plant creature) who must fend for herself when her mother is incapacitated. A lot of optional material, which provides a beautiful and well-developed setting.

17. Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home
by Andrew Plotkin
(2010)
Average member rating: (67 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A beautiful game about space exploration. Short, linear, easy, and focused on feeling and emotion, especially the emotion of wonder. Similar to his fantasy game Bigger Than You Think in its atmosphere.

18. Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me
by Mike Sousa and Jon Ingold
(2002)
Average member rating: (30 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Explore an underwater base with robots and squids after an experiment goes horribly wrong. Humor game.

19. Creatures Such As We
by Lynnea Glasser
(2014)
Average member rating: (58 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Choice script Android app with a beautiful story about a tour guide on the moon who is addicted to an intense zombie RPG.

20. Scavenger
by Quintin Stone
(2003)
Average member rating: (21 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Follow a lead on a big find as a scavenger in a post-apocalyptic world. Emily Short described it in part as playing Doom in Interactive Fiction (referring to atmosphere more than fighting, of which there is little).

21. Andromeda Awakening - The Final Cut
by Marco Innocenti
(2011)
Average member rating: (33 ratings)

MathBrush says:

What a fun natural disaster science fiction game! The writing is good, though a bit unusual at times. This game has elements similar to Sphere, Babel, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Independence Day (although without rubber-suited aliens). I liked it a lot.

22. Andromeda Apocalypse Extended Edition
by Marco Innocenti
(2012)
Average member rating: (24 ratings)

MathBrush says:

The sequel to Andromeda Awakening has all of the best parts of the first game, but fixes all of its mistakes. It's a very worthwhile game. One of the best.

23. The Light: Shelby's Addendum, by Colm McCarthy (1995)
Average member rating: (6 ratings)
MathBrush says:

An old-school difficult big sci-fi game. You are a PhD student working with scientists in an alternate universe when things go terribly wrong.

24. Solarium
by Anya Johanna DeNiro
(2013)
Average member rating: (37 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A Twine alchemy/steampunkish game. Uses a large inventory of sorts, interesting use of colors, voted Best Story the year it came out. I loved it.

25. The Axolotl Project
by Samantha Vick
(2013)
Average member rating: (28 ratings)

MathBrush says:

One of the very best Twine games of all time. Three acts, an inventory, extensive map, well-done conversation menus, lots of searching things. You are researching alien salamanders on the moon, working for a shady corporation. Things go wrong.

26. Planetfall
by Steve Meretzky
(1983)
Average member rating: (90 ratings)

MathBrush says:

The favorite Infocom game of many players, due mostly to Floyd the robot. Not my favorite, due to big, sparse map and red herrings (classic Meretzky game; I prefer Moriarty or Lebling or Blank).

27. Distress
by Mike Snyder
(2005)
Average member rating: (19 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A shipwreck game. Short, 10-room game with some constraints, but incredible setting and great writing, story. I didn't think I liked it at first, but I keep thinking about it.

28. Starcross
by Dave Lebling
(1982)
Average member rating: (36 ratings)

MathBrush says:

I liked this Infocom SciFi game more than Planetfall. Explore a big cylindrical space station controlled by mysterious rods and inhabited by 4 or more interesting races of creatures.

29. Stationfall
by Steve Meretzky
(1987)
Average member rating: (35 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Planetfall's darker older brother. Investigate a creepy abandoned space station.

30. Life On Mars?
by Hugo Labrande
(2015)
Average member rating: (14 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A short thriller using heavy text effects. One woman is stranded on Mars with her guilt.

31. Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!
by Steph Cherrywell
(2015)
Average member rating: (44 ratings)

MathBrush says:

IFComp 2015's winner. A funny 50's tow run over by slimy brain Guzzlers. Mid length and illustrated.

32. Final Exam
by Jack Whitham
(2015)
Average member rating: (18 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Save a simulated world. Interesting commentary on worldwide politics.

33. Changes, by David Given (2012)
Average member rating: (17 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Well-written and implemented game about an alien world where you take on various forms. Survival of the fittest!

34. Fragile Shells
by Stephen Granade
(2010)
Average member rating: (37 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Excellent shortish escape game. You are an astronaut with a concussion on a space station that is ripped in half.

35. The Duel That Spanned the Ages, by Oliver Ullmann (2009)
Average member rating: (17 ratings)
MathBrush says:

An enjoyable mid-length game sparring with mechanical aliens using a mecha suit and various weapons while exploring a base.

36. Inevitable, by Kathleen M. Fischer (2003)
Average member rating: (5 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Very hard, haunting game with 3 difficulty levels. Explore an abandoned temple in a land whose people you saw massacred 20 years earlier.

37. Oxygen
by Benjamin Sokal
(2010)
Average member rating: (23 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Short-to-mid length resource management puzzle. Decide how much oxygen to give different parts of a ship. Nice in-game help.

38. Dutch Dapper IV: The Final Voyage, by Harry Hol (2002)
Average member rating: (6 ratings)
MathBrush says:

A interstellar hero travels through his house and through a Mos Eisly-like alien town to save someone in need.

39. Choice of Robots
by Kevin Gold
(2014)
Average member rating: (18 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Incredibly detailed and fascinating commercial choicescript game about shaping the future of robots.

40. The Orion Agenda, by Ryan Weisenberger (2004)
Average member rating: (12 ratings)
MathBrush says:

After some bureaucratic form filling, go to a damaged monitoring station that is secretly surveying a pre-space flight civilizarion

41. Trading Punches
by Mike Snyder
(2004)
Average member rating: (9 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Dramatic sci-fi game similar to Worlds Apart, but shorter. A story of two civilizations, one vaguely like ours and one of fiery humanoids, interacting over 3 or 4 episodes in their history.

42. The Legend Lives!, by David Baggett (1994)
Average member rating: (6 ratings)
MathBrush says:

The last Unnkulia game is much more mature than the others, but is a bit uninspired. Travel throughout the galaxy to stop a virus from taking over the internet.

43. Open Sorcery
by Abigail Corfman
(2016)
Average member rating: (38 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Outstanding, long Twine game about a firewall that is a living elemental in a world where magic mixes with tech.

44. Fabricationist DeWit Remakes the World
by Jedediah Berry
(2015)
Average member rating: (15 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A mid length Twine game with great setting, characters, and images. Help fix a station, yourself, and the world.

45. Seedship
by John Ayliff
(2017)
Average member rating: (9 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A short but deep webgame finding a colony planet. Simulation.

46. The Rocket Man From The Sea
by Janos Honkonen
(2012)
Average member rating: (13 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A mid-length Golden Age-type sci-fi story about a young kid playing pretend in the middle of an earth-Mars war.


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