Reviews by jakomo

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View this member's reviews by tag: 2021 Text Adventure Literacy Jam 2022 Text Adventure Literacy Jam ectocomp2020 ectocomp2021 Horror in the Darkness parsercomp2021 punyjam1 springthing2022
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Madness at Hobbsgate, by Karmic Shift Studios

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
"Damn it, it wasn’t quite fresh enough!", September 23, 2022
by jakomo
Related reviews: Horror in the Darkness

Credit to Karmic Shift Studios: they've clearly learnt from the flaws of the previous entries in the Horror in the Darkness series and it all comes together in this fourth entry, which is easily the best so far. The intro is intriguing (a different character's point-of-view), the premise is appealing (escape the lunatic asylum you've been committed to after the events of the previous games), the puzzles comes thick and fast, there is a wild and wacky cast of NPCs, and a delicious undercurrent of black humour throughout. Unlike previous games, there is plenty of flavour-text and guidance when you attempt incorrect actions. Thoroughly enjoyable. Ends inconclusively, clearly not intended as the final entry in this series, so it's a shame there hasn't been another in five years.


Horror in the Pacific, by Karmic Shift Studios

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
“Who are we to combat poisons older than history and mankind?”, September 21, 2022
by jakomo
Related reviews: Horror in the Darkness

This second sequel to Horror in the Darkness works better than the lacklustre Horror at Innsport: mainly due to the locale. An exotic tropical resort island is definitely more fun to wander around than a drab, dying industrial town. The biggest game of the series by far, so it's important to map and take notes diligently (it's very easy to miss exits). Takes its time to get going, with an initial off-brand Monkey Island flavour, but once the horror starts it soon ratchets up to Cannibal Holocaust levels before turning into a rip-roaring old-school adventure. Multiple endings too, depending on the choice of character background you make at the beginning.


Horror at Innsport, by Karmic Shift Studios

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind.", September 17, 2022
by jakomo
Related reviews: Horror in the Darkness

The sequel to Horror in the Darkness is bigger and more ambitious: this time, there are actual NPCs scattered around the isolated island town you are exploring to find a missing girl, and significant plot events actually happen to you, rather than being related to you via scattered letters you find lying around. But bigger is not necessarily better: the implementation feels sparser, like the effort given to more locations, more objects and more puzzles has reduced the effort given to implementing unique responses for non-critical-path actions. Pacing, mood and atmosphere are also a slight step down. The first game wasn't particularly scary, but this one almost veers into comedy at times. Still worth playing if you enjoyed the original (and the (Spoiler - click to show)genocidal ending is... an interesting choice).


Horror in the Darkness, by Karmic Shift Studios

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
"We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity", September 13, 2022
by jakomo
Related reviews: Horror in the Darkness

A very familiar slice of Lovecraftiana, exploring a secluded mansion to uncover the mystery of the residents who seemingly vanished. Anybody who has played The Lurking Horror or Theatre or Anchorhead knows the drill by now. But this is reaching out to an audience of smartphone users who maybe don't have that history, and it does very well in that regard. An intuitive button-based interface, a map and hint system, even background music complement a traditional (world-model based) parser-style text adventure (with no typing). Nicely paced: plot reveals come at regular intervals with each major puzzle solved, and there is a good forward momentum - I counted zero unfair puzzles. Android version is free but offers an IAP to "remove ads" - but I didn't see any ads so don't know what that's about? Pretty short but is followed by three sequels.


Dessert Island Adventure, by Nils Fagerburg

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Tough-as-nails spell-casting adventure , May 27, 2022

A simple Enchanter-like magic casting adventure on an empty desert island (or dessert island, as this is a place of gingerbread cottages, cream lakes and battenburg mountains). Uses a custom parser system that works well, and presents a nice map on the right on the screen (that fills as you explore) with rich text on the left. Provides a little world-building through letters and newspaper articles scattered around. If you're not Dutch/Flemish you'll need to look up what a "smoutebol" is. A lot of fun, unfortunately it lacks any online hints, and it's pretty damn hard to boot so I didn't get very far by myself (7/16 points). On the itch.io page you can find "Slacker Sam's guide to an easy B" - but it still only gets you up to 9/16 points.


