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Great games in a mostly realistic setting

Recommendations by MathBrush

These are games that for the most part don't contain magical elements or futuristic technology. This includes games where there might be magic or futuristic technology, but you don't know until the end. So several of these games do include a bit of magic at the end.

Detective games are in their own list.

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1. A Change in the Weather, by Andrew Plotkin (1995)
Average member rating: (53 ratings)
MathBrush says:

One of the two winners of the first-ever IF Comp, this is a notoriously hard game where you wander away from a picnic to think about life in a wilderness setting.

2. 9:05
by Adam Cadre
(2000)
Average member rating: (379 ratings)

MathBrush says:

One of the most popular IF of all time, you play a late businessman who has to go through his morning routine to make it to work.

3. Aisle
by Sam Barlow
(1999)
Average member rating: (222 ratings)

MathBrush says:

An influential and controversial game. The game ends after one move, but there are dozens of possible moves, each giving a different, sometimes conflicting ending. There is some violence, sexual elements, and language, but usually only if you try looking for it.

4. Sunset Over Savannah, by Ivan Cockrum (1997)
Average member rating: (43 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Probably the most well-fleshed out game on the list in terms of length and implementation. A TADS game where you are on vacation, considering quitting your job, and looking for confirmation that there is more to life than just drudgery.

5. The Warbler's Nest
by Jason McIntosh
(2010)
Average member rating: (68 ratings)

MathBrush says:

An occasionally grim game where you try to decide how to deal with unbearable events in your life. The setting is medieval/renaissance times.

6. Hana Feels
by Gavin Inglis
(2015)
Average member rating: (37 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A twine game with good graphics and a storyline with a message about self-harm. I was really moved by it.

7. Rematch, by Andrew D. Pontious (2000)
Average member rating: (57 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Another one-action game. This time, you are trying to prevent a terrible accident from occurring in a pool room, and have unlimited opportunities to retry doing so.

8. Violet
by Jeremy Freese
(2008)
Average member rating: (258 ratings)

MathBrush says:

An extremely popular one-room college game. Your girlfriend really wants you to finish your dissertation. Her voice replaces the standard parser.

9. Guilded Youth
by Jim Munroe
(2012)
Average member rating: (31 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Great slice-of-life game with graphics about a teenager in a bbs dialup DnD guild who goes back and forth between the forum and real life.

10. Taco Fiction
by Ryan Veeder
(2011)
Average member rating: (61 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Excellent short game about a petty criminal, where nothing is as it seems. Charming and enjoyable.

11. Ballyhoo
by Jeff O'Neill
(1985)
Average member rating: (29 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Infocom game set in a creepy circus. A mystery game that was surprisingly strong; the atmosphere in this game is incredible.

12. Infidel
by Michael Berlyn
(1983)
Average member rating: (42 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Another Infocom game, this time set in an ancient pyramid. You, an infidel, must explore it.

13. Child's Play
by Stephen Granade
(2006)
Average member rating: (42 ratings)

MathBrush says:

You are a baby, and someone else is after your favorite toy. Very funny game!

14. Muse: An Autumn Romance
by Christopher Huang
(1998)
Average member rating: (31 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Not my favorite, but interesting. Like a Jane Austin novel of short story length. You are a middle-aged English clergyman who becomes interested in a young woman.

15. She's Got a Thing for a Spring, by Brent VanFossen (1997)
Average member rating: (22 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Mid-length game with some pretty hard puzzles. Explore a beautiful, large national park with plenty of wildlife interactions and a very well-developed NPC.

16. Six
by Wade Clarke
(2011)
Average member rating: (32 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A game about twin kids playing hide and go seek with six friends. Each friend has their own way of evading you. Clever puzzles and good production values.

17. Broken Legs
by Sarah Morayati
(2009)
Average member rating: (22 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Was nominated for a lot of XYZZY awards when it came out, winning Best PC and Best NPCs, as well as coming 2nd in IFComp. Very clever game about ultra-competitive girls at a talent audition, written in a clever voice by the PC with a stage mom she can call as the help system. Loved it. Known for being ultra, ultra hard.

18. Best of Three
by Emily Short
(2001)
Average member rating: (49 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A short Short game with a menu-driven conversation game and high replay value. Two world-weary high school acquaintances meet up together years later. Strong profanity in first scene, which then disappears. Nominated for 6 XYZZY awards, including best game.

