Metacritic: N/A
Release: Aug 2014
Reviewed on: iOS

The Ensign

Site Score
Good: Simple design but mechanically strong – Same mystery as A Dark Room
Bad: Short and little replay value
User Score
(10 votes)
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The Ensign serves as the prequel to the classic text based adventure known as A Dark Room. Using a similar text approach, ASCII characters for map exploration and mystery the game is a fitting prequel although doesn’t quite reach the same level of depth as A Dark Room.

Set within an unnamed planet players step into the role of an alien who belongs the species known as the Wanderers. A species known for their aggressive conquests of other planets they know find themselves losing the war on the latest planet they intended to conquer despite having the overwhelming technological advantage.

Your mission starts as you lay next to a wounded admiral, leaving him behind to meet his peace you begin searching for one of your fallen ships in the area which will see you escape the world, provided you can repair it. This journey is made significantly more difficult as players only have a single life to do so, making the experience a rogue like title with each death requiring you to start your adventure from step one.


This design also means that there is plenty of random encounters to ensure each attempt is unique. From the items you’ll find, locations to enemies each of these are randomised with each new game. Actual gameplay is text based with characters, terrain and objects represented by symbols and letters on the game map.

While on the map screen players can guide their character in one of four directions while also checking their status. Water and food are vital resources for scavenging with water required to adventure (and you’ll die if it reaches 0) while food is used to recover damage taken from the environment and battle. Your main source of scavenging is the houses scattered around the world which can also house weapons and opponents. When enemies are encountered the game uses a simple mechanic with attacks running on short cooldowns.

The Ensign is an enjoyable simple adventure that leads nicely into A Dark Room, although it’s a shame it couldn’t be another free instalment.


  • The prequel to A Dark Room.
  • Text based adventure with ASCII style map.
  • Survive in the wild as you manage water, food and inventory.
  • Learn more about the current conflict as you progress.
  • Available only for iOS.

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The Ensign, 7.9 out of 10 based on 10 ratings
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