Reviews by Tabitha / alyshkalia

Ectocomp 2023

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Your Body a Temple, or the Postmodern Prometheus, by Charm Cochran

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Beautiful, November 12, 2023

Your Body a Temple takes a dark premise—your body has been destroyed, and you’re now choosing from a variety of “spare parts” that will form you a new one—and turns it into a fun, powerful game. You're presented with four options for each significant body part (face, torso, arms, legs, genitals), which range from a robot head to live branches, and seeing what the slate would be each time was a big part of the appeal. But what really makes the game excellent is the narrative voice. An unnamed person, referred to with she/her pronouns, is building this body for you, speaking to you as she works. She describes each potential option—its pros and cons, the ways it will affect your new life—in a caring, maybe slightly fussy, voice that’s rich with personality and sets a tone of lightness and kindness even as you can build yourself a face of nightmares and arms of live wires.

The intention of getting revenge on those who hurt you is mentioned, but it's left up to the player to decide what that will mean. There’s a human option for each body part, and the descriptions of those note that while they will offer connection with others, they also make you vulnerable. Monstrous/inhuman parts, on the other hand, will help you protect yourself and/or be a threat, at the cost of possibly driving others away. But embracing your humanity may be the best revenge after all: a “distressingly human” face “asserts personhood in the face of dehumanization. It declares agency in the face of destruction. This is a face that demands to be remembered. It is a face that haunts assailants' dreams.”

As has likely been evident from the get-go, this is a very trans story. Beyond just the conceit of choosing one’s own body, the genital options include a “masculinized orifice” and a “feminized appendage”, with no standard P or V in sight. And in a choice that feel adjacent in the way it inverts cultural beauty standards, the human option for the torso is “fat”, and its description pushes back against any negative connotations: “This is a torso built for intimacy. You will be good at cuddling, good at warming others.” In its queering of bodies and embrace of other-ness, even monstrousness, this game is quite beautiful.

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The Dying of the Light, by Amanda Walker

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Heartbreakingly effective, November 5, 2023

This game hurts, but in the best way--capturing a little slice of what it's like to be someone else, in this case someone experiencing psychosis brought on by advanced dementia. You don't understand where you are or why you're here or what's happening around you; what else can you do but lash out? Knowing the author's personal experience with the subject (read the author's note, linked on the Itch page) only made it all the more heartbreaking. A very well crafted game, especially given that it was made in only four hours.

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Good Bones: A Haunted Housewarming, by Leon Lin

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A delightful comedy horror game, November 4, 2023

From the get-go, this game was just plain fun. You wake up in the middle of the night in your newly-purchased house, a fixer-upper with "good bones", and you have to pee. But beware--it turns out the house has some surprises in store, and creatures ranging from apparitions to zombies are out to get you! With frequent, humorous asides (one of my favorites: "something like a leg or maybe an arm, with too many joints and fingers (like something out of AI-generated art)") and player-friendly design (after dying, you have the option to jump back to the choice that got you killed and try a different option), it was a delight to play.

Despite the frequent deaths, the game stays away from gore, which felt like an appropriate choice in a story meant to elicit more laughs than chills. Part of the fun in fact is collecting deaths; the game keeps a list of which premature endings you've reached, and once you've won, it lets you jump back to any checkpoint to find the ones you missed (in case, like me, you're compelled to learn exactly how each creature can do away with you in an alliterative manner. Yes, I may have perished once again, but this time it was because I was yeeted by a yeti!).

The game also has a very attractive presentation, including the color scheme, the font, and the skull emojis marking choices you've tried that have led to a death. A very polished and enjoyable game!

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