A List of Reader's Games

For the times when you can’t play fallen London (on a plane, etc.) or for if you just want to add a little variety to your free time, I thought it might be worth putting together a list of reader’s games for those who crave delicious words.

And to keep this focussed, let’s limit this to literature-based games (like visual novels, choose-your-own-adventure games, etc.) where the words are what keep you enthralled, rather than mechanics, graphics, etc.

For me so far (most likely due to my own unfortunate lack of exposure), this is a very short list. Fallen London has some of the best writing I have ever seen in a game. But hopefully we can find a few more delicious reads here.

I’ll start:

We Know The Devil
There was only one other title that ever held me with its words as much as Fallen London, and that was WKTD. This is one of the few games that has ever made me really cry. This few hour-long, group relationship-based, psychological horror visual novel is stunning. It’s a story about the alienation of queer youth in a religious summer camp, but in a world that looks like our own at first, but is definitely not. This story has never left me, and I played it a year ago.

So what other visual novels or CYOA games have left you in awe with their words?

edited by Six Handed Merchant on 12/30/2017

It’s awfully grindy, but The Silver Tree is worth mentioning.

For those of you who like video games cherished and prized for their writing over their gameplay mechanics, I have one solid recommendation. Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines. It’s a PC game set in the world of the tabletop RPG called World of Darkness, and it has some of the hands-down most engaging, humorous, and creative writing I’ve seen in a game. The voice acting in most places is supremely good, especially for a 2004 title, and it’s one of those games that even though the story is fairly linear, there’s a thousand ways to play the game and I always keep coming back for more. Anyone who enjoys such things – including phenomenal worldbuilding and variety – should definitely check it out.

Other than that, a few good mobile text adventures include the &quotChoice of Games&quot series. I’m personally a big fan of Choice of Broadsides and Choice of the Dragon. They’re short little RPGs, but definitely worth a few plays.

And if those don’t do anything for you, there’s always good ole ZORK. A timeless classic, but those unfamiliar be warned. It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

If minding super-famous classic like VtmB is allright, then I dare to recommend Planescape: Torment. It’s a 1999 CRPG in a bizarre world of surrealistic planes of being, a key city tying them together, and an amnesiac person recovering the complicated truth about himself. This was a first game to show me the true power of videogame fiction. A story of intrigue, fault, love, loyalty and poor decisions with a core question: &quotWhat can change a nature of man?&quot

There are recent &quotideologic&quot sequel, Torment: Tides of Numenera, and it seems to have the same merits as it’s predecessor, but I did not afforded it due to horrible stat-check mechanic and too dull characters and plot to dip into for ages (maybe I grown discriminative and game is great). But Planescape: Torment is what I b—dy sure to recommend.

Another one is Pathologic, which is old one, too. This is a very special game (like any game from Icepick Lodge) where you are newcomer to a distant peculiar town assaulted by plague. You talk to people, prowl the streets, scavenge plagued houses, barter scraps for meds and moonshine, study the disease, face enemies, experience visions, time passes, environments changes. Each playable character has an important role in unfolding events, different perks and limitations, different standing with town factions. This game has a rich yet laconic setting, strengthened by compelling decadent atmosphere and clever plot delivery, leaving enough room and enough hooks to speculate.
edited by curtistruffle on 1/4/2018
edited by curtistruffle on 1/4/2018

This is what I was going to say! I just spent a 12-hour plane flight playing downloaded Choice Of games on my tablet. If you like Dangerous content, I particularly recommend the &quotSamurai of Hyuga&quot series.

Edit: I just noticed that We Know the Devil was only $2 on the Steam winter sale so I bought it and played it. It was really short but really good. Lots of awkward teen dialogue that doesn’t sound like it’s saying anything but it really is. Exactly how good it is I won’t know until I play it another nine times.
edited by Aberrant Eremite on 1/4/2018

i second planescape:torment, this game quite literally changed me. the sequel, numenera, doesn’t measure up, but honestly, at this point i’m not sure anything would measure up at all. Still both are worth playing. Pathologic, also known as mor utopiya, is a darling of mine and! for those who don’t want to deal with it’s dated graphics and mechanics- good news, it’s getting a reboot soon. VtmB is a no-brainer.

