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Not Too Long, Not Too Difficult

Recommendations by Eric Mayer

Being impatient and puzzle-challenged, I prefer rather short games that I can make it through without resorting to hints every other turn. The following leap to mind, in no particular order.

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

Eric Mayer says:

You find yourself in a deserted research station, alone, except for memories which return in flashes as you explore. The sense of isolation is palpable. This is so atmospheric it had me shivering in the middle of the summer (and I don't have an air conditioner)

2. Glowgrass, by Nate Cull (1997)
Average member rating: (73 ratings)
Eric Mayer says:

I'm not sure exactly what is so appealing about this game where you play an archaeologist of the future trying to discover the secrets hidden in some ruins. Perhaps it's the nice balance with regards to length, difficulty, puzzles, exploration and story.

3. Hunter, in Darkness, by Andrew Plotkin (1999)
Average member rating: (102 ratings)
Eric Mayer says:

This game makes you feel like you're really in the cave. In most interactive fiction the player experiences the game from the protagonist's point of view and is therefore involved in the story in a way not possible with regular fiction. But for me, this game made the other cave crawls I've played seem like shows I'd watched on television. Now I was living the reality.

4. To Hell in a Hamper
by J. J. Guest
(2003)
Average member rating: (78 ratings)

Eric Mayer says:

A one room one puzzle game, but when the room is the gondola of a balloon rapidly losing altitude over a volcano and the puzzle is how to divest eccentric Mr. Boobie of all the heavy stuff he's hidden in his overcoat, you've got a comedy classic.

5. The Chasing, by Anssi Räisänen (2001)
Average member rating: (8 ratings)
Eric Mayer says:

Rounding up runaway horses in a bucolic setting makes for one of the most pleasant games I've ever played. I know. I know. "Pleasant" sounds like a pejorative but I see Carl Muckenhoupt used the same word in his review at Baf's Guide and in this case "pleasant" works.

6. Fate
by Victor Gijsbers
(2007)
Average member rating: (39 ratings)

Eric Mayer says:

I have to love a game I can finish without using any hints. Then again, there are numerous outcomes depending on the player's moral choices. Interactive fiction with pretensions to Art often leaves me cold. There are Ifsters who overwrite and Ifconoclasts who like to stand the form on its head. Here, Victor uses solid, unpretentious writing and standard game play to explore a philosophical question. I'd like to see that combination more often.

7. The Djinni Chronicles
by J. D. Berry
(2000)
Average member rating: (31 ratings)

Eric Mayer says:

You too can be a Djinn! Djinni powers are easy to master. How cool is that?

8. Paint!!!, by David Whyld (2004)
Average member rating: (9 ratings)
Eric Mayer says:

It isn't too hard to figure out what to do next. Unfortunately, that just keeps making the situation worse and worse. Which is to say, funnier and funnier. Any game that has meteor come through the ceiling is just fine in my book.


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