Believe it or not, there was a time when games comprised of nothing but words dominated the videogame industry. You read paragraph after paragraph as they scrolled down your monochrome CRT, and typed actual words and phrases, like "open mailbox," to tell the game what you wanted to do. The release of Heroes Rise as the first-ever text-only game on Steam probably doesn't herald a return to those glory days, I like to think that it could signal bigger things to come.
Heroes Rise is an "epic interactive novel series" written by Zachary Sergi that's entirely textual—unlike most visual novels, there are no graphics and no sound effects. There are, however, roughly 277,000 words in total, 100,000 for the first part, The Prodigy, and 177,000 words in its follow-up, The Hero Project. Developer Choice of Games estimates that players will read more than 50,000 words in a single playthrough.
The games are available on Steam for $2 each until June 24, at which point they'll go up to their regular price of $3. They can also be purchased in a bundle for $4, which gets both games plus three DLC releases: Perfect Legend guides that provide step-by-step instructions to earn the maximum score in each game, and the Warning System, which will "inform you of strategic possibilities and warn you if you're about to make a decision with a high level of risk."
The third game in the series, Herofall, will be released later this year and Choice of Games hopes to bring its entire catalog to Steam after that. But in order for that to happen, the first two games have to sell. "If Heroes Rise flops, we might be the first and last interactive fiction we can get on Steam," the studio said. And if it is a success, who know? Today Choice of Games, tomorrow Infocom—and you'd better believe that I'd pay three bucks to see Plundered Hearts on Steam.