Reviews by bradleyswissman

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1-8 of 8


Glass, by Emily Short

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Effective storytelling makes Glass worth playing, October 9, 2020
by bradleyswissman (Virginia, US)

Emily Short really pushes some boundaries of IF that she has similarly played with in Galatea. I highly recommend playing this game at least once through before reading any spoilers.

In this riff on the classic story of Cinderella, you play (Spoiler - click to show) not the evil stepmother, the haughty sisters, the handsome prince, or Cinderella, but the family parrot. . I went in expecting something lengthy and immersive like Bronze, but was pleasantly charmed by this clever reimagination. Partially because she's stripped the reader of most of their agency, Ms. Short's writing shines through here more than ever. She fully fleshes her characters out in terms of mannerisms and speech. Additionally, Short(Spoiler - click to show), having pulled the wool over your eyes by casting you, the reader, as a parrot, provides us with a completely re-written Cinderella. You will definitely want to play through multiple times so that you can experience the full story! There are at least 4 different endings that I found.

I gave this gave 4 stars rather than 5 simply because it lacked the impressive machinery that Post usually works into her IF, and 4 stars rather than 3 because the writing is really that good. It is well worth your time, simply because it takes very little time to play.


Cannery Vale, by Hanon Ondricek (as Keanhid Connor)

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Find Yourself in - Canneryvale, October 8, 2020
by bradleyswissman (Virginia, US)

I enjoyed Cannery Vale immensely. The structure of this IF is extraordinary. It plays much like a Twine story, in which the player selects different phrases and are rewarded with either expository material or an experience. What I enjoyed most about it was the (Spoiler - click to show)extremely clever use of the author state, dreams, and the protagonist state to carry along the storyline. It never felt tedious switching from the hotel room to the novel, and I found the ability to change outcomes by choosing to 'write' in different plot points was really fun and masterfully executed. Even though you can theoretically finish this game very quickly, it is a game I enjoyed spending several hours in, exploring all that it had to offer(Spoiler - click to show) You absolutely can achieve all the 'good' and 'bad' endings if you want without ever experiencing the orgiastic carnival rave, the suspicious meatpacking plant, the gorgon chained to a bed. But why the hell would you want to miss out on that? Another really excellent element of this game is the fact that it provided an extremely rewarding and forgiving world to explore. I am often hesitant to start an IF because I'm worried that I'll lose my grasp on the world that is constructed as I play, but having the storyline grounded in this (Spoiler - click to show)recursive return to the author's hotel room helped me maintain my bearings. Also, kudos to the author for including the option to decrease or increase the level of explicit scenes as well as offering the player the ability to quickly explore all of the endings (provided you've managed to successfully acquire all the prerequisite items).


Bronze, by Emily Short

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Another home run from Emily Short, October 5, 2020
by bradleyswissman (Virginia, US)

Emily Short does more than justice to the medium of interactive fiction and lives up to her reputation as one of the best IF authors in this relatively short IF. In Bronze, Emily takes a fairytale well-known to western audiences and refines it, building up layers and layers of storytelling, worldbuilding, and fantasy. We are all familiar with the story of Beauty and the Beast, but Short spurns the Disney retelling and takes us down darker, more fanciful paths. Short has set up this story as part map, part puzzle - objects that you interact with unlock different parts of the map and progress the quest, which is (Spoiler - click to show)to solve the mystery of the Beast and his enchanted servants.

Of particular note are Short's masterful descriptive map skills. Even though Short ends up building a relatively large (55-room) map, you never got lost, partially thanks to the easy-to-follow descriptions as well as the in-game compass and "go to" commands. She populates each room with just enough to keep you interested and engaged without overwhelming the reader, which is an extremely difficult thing to balance. The "go to" command is particularly helpful late in the game, and maintains the pace steadily without getting bogged down with a fully-explored map. That pacing is another mark of a master IF storyteller - too often I play a game that expands its playable area too much and feels more like a chore than a leisure activity.

