Troublesome. That one word describes the current situation of the pale creature that is The Aching‘s protagonist perfectly. Waking up in a cave with no clue as to how they got there is one thing, but their memories and even identity are also completely blank. With only a silver locket and a splotch of red on a cave wall to go by, solving this particular mystery is not going to be easy. Not by a long shot.
Further adding to the complexity of the road ahead for the poor soul is the fact that The Aching is a parser-driven game, much like those early Sierra adventures many still cherish to this very day, myself included. In other words, may as well bin that fancy mouse of yours, because you’re not going to need it to play this one. Movement? Arrow keys. Interactions? Get to typing! Old-school game design in the best(?) way.
Who are you?
Where are you?
What is the significance of this locket?
Speaking of, you know what else was a huge part of the classics that clearly inspired The Aching? An absolute plethora of ways to die, which no doubt brought about the “save early, save often” mantra. The inclusion of numerous death traps and dead ends in adventure games isn’t really a thing in modern genre entries, thankfully. There are exceptions, however, like, say, Hadrosaurus Software’s pixellated tale of horror and amnesia. Some truly gruesome ways to get a game over, too.
Points for authenticity though, and as you can see in the above screenshot, that also extends to the visual aspect, as everything is “beautifully rendered in 16-color graphics designed for Tandy 1000 series computers”. Oh, and according to its itch.io page, the game can actually be played on real hardware – as in, an extremely old PC with either TGA or EGA graphical capability. That or, of course, DOSBox. Which is honestly… genuinely amazing. I miss the days when games only required 384kb of RAM and a CPU with a clock speed in the low end of double-digit megahertz. I really do.
Right. Anyway, The Aching!
The Aching is available on Steam and itch.io, for $9.99.