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Surreal/trippy/metaphor/mind's journey, with two worlds

Recommendations by MathBrush

There is a big genre of games where you explore a metaphorical region of dreams or symbolism, and which has meaning in the 'real world'. I love this genre, and these are my favorite examples of the genre.

I only include games where there is reference to or action in a 'real world', allowing you to deduce the meaning of the metaphor. With Those We Love Alive is metaphorical, but not a duel-world game.

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1. Shade
by Andrew Plotkin
(2000)
Average member rating: (305 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Get ready for your big trip. A famous game where you explore your apartment as events slowly unfold.

2. Madam Spider's Web, by Sara Dee (2006)
Average member rating: (31 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Explore a house where a grandmother spider lives, and work as her servant.

3. Eidolon, by A.D. Jansen (2014)
Average member rating: (26 ratings)
MathBrush says:

A girl can't sleep, and discovers there is a hole in the sky. I loved the beautiful moth imagery.

4. Blue Chairs, by Chris Klimas (2004)
Average member rating: (83 ratings)
MathBrush says:

I'm usually turned off by profanity and drugs, but I really enjoyed this game. A lovelorn college kid takes a pill at a frat party to set off a Dante's Inferno-type quest.

5. The House at the End of Rosewood Street, by Michael Thomét (2013)
Average member rating: (13 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Deliver newspapers to 8 houses every day for a week.

6. So Far, by Andrew Plotkin (1996)
Average member rating: (63 ratings)
MathBrush says:

An epic, incredibly difficult journey in a series of metaphorical worlds.

7. Kaged
by Ian Finley
(2000)
Average member rating: (41 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A bureaucratic weird horror story with some real and some fake parts, hard to tell what's what.

8. All Hope Abandon
by Eric Eve
(2005)
Average member rating: (30 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A heart attack sends you on a sometimes sarcastic Dante's Inferno quest.

9. Snowquest
by Eric Eve
(2009)
Average member rating: (40 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A strange adventure in the snow turns even stranger...

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

MathBrush says:

A kid lives two lives; one an an old BBS, and one in real life.

11. Fish Bowl
by Ethan Rupp and Joshua Rupp
(2012)
Average member rating: (23 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A creepy story about a beachcomber on a stormy day.

12. The Blind House
by Amanda Allen
(2010)
Average member rating: (31 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Short and creepy. Hard to know what's real and what's not.

13. Six Stories
by Neil K. Guy
(1999)
Average member rating: (25 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A man crashes in the snow, and hears six stories from strange creatures.

14. Losing Your Grip
by Stephen Granade
(1998)
Average member rating: (18 ratings)

MathBrush says:

With So Far, one of my favorite trippy games of all time. Experience five fits or visions while taking an anti-smoking medication.

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

MathBrush says:

Very short but great; go back and forth between dream and reality.

16. Lunatix - The Insanity Circle
by Mike Snyder
(1999)
Average member rating: (5 ratings)

MathBrush says:

An early homebrew game by a great author; it's worth installing the reputable DOSbox program for this. An insane asylum director is forced to take a trippy pill by his inmates.

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

MathBrush says:

Travel to more than one world in a quest to stop a tyrant.

18. Chancellor, by Kevin Venzke (2005)
Average member rating: (14 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Loved it. Author's hints are available online. You go back and forth between fantasy and an abandoned school dorm.

19. Photopia
by Adam Cadre
(1998)
Average member rating: (419 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Forgot about this one. Often regarded as the best text game of all time, explore the real world and colored imaginary worlds.

20. Rover's Day Out
by Jack Welch and Ben Collins-Sussman
(2009)
Average member rating: (40 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Interesting blend of slice-of-life and space exploration.

21. Birdland
by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
(2015)
Average member rating: (62 ratings)

MathBrush says:

Perhaps the best Twine game I have played. Goto summer camp by day, talk to oddly formal birds at night.

22. Deadline Enchanter
by Alan DeNiro
(2007)
Average member rating: (49 ratings)

MathBrush says:

One of the first games I ever played, and that drew me into IF. A bizarre fairy alien princess sends you a text adventure detailing her escape plan.

23. Before the End of the World
by Silverstring Media
(2013)
Average member rating: (9 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A shortish Twine game about a girl at the end of the world remembering a life spent in dreams. Great use of music.

24. The Colour Pink, by Robert Street (2005)
Average member rating: (10 ratings)
MathBrush says:

An 8-room sci-fi opening followed by a surreal fantasy world with moral choices. Short and straightforward, but fun.

25. Sentencing Mr Liddell
by I-K. Huuhtanen
(2011)
Average member rating: (14 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A dark and allegorical trip through the world of Alice in Wonderland.

26. Spiral, by Justin Morgan (2012)
Average member rating: (17 ratings)
MathBrush says:

Another dark game. Switch between 3 or 4 worlds (with two main ones being hell and an earth-destroying beast) to try and understand who you are and what is going on.

27. Bliss, by Cameron Wilkin (1999)
Average member rating: (17 ratings)
MathBrush says:

A shortish game that challenges the conventions of fantasy.

28. Triune, by Papillon (2001)
Average member rating: (5 ratings)
MathBrush says:

An abused girl explores a landscape representing innocence, knowledge, violence, etc. Excellent game.

29. My Evil Twin
by Carl Muckenhoupt
(2012)
Average member rating: (17 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A short game with a real world and a mirror world. Nice 0 lot surprises, good puzzles.

30. No Time To Squeal
by Mike Sousa and Robb Sherwin
(2001)
Average member rating: (13 ratings)

MathBrush says:

A multiple viewpoint game about a newborn girl's birth. Includes extreme violence.


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