I’ve been catching a lot of interest in interactive narrative games lately, and so imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a wonderful example of interactive fiction recommended to me by Nick Yonge of Krang Games. The game is called Run by developer Christopher Whitman. I was intrigued by the concept and so, of course, I had to at least take a look – and what I found was a marvelous little indie experience. Whitman manages to grasp players with his words and the nostalgic look of the gameplay sequences will not only give older gamers a sense of memorabilia, but will give new gamers a chance to see how simple gameplay can make something fantastic.
Run is a story about a village that becomes purged into the pit of darkness but, as an intrepid settler, you dream about a day with sunshine. The narrative carries you through the inner thoughts and developments of this settler. It’s one of the most unique experiences I’ve played through in months. Your goal as a player is to platform through the narrative, and then play the mini-game sections of the dream to acquire sunlight for the rest of the village.
The more sunlight you can obtain, the more time your village gets to harvest crops and prosper. The sunlight becomes your timer, so strategy in how you divide your time is vitally important. Whitman challenges gamers with deceptive retro games that will truly test players on every set. Each mini game is divided up into 2 – 3 mini games – so strategy is definitely a must when attempting to collect sunlight properly. If you fail, you can move on, but note that it will drastically limit your sunlight field for feeding and harvesting food later.
I fell in love with this game from the moment I finished the first level. Though it’ll take me a while to get the strategy of how to be successful in the game down, Run has quite a lot of accessibility attached to it. Here’s how it breaks down if you’re at all curious:
- Run has simple platforming and movement controls via keyboard
- WASD & Arrow Keys utilized for both left and right hand gamer access.
- No audio cues required, so the game is perfect for deaf gamers.
- The movement functions are easy making Run accessible for mobility impaired.
- Precision isn’t a priority as the game has a relatively relaxed pace to it.
- If you fail sections you have opportunities to replay sections to try again.
- Gameplay is easy to understand and words are easy/large enough to read.
- Color scheme may be a bit off-putting in some areas for colorblind gamers.
- Some segments, during the sunshine segments, can be difficult to read.
- Strategy is key for this game, otherwise, it can make the mini games difficult.
Run is a highly accessible game with tons of retro feel. Any game or literature enthusiast will definitely enjoy this game. You can check out Run now on Whitman’s personal site and though it says it’s a demo it’s actually the full game. You can also purchase a downloadable copy for $3.99 if you want to play it elsewhere. It’s a vast, unique experience that is worth your time and a read. Whitman’s Run inspires me so much, and I hope that more and more of these interactive experiences will come to fruition in the future. Here’s to you Chris! Thanks for inspiring and providing a brilliant story and an road map for others on how to provide educational interactive fiction for all sorts of audiences!