O, glorious IFComp. The interactive fiction competition has been running since 1995 and at times during those 19 years has felt like the last stalwart keeping the community ticking over. Now the genre is more healthy than its been in a long time, and voting for this year's entries has just begun. Would you like to be Galileo's assistant and sneak his banned book out of the country for him? Would you like to play a "randomized fantasy begging sim"? Would you like to be an interstellar diplomat trying to satisfy the snooty etiquette of a blob-alien?
This is a lot of free games to play from a lot of talented writers and designers.
IF has increased in popularity these past few years in part because there are more avenues to distribute or sell works, and in part because tools like Twine have lowered the barrier of entry and broadened the community creating games. Though there still looks to be a lot of submissions this year using Inform - a powerful though still obtuse natural language system for simulating text adventures - and other advanced tools like it.
The entries can either be downloaded in a single set or individually, and many of them are playable online without any prior software being installed. The games I mentioned above are, in order: And yet it moves, by Orion; Begscape, by our own Porpentine; and Tea Ceremony, by Naomi Hinchen. I haven't yet played any of them, but I spend some time each year picking through and playing any that take my fancy, and those were the first three that leapt out.
Perhaps you're less likely to judge an interactive fiction game by its cover, in which case take a look for yourself.