best time sink ever

The Kingdom of Loathing has to be one of the best games I’ve ever played. The simple explanation is that it’s a web-based role-playing game, and it includes a lot of things you would expect, like different character classes that can have different skills, a game economy of items that can be enchanted, and a bunch of quests to complete. What sets it apart are a combination of a goofy sense of humor and cleverly engrossing touches.

As an example: my character is a level 8 Disco Bandit (which makes me a Jam Horker). My current skills are things like Disco Eye Poke and Chronic Indigestion. Some of the items I have are a Cocktailcrafting Kit and the Bitchin’ Meatcar. The currency of the realm is Meat, which can be molded into Meat Paste or Meat Stacks, both of which you can use to make other stuff. Consumption of alcohol is an important strategic part of the game (for which my particular character class is perfectly suited – I can make cocktails that no one else can).

It’s a good thing that the Kingdom limits the amout of turns you can play per day, or I think I would have been fired from my job by now. To be honest I haven’t played too much at work because the turn count resets around midnight, and more often than not I’ve been awake at midnight in order to get my Adventures in as soon as they’re available.

So why is it so fun? Well, it manages to be traditionally appealing while subverting convention. There is a level treadmill to an extent, but the writing is clever enough that it is fun. There are a lot of pop-culture references, but the humor in it is accessible and not snotty: “You’re fighting a whitesnake. Like a drifter, it was born to walk alone.” The only graphics in it are hand drawn little icon-like pictures, which set it above a Zork-alike text adventure, but still leaves lots for your imagination to fill in. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of fun out of figuring out how to combine stuff you get from Adventures into food, cocktails, and other items. And there is a surprisingly vibrant community built up around fans of the site. You can join a clan (hippy killers rule!) and a chat is built into the UI of the site. Haven’t really spent a lot of time chatting, since I hit my limit on seeing the letters LOL a LOLOLOLOng time ago. But a lot of people think it’s fun.

Anyway, it’s addictive as heck, free, low-tech, and super fun. So check it out.

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