As of right now, A Dark Room is the only idle game which I’ve ever played to completion. I’ve played a decent number of idle games mind you, I’m not speaking from ignorance here, it’s just that the genre is awful. Seriously, it’s alarming to me that people are enjoying these in a humorless way. We all had a good laugh when Progress Quest came out: “Ha ha,” we said, “the game plays itself, giving you the thrill of victory and upgrades and progress with none of the work. There’s probably a lesson to be learned from this clearly ironic spoof on the way in which people are currently wasting their time.”
Confusingly, horrifyingly, the lesson that seems to have been learned was: games should have less of that annoying “playing” in them, it only gets in the way of a constant stream of rewards and positive attention. Let’s cut that part out and give everyone a pat on the head while they sit still and do nothing.
That’s another topic to write more about later. A Dark Room manages to stand above most idle games in a few ways, but primarily: it’s not just an idle game. As you progress through it the game changes in mood and content and play style. It’s pretty slick how this happens and I’m not willing to spoil it, but play at least until you get the compass in order to see what I’m talking about and what the game is really offering.
Of course, being adverse to spoilers presents something of an obstacle to talking further about the game, but I will say that I admire its sense of scale. It’s starts very humble and grows to something much greater as your progress through it. It’s a commonly used device, but seldom done very well.
Also unlike most idle games: A Dark Room can easily be completed in a single day.