An adventure game where the solution is to consume the world.
Cover image courtesy of Chandler Groover
Here's the deal: Having eaten a bottomless hole and being thus cursed with insatiable hunger, you're fortuitously thrown into the dungeon of a castle made out of food.
Chandler Groover writes a handful of pieces of interactive fiction a year, and Eat Me is a particular treat, a game for this year's Interactive Fiction Competition. Like most of his work, it's a story in which fairy tale logic is taken in a horrifyingly, deliriously dark direction. In this case, into a food dungeon.
Of course, you proceed to eat your way through it. Groover has done a lot of previous work with parser games that sidestep the old verb-guessing problem in text adventures by relying on a limited palette of verbs. Here, you interact with the world almost entirely by eating things. Even the game's response to "wait" recasts it as eating: " You consume time."
The writing completely revels in its funny-horrifying-repulsive premise. Guards made of different cheeses, their relative toughness a function of how hard and thick their rinds are.Snobbish nobles are cast as the courses in your meal. There's a Lewis Carroll quality to the ideas and prose here, but the horror has been dialed way up, so much so that it becomes absurd:
Burrow and bite. Your jaws find purchase everywhere. Shred, swallow, shred, swallow again. Claw clumps and gobble them until they're gone.
The dirty little thrill of adventure games is to act as a spoiler, to walk into an environment and tear it apart as you pick up everything not nailed down and break everything standing in your way. Eat Me gives that pattern a perfect thematic resonance with its surreal plot and setting; you're here to devour this world, and the solution to every puzzle is a matter of what (or who) to swallow when.
Eat Me may put some people off; it luxuriates in the gross and grotesque. It's a niche game in a niche genre. But this is a fascinating piece of writing married to straightforward, but cleverly entertaining, puzzles. And if you haven't played a parser game before, its simplicity of interaction might make it a good on-ramp onto the genre—even if the subject matter is a little hard to swallow.
You can play Eat Me here .