The Gostak Dec 10, 2010

The Gostak is an interactive fiction game written in 2001 by Carl Muckenhoupt. The title refers to the phrase "the gostak distims the doshes" and the game's conceit becomes obvious as soon as you start playing:

Finally, here you are. At the delcot of tondam, where doshes deave. But the doshery lutt is crenned with glauds. Glauds! How rorm it would be to pell back to the bewl and distunk them, distunk the whole delcot, let the drokes discren them. But you are the gostak. The gostak distims the doshes. And no glaud will vorl them from you.

Most of the interface and normal commands you use to play IF games are word-substituted for nonsense words. The discovery process is the major puzzle of the game, and is as challenging as it is delightful:

>l
Not at a glaud.

>d
To doatch at someone, try "someone, distunk me" or some such.

>distunk me
You distunk yourself.

>look
That's not a dape I recognise.

>tunk glaud
Which do you mean, the raskable glaud, the poltive glaud,
the glaud-with-roggler, the glaud of jenth or the Cobbic glaud?

Sometimes you learn things from how the game speaks to you:

>distim dosh
You can't reb any such thing.

>distim me
You're already distimmed.

>tim me
Gostaks distim, not tophth.

It is tricky just to learn how to examine things and move about. (Although there is a small help file included in the game, it is also garbled. "For a jallon, louk JALLON.") Often the world feels surreal ("A gitch tunks you from the hoggam.") and, having not finished the game, I am not certain that there is a non-surreal interpretation. I wouldn't be surprised either way.

There are spoilers out there. Using these is how you lose the game.

The Gostak is available from the interactive fiction archive (along with many other IF gems) here.