All Things Devours is a short work of interactive fiction which I wrote for the 2004 IF Comp. The term interactive fiction (or IF) refers to anything in which you influence the outcome of a story. Thus a novel is not interactive fiction, since you (the reader) have no influence on its outcome, while a computer game such as Myst is interactive fiction since it has a story and you can affect its progress. While the scope of IF is very broad in principle, the term is most commonly applied to text adventure games: an early form of computer game in which you are shown descriptive text and respond with written commands saying what you (or the fictional persona you control) will do next.

All Things Devours is an example of such a text adventure and is more puzzle-based than literary. It is rather like an ornate puzzle box in which a set of simple constraints and goals must be met, but in which it is difficult to see quite how this can be achieved. The game draws on a rather well worn science fiction device, but implements it in what I have been told is a very satisfying and intellectually consistent manner. I intended it to be solvable in a couple of hours and, from what I hear, this is about right.

All Things Devours has attracted quite some interest, with at least 36 reviews floating around on the net. It has also received several awards:

2004 IF Comp: 3rd place (of 36)
2004 Xyzzy Awards: Finalist in the category of Best Use of the Medium
  Finalist in the category of Best Puzzles
  Winner in the category of Best Individual Puzzle
Home of the Underdogs: Top Dog

If you are unfamiliar with interactive fiction, then I would advise you to have a look at this short introduction before trying Devours.

The game is available in online and offline forms. Both forms make use of a single game file, which is called a zcode file (the same format as the classic Infocom games of old). To play the game, the file requires a special program called an interpreter to run it. One easy option is to use an online interpreter. This has the advantage of not requiring any downloading but has the significant disadvantage of not allowing you to save your progress. Perhaps it is a good way to try things out and see if interactive fiction is the type of thing you would like. To play Devours offline, you can download your own interpreter here (or here for a great iOS implementation). Then use it to load the file devours.z5. Please note that this is a revised version that involves several changes to the competition version.

If you get stuck at some point in All Things Devours then you can look at some hints that I have provided or even a complete walkthrough. It is more satisfying to solve it yourself though, so do leave it a few days before looking for help.

Finally, if you have played the game to its conclusion, then you may be interested in the challenge. Some of you may also be interested in seeing the source code, or in reading some of the extensive comments and reviews. Also, I have recently (2008) noticed that there are quite a few recent games that share the same theme as Devours, which interested parties may wish to look at. However, do consider playing the game through before trying any of these, as there are spoilers within.