Have You Played… A Dark Room?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Is A Dark Room a survival game? It’s a browser-based resource management game, which wears the uniform of an ‘idle’ experience but is about far more than accumulation over time. Perhaps it doesn’t quite fit the survival theme because it’s impossible to fail but it repositions the language and grammar of survival for its own sweetly sinister ends.

I’ve never really understood the appeal of ‘idle’ games. The first one that came to my attention was Progress Quest and I sniggered at what I took to be a satirical swipe at MMORPG grinding. And then Cookie Clicker happened, along with a host of imitators and even an idle game generator, and I felt slightly afraid. What if all games became idle games? Wasn’t there a trend emerging in the on-rails nature of modern shooters and the abundance of cutscenes that meant every game was doomed to become fit for idle hands?

Was the devil taking over the entire show? Not while A Dark Room was there to stoke the fires of progress. It’s a mystery wrapped in a survival sim, delivered in the form of a free text-based browser game.

You can read more Survival Week articles over here.


  1. Eight Rooks says:

    I have! On iOS rather than in a browser, but still.

    It let me know… I don’t like browser-based resource management games? I’m envious of anyone who can enjoy these things, because there were certainly moments I would call wonderfully atmospheric and I can see why RPS would want to call it a survival game, but for the most part what little I played of it struck me as excruciatingly dull. :(

    • Senethro says:

      You dismissed it too early. You have to make the thing happen!

      • RedViv says:

        And then the thing! And then the thing. Then that’s about it, I think. Unless the iOS version has been expanded.

        • SpiceTheCat says:

          Hm. In the iOS version you have to get enough thing to build the thing to get the thing to allow you to wander around the thing, find the things that let you do thing to the thing, and then do the final thing. And you have to generate all the necessary stuff to let you do the things.

          That said, I’ve just finished the sequel, the Ensign, on iOS, so I might have confused some of the things.

          I think.

  2. Vexing Vision says:

    The sense of scale and escalation is absolutely amazing.

    It did take me two playthroughs to actually realize what exactly was going on there, though, and why all the soldiers open fire at you all the time.

    Minimalist story-telling, but wonderful… with the exception of the very last ending. I wish there would have been more closure. A final screen, maybe.

  3. DantronLesotho says:

    There is an ending to the game?!

    I could barely get through the caves in it :(

    • Quote Unquote says:

      Indeed there is an ending! Just keep going… Keep building… Keep exploring!

  4. evanandchan says:

    Love, love, love this game. I think I remember reading the iOS version is more expanded than the browser version, so check it out on iOS if you have the option.

  5. Continuities says:

    Thanks RPS <3

  6. cpt_freakout says:

    This is quite an amazing “little” game – go play it!