CC's Road to Stardom, by OK Feather

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Check out my soundcloud, May 25, 2022

I loved this. Like a Saturday morning kid's cartoon scored to the sound of lo-fi space-pop, CC's Road to Stardom is adorable, delightful, silly and disposable. Wander around a little spaceship vibing with your quirky buddies (including a youtuber pigeon), playing through little logic puzzles and word games. Nothing too taxing, just enough to keep you buzzing off the game's brilliant style and mood. Fab comic-book style pixel art graphics and a superb musical score accompany the fun: even a full song with vocals. It's part of "Cosmoose", a multi-media multi-format Gorillaz-like pop music project fronted by cartoon characters (I'm listening to Cosmoose's album Into the Cosmooverse as I write this, in fact - it rules!). CC's Road to Stardom is the 21st century answer to Tass Times in Tonetown.


The Lonely Troll, by Amanda Walker
Small but dense fairytale adventure with great writing and fun NPCs, May 25, 2022

Absolutely nails the objective of the Text Adventure Literacy Jam: to make an enjoyable easy game for text adventure first-timers. This would be the Day One exercise in Text Adventures 101 if such a thing existed. You're a troll in a world of fairy-tale mythological creatures, trying to raise a dragon (literally) by the book. The set-up could have been cloying and twee, but the author has lots of sly fun inverting expectations: the cyclops is friendly, the fairy is angry, the unicorn is unruly. The ASCII art images are pleasant (the troll's house looks like cross-stitched embroidery). It's a kids game at heart but still requires some thought and lateral thinking to get through, even for adults. Everything just works!


Carpathian Vampire, by Garry Francis
Solid classical vampire adventure, no surprises, no interviews, May 25, 2022

Straightforward vampire-hunting adventure: doesn't intend to surprise or subvert the traditional gothic horror formula, beyond some nods to the term "strigoi" and an attempt to ground it in traditional Romanian mythology. It's thoroughly implemented and the puzzles are well-designed. The only baffling choice is the arbitrary inventory limit, requiring lots of dropping and picking up stuff which gets annoying real fast. It could also have done with implementing "hand" and "finger" as nouns. It's an enhanced translation of an older Spanish game and it uses the PunyInform library, so some of its limitations are understandable. Worth a play.


Barry Basic and the Speed Daemon, by Dee Cooke

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Enjoyable and worthwhile tutorial game, slightly rough around the edges, May 23, 2022

Winner of the 2022 Text Adventure Literacy Jam, and it's easy to see why. Solid implementation, generally intuitive puzzles on a nice difficulty curve, a charming NPC (the fairy), and a surprisingly elaborate story about three gamedevs going inside their game. I preferred Barry Basic's previous adventure (Barry Basic and the Quick Escape) as unlike that one, Speed Daemon is extremely linear: solve a room's puzzle and the exit to the next room will open, repeat ad nauseum. A large chunk of screen estate is given to a map which is frankly unnecessary given the lack of free movement, I would have liked some contextual pictures in addition to the character portrait: especially as some of the descriptions were hard to visualize (the (Spoiler - click to show)tunnel/vent/bulb puzzle in particular). As a tutorial game it works great, lots of help available from NPCs and the in-built hint system (integrated into the story). Overall, it's a good time despite these annoyances, and despite a few bugs ((Spoiler - click to show)I broke the slider puzzle: somehow ended up with the same word on two rows).


Wry, by Olaf Nowacki

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Inn-sewer-ants-polly-sea, April 11, 2022
by jakomo
Related reviews: springthing2022

Classic farce: a series of escalating mishaps caused by the protagonist, a dodgy insurance salesman (is there any other kind?), trying to fix his previous mishaps at the home of his prospective client, a a famous young baroness. Reminiscent of a Blake Edwards/Peter Sellers comedy, the game has a well-drawn player-character, fabulous environmental descriptions, and an excellent sense of comic timing. It's a shame I didn't get to see half of it, as annoyingly I was never able to progress beyond the (Spoiler - click to show)burning curtains. There are no in-built hints, nor any external ones. I look forward to revisiting when a walkthrough becomes available.



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