Voyageur, by Bruno Diaz. A text-based, procedural exploration/adventure game with roguelike elements, where you play a space traveller on a one-way voyage, visiting worlds and gaining resources.
Easily played in a few hours; there are several end-game states with interesting storylines, but since the text is procedurally generated, you can play it indefinitely and keep visiting worlds forever. (I wonder if there is a “long distance” achievement or something?) The game mechanics and resource management weren’t too hard to figure out – mostly because there were only two major variables to manage – so reaching end-game was straightforward.
What interested me most about Voyageur was the procedural generation. There’s a lot of hype nowadays in the games world about how to use it to add variety and randomness into games, so I finally got to observe it at work through in Voyageur’s descriptions of worlds, and the appearance of in-game events and choices. Indeed, it’s impressive how much variety, and thus atmosphere and sense of scale, can be achieved by the procedural generation. On the other hand, I started recognizing the patterns after a while (possibly because there weren’t that many choices), and that broke a bit of the atmosphere. It was interesting to observe a game mechanic at work – its outcomes, and what kind of limits it may have – and I think that the hype around procedural generation is well-deserved and it has potential to be used effectively in games.
Voyageur was made by a single developer. It shows: it’s a small game in spite of the procedural generation, and I quickly ran up against its limits. Nevertheless, I’m impressed by what he’s achieved, an evocative little game with delightful writing, that simultaneously feels intimate because of its small scope, and expansive because of the procedural generation.