Interactive Fiction (or IF for short) is both a computer game and a book, or rather something in between.
You usually take on the role of the main character in a story. The game tells you what
happens to the character, and you tell the game how the character should act.
This is not always simple, but can make for a very rewarding experience. The game's
output is always mainly text based, but there are some games that will also show images and
play sounds. You communicate with the game using text as well, but there are indeed
a small number of games that complement this with mouse support.
Many games have problems for you to solve, also called puzzles. How and when you solve these
puzzles may affect how the plot unfolds and even the outcome of the game. There are also
games that don't have puzzles,
but rely on the story itself being good enough to keep the player's interest. The story
can still take multiple paths, depending on the player's choices, but the game isn't meant
to be an intellectual challenge as such. The first category of games is
sometimes called traditional IF or puzzle-based IF or just text adventures,
while the latter is called puzzle-less IF. There are of course games that are a mix
of these two, as well as experiments with the genre that don't fit in anywhere yet.
There are many authors active in interactive fiction today that provide games of excellent
quality, regarding literary aspects as well as puzzles. This guide will help you find
some of the finest games ever produced, show you how to get them running on your computer and teach you how
to play them. As a bonus, almost everything related to IF today is offered free of charge.
You can play the best games around without paying a cent (or penny for that matter).