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The Text Adventure Evolved? CYPHER

The text adventure, as we’ve known it for years, is finally beginning to evolve. It’s adding graphics, using new techno… hang on, it’s not 1984. And yet, it’s fair to say that the thriving world of Interactive Fiction primarily focuses on the purest form of the genre – just the text, ma’am. Now, I’m not nearly knowledgeable enough about the scene to know if the claims made by CabreraBrothers are definitely the case, but they’re arguing CYPHER is the first text adventure made using Unity3D, and they’re calling it “the comeback of commercial text adventures”.

It’s a cyberpunk adventure, openly inspired by 80s movies such as Bladerunner, where you play a criminal in NeoSushi City (um) in Japan, trying to smuggle passcodes through borders using a chip in your brain.

The trailer certainly captures a lot of the sense of an early text adventure, for some reason rather heavily focusing on the tedium of trying to open a briefcase that’s locked, for which you don’t have the key. Didn’t IF tidy that silliness up a long time ago? But soon after you can see some of the significant differences here too. For instance, downloading the game also gives you a bunch of assets to print out, used to guide operation of in-game tools. There’s also graphics, recorded dialogue, a soundtrack, and a couple of examples of some really non-text-adventure commands being accepted.

When one of the two brothers responsible for the game previously worked in web design, you’d kind of hope navigating their site would be slightly easier. But the mad jumble of information on one long page does eventually give way to means of buying the game. For $15 you get the basic package, along with all the printable bits and pieces you’ll need. There’s the Collector version for $20 that adds in a digital hint book, or a Deluxe for $25 where they, er, sign it (?), along with some papercraft gubbins. I worry that those prices are a little brave, when releasing into a genre that’s traditionally been either free or extremely cheap for many years. Especially as the latter two are reduced prices, due to go back up 26% in a month. We’ll take a look at it soon.

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John Walker


One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I tried to leave, but they won't let me. If anyone reads this, please send help.

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