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Favorite "atmosphere" games

Recommendations by MathBrush

These are games that are fun because of the atmosphere and plot more than the puzzles. These games are not too hard and not too easy. They generally have a big over-arching theme. I have included most horror and comedy games in other lists, as this list is more about wonder.

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1. Photopia
by Adam Cadre
(1998)
Average member rating: (425 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A haunting game about life. Often rated as the best IF game of all time. The violet scene sticks with me the most.

2. Robin & Orchid
by Ryan Veeder and Emily Boegheim
(2013)
Average member rating: (43 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A game about exploring a haunted church. The hints in the form of a journal paint a vivid picture of a young man and his relationship with the PC.

3. Coloratura
by Lynnea Glasser
(2013)
Average member rating: (62 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A sci-fi game from the alien perspective. A very different world-view and command list.

4. Molly and the Butter Thieves
by Alice Grove (as Cosmic Hamster)
(2015)
Average member rating: (8 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A shufflecomp game, this deals with the supernatural and the fey. The image of the castle in the swamp is enduring.

5. The Act of Misdirection
by Callico Harrison
(2004)
Average member rating: (48 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A game about magic, including stage magic. The opening scene is unique among IF, as you are required to complete a magic act that your PC knows well, even if you don't.

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

MathBrush says:

A mid-length game about memory, science, and ethics.

7. The Dreamhold
by Andrew Plotkin
(2004)
Average member rating: (116 ratings)

MathBrush says:

I was never a fan of this tutorial game, but it has a strong feel of faded glory and regret.

8. Moon-Shaped
by Jason Ermer
(2006)
Average member rating: (29 ratings)

MathBrush says:

While it is a little under-implemented, this game does a good job mixing various Grimm's fairy tale stories.

9. Hana Feels
by Gavin Inglis
(2015)
Average member rating: (41 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A twine game about cutting. Very moving, with great use of graphics.

10. The Mary Jane of Tomorrow
by Emily Short
(2016)
Average member rating: (13 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Teach a robot to be just like your best friend. A mid length game set in the world of Brain Guzzlers from beyond. Features excellent procedural generation of content such as poetry and recipe names.

11. To Spring Open, by Peter Berman and Yoon Ha Lee (as Two-Bit Chip) (2015)
Average member rating: (15 ratings)
MathBrush says:

A game whose chief problem is that it is far too short for the world that it paints.

12. For a Change
by Dan Schmidt
(1999)
Average member rating: (85 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A bizarre game, where the author tried to use real words in the least understandable way possible. Feels like dream.

13. Metamorphoses
by Emily Short
(2000)
Average member rating: (93 ratings)

MathBrush says:

I recently returned to this game after several years, and I was surprised at how much better it was than I remember. Similar to dreamhold, with a dreamy/metaphorical feel.

14. Zork III
by Dave Lebling, Marc Blank
(1982)
Average member rating: (59 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A surprising change from the previous games. With a small total score and a big focus on ambiance, Zork III provides the most enduring images of the Zork trilogy. The focus here is on decay, trial, and renewal.

15. Dead Like Ants
by C.E.J. Pacian
(2009)
Average member rating: (41 ratings)

MathBrush says:

You play an ant in red overalls who has to investigate five creatures. Toys with IF expectations.

16. Walker & Silhouette
by C.E.J. Pacian
(2009)
Average member rating: (40 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A detective game by the great Pacian. A blend of romance, humor, and 1920's America.

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

MathBrush says:

Space exploration game. Short, mystic, and fun. An easy Plotkin's game.

18. Six
by Wade Clarke
(2011)
Average member rating: (33 ratings)

MathBrush says:

This game recreates your childhood, not in the way that adults look at children, but the way that you looked at life then, when you felt like children mattered just as much as adults. Chase six of your friends, catching each in a different way.

19. Beautiful Dreamer
by S. Woodson
(2015)
Average member rating: (17 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A long, long Twine game with a dreamlike atmosphere, a rich mythology, and a complete CYOA game within your game. Tons of optional material.

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

MathBrush says:

A short shipwreck game that I found very satisfying. A strange world, strange creatures, all alone.

21. Tales of the Traveling Swordsman
by Mike Snyder
(2006)
Average member rating: (39 ratings)

MathBrush says:

The atmosphere of this game is unlike any others I've played. Almost like an old Russian folk tale. You are a mute swordsman righting wrongs.

22. Andromeda Dreaming
by Joey Jones
(2012)
Average member rating: (13 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A short, on-the-rails game that is essentially puzzleless. Great use of two worlds (real and dreaming) and incredible setting in a previously-undescribed part of the Andromeda universe.

23. Eurydice
by Anonymous
(2012)
Average member rating: (32 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A beautiful, haunting modern retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice. Short and sweet.

24. Mercy, by Chris Klimas (1997)
Average member rating: (17 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Like Vespers without the nastiness. Sickness, slow madness in a hospital during a pandemic.

25. shadows on the mirror
by Chrysoula Tzavelas
(2003)
Average member rating: (25 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Ride in a car, handcufffed to a mysterious figure in black.

26. Aayela, by Magnus Olsson (1996)
Average member rating: (24 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Play completely in the dark.

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

MathBrush says:

An everyday person gets ready for work at the factory. Something odd is going on. Won an award for Best PC.

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

MathBrush says:

Explore a family from 3 PJ'S view. Short, puzzleless

29. The Beetmonger's Journal
by Scott Starkey
(2001)
Average member rating: (13 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Rally the society of beetmonger to war or peace. And escape the paparazzi as an archaeologist.

30. Downtown Tokyo, Present Day, by John Kean (1998)
Average member rating: (22 ratings)
MathBrush says:

A movie theatre plays an action movie. In the action movie, a giant... Thing attacks Tokyo.

31. Jacks or Better to Murder, Aces to Win, by J. D. Berry (1999)
Average member rating: (14 ratings)
MathBrush says:

As a high ranking member of a devious and intricate religious order, escape assassin's with your with and arsenal.

32. All Alone, by Ian Finley (2000)
Average member rating: (59 ratings)
MathBrush says:

A creepy game, meant to be played with sound on and in the dark. Short and easy.

33. See the Constellation, by ed blair (2012)
Average member rating: (6 ratings)
MathBrush says:

See the stars and leave home. Very short.

34. Three-Card Trick
by Chandler Groover
(2016)
Average member rating: (25 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Defeat a rival magician in this darkly humorous and intense game.

35. Aotearoa
by Matt Wigdahl
(2010)
Average member rating: (45 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A child-friendly game about dinosaurs in New Zealand that holds the record for most XYZZY's won by any single game.

36. A Colder Light
by Jon Ingold
(2012)
Average member rating: (16 ratings)

MathBrush says:

An Inuit girl summons spirits to find his father. Parser hybrid.

37. Cactus Blue Motel
by Astrid Dalmady
(2016)
Average member rating: (42 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A very good game about a motel in the desert.


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