I would personally lay my life down for the Witcher trilogy, Dark Souls achieves maximum storytelling in minimum words (as does deeply sad Layers of Fear), and if you don’t mind games being a little rough around the edges, Spiders’ Technomancer and Bound by Flame deliver a nice story as well. But honestly, in this bunch of classical roleplaying games, where all the classic RPGs at? Recent Tyranny from obsidian is an unexpected treasure that stole my heart, Pillars of Eternity are an acquired taste, Divinity Original Sin 2 is… honestly something I haven’t expected to see in my lifetime. And Shadowrun series, particularly Hong Kong? If you don’t want to be an shady orc or elf mercenary hired to do a black-op of moving chairs around the rooms of rival corporation to ruin their feng-shui, then who are you even?

Mortis Ghost’s Off is… a must-play and beautiful in it’s words if not graphics. probably could be played on a windows tablet, so relatively portable. Letophobia is on storynexus and made by babelfishwars here on forums, and is delicious. So is Cabinet Noir, really fun, and a short, but cool (see what i did there?) Winterstrike. Then, Zero Summer and Samsara are unfinished, I think, but what’s there is worth playing.

I’m pretty sure Telltale Games makes their famous… game-like story thingies… also on mobile/portable devices, so grab yourself a Wolf Amongst Us or Tales from the Borderlands and you’re set to go.

when it comes to purely text-based games, Trials in Tainted Space…- why are you booing me?!..- listen, I know it’s a porn game. But it’s also a game with a simple, but entertaining storyline and really meticulously crafted setting; the characters and alien worlds are an incredibly colourful bunch. And it’s probably the only text-based game in which the combat mechanics are actually fun. I quickly gave up trying to bang aliens when shooting them proved to be much more fun… that sounds wrong somehow… anyways, it can be played on tablets and phones as well.

there’s also the text-based Hitchiker’s guide to galaxy game, also comes in upgraded-graphics style for anniversary edition. There’s also an otome game on android (possibly also iOS) called the arcana which is a mix of murder-mystery and romance. Very enjoyable art style.

80 Days. Oh, 80 Days. One of the few games I’ve played that rivals Fallen London (and has music!)

And, it’s a bit of a stretch to call it purely text-based, but text is very important in it: Oxenfree, which uses a unique interface where you choose from multiple dialogue options, and the dialogue you choose to say has a huge impact on the story.

One text-based game I’ve enjoyed is Choice of Robots. You play as a young engineer on the cusp of developing the first true AI, and then deal with the consequences of your creation. Choice of Robots on Steam The company that made it has several other similar games, but I haven’t played any of those yet.

There is a captivating text-based ZPG (zero-player game) Godville. It is not similar to the Fallen London in the sense of the atmosphere, but it is humorous and can be very entertaining to read sometimes.

As its genre presumes it plays itself. The &quotplayer&quot takes a role of a god who creates his/her own hero in a fantasy-based world and then reads his diary. However, there are several ways to interact with the hero. The god can &quotencourage&quot or &quotpunish&quot him, he can also send him to the arena, in dungeons or in the sea. The last two possibilities are unlocked after the temple and ark are built. Achieving each of these goals may take one year. But there are some other things to do.
I wouldn’t recommend to read it in large quantities. This way it can get boring soon. From time to time is ideal.

[quote=Lady Sapho Byron]It’s awfully grindy, but The Silver Tree is worth mentioning.


While we are talking about defunct (but still playable) StoryNexus games, Locked Code, where you are an archaeologist trying to get as much knowledge and treasure out of a vaguely Mayan tomb as possible, has some genuine puzzle solving and plenty of thrills. It’s not easy to get your character out alive. I also liked Zero Summer, a Western-flavored post-Apocalyptic story. However, Locked Code is a finished work, and I don’t think Zero Summer is, though a lot of it is out there. You can find and play them, if interested, from your Fallen London &quotAccount&quot page.

I know that &quotLocked Code&quot and &quotZero Summer&quot are not based on novels, but they are text-based and well-written IMHO, especially Zero Summer.
edited by cathyr19355 on 1/23/2018

Wow, thanks everyone for the references, I’ll check the games I don’t already know !
Pillars of Eternity 2 came out two months ago and it’s really good too for what I’ve seen until now! The first one reminded me of Planescape: Torment in some aspects. Also I really loved Sanitarium, it’s a quite poetic psychological horror game.

