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Twilight Heroes

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We’ve brought your attention to many text adventures, but very few text role-playing games. And no, ascii RPGs don’t count.

Twilight Heroes is currently in beta, but very playable. In it, you roll a character who has recently become too fed up of the crime in his neighbourhood. You set out to become a vigilante crimefighter, silly costume and all.

What follows is a surprisingly in-depth and complex RPG, where you patrol various areas of the city, encounter enemies (these might be skateboarders, vogue rogues, or elderly women) and batter them with your weapon of choice. While on these patrols you may well stumble upon deeper issues; uncovering corruption and danger, helping the innocent, and pursuing the story’s various threads.

There are shops, bars, a casino with various means of gambling your in-game money, and even an auction house for offloading decent loot to other players. And it’s all to be explored within a certain number of turns a day.

That’s the real peculiarity (beyond its all being depicted in text and html down-down lists) – this is all turn-based, both in combat, and in your movement around the city. Most activities will take up 5 minutes of your evening, asking you to cram in as much crimefighting as you can before bedtime, as you have to be up for work the next day. This leads to excellent phrases like,

“You get a super adrenaline rush. All this energy means you can stay up another 3 hours past your normal bedtime without suffering any ill effects at work tomorrow morning. Bedtime +180 minutes.”

A cup of coffee will give you a bonus few minutes too, but too many and you’ll start being impeded by the caffeine. Once you’re out of turns, that’s it for your playing time that day. Come 11.10pm US Eastern time, the game goes down for a few minutes, and then when all the backing up is done, you’re good to play another evening’s worth.

While it’s reasonably rudimentary in design, and the scenarios aren’t going to make you explode in messy excitement (the combat routines are quickly very repetitive), the writing makes it a lot of fun. And never moreso than when you get a link to the game’s dictionary, popping up very silly descriptions of things about which there was never any ambiguity in the first place. For instance:

sweaty socks

n. It’s a subtle but important point to make that the sweaty socks in question are not necessarily what one would call “sweatsocks.” They are sweaty, yes, and socks, sure, but they might be sweaty dress socks, or sweaty woolen winter socks, or sweaty Japanese sandal socks with the big toe separated from the other toes. They might be black, brown, patterned, blue, or any other color, including but most definitely not limited to white. They could even be socks sewn to look like animals and used as puppets. The only thing that can be said about them for sure is the smell, which is most definitely of sweat.

It’s all for free, with the suggestion that donations can keep it that way. Thanks to IndyGamer for the link.

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John Walker

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One of the original co-founding robots of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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