Time to play: Browse your next quest

On the morrow, I shall march against my enemy. I shall fight with no fear. My sword close, my shield closer, I will defend our realm . . .

Oh, no. Connection timed out. New log-in, character selection, and here we are again, back in the world of fantasy.

MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) has been one of the most controversial video game genres in the last couple of years, or, to be more specific, since World of Warcraft was released. Unlike other genres, MMORPGs offer a whole world to explore freely with your very own character. You can choose a profession, learn skills, go on adventures, become a hero and make real friends in the fantasy world. That can be very enticing, especially if people don’t feel like conquerors in the real world. Because of this, the genre has earned the reputation of being addictive. However, many gamers simply enjoy MMORPGs once or twice a week for a couple of hours, just like any other hobby, and don’t live it as a second life.

If even that amount of time seems like too much to invest in a game, this week’s free game is perfect for you. Here is an MMORPG that doesn’t require you to spend months questing or becoming a level-70 orc to get the full experience. BrowserQuest is a demonstration of what new web technologies are capable of. Developers from Little Workshop were approached by Mozilla, the same company that created the Internet browser Mozilla Firefox, to come up with a demonstration of the new HTML5 markup language. That led to the development of BrowserQuest, an open-source tribute to multiplayer games in the style of the ’90s. Its design might remind you of The Legend of Zelda.

Before loading the game, you can choose your in-game nickname. Your low-pixel character then spawns in the middle of a village, without armour and equipped with a low-level sword. After you get a few basic instructions on how to play the game, you are good to go on your adventure. You move your character by clicking somewhere on the screen, and you attack and defend yourself from enemies by clicking on them. Watch out; some enemies attack automatically if you walk near enough.

One goal of the game is to finish all of the 20 achievements that BrowserQuest gives you, but it does not end there. You can still go on exploring the world. Some of those 20 quests require you to fight enemies, find areas or items in the game or simply talk to a villager. The villagers are not always very helpful, but they sure do know how the game was made.

While playing, you will find or receive better weapons as well as armour, and you can also get healing or fire potions. The latter turns you into an indestructable fox for a certain amount of time (the fox bears a certain similarity to Mozilla’s most famous logo). You can also team up or chat with other players in the game. One quest requires you to steal a reward from another gamer.

BrowserQuest doesn’t take itself too seriously. It has a lot of quests that are so unnecessary, you just have to do them. While wandering through the realm, you might run into the Internet-famous Nyan Cat or go through portals to eat cake (this seems to be inspired by Valve’s Portal).

While BrowserQuest might not be the most challenging game you’ve ever played, it’s funny and retro. It can be played with the browsers Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari.

Pick up your mouse and conquer the world of BrowserQuest.

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