Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Indie Nation #48: Aisle

2:20 PM on 01.30.2009 // Anthony Burch

I don't consider myself at all knowledgeable about text adventures, but it bears mentioning that of the dozen or so I've played to completion, I've totally fallen in love with at least three. 

My favorite of the three is Photopia. My third favorite is Gun Mute. This week, I'll focus on the remaining game.

Aisle is one of the shortest text adventures ever, and also one of the longest.  If you want to know what makes the game so damned interesting, you'll probably figure it out for yourself if you just follow the link and type something -- anything -- in.

If you're horrendously lazy, however, you can just hit the jump as I explain why I like it so much. 

[Thanks to sbshootme for suggesting this in the Photopia Indie Nation.]

The first few times I played through Aisle, I tended to make the protagonist do or think negative things. I don't know if this was due to my life situation at the time, or if that's just the way I approach videogames, but I assumed that (despite the disclaimer at the beginning of the game) there was really only one protagonist, and by entering in different things I was simply getting different reactions out of the same guy while learning more about his singular past.

When I, on a whim, decided to "find Clare," and I actually did, I was initially bummed out. I wanted the game to be a story of misery and loneliness and regret, and all I have to do is "smile" or "call Clare" to make it happy? What a cop-out, I thought. 

Though I still feel the game overwhelmingly tends to lean toward the more tragic side of things, making those few happiness-inducing commands feel random and surprising, I don't mind the fact that there isn't just one protagonist, just one story. Aisle, unlike other text adventures, doesn't ask the player to partake in a role so much as it asks us to explore the possibilities of a single moment, suspended in time. Whatever suggestion we give to the storyteller creates an entire universe of context and consequence in which that action fits. 

Though I initially wanted the action "call Clare" to result in the protagonist helplessly shouting her name to the heavens before collapsing in a sobbing heap of pasta and hate, I kind of dig the fact that somewhere, somehow, there's a version of the protagonist who, somehow, achieved happiness. His happiness may not be as easily found as his misery (which is, in its own way, a pretty honest description of reality), but it's still hidden there, somewhere. There are a million lives and a million stories, and some of them turn out differently than others (I didn't even find the "scooter accident" backstory until replaying it today for the purposes of writing this article).

Leaving the thematic and narrative stuff to the side for a moment, Aisle is more successful than most interactive fictions I've played because it doesn't have to deal with any of the major problems associated with so many IFs -- there's no inventory management, no spatial navigation, no constant irritation that the parser won't recognize what you want it to do. The parser is still relatively limited, of course, but given the game's focus on this single moment in time, almost any believable action (and a few unbelievable) will elicit some sort of individual response, and that immediate feedback will make you want to play again and again and again. Where the worst text adventures feel like LucasArts adventure games with all the graphics removed, Aisle is something that could not be done in any other medium.

It may not be a "game" so much as a piece of interactive story exploration (like Photopia), but it's "games" like this (and again, Photopia) that made me realize I don't mind interactive stories. There are no rules or goals in Aisle, but it does what it does so effectively and imaginatively that I don't find myself wringing my hands over its non-gameness the way I did with The Graveyard.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I really wish the slowpokes at Microsoft would add Forza Horizon to Xbox One backwards compatibility.... It's my favorite racing game. And the soundtrack is honestly flawless.
Parismio avatarParismio
Some green tea and Mario Kart w/ family is a great way to end the day.
KingSigy avatarKingSigy
Honestly, Broforce might be my GOTY. It's really fucking amazing.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Welp, Remote Play is coming to PCs. Calling it now, PS Now enabled toasters and glasses will be announced at the next big Playstation event alongside cute Vita coffins made of paper you can print out of your Remote Play capable printers.
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
How did your Thanksgiving small talk with obscure relatives go? Oh, I bonded over the ethereal experience of hydrogen peroxide in ear canals but they'd never heard of Chrono Trigger so we mostly chewed the corn-flakes-on-potato thing in silence
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Don't forget [img][/img]
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
I wonder how far the show would be taken out of context if the lyrics were "Go, Go Power Rangers, you Mighty Morphine Power Rangers."
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
I just tried out Skyforge, and... [img][/img]
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Is it weird I finally want a Samurai Warriors game because I think Koshosho is super fab? [img][/img]
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
I've never cleaned my comp in the 3-4 years I have had it. Soon I will dust it. I....I dont know what I will find, hidden in the dust.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Happy late thanksgiving Dtoid. I played Doodle God and Murasaki Baby on PSVita, and am now Achievement grinding in Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast and Furious on Xbox One. Super easy 1000G, I need it.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Black Friday pick ups so far are Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, Titan Souls and tomorrow Devil Survivor 2 Break Record ($29.99 at GameStop).
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
This thanksgiving, give thanks for the fact that your family wasnt 1 of the 3 to have picked out a wasp filled turkey, buying a meal and becoming a meal. Next year, may not bring such.....dissapointing results.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So I'm pretty sure you all should be giving thanks to Nekro. For he is the one true perfect being. Be thankful that your lives have been blessed by the addition of a Nekro. For that is the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Happy Thanksgiving Dtoid! Here's hoping you didn't fall off a chair while hanging Christmas lights and bash your shin and foot into the concrete like I did!
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
Listening to Pokémon SoulSilver OST while doing some college work. Suddenly I feel a great amount of guilty taking over me for loosing my PokéWalker 2 years ago... :(
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Ok you thanksgiving motherfuckers. 5 favourite Arcade games (as in coin-op) No order necessary. Go!
Lawman avatarLawman
Happy Turkeygeddon everyone! I'd like to spend it playing something, but I'm too busy drinking instead. Alcohol is better. Alcohol mixed with games is best, but unfortunately, I'm a little too lost to the world for that right now!
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I've got to try Pocket God vs. Desert Ashes. Mostly because I loved pocket god when it came out. Great memories
ikiryou avatarikiryou
I intended to say something important and relevant to how pretty Atelier Shallie Plus looks on the Vita but then I got this annoying sudden nosebleed [img][/img]
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -