Reviews by jakomo

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Worldsmith, by Ade McT

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Epic multimedia space opera: Arthur C Clarke meets Asimov meets Frank Herbert, July 18, 2021

Pay-what-you-want text adventure that runs in a browser and includes images, video and music. An amazing opening puzzle: build a world that can sustain life and evolve it into an intelligent space-faring civilization. Requires understanding and controlling dozens of variables to get it right. Daunting at first: you're basically given a reference book and told to have at it. But do the research, plan carefully, take notes, and it's all very rewarding when everything falls into place. Things get more traditional after that: explore a massive multi-level space station, get involved in political intrigue, rescue prisoners, build robots, a little sabotage...

It's easy to bounce off the crazy amounts of alien-sounding people, places and concepts, the high difficulty (no in-built hints and no walkthrough), the complex map (2/3 of rooms are purely decorative), but it's worth persisting for the thoroughly implemented world, the challenging but fair plot-integrated puzzles, and the twisting, turning story in the grand tradition of "golden age" sci-fi.


Snowhaven, by Tristin Grizel Dean

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Cabin in the woods, July 3, 2021
by jakomo
Related reviews: parsercomp2021

A beautiful audio-visual experience, with a haunting piano tune accompanying fantastic monochrome woodcut-style illustrations (some even animated). I played the "emotional" story (there are three to choose from), in which you cook a recipe in anticipation of your sibling's visit to your log cabin, dealing with the loss of a loved one in fragments through the process. Snowhaven builds a superb wilderness atmosphere while providing a thoughtful study of the player-character. It's let down by at least one bug that blocks progress: it's impossible to get the carrots from the storage locker, and typing HELP tells you that you can use the HINT command, but doing so gives you "This game doesn't use 'hints'". Presumably there is a way to catch the meat for the stew but I couldn't find any bait, or any clues about how to acquire the bait? I look forward to returning to this after the promised "major updates".


Black Knife Dungeon, by Arthur DiBianca

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
The sleep of reading produces monsters, July 3, 2021
by jakomo
Related reviews: parsercomp2021

A standard old-school text-based RPG where you run through a dungeon, fighting or evading monsters, until your HP falls perilously low, then you go home to heal and use the gold you looted to upgrade your equipment, then back into the dungeon to do it all again. But, like all Arthur DiBianca games, there is a devious spin on proceedings: in this case, a set of overlapping, escalating textual "puzzles" that requires careful reading of the location and monster descriptions to optimise each run. The game is thoroughly addictive: I had two full pages scrawled with notes, even without the extended post-game challenges. There is some heavy randomisation that makes things unnecessarily grindy at times, but the humour (especially the easy-to-miss bestiary entries) will keep you going.


Waiting for the Day Train, by Dee Cooke

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Whistle-stop, July 3, 2021
by jakomo
Related reviews: parsercomp2021

A short "magical-realist" text adventure using the Adventuron engine: navigate the simple puzzles in the woods to get to the train on time. A very smooth, frictionless experience to play through, aided by soothing background music and the game's unique selling point: real photographs instead of drawn illustrations. A lot of the lore remains a mystery: who you are, what you're running from, and where you intend to go, are left to the player's imagination. I scored 23, but the game neglects to tell you what that's out of, so it's unclear if I saw everything.


Closet of Mystery, by Michael Cox

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Trapped in the Closet , May 7, 2021
by jakomo
Related reviews: punyjam1

The least ambitious game I've encountered so far in PunyJam (the competition for Inform games using the slimmed-down PunyInform library)... but also the funniest. Closet of Mystery tickled my funnybone successfully at least twice. Which is good going for a game I completed in 16 turns (scoring a perfect 0 out 0 in the process). Play it.


Djinn on the Rocks, by Joshua Wilson

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Swap my wheelbarrow got me a horse, May 7, 2021
by jakomo
Related reviews: punyjam1

You're a genie in a bottle, but thankfully nobody needs to "rub you the right way". You have the power to SWAP any object in the game world with any other (providing it has similar properties). A door is locked? SWAP it with a different, open door you've seen somewhere else and just walk through. A really clever mechanic used in multiple crafty and surprising ways. Three new custom verbs, a karma system, puzzles with multiple solutions, and multiple endings, NPCs you can converse with, all crammed into a mere seven rooms. The game is an entry in "PunyJam", a competition for games using the alternate, cut-down Inform library suitable for 8-bit computers. I honestly didn't notice anything missing from the regular Inform libraries while playing, so that's a big success for both the library and the game's shrewd use of it.


Pub Adventure!, by Robin & Tom Edwards

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Distilled spirits, May 5, 2021
by jakomo
Related reviews: punyjam1

Like another PunyJam entry Arthur's Day Out, Pub Adventure is very bare-bones. Lots of nouns that are described but cannot be interacted with and the occasional guess-the-verb difficulty. Nothing game-blocking though, and the story, about the ghost of a pub that wants you to make its favourite cocktail, has a good sense of its own absurdity while rarely becoming frustrating.


Death Number Four, by Dave Footitt

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
High strangeness, May 5, 2021
by jakomo
Related reviews: punyjam1

An intriguing demo that ends just as it's getting started. The player-character is a fascinating enigma: you "crackle into existence" in a pub closet, covered in bandages: NPCs are familiar with you, as if you've worked with them before, but who you are and what you do are only partially revealed. In contrast to the player-character's mysterious supernatural nature, puzzles are mundane: fix a leaking pipe, retrieve something stuck in a tree, unlock a gate. Just as you're about to flex your powers, the game ends. Successfully does the job of an intro scene: I want to see more!


Captain Cutter's Treasure, by Garry Francis

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
What shall we do with the drunken sailor?, May 5, 2021
by jakomo
Related reviews: punyjam1

A puzzle-filled pirate-themed adventure: the local publican's daughter has been kidnapped by nasty pirates. To rescue her, you'll need to uncover the mystery of their stolen treasure. Lots of intricate details implemented here: chatty NPCs who respond to lots of conversation topics, a pirate ship that requires nautical directions to navigate, a very cool imprisonment-and-escape sequence. Everything exudes an appropriate 1700s-era flavour. Puzzles aren't easy: I couldn't get past the crate puzzle in the warehouse, which sadly brought an abrupt end to the fun.


Arthur's Day Out, by Jason Oakley

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Doesn't know where its towel is, May 5, 2021
by jakomo
Related reviews: punyjam1

The titular Arthur is none other than Arthur Dent, complete with gown and analgesic pills, in what seems to be a pastiche of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Does a good job of emulating the light, breezy writing style of the Adams/Meretzky game, despite the implementation being very bare-bones. I struggled to solve many of the puzzles presented here, as there too few clues to help you. I gave up at 90/200 points, stymied by an impossible light source puzzle, an impassable doctor's office door, and an uncrackable safe.



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