Even though Bronze is simply a fractured fairytale, it endures as one of my favorite IF for its ease of play and its rewarding lightbulb moments. It never feels patronizingly easy or frustratingly difficult, and it is fully playable in a few hundred turns. That, to me, is a winner. All of my kudos to Emily Short!


Will Not Let Me Go, by Stephen Granade

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An emotional and masterfully-told story about alzheimer's, September 30, 2020
by bradleyswissman (Virginia, US)

Some interactive fiction works open up new, fantastic worlds filled with indescribable creatures and clever puzzles. Will Not Let Me Go does not do this. In this relatively short Twine story, you play, or rather, experience life, as an elderly man named Frank who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and incurable progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the memory. The setting and and pacing of this story are both mundane - unhurried snapshots of a life at home, in the office, and at a diner with lifelong friends - but the subject matter is more devastating than death. You forget names, faces, places, and people, and experience the frustrating consequences of your forgetfulness. The gradual loss of autonomy is nearly palpable. The comparative lack of choice that is typical to the Twine platform makes for an even more emotionally fraught experience. As the player, you have little choice other than to control your emotions - will you rage, or go quietly, as you slip further and further into that good night?


Lecture Feature, by Paul Equinox Collins

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Lecture, September 28, 2020
by bradleyswissman (Virginia, US)
Related reviews: humor, college, puzzles, moving NPCs

Lecture Feature is a short mission/puzzle IF in which you play a hungover student attempting to (Spoiler - click to show) recruit fellow students for a protest . I particularly enjoyed how easy it was to visualize the 'map' used in this game. It was relatively easy to navigate while still having a sizeable number of locations. The descriptions of the locations are colorful, imaginative, and humorous, and poke fun at some of the more tropic elements of college life at a fictional liberal-arts university. The use of moving NPCs is also a clever touch that adds to the realism of the game. I found some of the puzzles a bit frustrating, such as (Spoiler - click to show) the fact that you need to examine rather than talk to one of the NPCs is not readily apparent, but it's nothing too difficult that can't be solved with a little experimentation.


Flotsam & Driftwood, by Peter Orme (as Conrad Elton)

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A short, forgiving game, September 28, 2020
by bradleyswissman (Virginia, US)
Related reviews: Forgiving, short, puzzle

Flotsam and Driftwood is a very short, forgiving game in which you play a character who finds themselves on a mysterious beach shrouded in darkness. There are two main puzzles in this game. Although they are not entirely difficult to solve, they are clever and rewarding. I thought the (Spoiler - click to show)use of the stethoscope to assist in opening the safe was a nice touch!. I played through this in about 65 commands. It's an excellent introductory game for those new to interactive fiction, and has helpful 'help', 'command', and 'topic' commands.


Workers In Progress, by Konstantinos Dimopoulos

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Short but effective, September 12, 2020
by bradleyswissman (Virginia, US)

This is an excellent little simulator that does a great job at both educating the player about the political situation in Greece as well as a brief introduction to the recent history of its major political parties. It's left-leaning, so be warned, but I find it effective and well-written.


Ravine, by Joanna Berry

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent short horror game with some cool text mechanics , September 12, 2020
by bradleyswissman (Virginia, US)

Ravine is a short (<1 hour) horror game where you play as a corporate investigator at a research station above the Arctic Circle. It has some very good horror elements that bring to mind (Spoiler - click to show) The Mountains of Madness, but for the 21st century . The conversations are written clearly, believable, and easy to understand. (Spoiler - click to show) I particularly enjoyed the use of the click-through technique that allowed me to explore different elements of a scene without progressing. I also really liked that I could explore different options' consequences without being able to go back. I thought the interactions you have with the main villain at the end are excellently written. My only criticism is that I did not know how much or little my choices were affecting the story, but it's such a small gripe that I feel this story deserves five stars for its conciseness, mechanics, and storyline.



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