Freeware Garden: Weird City Interloper

Freeware Garden searches the corners of the internet to highlight one free game every day.

Welcome to C.E.J. Pacian‘s exquisite, fantastical, yet magically oppressed city of Zendon. Welcome to an interactive tale of conspiracy like no other. Welcome to the wondrous world of Weird City Interloper and one of the most memorable and downright engrossing text adventures you have ever played.

Essentially an intuitive parser driven conversation game, Weird City Interloper is incredibly easy to get into and thus an excellent interactive fiction entry point, but also, as is customary with Pacian’s games, subtly innovative. This time everything is handled through dialog — even moving around — while a rather odd breed of rats will be delivering you your hints.

Weird City Interloper uses its wisely selected words to craft a breathtaking urban setting that effortlessly merges the familiar with the outlandish. From sentient buildings and floating gardens to destitute slums and factories of unknown purpose, the Weird City is a place that begs to be explored; a place you’ll love and care for.

Talking to the numerous, eclectic and masterfully realized characters that inhabit Zendos, be they former gods, animated suits of armour or even decadent Archnecrobishops, is another delight. Also a necessity, as gathering information is of paramount importance if you want to change history or, at the very least, progress. Learning a mystical language or two should come in handy as well, but I fear I’m entering spoiler territory so I’ll just stop here and hope I’ve been enthusiastic enough.

Just, please, play the thing. If you ever loved a bit of text, you’ll love this.

All you’ll need to do so will be some peace and quiet, the game’s story file (available here) and an interactive fiction interpreter. You know, something like my favourite Gargoyle or the widely used Frotz. You can also play it online here.

[Disclaimer: I playtested the game before release and was aching to talk about it ever since.]


  1. frightlever says:

    Are there options beyond the obvious highlighted ones? So far it seems like this would have been suited better to Twine where you could click on the options instead of copy/paste or, good grief, type everything. But what do I know?

    EDIT: just finished it. Has a Planescape vibe with some interesting characters. I maintain that it would have been a smoother read as a Twine game and since interactivity was basically restricted to clicking every word on every character until you got a new option, it would work better as a somewhat interactive narrative under Twine. Anyway, glad I played it.

    • DrollRemark says:

      Is it possible to do dynamic lists in Twine? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.

      • frightlever says:

        No idea what that is or why it’s necessary. Does this game use dynamic lists? does it need to?

        I’m ten minutes in and I’m already sick of back-scrolling to see what option I might have missed to progress things. I think a regular parser and map might have been more helpful. Which is negative, but jeeze if there’s an interesting story in there the interface is doing a good job at hiding it.

        Not sure if bug, but I had to “farewell” before I could “zook”. Frustrated the hell out of me because nothing was being accepted so I was just trying the same combinations over and over.

        Nope, this appears to be by design. You need to “farewell” out of a location and then state where you want to go next, or what subject you want to broach. Or something.

        • DrollRemark says:

          Did you miss the bit where you can just hit return to show you all of the topics you currently know?

          Without getting too technical, my understanding of Twine is that it’s just simplified HTML, and as such not too good at handling dynamic stuff like, say, an ever-expanding list of topics that are applicable in use at all points in the story. Something more like proper code is needed for that.

          That said, that doesn’t mean there couldn’t have been a mouse-selectable list for the topics though. That would be because it’s much easier to write a text parser, I guess.

          • frightlever says:

            “Did you miss the bit where you can just hit return to show you all of the topics you currently know?”

            Yes, yes I did. Cheers! You made this a lot simpler.

            These days Twine will let you do a lot more than it used to. eg you can have dynamic options depending on variables you’re tracking. It would suit this REALLY well and do away with a bunch of tedious typing.

          • DrollRemark says:

            Ah, interesting, thanks for that. In that case there’s probably not much to choose between the two.

  2. DrollRemark says:

    Dear RPS gods,

    I’m really enjoying this Freeware Garden series, but I keep missing the chance to actually try the games out. Most of the time I read them t’s during my lunch break, so I’m either on my phone or sat at my desk, neither of which are going to lead to me trying to games out.

    Would it be possible to move the publishing time of the articles until later in the day? That way I’d not only remember to try them out when actually at home, but there’d be more chance I’d comment about them too. It always seems a bit pointless going back to a story that’s more than a couple of hours old, as you know less people are reading it by then.

    Just a suggestion, love you either way!

    • frightlever says:

      Most of the time I just bookmark demo articles for later. This game looks like an email so I can comfortably play it at work without arousing suspicion.

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      Graham Smith says:

      The thought behind the 11am scheduling is that people might play the games during coffee/lunch breaks and talk about them during the day, but we can re-think that if it seems like they’re going missed.

      A Friday evening round-up is a good idea though, or perhaps a Sunday chat thread to discuss the week’s games. Hmm.

      • DrollRemark says:

        It seems like it’s only me that finds the daily timing a pain, but a weekend round-up to replace Live Free Play Hard would be a fabulous alternative.

        • caff says:

          Nope you’re not the only one. I like this new column but again the timing is an issue because by the time I get a chance in the evenings, it’s all drfiting to the bottom of the RPS blogofeed. I think a round up thingy would be a perfect accompaniment to the Sunday Papers column.

        • gwathdring says:

          Don’t you dare take away Live Free Play Hard. :(

          It is a glorious piece of surreality. And essential nutrient.

      • tigerfort says:

        I’m perfectly happy with the timing of the dailies (stuck at home anyway), but I support the idea of a weekly round-up.

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      Bluerps says:

      I do what I always do when RPS writes about some free game that I cannot try out immediately: I put the article URL in an email to myself. My email client then sorts these mails into a special folder, so that I can go through them when I have the time (usually the next weekend). That might be a bit convoluted, but it works. :)

      @Mr Smith: A Friday evening round-up would be great.

  3. padger says:

    This is lovely.

    And this series is great. Can we have a Friday afternoon round up post? Ideally of everything on RPS, but just of these posts would be fine.

  4. Cryptoshrimp says:

    I love this, it’s got that Perdido vibe but with even less plot (of which I approve, by the way). I do wonder what it’s made in though, since it could do with a few game-y features (journal, persistant list of terms, etc).

    One thing that’s really nice is the twine-y bracketing of key words, I haven’t seen that much in parser IF, but maybe I’ve been blind!

    edit: it’s made in Inform 7, for anyone curious. Of course it is.