If you’re an adventure game fan of a certain age, Trackless [official site] and its unusual problem solving mechanics will either send a shiver down your spine or give you nightmares, depending on how you feel about text parsers. For the record, I’m having nightmares right now.
Launched last week, Trackless is a sci-fi adventure romp putting you in the shoes of a member of a cult that worships a strange and enigmatic monolithic object. Assisted by an AI pal, you’ll need to try to uncover the secret of the monolith while climbing up the ranks of the cult.
It’s blessed with a striking 3D comicbook aesthetic that I’m very keen on, but it’s the parsing that’s caught my eye. If you’ve never played the adventure games of old, parsing was the precursor to verb lists, where actions would need to be typed. I honestly miss it sometimes, but what I don’t miss is trying to guess exactly what the developers want me to type. If you think pixel hunting or endlessly trying to combine random crap in your inventory is annoying, imagine trying to type in every possible action until you hit the right one.
Trackless employs this a little differently, however. You’ll be guided by the game’s textual feedback system that gives you prompts to use certain verbs to overcome various puzzles and challenges. According to developers 12East, this eliminates confusion, and it sounds like you’ll be able to progress even if you don’t get it entirely right, though the game does reward specificity.