A Dark Room Free ASCII Web Game:
Remember how a small ASCII-based browser game called Candy box took over some people’s lives for at least a day a few weeks back? Well, here’s another game that operates in very much the same way, allowing you to play it in your browser while doing other things in between. Once again, I find I’m able to write about A Dark Room while simultaneously searching its Silent Forest for wood and checking the animal traps I laid out for meat — sometimes a bit of fur too.
A Dark Room is strictly text-based, but requires you to wait for bars to tick down before performing activities over and over again. It all starts off in a dark room, where you find a fire that you can light. From there, you just keep stoking the fire every time that the bar cools down. Nothing much seems to happen until a stranger bursts into the room with you, shivering and murmuring in the corner. Not long after this, you’ll start to run out of wood with which to stoke the fire with, prompting you to go into the forest and gather some more. Wood is A Dark Room’s candies. How much wood you have determines what you can build and what you can do as the story progresses.
While progression doesn’t feel quite as engaging or as exciting as Candy box does, A Dark Room certainly starts to pick up once the stranger in the room awakens, and they turn out to be a building who can start building traps, huts, lodges and trading posts. As you continue to manage the stoking of the fire, gathering of wood and checking the traps, you’ll have some events occur to mix it up a little. This might be some scuffling in the walls of your room or a creature decimating your traps, causing you to rebuild them.
What soon emerges is a game of risk and reward. You can follow the tracks of creatures in the hopes of finding them so that they stop destroying your traps, and killing them also means you get plenty more fur and meat than you would by relying just on the traps. But what if they strike you down and kill you? More of these events occur as various traders and other folk pass through and offer you a means to acquire more resources in exchange for others, or a beggar might approach and call upon your generosity so they may sleep warm during the night.
I’m still playing A Dark Room, so I can’t tell how much depth it has at the moment, but initial impressions suggest to me that it’s nowhere near as expansive as Candy box, which is a shame. Another major tweak in design between A Dark Room and Candy box is that in the former, you have to constantly check back in order to keep gathering resources, whereas in the latter, you could just leave it running in the background and continually acquire candies.
Still, I really do love this type of browser-based game and hope to see more and more of these emerge in the future.