Free Games I Like: Aisle

Posted on 7th Nov 2010 at 13:35 by Joe Martin with 38 comments

Joe Martin
I’ve been back on the interactive fiction games lately, mainly because it’s a great way to cleanse the gaming palette after a parade of samey shooters with identical names. The best text adventure games can easily trump a modern title and perfectly illustrates what games are capable of when they aren’t too busy chasing the latest graphics.

If you think that sounds hyperbolic then I suggest you go and play Trinity and A Mind Forever Voyaging, then reassess things.

Alternatively, if you haven’t got the time to manage either of those then you can play Aisle instead.

Aisle is a one-move game. It starts you off in an aisle at the supermarket, specifically the pasta aisle. There’s a brunette standing at one end of the aisle and you’re holding a bag of fresh gnocchi. That’s literally all the information you’re given, meaning you’ll need several moves just to get a handle on things. The first thing anyone does when they play a text adventure is ‘LOOK’ – but in Aisle that’ll also be the last thing you do.

Aisle is clever in three different ways – conceptually, technically and structurally. Conceptually it rubbishes the idea that many gamers have that text adventure games are always long, difficult and obtuse by being the exact opposite. It’s technically great because it takes full advantage of the tiny space it operates in – the parser accepts an astonishing number of words, like a mini-Scribblenauts.

Finally, it’s structurally unique in the way it plays with the identity of the character, allowing the player to define the protagonist through a single command. Typing in ‘LOOK’ hints at a sad, deeply introspective person, while ‘SCREAM’ reveals a sinister, unbalanced mind and ‘SMILE’ gives the story a romantic, happy ending. Aisle allows a fantastic amount of player control and agency for a title that takes at most a minute to finish.

In short; Aisle is good. You should play it, then tell us in the forums what your favourite endings are. You can play it online by clicking the image above.


Discuss in the forums Reply
Tangster 7th November 2010, 14:42 Quote
ask woman about gnocchi
You pick up the gnocchi. "Excuse me.. I don't know if you could help, I had
this in a restaurant once"--in Rome--"do you know how to cook it?"

She pauses, "Well.." She takes the packet and points to the instructions on the
back "Look you just boil it for a few minutes" She pauses and your eyes catch
on each other.

A beautiful flower bursts somewhere between you, "I could cook it for you?" You
both move on to a new aisle and then home.
Material 7th November 2010, 14:55 Quote
'attack brunette' or 'kiss brunette' are both worthwhile.
Canon 7th November 2010, 14:56 Quote
I found swearing at the Gnocchi was satisfying.
Zinfandel 7th November 2010, 16:23 Quote
I miss Clare :(
Zinfandel 7th November 2010, 16:35 Quote
>think about rome

You pick up the Gnocchi and stare at the illustration of Piazza Venezia on its
packet. You remember; sun, heat, food, pasta, sauces, wine, love, ancient,
modern, Italians, Americans, love. And ultimately pain. A pain you had thought
you had forgotten. But like a cancer returning to wreak havoc again, the pain
resurfaces and tears through the thin barriers you had erected. Tears flow.
Memories; guilt. And finally acceptance. You live with it.


Happy ending!

>call clare
You lean round the end of the aisle, "Clare?" Again, louder: "Clare?" She walks
into the aisle, "Yeah?" You take her hand and walk her along to the gnocchi,
"Look, gnocchi, like in Rome--I've never seen it in the shops before." She
picks up a packet and drops it in the trolley. "Get some for tea then?" she
offers, pecking you on the lips.

You have some for tea and it's like Rome, except: it's colder, you have work
tomorrow and you're even more in love than you were then.
Skill3d 7th November 2010, 17:01 Quote
>call security
"Help! Security!" A balding man in his forties, squeezed into a blue uniform
appears at the bottom of the aisle. "Can I help you sir?" You run to him. Pull
him close. Whisper in his ear: "You see that woman?" "Yes, sir" "She just raped
me." "I don't quite understand sir?" "She is stealing all your food!" "Calm
down sir, speak slowly" You raise your voice, "I will not be quiet! It's your
job--stop her!" The guard pauses. You make a dash for the woman, "If you won't
do your job, then I will--" He is too quick for you and hooks a foot around
your leg. You crash to the floor and black out, the guard's words dragged with
you into oblivion, "I think you ought to come with me, sir."
Tulatin 7th November 2010, 17:26 Quote
Smashing the jars is also amusing.

