In the vast ocean of games that appear on the virtual shelves every year, rarely do “text-based” titles get a second look for gamers looking for a new thrill. We have games where you can be a goat. We have games where you can date a monster. It is tough sometimes to think of a game wilder than what we already have, until the new text-based title AI Dungeon 2 appeared. Through the power of words, nearly anything is possible, for better or for worse.
For those that are unfamiliar with AI Dungeon 2, it is an open-source, text-based “game” which is more like an artificial intelligence-powered choose your own adventure story. It is available on PC in a browser, but it is best enjoyed on any mobile device. You can win, and you can certainly lose, but the real story is in the journey. Think of it like, you’re playing D&D with a very open-minded Gamemaster. AI Dungeon allows you to start a fantasy, post-apocalyptic, mystery, or zombie title, with a unique option to create a custom game where you set the baseline story. No matter what you choose, there are ways to direct the story where you think you want it to go, even if the AI fights you on it.
You may decide that you want to befriend a Necromancer you just met, and no matter how many times you may entice him with candy, he could still decide to stab you in the face. AI Dungeons’ greatest strength is in its absurdity. The AI grows and learns, remembering characters and details, and brings them back, sometimes when you least expect them. All the while, most stories attempt to keep the player grounded to events that happen in the world while continually adding new situations. You may start out simply conversing with a passing villager until you notice a dark shadow on the ground or a giant fireball engulfs the town. How you handle each situation will depend on you, and how creative you can be.
No RPG visually or textually depicts the amount of freedom AI Dungeon allows. In the end, you could win and become a king, or you could end up swallowed by a sea monster and die, or any number of additional outcomes. AI Dungeon is equal parts adventurous, humorous, confusing, and raunchy. Due to the varied nature of each experience, this free to play the game isn’t entirely suitable for children. I’ve had completely chaste stories turn absurdly sexual with no warning, in very detailed descriptions, barely even suitable for me, and I’m pushing 40. You may also find that some situations can take sharp detours into dark territory. Child sacrifices, cannibalism, and various taboo conditions will undoubtedly rear their head at some point, even if you didn’t realize your story was headed there.
AI Dungeon is an RPG unlike any other. It’s an endless, reactive, unflinching playground that dares to go where you never thought you would find yourself. While some may find the novelty of endless stories tiresome after a while, I still find reasons to revisit the different worlds, characters, and situations that I’ve created. At its very core, if nothing else, it’s good for a few laughs, but at its best, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.