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Have You Played... Aisle?

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

Aisle is one of my favourite games. It’s a snapshot of a life in progress that unfolds into a complex character study that you can guide toward tragedy, farce, drama, thriller or romance. The confines within which it operates – a text adventure in which a single action can be taken on each playthrough – are as strict as any I can think of, but from the restrictions of that stage it gestures toward distant cities and a storehouse of memories. You should take some time to play it right now.

On to the next aisle.

The setup is mundane, recognisable. As the game begins, on the cusp of its own ending, there is no major crisis, no great decision to be made on the spur of the moment. A man is browsing the aisles of a supermarket. He considers the gnocchi.

You type, you make him buy that gnocchi. Or you make him dance, or interact with other shoppers, or take off all his clothes, or cry, or laugh, or run into the streets. Or remember. One action and it’s all over…

Except it isn’t, of course, because he’s back there again, in the aisle, considering the gnocchi. And maybe you know a little more about him now and can act appropriately, or cause him to dwell on the things you have learned. Maybe you can create that major crisis the game was missing, or solve a crisis from the past. The world is your oyster, within and without those aisles. The world is your gnocchi.

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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