I don't know why I always want to do "themes" based on the time of year. Without fail, every February I'm looking for something "romantic" in ZZT. Every Halloween I want something spooky, and every Christmas I want something for the holidays.
Very little in ZZT is so explicitly marked as being meant for a certain time of year, and it doesn't take long before you have to loosen up your interpretations of things. A smarter person might just stop trying to be seasonally appropriate, but I am not that.
Which is why one late December day I decided to play a game appropriate for late December. I mean, it's called Winter. Score one for me.
Myth had a very strong legacy in the ZZT community. While she wasn't as prolific as folks like Commodore or Tseng who could get multiple games out each year, it was a safe bet she'd put out something every year, and that something was typically above average.
We've seen some of her titles so far, a stream of Night Planet, an early 24 Hours of ZZT contest entry which won first place, and Fred! Episode 1: Space Fred, a quirky adventure with a good sense of humor and touch of the surreal. Its sequel, Fred! Episode 2: Ffreddiannia is a game so ambitious in scope that it would be a massive commitment to getting through it.
Today we'll be looking at one of her final releases, Winter. A game which rightfully became known as one of ZZT's best puzzle games, with just a hint of ZZT "trippyness" that became iconic to the community of the late 90s. Winter is a title which I had never made a serious attempt at getting through. Late December was just the right time of the year to see what made this game an instant classic, and how well it could hold up 20 years later.
Before even opening the ZZT world, Winter has a lengthy text file explaining its creation. In short, myth had a desire to return to ZZT after a mix of not having any ideas for MegaZeux games and inspiration from then modern trippy titles like Tucan's Pop! and Draco's Edible Vomit. To her these games were atmospheric, meaningful, and "the closest to the pure art possible in ZZT".
In winter I made a conscious effort to avoid using any such zzt pop-up text dialogues. The result of this is that most puzzles must be figured out through other means -- through sight, sound, and intuition.
Her decision to avoid text gives the game a sort of timeless feel which when combined with its overall quality, makes it very much appear to be a game that could have just as easily come out today.