Interactive Fiction: The Ark

Control Room

You stand within a spherical room bisected by a transparent floor. The curved surface of the glossy black wall is periodically interrupted by strips of pale blue light. These maze-like patterns are the room’s sole source of illumination.

Around the center of the room is a ring made of a flat pane of transparent material held up by thin, transparent supports connecting to the floor.

In the center of the room, there is a hatch in the floor.

It’s the classic start to a text-based adventure game, or in this case, a work of interactive fiction.  In The Ark, by Matthew Marcus and Devi Acharya, instead of finding yourself standing in an open field west of a white house, you awake within the confines of an advanced alien space craft.  Your task is to explore the ship and discover the history and fate of its people.

The Ark is based on the new Twine tool for web-based interactive fiction creation.  You’ll be prompted with HTML links to explore the different areas of the ship, interact with certain objects, and observe the environment around you.  The game also incorporates graphics and audio at key points in the story to create an enhanced experience.  As you encounter the relics of the alien culture, an AI-equipped hologram named Seriph visits you to tell the story of his people.  The mystery gradually unravels, with a spooky build-up to an exciting endgame scenario.

In addition to the engaging plot, you’ll encounter several challenging puzzles throughout the game.  The textual nature of the game means you’ll really have to put on your thinking cap to visualize the puzzle components and the way they respond to your actions.  If you like games that make you take notes and draw maps, The Ark has you covered.

Of particular note are the artfully described environments of the game.  Players will quickly learn that not every bit of text is a piece of a puzzle, but that the playing experience is greatly enhanced by enjoying each morsel of vivid illustration.  Although the game is set in a sleek and modern spaceship, you’ll find yourself exploring a muggy rainforest, a cliff-side graveyard, a mossy labyrinth, and more through the power of the alien technology.

The environment is rich, the atmosphere is spooky, the puzzles are tricky, and the story is compelling.  Be sure to check out The Ark for a beautiful experience.  To play the game, follow this link and then click on The Ark.