Reviews by Cygnus

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1-9 of 9

Photopia, by Adam Cadre

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Awesome UI., April 1, 2023
by Cygnus (Australia)

This game was pretty!! Really pretty. I should replay it, so I can see what the commenters were talking about, but first playthroughÖ very pretty. Use of colour is very smart, parsers all work, kinda sorta linear. Plot and worldbuilding is honestly top notch.

Again, hard to find fault with this one. Doesnít need a map, because its various worlds are small enough, hints are either provided or not needed, so many dialogue options, feelsÖ

I think this game had sound? Either way, it was super visually pleasing and mind-scratching in a good way. Kept me going, kept playing, and the atmosphere was awesome.

Iíll come back to this after Iíve replayed it to get the actual, like, feels that commenters were talking about. For now, itís chilling at 4.5 stars (0.5 deducted for if Iíd play it again; Iím only replaying it because the commenters were raving about it. Once I finish, Iíll probably up it to a 5.)

Shade, by Andrew Plotkin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Pretty good for it's length, cool story, a bit vague, April 1, 2023
by Cygnus (Australia)

Shade. A good intro to IF. Parsers work (obviously). Very polished, short though. Somewhat surreal- definitely comes under its category. You kinda have a linear experience, but then again, everythingís kinda turning to shit as you progress.

Atmosphere wasÖ conductive, Iíd say, is the best way to describe it. For the length of this game, Iíd say itís quality was just enough that it filled the short experience with only content that a short game could have.

Somewhat horror? But overall, an incredible introduction to interactive fiction and parsers. Doesnít need a map, or hints, because you basically just go around this like. Small house thing. No spoilers ;]

HmmmÖ what else? It wasnít really clear on wtf was going on, but I guess that comes under surrealism. Mechanics, again, straightforward and puzzles nonexistentÖ worldbuilding comes under plot and surrealism. For a game of its length and genre, Iíd say it gets a 4/5. For an IF introduction, though, it gets a 3/5.

But itís a staple of interactive fiction and an effective way of teaching it to people, soÖ what can ya do?

Also, the longer I play IF, the more I'm convinced everyone is Andrew Plotkin in a trenchcoat.

The Dreamhold, by Andrew Plotkin

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Alchemical intro to IF, well-built story and environment, April 1, 2023
by Cygnus (Australia)

You play as an amnesiac navigating the mysterious halls of a Dreamhold, or a wizardís haven. It has in-built hints, and even a voice which guides newer players of interactive fiction to the finer mechanics and mannerisms of interactive fiction.

It teaches people to- (looking at you, Dolphin)- pursue multiple leads rather than just one, and to catalogue what youíre doing. Itís immersive and mysterious, but culminates into one overall beautiful ending. You are left in the dark with some things, but thatís perfect in this setting.

There are ways to die, but you have ample warning and you can also easily go back and undo your mistakes. It also has a really cool mechanic that Iím not going to spoil as a way to use a certain set of items.

Itís a bit longer than certain other fictions, but overall itís an amazing game to play to get a feel of things. I wouldnít say this is a beginner beginner game, rather a secondary. For example! I would say play Bronze first, then Dreamhold. Of course, I started with Anchorhead, because apparently Iím a masochist, but itís fine.

Rating this as a 4/5 because it doesnít have extra content, and it's a little janky, but thatís fine.

Blue Lacuna, by Aaron A. Reed

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
really well-built, cohesive and immersive wide world , April 1, 2023
by Cygnus (Australia)


First off- ALLLL the points for worldbuilding. LikeÖ holy mcfuckin shit. Holy shit. Wayfarers, Lacuna, rayfish, sculptures, ink, word day, berries, forests, trees, colours- Worldbuilding. Worldbuilding!!!!! Iíll say it so so so many times!!!! Itís so cool!

(Sigh). My writer's brain is so happy right now.

Anyway. Anyway. Anyway! Suuuuuper big world. So much to explore. And explore you do! So much lore. Youíre not on a time crunch (which is refreshing), ie you can have dreams, you can sleep, itís kind of like a simulation but so definitely, definitely not.

Ough. I couldnít put this one down. I skipped several classes (not physically, just didnít do shit) to play this. And I normally do that for IF games, but this one was especially gravitational.

MechanicsÖ from the way you interact with the story (typing the words which are ever so kindly colour-coded into locations, topics, and observable things) to the actual actions you do (swimming in lagoons, fixing stations, dancing [kind of], exploring volcanoes), this was a truly revolutionary turning point in interactive fiction. One of the longest (free) interactive fiction games out there, Blue Lacuna spans at overÖ 400k.

I did get softlocked for a bit (fortunately, they did have an option to kinda hack it; the god command). But once we got back, we kept going.

Plot! From the opening scene, I was faced with moral dilemmas at every. Fckin. Turn. I cried, like, 7 minutes into the game. It really says a lot about me, huh, that I choose emotions and people over anything else. The feels I felt. Jeez.

I havenít done all the endings yet, but I was very content with my own ending. I got my closure with several characters, and it was a beautiful start to an end to a start.

Peaceful, beautiful descriptions. No way of killing yourself (dangit) and an incredibly polite game. Like, I said ďpleaseĒ, and it said ĎI appreciate your politeness, but the game works better ifÖí, and when I said Ďdieí, to see if I could kill myself [spoiler, I couldnít], it said ďIím sorry if youíre feeling frustrated. If you want to, at any point you can SAVE and close the game, and RESTORE to come back at a later dateí. It was so sweet. And it had a sing response. It was really nice.

