Reviews by jakomo

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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.


The Blue Lettuce, by Caleb Wilson

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Lettuce prey, April 12, 2021

You're a hungry groundhog looking for things to eat in a garden. This is Inform, not Adventuron, so the visual presentation is a bit different than other games in the Text Adventure Literacy Jam: (nicely drawn) pictures show up in-line rather than having their own window, for instance. It plays a little like a junior Eat Me: score a point for each thing you take a bite of (although it never acknowledges when your score goes up?): there are eight things to eat, but you can finish the game just by bee-lining straight to the blue lettuce if you want. The game seems to be targeting the youngest age-range of all the games in the competition, with all the anthropomorphic flora and fauna, hence the lack of any tricky challenges. Not sure how horticulturally accurate all these plants are, but perfectly cromulent entertainment all the same.


Barry Basic and the Quick Escape, by Dee Cooke

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Back in the summer of '69, April 12, 2021

The most ambitious game I've encountered so far in the Text Adventure Literacy Jam, Barry Basic and the Quick Escape features 3 playable characters that you can switch between at will: co-ordinating their actions and making use of their individual skills is crucial to success. The titular Barry Basic has got himself stuck in a guarded building, and he needs his two friends to help get him out so they don't miss their tea-time. While Dungeon of Antur had fun RPG combat, and Sentient Beings had its cool day/night cycle, Barry Basic goes furthest in integrating it's central mechanic with almost every aspect of the game, teaching the value of teamwork while delivering a really fun and highly-polished experience. There are even achievements: I finished the game with just over half of them.



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