Violet (Interactive Fiction)

It’s been a long while, but I’ve got some more interactive fiction to recommend: Violet, by Jeremy Freese. It’s got all of the usual things I like in a modern piece of interactive fiction: a believable, detailed world that you can really feel like you’re a part of, and which “carries on” around you; a beginning that doesn’t need to explain itself (you can pick it up as you go along); an enthusiastic thoroughness as far as anticipating what a player might try (many of the “unusual” things you can try to do have been anticipated and have specific flavour text); and a story that’s emotive and clever. So far, so good.

But the way in which it really furthers the genre is in it’s presentation format. The narrator of the story – Violet – is the girlfriend of the protagonist, who – through a series of encouragements and discouragements, as well as ocassional asides and additional commentary – helps lead you through your adventure: it is, if you like, a second-person perspective text-based adventure. But it doesn’t take long to realise that she isn’t actually there at all: all of her dialogue is in your head – it’s what your character thinks she would say in response to everything you’re doing.

I thoroughly explored the game in about an hour, and I highly recommend that you do, too: it’s a fabulous piece of interactive fiction, wrapped around a reasonably good bit of fiction.

Fully expect your feedback on this one, JTA.

Update, 19th October 2008, 14:20: Fixed the link to Windows Frotz (previously pointed at WinFrotz, which – while a fabulous Z-Code interpeter, can’t cope with ZBlorb files like the one this game is packaged in). Sorry, Binky.


  1. Binky Binky says:

    the interpreter doesnt seem to recognise the format of the game- doesnt show up on “open” list, and if you drag and drop – Z Code Error.

    In windows, natch.

  2. Dan Q Dan Q says:

    Sorry, Binky. Try downloading Windows Frotz, rather than WinFrotz, which should yield you better success. Forgot which one I had installed when I wrote this post.

    Competition page is at, by the way, if you’re interested in trying any other games this year. I’ll be posting reviews here, of course, of the very best of them.

  3. Joshua Rodman Joshua Rodman says:

    You reference the frotz page, but frotz cannot handle zblorb files.

  4. Dan Q Dan Q says:

    Joshua: I fixed that in the updated on 19th October – the link should go to Windows Frotz (which can handle zblorbs), not WinFrotz (which can’t). Try it!

  5. Separate from the issue with Winfrotz vs Windows frotz, for “other platforms” you point at generic frotz … which seems not to be able to handle this game
    (at least, off the shelf packaged frotz on ubuntu feisty won’t run it…).
    (Possibly this was what Joshua Rodman was referring to also…) Maybe Windows Frotz would work under wine on ubuntu, but I haven’t tried it.

  6. Andrew Andrew says:

    Has anyone managed to find a way to run this game on ubuntu? I seem to have tried a million different interpreters, but they all fail.

    Under Wine I got Windows Frotz to install, but it doesn’t run Violet.


  7. Dan Q Dan Q says:

    @Andrew: If you look around, you can find the .z8 or .z5 or whatever it is version of it (rather than the .zblorb version I linked to) which will run in virtually all Z-Code interpreters.

  8. Crecerelle Crecerelle says:

    I might come a bit late to the party, but have you tried Gargoyle ( Andrew? It’s a very pretty interpret that can handle most IF formats, and it’s cross-platform to boot.

  9. evan evan says:

    This game sucks. It’s badly written and doesn’t even understand the command “look around.”

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