Reviews by DoctorFury

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View this member's reviews by tag: Anchorhead horror
1-5 of 5


Vain Empires, by Thomas Mack and Xavid

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Challenging game with demonic and delightful protagonist, December 11, 2020
by DoctorFury (Ohio)

I think of Ian Tregellis' Something More Than Night mixed with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as the premise for this adventure: a Cold-War-Twixt-Heaven-and-Hell story of good versus, well, Evil. The prose is excellent, well-written, and engaging throughout. The parser is a little less than perfectly trained and tends not to recognize the descriptive elements in each room, but that also helps to guide the player to spend time with the mechanic and story. It's very unique--you place intent within the small host of NPCs, and later, you can adverb your way to refinement of these original motivations. The most fun for me was the various descriptions of activities, even unsuccessful at solving the related puzzle, with different intents. I truly enjoyed the protagonist's voice and manner, as well as his (their?) intermittent dismissive commentary on the human world.

It's a LONG game, forgiving but at times densely frustrating (an inventory display listing the growing number of intents would have been much more helpful than a map, even as the map is pleasant and clever), and the HINTS section is not quite as thorough or as rapid to update in each new scenario as you might like.

I gave it four stars because some intents/adverbs received the lion's share of play, and some were almost immediately useless. The last section, or Summit, was a good idea with a flawed execution, especially (Spoiler - click to show) relentlessly typing the GIVE X AND Y TO A to outrun the random undoing activity of the main antagonist and (Spoiler - click to show)No one, in the history of the modern world, has ever FOLDed a teleprompter/receiver wireless. Not one time..

I would, and will, gladly play again, trying different combos. I'm excited to try all of your other work, separate and together!


The Eleusinian Miseries, by Mike Russo

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Alcibiades, you old rogue ... , December 8, 2020
by DoctorFury (Ohio)

Isn't it funny how the AAA Assassin's Creed: Odyssey brought Alcibiades back to the minds of modern players, and now he appears deliciously in this game as the instigator of all the protagonist's mayhem? I LOVED this game: erudite, camp, a wicked mix of actual proposed Greek historical events with lingo from a cliched Eton. The plot traipsed along, chaos was merry and perpetual, and the author never let a line drop--the voice was consistently hilarious. I only found one gamebreaking code error (Spoiler - click to show)(don't drop the amphora in the garden and try to pick it up again), and there were no guess-the-verbs that I could find, despite what another reviewer suggested. A quick Google cleared up any unknown Greek, which I think is acceptable in modern gaming.

An evening well spent. If I have any criticism, it is that the puzzles were fairly one note, simple steps, with no real deductive pressure on the player. Look forward to more games from this author in future!


Tavern Crawler, by Josh Labelle

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
D&D for IF, December 7, 2020
by DoctorFury (Ohio)

Much enjoyment to be had with this low fantasy RPG-lite Twine adventure. Well written, campy, and while no characters had serious depth, the pleasure was in the pacing and the CYOA progression with easy consequences and easy save/load options. This is a perfect new-generation IF game for older kids, much as Wishbringer and Zork were our introduction. I look forward to playing it again and again. I do wish the STAT vs. DM random roll was a little bit more obviously fleshed out. Why a luck roll for those animals?

Loved the dragon puzzle.


Babyface, by Mark Sample

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Creepy or not, here I come, you can't hide. , December 7, 2020
by DoctorFury (Ohio)

As experimental interactive fiction written in Twine, this is a work of genius across several elements: the ambient music and sounds, the imagery, and the pace of the authorship are extremely good. It's NOT a game, and that's ok, but it is also incomplete, in my opinion, as a story. There are great horror elements here, and the exposition to climax is good. If I nitpick, it's the inclusion of "creepy Latin," which is a bit lazy: (Spoiler - click to show) episcopi vagantes? Why? A very contentious and troublesome but decided unmysterious piece of Catholic history that ultimately has nothing to do with the climax. Also, including the Klan reference and then a further white hood would be scarier if I understood why on earth the Klan was present in this story.. Instead of eerie alt-language play that does not circle back to the plot in any way, we could have had more story.


Anchorhead, by Michael Gentry

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Why improve on perfection?, December 7, 2020
by DoctorFury (Ohio)
Related reviews: Anchorhead, horror

So I played the original Anchorhead the year it came out, and then just finished the 2018 Steam release on my Mac ten minutes ago. It's a GREAT game in the Lovecraft mythos. So much so that I never forgot it, and was pleasantly surprised to discover the reboot. Plotwise, this is a strong game, with excellent pacing and deep details to discover. The main character is somewhat anonymous, compared to the thorough exploration of her husband's entire family, but this game is more about the player's effort than any characterologic development. The game is very, very well written and the parser has been thoroughly programmed, with only extremely rare "guess the correct verb" moments (Spoiler - click to show)Don't "hit" the web with the broom.

What stuck with me in 1998 was how hard this game was. I mean, I may have been just 20 but I was a smart cookie with extensive IF experience, and I could not finish Anchorhead Original without significant help. Anchorhead 2018 is . . . easier. Not by much, and certainly not in such a way that players of the original will feel cheated, but there's a gloss on the game that made the denouement and ending feel a little perfunctory. Several objects and locations serve no purpose except to move the game towards the finish line. (Spoiler - click to show)What is the point of the flute, except as a handy tool for banishing the final enemy? Hell, why have an altar at all with thousands of corpses underground when the apparent threat is in the water? Tell me more about that Zodiac. And so on.

That said, I loved playing this again in my 40s and I'm so, so glad IF refuses to die. If you have a Lovecraft fan as a friend, introduce them to this game!



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