I would totally play this game again. Especially with a soundtrack. Whimsical, fantastical, amazing plot. Puzzles were great as well- very trial and error, but in a fun way. And once youíd puzzled them out, they stayed open (and some even gave you hints!). The NPC (cackles) was. Very awesome as well. Great characterisation!! So cool backstory!! Very fun. I definitely needed a parental figure, yeah. He called me Ďducklingí and I fucking crumbled into a sobbing heap.

AndÖ Rume. I both love/hate the detail that, (Spoiler - click to show)uhÖ as you go on in the story, you canít cry over them. It wasÖ heartbreaking. It hurt. But I was so engrossed.

Anyway! Deducting a bit because of the lack of hint-system [in the game] together with softlocking, but itís a chip off the overall gloriousness of Blue Lacuna.

I would definitely recommend this. Maybe not for your first ever IF game, but still worth playing for everyone.

Delightful Wallpaper, by Andrew Plotkin ('Edgar O. Weyrd')

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Very puzzle-y, awesome mechanics, could use with some accessibility, April 1, 2023
by Cygnus (Australia)

Oooh boy. This one was.. A doozy. At the start, I was incredibly pumped for this. Youíll notice that I said ďat the startĒ, and thatís because it took a lot of mechanical reasoning to navigate, although once you got the idea, you could kinda get around.

Very beautiful in the end- multiple multiple endings. Thereís a way to get softlocked a bit, but other than that, thereís a unique note system that helps you remember things. I loved the notes. Very much. A lot of colour-specific things. Very ethereal. Intentions are so cool.

We play as a ghostÖ puzzle masterÖ thing. A notion, perhaps? Overall, a lovely game focused on puzzles with emotional mechanics and (an) interesting ending(s).

Also, thereís a walkthrough. Thatís awesome.

Iíd rate this as a 3.5/5. Mostly because of the repetitive nature of the navigation puzzles- timed/move based puzzles or mechanics are great for solving the puzzles, but after the solvation (itís a word), imo itís a better idea to just let us navigate easier and keep the locks on.

Would I play it again? Yep. Would I play it for endings? Yep. Actually, weíll up it to a 4, simply because the mechanics were awesome in the endgame.

What Heart Heard Of, Ghost Guessed, by Amanda Walker

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Yeah I can't really find fault here. Very good and emotive game :), April 1, 2023
by Cygnus (Australia)

Another great one by Amanda Walker! Similar to Colourtura, it has really cool mechanics. Instead of interacting with objects, you get to emotion them. As with most Walker games, thereís a great hint system. Beautiful and lovely, heartbreaking and impactful.

This one was really hard to find a fault with. Like, at all. Amanda makes beautiful games, and this one has incredible mechanics, corresponding to emotions, which resonates with me a lot. Wracking my brain for anything I can fault here- oh. Not much extra content, I suppose.

But thatís just unfair to the entire game- it was a linear (ish) experience, a puzzle deduction game, and overall, amazing mechanics. I would definitely play again. I did cry.

The Temple, by Johan Berntsson
Lovecraftian mid-length explore-y but still very linear game, April 1, 2023
by Cygnus (Australia)

You play as an unidentified person journeying with a man called Charles, in a nightmarish world of strange eclectic gods. A very linear game, with intended routes and such in order. I like that thereís hints, great system.

It's very Lovecraftian- got the normal things, cults, screaming eldritch demons, alchemy, so definitely fits there.

Overall, very short, but itís fantastic. You can die, but itís polite. Great introduction and commands. Could do with a little more context and variety, parsers are good. Another thing it could use is more worldbuilding. The atmosphere wasnít tense at all (apart from That One Part), but still made sense.

Because of the length, Iíll be rating it a 3.5, because itísÖ Yíknow. It couldíve been expanded on, and for a hook, itís not great. Writing ran a little weak at times, but still, pretty good!

Bronze, by Emily Short
Great for beginners, smooth, and adaptive, April 1, 2023
by Cygnus (Australia)

Bronze is an interactive fiction following a similar story of beauty and the beast, but wildly different. With mechanics and fantastical backstory, this game is world-built in the best ways. Itís got an expansive yet still navigable structure, with in-built hints (that is quite literally the best thing an IF can have).

Itís almost romance, but also itís fantasy and a story of revenge. There is no way to die, and thereís so much optional character backstory you can see. Itís a story full of magic. It is focused on one goal, with all the optional content limited to the main storyline, so thereís no real side-quests, only little bits of information you can look up which arenít necessary.

It has multiple endings as well, and theyíre all easily accessible. Iíd definitely recommend this one for beginners.

Coloratura, by Lynnea Glasser

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Beautiful and immersive, great replay value, endings galore, April 1, 2023
by Cygnus (Australia)


Coloratura is honestly one of my favourite games to ever be made. Itís got an amazing mechanic- colouring peopleís auras, with different meanings. Itís a beautiful message, and an amazing way of sensing things. You play as an alien traversing through a spaceship, trying to get back home.

It deals with topics of loneliness, participation, and emotional influences. Itís a unique way of seeing the world, and one that I can relate to in an esoteric and unexplainable way. This game is a combination of sci-fi, stealth and fantasy, as well as a tale of companionship and relations.

The only reason I rate this not a five out of five is because of the fact thereís no hint system, and trial and error can be the only thing you can do sometimes, with little to no warning at sudden ends which you didnít realise would be happening.

1-9 of 9