I Played That! #9: Infocom Games (C64, PC)

As home computers in the early 80s fought over who had the best graphics and sound, one company took the opposite approach. Infocom’s games were all text adventures, and their ads proudly announced that. It didn’t hurt them; they became huge.

Infocom had text adventures for a variety of genres. Fantasy, of course (Zork series, Enchanter series), and science fiction (Planetfall, Suspended), but also murder mysteries (Witness, Deadline), Romance (Plundered Hearts), modern adventure (Infidel), horror (The Lurking Horror), and socio-political criticism (A Mind Forever Voyaging).

I pretty much pirated all the Infocom games, which means I often missed out on physical items included in the box that were needed to solve them. Hence, I didn’t finish many of them. I played Zork I and II, but Zork III was much harder and I didn’t get far in it. I really enjoyed Enchanter, and I think I played its sequel but I’m not sure. Pretty sure I finished Planetfall. Others I remember trying but not getting too far into were Infidel, Starcross, Deadline, and Suspended. (There was also another that we’ll get to later in the series.) Generally I didn’t have the patience (or, honestly, the skill) to solve most of these, and the ones I got furthest in were the easiest ones.

Sadly, as the 80s moved on and graphics and sound got better, it became harder to get by on text alone. Infocom eventually relented and got into more mainstream adventures, but still with a lot of depth and attention to plot. Mines of Titan was one such game, and I really enjoyed it.

At one point in my PC days I bought one of the Infocom collections, as I really wanted to dive into them more than I had, but I’m not sure I ever played any of them. Infocom games, for me, remained something I theoretically loved, but actually didn’t do much of. Every now and then I get the urge to try them again, but so far I’ve resisted.

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