It’s difficult to nail down exactly what “interactive fiction” entails. A few games, most famously “Rameses” and “Depression Quest,” have played with the “interactive” part of deliberately limiting the player’s ability to interact with the game. “Ancient Greek Punishment” is a parser-based game based on a creative variation of that idea.

Gameplay: The first half of the game plays like standard interactive fiction: You are a spirit at the river Styx, trying to board Charon’s ferry. Once you do so, you play through a series of vignettes depicting scenes in Greek mythology and philosophy. Neither the puzzles in the first section nor the plots in the second section are particularly invovled or difficult, and the game flows smoothly. 5/10.

Mechanics: The Styx section of the game consists of a few short, straightforward puzzles. The more unusual part of the game is its second section and its limits on interactivity. It’s difficult to elaborate on that section without introducing spoilers, but it’s clever and done well. The game is short enough that those limits aren’t tedious. 5/10.

Presentation: Descriptions are terse, and the focus of the game is on the plot rather than characters or setting. As an aid to the player, useful items or verbs are highlighted. (In most games, that would be a distraction; this game is short and simple enough for it not to cause any problems.) The scoring systems in some of the sections are clever and unusual, particularly that of the last vignette. 5/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You’re interested in Greek mythology.

Score: 5

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