Free Fridays is a feature where She Who Games reviews an online game that happens to be free to play. While some of these games may have pay-for features, all games reviewed will in no way be hampered by someone choosing to play without paying at any point.
While it may seem that I'm all about WoW, there have been and still are other games I play. One that comes to mind is TriadCity, a very unique browser MUD that stretches the limits of one's imagination, and then some. It may seem strange to those who know me that I'd play a game like this, since it's almost completely text-based, but I've long been fond of the literary arts.
Not every MUD out there revels in its text-based nature quite the way TriadCity does. Its creators go out of their way to include many literary references, and anyone with a love for the classics will be able to spot their influence stamped on almost every nook and cranny encountered. Even I find myself constantly running off to look up some obscure reference, and I like to think I'm rather well-versed. You'll find that no genre is left untouched, as you can easily encounter robots, cowboys, and Greek heroes in the same session of play.
Another of the things that gives TriadCity its unique feel is the fact that violence, while not impossible to commit, isn't the only way to gain experience and levels in this game; in most cases, it's not even the best way to do so. Half the fun is in exploring and examining everything you come across, and the game rewards you for this. Though there are times that I suffer from a strong need to BCU (Blow Crap Up), my main reason for playing games is the intellectual stimulation they provide, and TriadCity has this by the score.
It's probably for the best that violence gets a lesser reward than safer past-times, as death is permanent in TriadCity. That's right, once your character has died, that's the end for them, a fact that I've learned, much to my chagrin. (Rumor has that there may be an afterlife experience in the works, so it's a good idea to hang onto said character, but you didn't hear that from me.)
TriadCity is also one of those few games out there that doesn't have a drastic gender bias towards males. In actuality, females tend to outnumber the males. And while it's not unheard of for younger people to join the game, for the most part it's mature adults that play, lending to the air of like-minded peers I get whenever I log in. As in any text-based game, one's ability to express oneself in words is definitely a bonus, and those who aren't as adept at it as others are encouraged to learn and better themselves.
Probably one of the few downsides to TriadCity, provided you're not anti-reading, is the size of the project. Where the world itself is huge, with many things to keep you occupied and constantly learning, the player-base is incredibly small, most likely due to the fact that most gamers are attracted to bright, shiny graphics and BCU-rewarding questlines. While I've been a member of the community since 2005, I have to be fair and admit that it really hasn't grown much since then, relying on word-of-mouth to bring in fresh faces. That it's survived this long is really a testament to its makers and their core of loyal players.
You could almost see this as a bonus, since you're almost assuredly going to be able to talk one-on-one with the people behind the scenes, and even be able to lend a hand to the addition of new and exciting branches to the game. I'm known for my fly-by-night nature when it comes to games, playing one heavily and exclusively for months on end, before becoming distracted by a new one and moving on; it's been a while since I last logged into TriadCity. When I did recently, I discovered that my concept of a vineyard had been expanded and brought to life, and that many of the faces I had grown to know and love in my time there remained, happy to welcome me back with open arms.
I heartily recommend TriadCity to anyone looking for a game unlike any other they've played before, where they'll become a valued member of a community built on the shoulders of other such members, continually challenged intellectually and rewarded for using their brain, and encouraged to help play a part in developing the game world as a whole. And if you do decide to try it, be sure to tell them that Teralinth sent you.