Reviews by jakomo
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View this member's reviews by tag: 2021 Text Adventure Literacy Jam ectocomp2020 punyjam1
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Tiny Twine scifi-horror: well-written, with very effective descriptions of the 'kills'. The twist in the tale has been done before, 20 years ago in fact, but remains pretty effective in 2020.
Melancholia: The Game. A comet has been forecast to strike the Earth and wipe out all life. Today is that day. A parser text adventure with a lot of locations, but sadly not much implemented in them. I assume this is at least partly intentional, to evoke the feeling of powerlessness, a world-weary depression that has descended over this character, and by extension of all humanity, knowing the inevitable end is nigh. This lack of connection further represented by the few NPCs scattered around, who cannot be communicated with or interacted with at all as far as I could tell. Gameplay seems to comprise finding the various ways to kill yourself, or waiting for the comet to do it for you. Lars Von Trier would love this game.
The "Choice Of Games" house-style is to start every story with a character-creator where you define their name, gender, sexuality and other traits. Cabin in the Forest takes things a step further, with a whole Myers-Brigg personality test being only the beginning of the detailed character-creation choices you have to make. I was expecting the resulting story to be something like the first vignette from Several Other Tales from Castle Balderstone, but things don't turn out like that at all... A wicked subversion of expectations, mischievous, malicious and magnificent. Almost Discordian in its chaotic outlook. Play it!
Short Choicescript game with eight possible achievements (I managed six). A dream-deity from Greek mythology (I guess Phantasos judging by the title) has captured you, and puts you through a gauntlet of challenges to secure your freedom. You're time-limited, with a candle-wax meter counting down how close to doom you are. The choices are somewhat arbitrary, so there is no real way to strategize, and role-playing is also limited to a handful of flavour choices. But the game is short enough that it doesn't matter, it's classic choose-your-own-adventure: play it over and over until you find the one winning path. Fans of Fighting Fantasy, especially, should enjoy.
A single-verb text adventure: EXAMINE everything to make progress. Why can't you do anything else? Because you're in your final death-throes, taking your last gasps before you expire in an abandoned church. As well as the physical objects around you, you can examine the memories they bring back, and the details within those memories too. There's no way to survive, you only have a fixed number of turns to live: it will take multiple replays to piece together the full story of this character's mixed-up life. Some English-language problems don't obscure a compelling central mystery. The ultra-deep implementation, with pretty much every noun I tried having further EXAMINE-text, is impressive.
Either a sequel or a spin-off to two previous stories by the same author. There is zero on-boarding for newcomers to this series, so start with Antique Panzitoum or Old King Nebb instead, will maybe help explain things better. You're a septuagenarian on a hike between two major settlements, stopping off at an old building for a night's sleep. Some light exploration, a couple of basic puzzles, and a dollop of intriguing world-building, and you're done. Elaborate prose style with pleasing turn-of-phrase evokes Arthur Machen. Puzzles avoid frustration.
Parser text adventure written in Dialog: a thoroughly implemented one-room escape game, requiring careful examination of your surroundings and judicious use of your inventory. The "twist" is not the one I was expecting, but surprises and delights all the same. Too spoilery to discuss in any further detail, but it's so short you can complete it in in not much more time than it takes to read this review. Recommended.
The second werewolf-at-a-party game of EctoComp 2020, after Social Lycanthropy Disorder, but this time everyone else is a monster too. A short Twine where you resolve the terrifying and traumatic situation of not having enough pumpkins for the party games. Oh no! The game requires you to wander around chatting with the ghoulish guests, so it's annoying that you only get one conversation choice at a time, and have to go and start the conversation again to pick the other choices. I though this was about to turn into The Great Pumpkin Heist Adventure, but disappointingly you only get to solve one puzzle, then an NPC does the rest for you. It's an easy read, the low stakes are unstressful and relaxing, and the colour scheme of orange text and red links is pleasing to the eye. "Living together in harmony", you might say.
Weird choice-based story (prose-poem?) inspired by true events: falling through a manhole into rat-infested sewers and getting stuck down there. Everything is off-kilter, even the interaction method: you click the link until it displays your choice, then scroll down to see the results. Is it a stylistic choice for the player-character to speak in broken english? I don't think the spelling mistakes are a stylistic choice: "An uneven ground slams against you heels", "You grit you teeth." That the player-character's chooses to rage about society rather than addressing the practical issue at hand, is a definite stylistic choice, though, and plays nicely into the game's themes, a metaphorical descent into the human psyche.
Wow, powerful stuff. A post-Covid Twine game (with clay figure illustrations) in which you are a live-in carer for a dementia sufferer in his last days. Choice-based conversations with your patient and reminiscences about your own life and relationships are interspersed with a deliberately grindy series of repetitive tasks (cooking, cleaning, counting medicine, reading Pride & Prejudice) that make excellent use of mouse-over effects to dynamically modify the links, cleverly representing the ghost of the house messing with you (or are you just losing your mind during the lockdown?).
Characterization of the player-character and NPCs feels very real, full of flaws and conflicting emotions, thoroughly multi-dimensional, sometimes beautiful, sometimes chilling: "Mark these words: there is no hope of escape. Lockdown will not end soon, and there will always be more. This is only the beginning." There's lots to process in this one, lots of levels to analyse, the Jane Austen quotes being just the beginning.
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