On the note of hokey adventure games, give Facade a try, and see how awkward you can make things
wst 7th November 2010, 17:31 Quote
An awful image; a fragmented collage of a beautiful restaurant, outdoors, the
Pantheon and a dreadful blood soaked smile. No not a smile; a plea. You expel
the memory in one painful shout.

Shoppers walk by uneasily, eyes locked away from you as you walk out into the
night... you hope the night will be more kind.
TCoZ 7th November 2010, 17:41 Quote
>ask woman about clare
"Excuse me." The brunette turns, gives you a nod. You explain, briefly, the
story of you and Clare. Amazingly, she listens. When you finish you ask "Where
did I go wrong?"

She looks apologetic, "I'm sorry, I can't answer that. But it doesn't sound
like anyone was to blame. Sometimes people just grow apart..." "Thanks." You
walk away.

That's the answer you were looking for. If only you had told her the real


>ask woman about thursday
You sidle on over.

"You look tired." She glances over her shoulder, "Pardon?"

"Sorry--didn't mean to be rude. I just thought you were looking tired--had a
hard day?" She smiles, "I'd love to say no, but you're right--I've had a
stinker of a day", again she smiles, "and now I'm being chatted up by a loon in
the supermarket. When all I want to do is get home and put my feet up." You
give a mock look of upset, "I'm no loon!.. Put your feet up you say? Well, four
feet are better than two--"

She interrupts, "I'm going to have to stop you there, Mr. Supermarket smooth.
You're a nice guy--well I don't know, but you seem nice--so I don't want to
disappoint you. I'm not into men so much, you know?" You shrug, "...I could
watch?" She groans and rolls her eyes to the heavens. You turn, taking a coin
from your pocket and tossing it. For every tail there's a head. It's just a
matter of numbers, and yours will be up soon. Till then just keep on trying...
CardJoe 7th November 2010, 17:43 Quote
Originally Posted by Tulatin
Smashing the jars is also amusing.

On the note of hokey adventure games, give Facade a try, and see how awkward you can make things

Facade is awesome. I like to go through the story pretending to be someone else, keep reminding them that I'm Batman and have to be out fighting crime, for example.
theflatworm 7th November 2010, 18:39 Quote
'Stalk woman' gets you a pretty long and interesting story. But beware if 'YOUR' a grammar nazi.
Toploaded 7th November 2010, 19:07 Quote
'undress' is by far the funniest, and oddly the happiest, ending.
Showerhead 7th November 2010, 19:14 Quote
Take off clothes is pretty funny.

Damn Ninjas
TCoZ 7th November 2010, 19:29 Quote
Try taking the brunette's trolley - that's pretty funny.

EDIT: Throw the gnocchi at the brunette, too.

EDIT: A list of all the actions in Aisle.
Icem0n 7th November 2010, 19:33 Quote
Everyone should try "throw pasta at brunette" classic!
exoru 7th November 2010, 20:24 Quote
recall accident, recall death, recall suicide, recall break up
Smilodon 7th November 2010, 20:35 Quote
Is there anything you can write that don't cause the "story" to end after the fist step?
CowBlazed 7th November 2010, 20:44 Quote
This one made me laugh.

>eat gnocchi
You rip open the packet and take out a few Gnocchi, cramming them into your
mouth. The uncooked, floury balls clog in your throat and you swallow them
down, hard.

The brunette glances at you and moves on quickly.

You feel stupid, slip the opened bag back into the shelf and carry on. It's
never been as good as it was in Rome.
CardJoe 7th November 2010, 21:05 Quote
Originally Posted by Smilodon
Is there anything you can write that don't cause the "story" to end after the fist step?

Nope. That's what I meant by it being a 'one move game'.
jsheff 7th November 2010, 23:00 Quote
>Push my trolley at woman's trolley
You rev your trolley backwards and forwards on its slick casters. Then,
squinting slightly to check your aim, you push your shoulders into it and watch
it wheeeeeeeel into the brunette's trolley.

Clash of the metal beasts!

For a second it occurs to you that her trolley, with its greater load, might
win--but as the trolleys smack together with a steely tink you know you've won.
A smile emerges as her trolley tips, rocks and then falls to its side. Your
trolley stands above it, shaking from the contact, but still upright.

