Interactive fiction could be defined more as a story than a game, although there are certainly game-like elements to keep you involved in the narrative. Similar to Choose Your Own Adventure or text adventure Infocom games (for the grizzled gaming veterans out there), interactive fiction expertly blends a compelling story with mini-games and puzzles for a relaxing and entertaining experience.
These three interactive fiction games were recently released by remarkable indie game studios. They may be shorter than the games you're used to, but that makes them the perfect way to pass the time when you have an hour to spare on a rainy afternoon, or when you're looking to load up your smartphone or laptop before a flight home.
A Case of Distrust
If you've ever wanted to be a detective in a hard boiled murder mystery, A Case of Distrust is the game for you. Set in the 1920s, you take the role of P.C. Malone, a private investigator struggling to make a name for herself as a detective in a man's world. When a shady character shows up on her doorstep begging for her help, P.C. has no idea about the trouble she's in for.
This interactive fiction title is striking in its style, with 2D animation and silhouetted characters who feel like they just stepped out of a speakeasy. Along with reading a story that practically feels like historical fiction, you'll point and click to snoop around for clues, grill your suspects, and flip through your notes to figure out whodunit. (PC/Mac, $14.99)
Florence is a story that's both heartwarming and heartbreaking. You'll remember what it was like to fall in love for the first time as you walk in Florence's shoes, from the first date, to the first fight, and beyond. The story features snippets of a realistic relationship that pull you in and keep you there with small interactions and mini-games.
One of the most compelling mini-games has you piecing together a conversation as you literally put together jigsaw pieces to keep it going. It's an apt depiction of what it feels like when you're putting the first pieces of a person together and seeing if they fit with your own. (And if you're shy, it's incredibly accurate about how it can feel when you're struggling with a conversation.)
Florence isn't a game you can play through time and time again, but that's okay, because the story sticks with you long after you finish. It's short and sweet and utterly romantic. (iOS, $2.99)
True Legacy has the most text of the games in this list, and is also the most mind-bending and smartphone-turning. Different branches of the narrative will have you turning your device to keep reading---and occasionally solving puzzles---before going on in the story.
The app also has the most dynamic and colorful graphics, with 3D scenes set in a future, dystopian Hong Kong that naturally bring Blade Runner to mind. Like A Case of Distrust, you're a detective investigating a murder, but the similarities end there; this story is much darker. Bleak colors, forensics-based puzzles, and a grim vision of the future make True Legacy stand out as an engaging noir narrative. (iOS, $2.99)
Images: Blindfire Limited, Ben Wander/Serenity Forge, Annapurna Pictures