Game Type Thing

An archive of enjoyable flash, indie, and abandonware games.

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I have something a little different for you guys today, a text adventure. I’m no expert on text adventures by any means, but I have a few favorites, and Fail-Safe is one of them. This one is interesting because in a way you both are and are not the protagonist.

Fail-Safe is set in the lonely reaches of space, where you pick up a distress call from a space pod named the Serpentine. It’s badly damaged and most of the crew is dead. You will have to guide the survivor remotely, over the radio, to repair the ship.

This is a great game for text adventure novices, because it throws out all of the usual rules. In fact, I’ve seen it frustrate a lot of seasoned players because the usual commands don’t work. The best advice I can give you when playing this one is to remember that in this game you are not talking to a parser or a computer, you are communicating directly with a living being. You wouldn’t say, “look computer” to someone, you’d say something like, “look at the computer”. You also wouldn’t say “save” or “undo” and expect anything meaningful to happen.  If you keep this in mind, things will go much easier for you.

That said, no parser is perfect. And as in every other text adventure game there will be times when you know what to do, but have to figure out how the game wants you to phrase it. In this one I had some difficulty looking inside of things. You can try examining the object in various ways, but the command it wants is: “look in ____”.

A bit of general advice to get the most out of this game:

  • Whenever you see italicized text, that’s your ship’s computer reporting to you, and is not broadcast over the radio.
  • The survivor is desperate, and somewhat disoriented. If you want him to do something, sometimes you have to say it more than once.
  • And finally examine everything thoroughly, and pay attention to detail. You have no eyes in this game, you have to rely on 3rd party descriptions for everything, so pay close attention to what you are told.

I love the way this game plays with the text adventure format, and uses its strengths and weaknesses to create a suspenseful game that wouldn’t work in any other genre. I think there have been similar games since, but to my knowledge this was perhaps the first. It’s a must-play for anyone who likes text adventures or chilling science-fiction stories.

Play Fail-Safe


Written by Nurse Edna

December 17, 2010 at 4:52 pm