She turns, shocked by your disruption of her domestic tranquillity. You grin,
turn and walk to the exit. No-one makes to follow you. This surprises you, but
perhaps they're learning--no matter how many times they lock you up they can't
keep a good boy down.
thehippoz 7th November 2010, 23:33 Quote
lol she scurried away
DragunovHUN 7th November 2010, 23:35 Quote
mmm gnocchi
Tangster 8th November 2010, 00:00 Quote
Originally Posted by Smilodon
Is there anything you can write that don't cause the "story" to end after the fist step?

Try typing "die".
RawrBQ 8th November 2010, 01:17 Quote
>kill gnocchi
The Gnocchi reminds you of Rome. Of Clare. All long in the past and a past not
to be revisited. You punch the Gnocchi and push the trolley on its way,
narrowly avoiding the brunette as you briskly move on to the next aisle and the
thehippoz 8th November 2010, 01:40 Quote
kind of limited.. I wanted to do some crazy stuff but it's zorking
Toploaded 8th November 2010, 03:50 Quote
Yeah what kinda game will not let you pinch your nipples then ask for help on how to do so? Geez!
CardJoe 8th November 2010, 07:30 Quote
Originally Posted by thehippoz
kind of limited.. I wanted to do some crazy stuff but it's zorking

Surely you'd have to type 'Pinch your nipples' or just 'Pinch nipples', anyway? Hands aren't going to come out of the PC.
thehippoz 8th November 2010, 08:00 Quote
yeah guess if you put it that way.. they should have that scenario in there- one of the first things that came to my mind (I know)
perplekks45 8th November 2010, 08:10 Quote
>scream at gnocchi
The gnocchi balloons in your mind, opening up memories of Rome; scooters, wine,
bread, water, plazas, stone, buildings, heat. There are some other things too.
But you block them out with a harsh scream as you hurl expletive after
expletive at the gnocchi.

When you are quite finished, you slowly walk out of the supermarket to your
car, the other shoppers keeping their distance. You drive home, feeling better.
Kris 8th November 2010, 15:06 Quote
quite a funny little game :)
cjmUK 8th November 2010, 15:35 Quote
> climb shelves

You stare at the Gnocchi. You remember the Trevi Fountain in Rome. How you and
Clare sat and bathed your feet in it on the first day. And how you would
continually lose yourselves trying to find some other monument, only to turn a
corner and be back at the fountain again.

You remember the day after Clare had gone, you returned to the fountain. Drunk,
you climbed the fountain and screamed. The police pulled you down and sobered
you up.

Grabbing onto the shelves you hitch yourself up, setting off a mini-avalanche
of pasta. Upon reaching the top of the shelves you can see the whole store.
People stare at you. They think it's you that is mad. ****ers.
Phifty Cal 8th November 2010, 20:20 Quote
I tried falcon punch and was met with a regular punch. I am displeased.
Cthippo 8th November 2010, 20:26 Quote
Seems like an unlimited amount of user generated content is possible here :D
TheLink 8th November 2010, 22:06 Quote
Never heard of this type of game, suprising !
perplekks45 9th November 2010, 07:57 Quote
Originally Posted by TheLink
Never heard of this type of game, suprising !
Are you... a minor?
mi1ez 9th November 2010, 09:29 Quote
Omega Point 9th November 2010, 15:15 Quote
>empty woman's trolley
You jog up to the trolley and grab onto it with a hand. Putting a foot on the
back wheels you pull it over--the contents bounce across the aisle, the metal
crash of the trolley resounding round the aisle--

The brunette spins round, "****!" You give her a menacing glare--"You don't
need all that food! Where you're going--" A crushing blow from behind knocks
the words out of your mouth. You fall to the floor, landing sharply on the
contents of the brunette's trolley. A man stands over you. He has an arm round
the woman, "You alright, Kate?" She nods.

The man offers you a hand and pulls you up. When you are on your feet he
releases your hand and steps back. Before you get a chance to dodge, his fist
smacks into your face--

Under the advice of a lawyer you decide not to prosecute; apparently it might
require you to undergo another psychiatric evaluation. Probably best--just let
it go.

>who are you?
No questions please, only actions. Actions, in turn, will give you answers.
theflatworm 16th November 2010, 00:06 Quote
'Forget self' works! :)
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