In the visual novels genre I highly recommend the Umineko and Higurashi games, also horror games but with a compelling story full of twists and deep, flawed characters. The exact same thing can be said of &quotThe house in Fata Morgana&quot. The writing and music is awesome in both games!

And there’s the psychological RPG Winter Voices which is very text-heavy, there’s a Kickstarter going on for the sequel. I’m part of the dev team actually :)

I searched a discussion like this for years. I already some of these games (like VtM and DOS2) but I have so many things to check out!

I personnaly suggest Slay the Spire. It’s still in demo, but the storyline is so rich once you discover it. It makes me think of Fallen London for the beginning. You just wake up with a whale and…chut, spoilers. It’s divided between the fights (card-based) and the rest (text-based, with some nice cartoony art).

If we stay in the lovecraftien theme, then try Darkest Dongeon. It’s hard. It’s a bit grindy. You will lose a handful of your adventurers before getting familiar with the mechanics. But it’s a beautiful dongeon crawler, with an amazing narrator voice and delightful madness. So try it, and bring many torches.
edited by Pryno Belle on 1/6/2019

[quote=Lady Sapho Byron]It’s awfully grindy, but The Silver Tree is worth mentioning.


Yes. I think that The Silver Tree has very beautiful writing but little plot, if you understand what I mean.

I can recommend Torment: Planescape hands dowm. I count it not only among my favorite video games, but among my favorite works of art in general.
As for other recommendations, the House of Many Doors has a very clear thematic connection to Fallen London, and it also relies on the beauty of its words. I found the gameplay a bit clunky but the worldbuilding and the words are amazing.

Open Sorcery is just brilliant. I’m not going to say anymore except that I’m confident that you’d want to buy it after you play the demo. If you’ve ever played Twine games, this is the epitome of what Twine can achieve.

Speaking of Icepick Lodge, The Void(Tension/Turgor) may also be nice, it’s less about having a clear plot line as it is about creating a journey for you to interpret, it’s like the poetry to most of these other game’s prose. Its setting is very otherworldly, but is a slight departure from the Lovecraft vibe, and its gameplay can be described as an odd form of exploration, resource management, and a sprinkle of first person glyph combat.

Alas, I saw this post much too late to participate in the Kickstarter.

I really liked the idea of Winter Voices, but when I first saw the thing I owned a monitor that maxed out at 1024x768 - which meant the thing was effectively unplayable on my rig. If there ever is a Winter Voices 2 at some point, please do let us know. :-)

Silly answer: Homestuck. You may now kick me out of this establishment. (It does technically count, on the criterion of being a webcomic with extremely large amounts of text and extensive worldbuilding.)

Serious answer: The tabletop RPG sourcebook for Nobilis. For reading, I recommend 2e - it has better flavor text and atmosphere (although some people say it is densely packed and difficult to understand). If you ever actually want to play Nobilis, on the other hand, you want 3e.
edited by hesperidia on 1/19/2019

Creatures Such As We (Lynnea Glasser) is an interactive, philosophical romance novel set on the moon (with the romance being optional). It’s an exploration of the concept of games as art, as well as the role of player choice and mutability in a story. The writing creates an engaging tone and vivid enough imagery, and it’s free (with time delays), with an option to purchase an unlimited version.

Choice of Rebels: Uprising is an interactive fantasy novel focusing on a revolution against a bloodthirsty empire. There are several playable archetypes, each with distinct characteristics that weave their way into the story seamlessly. And, while this thread focuses on enthralling stories, the economic resource management - balancing the interests of conflicting factions without starving while preparing for inevitable war - is surprisingly fun.

Both of those were from Choice of Games (also the platform used by Choice of Robots from earlier in the thread).

Alter Ego is a life simulation game from 1986 where you begin as an infant and grow through childhood, adolescence, early and late adulthood, and senescence, all while making decisions about the meaningful events of your life. There are a few weak points (the romance and work aspects are underdeveloped), but it’s a thoroughly touching game.