Game Review: Aisle (1999, Sam Barlow)


Image by Sam Barlow

Aisle is perhaps the greatest work of Interactive Fiction ever created.

It’s Thursday night.  You’ve had a long day and you’re ready to go home.  You just have to pick up some gnocchi from the grocery store.  You are standing on the correct aisle, with your cart.  There is a woman standing a few feet away from you, with a grocery cart of her own.  What will you do?

Choose your action carefully because this is only a one-move game.  There are hundreds of commands that you can choose from but each command will lead to a different conclusion.

Some commands will lead to happy ending.  Some commands will lead to a sad ending.  Some will trigger old memories.  Sometimes, the memories will be happy and romantic.  Sometimes, they will involve death, insanity, and horror.  Sometimes, you are a good man and sometimes you are a bad man.  Sometimes, you are healthy and sometimes you are sick.  It all depends on which command you chose.

Because each command leads to different details of the story being revealed, Aisle is a game that rewards frequent replays.  Deciding to laugh in one game led to me typing “Remember Clare” in the next game.  Even simply choosing to leave the aisle can lead to a variety of different endings, depending on how you decide to leave.  This game can be a romantic or it can be horrific.  It all depends on which word, out of the hundreds that the game is prompted to respond to, you type in at the prompt.

Aisle can be downloaded from here.