A Dark Room

A while back, I picked up the game A Dark Room for Nintendo Switch for the low, low price of FREE. And boy oh boy, am I glad I did.

A Dark Room, by Canadian development duo Doublespeak Games, originally released in 2013 for web browsers. It’s a minimalist text-based adventure game with timed idle elements and an old-school ASCII map to explore. It has classic fantasy elements with hints of sci-fi and horror thrown in (if you can catch them).

You awake not knowing who or where you are, with mysterious voices stating your only goal is survival. You light a fire to warm yourself, then you begin the journey. Along the way, you meet workers you can hire to collect supplies faster, as well as a woman identified as Stranger that you desire to protect. You uncover more of the world as you build better armor and weapons from the scraps you can find in the barren landscape, while description-less creatures and survivors either help you or fight for their own survival.

The game has some interesting twists and turns. It may take a bit before you start to understand where it’s going, but once it all clicks, the results are fairly impactful.

All of the game’s code is open source. What that means for you is that you can download the source code from GitHub and modify it to your pleasing. That means A Dark Room could be an amazing start to a game development career. The game starts you off with a solid base to work from, showing you the subtle elements of environmental storytelling in a minimalist format, and then allows you to access its inner workings so you can modify it into any way you see fit.

If you have interest in starting a career in game development (and a love of smaller, minimalist interactive stories), I desperately implore you to seek out A Dark Room. The world needs more games like this out there, and you could very well be the next person to make one.

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