You are about to be offered your dream job as the Director of the Museum and Institute for Puzzles and Problem Solving -- if you can pass one final test by solving an elaborate set-piece puzzle designed just for you by the outgoing Director.
Stories playing in the here and now
A beautifully-written game based on Asian mythology. To explain the premise would be difficult, but that's not really an issue -- the best thing about this game is simply enjoying the setting, which is full of rare and lovely imagery. The puzzles are occasionally a bit elusive, but the built-in hint system helps somewhat with that problem. There are also multiple endings and an extensive set of notes describing the game's background -- quite a lot of polish for a (relatively) brief piece.
It is playgroup day and playgroup day is normally a good day but ever since that little red-haired girl started coming she always wants your toys.
She shouldn't get your toys.
You tried telling the mom this but she doesn't understand you. She mostly ignored you but then she just shoved a pacifier in your mouth and changed your diaper.
You are a dog and you’re hungry. It’s not dinner time in many hours, so you need a snack. Unfortunately, you’re not very good at making sandwiches, so you must get your human pet to make one for you.
Teddy bears, as anyone who owns one can tell you, come to life when you're asleep. This game puts you in one bear's shoes, making mischief and preparing for a big day. Although allegedly an "interactive children's story", it will probably leave most genuine children baffled, through both its vocabulary and its several major references to other prominent text adventures. Small, with good puzzles based on overcoming the limitations of being two feet tall and made of cloth.
A deceptively simple premise: You get stuck out in the rain. This is one difficult little game, made of interlocking time-sensitive parts with ample opportunity to get things irrevocably wrong. Consists of two acts, one before and one during the all-important and landscape-transforming downpour. Well-polished prose. Excellent building of tension.
It's been almost a month since your parents disappeared.
One Tuesday, they just didn't come home, and there's been no sign of them since. For the University and the rest of the town, the mystery is beginning to pall. To those people, it's as if Claire and Scott Colborn suddenly stopped existing -- strange and inexplicable, to be sure, but forgettable in the long run.
You're an unhappy teenager in an unpleasant Irish boarding school, remembering your happier younger days and putting up with the present as best you can. It's not very interactive, but it's an noninteractivity that serves the purposes of the story--the central character doesn't have the courage to speak honestly with others, so he hardly speaks at all, and the frustration the player feels mirrors the PC's frustrations. There are no puzzles, and the game essentially progresses whatever you do, but as a story and a characterization, it works extremely well.
The plot--you're exploring a cave, hunting a mysterious beast called a Wumpus--is derived from the ancient minimalist BASIC game Hunt the Wumpus, but the similarity ends there. This is arguably the most richly described cave in the history of IF, and your experience of it is thoroughly and harrowingly described. In fact, the cave is as much your adversary as the Wumpus itself, and it takes just as great a toll on you. The puzzles are fairly conventional (though the last one is rather elegant), and they include a maze that isn't really a maze.
The author's tag-line for this game is "A one-room game set in your apartment," and it's difficult to say much more about it without spoilers. Suffice it to say that it's extremely well crafted and very, very creepy--this is "mess with your head" IF par excellence. Precisely what happens, particularly at the end, is open to multiple interpretations. There's also a lot going on, in a sense, so you may want to replay it a few times once you're done. Not to everyone's taste--it's not an upbeat game by any means--but masterfully done.