All Things Devours is a short work of interactive fiction which
I wrote for the 2004 IF Comp. The
term interactive fiction (or IF) refers to anything in which you influence
the outcome of a story. Thus a novel is not interactive fiction, since
you (the reader) have no influence on its outcome, while a computer game
such as Myst is interactive fiction since it has a story and
you can affect its progress. While the scope of IF is very broad in principle,
the term is most commonly applied to text adventure games: an early form
of computer game in which you are shown descriptive text and respond with
written commands saying what you (or the fictional persona you control)
will do next.
All Things Devours is an example of such a text adventure and
is more puzzle-based than literary. It is rather like an ornate puzzle
box in which a set of simple constraints and goals must be met, but in
which it is difficult to see quite how this can be achieved. The game
draws on a rather well worn science fiction device, but implements it
in what I have been told is a very satisfying and intellectually consistent
manner. I intended it to be solvable in a couple of hours and, from what
I hear, this is about right.
All Things Devours has attracted quite some interest, with at
least 36 reviews floating around on the net. It has also received several
If you are unfamiliar with interactive fiction, then I would advise you
to have a look at this short introduction
before trying Devours.
The game is available in online and offline forms. Both forms make use
of a single game file, which is called a zcode file (the same format as
the classic Infocom games of old). To play the game, the file requires
a special program called an interpreter to run it. One easy option
is to use an online
interpreter. This has the advantage of not requiring any downloading
but has the significant disadvantage of not allowing you to save your
progress. Perhaps it is a good way to try things out and see if interactive
fiction is the type of thing you would like. To play Devours
offline, you can download your own interpreter here
for a great iOS implementation). Then use it to load the file devours.z5.
Please note that this is a revised version that involves several changes
to the competition version.
If you get stuck at some point in All Things Devours then you
can look at some hints that I have provided or
even a complete walkthrough. It is more satisfying to solve it yourself
though, so do leave it a few days before looking for help.
Finally, if you have played the game to its conclusion, then you may be
interested in the challenge. Some of you
may also be interested in seeing the source code,
or in reading some of the extensive comments and
reviews. Also, I have recently (2008) noticed that there are quite
a few recent games that share the same theme
as Devours, which interested parties may wish to look at. However,
do consider playing the game through before trying any of these, as there
are spoilers within.