19. The Play
by Dietrich Squinkifer (Squinky)
(2011)
Average member rating: (40 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Fantastic, complex Twine game about the dress rehearsal of a play and about sexism. Only takes a dozen or so big choices to complete, but can be replayed quite a few times.

20. Return to Ditch Day
by M.J. Roberts
(2004)
Average member rating: (24 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A big, very impressive and fun game about solving hard technological problems. Teaches the player a to, and almost seems like magic. I loved the villain in this one (Frosst).

21. Photograph: A Portrait of Reflection
by Steve Evans
(2002)
Average member rating: (21 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A gentle look back at a life mislived. Very friendly for newcomers to interactive fiction. A short-to-mid length game. Interesting use of a new verb: CONSIDER.

22. Gotomomi
by Arno von Borries
(2015)
Average member rating: (12 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Fantastic exploration game in a grungy slum. Do what it takes to make enough money for a ticket out of Gotomomi.

23. Masquerade
by Kathleen M. Fischer
(2000)
Average member rating: (29 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A short puzzle less romance set in the 1800s. A young businesswoman deals with social pressures and suitors.

24. Thanksgiving
by Hannah Powell-Smith
(2015)
Average member rating: (8 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A mid-length Twine game about going to Thanksgiving dinner with inquisitive in-laws.

25. Heading East
by Hugo Labrande (as Alex Davies)
(2015)
Average member rating: (6 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A slice-of-life game about teenagers and teenage love. Some drug references.

26. Tough Beans, by Sara Dee (2005)
Average member rating: (16 ratings)
MathBrush says:

A pampered young woman breaks free of her annoying boyfriend and boss.

27. Sunday Afternoon, by Christopher Huang (as Virgil Hilts) (2012)
Average member rating: (15 ratings)
MathBrush says:

An early 1900's young man escapes from his boring relatives to go outside on a summer day.

28. Snack Time!
by Hardy the Bulldog and Renee Choba
(2008)
Average member rating: (49 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A cute, short, easy game about a bulldog who justs wants his owner to make him some food. Great introduction to IF.

29. Above and Beyond!, by Mike Sousa (2000)
Average member rating: (5 ratings)
MathBrush says:

A long, linear, difficult game set in an office. About 30 workers work there. First, deal with office incompetence, and then with a conspiracy.

30. Olivia's Orphanorium
by Sam Kabo Ashwell
(2012)
Average member rating: (18 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A resource management game like Oregon Trail or Sim City. Run an orphanage until 30 kids have graduated or ran away.

31. The Fire Tower
by Jacqueline A. Lott
(2004)
Average member rating: (32 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A puzzleless, beautiful nature game. Take a hike on the Appalachian Trail to an old fire tower.

32. Marine Raider, by Allen Gies (2011)
Average member rating: (7 ratings)
MathBrush says:

A Choicescript game about a platoon of Marines in WWII in the pacific theatre.

33. Common Ground
by Stephen Granade
(1999)
Average member rating: (27 ratings)

MathBrush says:

The same evening at home from 3 perspectives. Reminded me of Inside Out without the interior monologue.

34. Episode in the Life of an Artist
by Peter Eastman
(2003)
Average member rating: (20 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A get-up, go-to-work type of game. A lot like the beginning of Rover's Day Out or 9:05.

35. Opening Night, by David Batterham (2008)
Average member rating: (19 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Outstanding game set outside a theatre, where you are trying to get in to see your idol, the actress Miranda Lily.

36. It
by Emily Boegheim
(2011)
Average member rating: (27 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A short hide and seek game between 4 girls with different social dynamics. A lot of bad endings, a couple good endings.

37. SLAMMED!
by Paolo Chikiamco
(2013)
Average member rating: (4 ratings)

MathBrush says:

An incredibly good long form Choicescript game about wrestling. Not for fans of wrestling, per se, but for fans of tales of betrayal, hope, redemption and love.

38. The Cove
by Kathleen M. Fischer
(2000)
Average member rating: (17 ratings)

MathBrush says:

An art show game with a big emphasis on exploration and nature, set in the 1800's.

39. Fair
by Hanon Ondricek
(2016)
Average member rating: (16 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Judge a kids' science fair.


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