Ratings and Reviews by thecanvasrose

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The Coffin Maker, by A.M. LeBlanc
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Leadlight, by Wade Clarke
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Hyper Rift, by CKS Studios

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Eerie, Challenging, Entertaining, November 27, 2019

I discovered "Hyper Rift" while downloading "Creatures Such as We" to my cellphone. "Hyper Rift" is a deceptively difficult game with good math and logic puzzles. On top of that, the story is well done. It saddens me that I can't find more IF from this studio. "Hyper Rift" was awesome until I wound up giving up at it because unlocking all of the endings felt next to impossible. (Reaching one "good" ending was time consuming!) Good luck finding them. This is a nice one for people who love puzzlers with a fleshed out atmosphere and plotline. (Also, is it too harsh of me that the only reason I gave this game 4 stars instead of 5 was because I thought it was too hard to beat?) 》revised: I gave it 5 stars.

The Bubble Bath, by Susane Berkenheger
A storytelling "virus" requires some outdated software and an emulator to play., November 27, 2019

"The Bubble Bath" is/was a clever game which takes advantage of Microsoft Internet Explorer loopholes to make it appear as though your computer is being hacked/attacked by a malicious virus.

You will need a certain version of internet explorer/an emulator to play this game. (See INSTRUCTIONS)

Memory of a Broken Dimension, by xra
For a prototype, there sure is a LOT going on here., November 27, 2019

I found out about this parser hybrid on itch.io. Currently, the only version available for play is the in-progress, environmental version as xra is still working on the finished, functional game with a storyline. So, at the moment, "Memory of a Broken Dimension" is just an experiment in build and atmosphere (not that it isn't without any surprises).

With all that, this is an effective prototype that could ostensibly hold up on its own as a functional (albeit abstract, for the lack of a clear storyline) game. Once the element of a plot is added in later on, "Memory of a Broken Dimension" will probably add up to a 5 star winner from me. And... Not just because I enjoyed it according to my personal preferences (how I tend to rate), but in the more critical sense that this game already hits many of the major points for a well made piece.

To IF players who have used an emulator of old software before, such as one needs to play "Leadlight" by Wade Clarke, this game is built to resemble a fictional one. According to the itch.io notes and from everything else I read about this game, this make-believe emulator is meant to run a make-believe recovered satellite log. Categorized (loosely, I think) as horror, this log is corrupted by some malevolent or traumatic force and thus the primary dilemma of the game is born. Of course, the prototype game doesn't build on this much as I suspect that it will be once the storyline is entirely implemented. Still, this premise is rather unique and quite cool.

In terms of structure, this game appears promising. As it stands, the prototype is a type of puzzle, which, once solved, leads the player into a 3D terrain exploring environment. This is the third 3D terrain game I've learned about this year which a person just might categorize as IF, and this game most strongly fits that bill out of the bunch. The terrain element of the prototype stalls once you reach it and the game is more or less over after that point. However, the concept of a finished game which toggles between a parser game and a 3D game at varied points may really work to integrate 3D gaming with Interactive Fiction in a new yet classic sense. Believe me, I'll be keeping tabs on this game to play it once the finished version is released to see if it will live up to my suspicions. If this game turns out to become what I think it may shape up to be, we'll be looking at an IF piece wildly different from the majority of most IF, and I find that exciting.

Lastly, in terms of what to expect when it comes to playing... As I played this game, I felt for the majority of its duration that I was looking at something that I wasn't supposed to be looking at. This effect is intentional, and it works well. The parser is heavily off-kilter from many other parsers and the entire premise of its one and only puzzle at the moment is to discover which commands it will accept. I don't know. The system feels like some arcane... thing... that's both intriguing and unsettling. Additonally, the visuals of the parser alone are incredibly impressive. Past commands that the player enters flicker and change on-screen as if the system is picking them apart and near consciously studying its user as an unwitting subject. Again, while it doesn't build towards anything in the prototype, the overall atmosphere and effect is stronger than those of some established and acclaimed games I've played, and I'm not shouting this out lightly.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this game-in-progress to people who are simply looking for fun IF to play. "Memories of a Broken Dimension" just isn't there yet. But to IF makers and developers, give this a look when you have the chance. Try and find if you can solve the puzzle without looking up hints. Relish in what works here.

Depression Quest, by Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey, Isaac Schankler
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1915, by Gregor Duddy, Luke Powell, Finlay Macpherson
Second 3D terrain explorer I've seen under the IF label, November 11, 2019

The creators of 1915 describe their game (at least on 1915's itch.io page) as interactive fiction; unusual for a 3D terrain-exploring game. However, it isn't the first I've ever seen of the type that a person could possibly classify as IF or a text adventure (look up "The Dead Tower").

Here, one major point of the story revolves around exploring text - the player can approach pieces of scenery to read about them, which does make a cohesive, textual whole all together. However, the game still heavily relies on visuals... Yet if this isn't IF, I can see WHY the creators marked it as such. Really, this is something of a Twine story or gamebook in terms of narrative, but the visuals are in 3D. Instead of clicking on a hyperlink to get to the next chunk of readable text, the player has to navigate via the keyboard.

I'd be interested to see more "IF" of this type, and maybe to see makers merge it with more traditional IF forms.

You Are Jeff Bezos, by Kris Ligman

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
nice, November 9, 2019

"You Are Jeff Bezos" is a very simple game with no custom visuals or text effects, but the story is well done and thought provoking. Although multimedia can add a lot to a game to set its tone and aesthetic, this one works without any of that. Worth a quick play.

Tony Hawk's Pro Shopper, by Karin Malady

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A sorta funny gag, November 7, 2019

This is one of those jokes that didn't make me laugh but exhale hard out my nose a couple of times. I mean. There's a clever sort of wit here, it's just that it doesn't really go anywhere. Overall, the finished product doesn't feel like a finished product but rather one of the maker's experiments in perhaps learning Twine to begin with, or at least a short 5 minute goof-off with the software.

Less of a game than a gag. That said, I liked it.

The Dead Tower, by Mez Breeze, Andy Campbell
Poetry presented in a 3D Game, October 22, 2019

"The Dead Tower" is unusual in that while it works as your ordinary 3D terrain exploring game, the point is to explore the written word. So game mechanics? Check. Text based? Also check. Is it IF? If so, it's totally unlike most other pieces which one could classify as IF. While its atmosphere is evocative of a narrative, the game doesn't seem to have a distinguishable plot. But then of course, in this very way, "The Dead Tower" strongly resembles much of Porpentine's work, which is generally accepted as IF by now.

My only major critique of this game is that it is a bit difficult to learn to navigate.

Fašade, by Michael Mateas, Andrew Stern

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Ever used "Cleverbot"? This is that, but it's IF., October 21, 2019

This is a responsive AI chatbot with a built-in plotline. If you've ever used Cleverbot or ELIZA, this is one of those, but it's made with the purpose of telling an interactive story. Gameplay resembles "Galatea" and other conversational IF.

My Very Own Train Station, by Niklas Gl°sen
A Superb Philosophical Short Deserving of Attention, October 20, 2019

This short only offers the player a handful of choices, but that doesn't negate the fact that it has excellent writing and visuals. It presents sort of an unusual take on IF, but I personally loved it very much! It took me off guard initially and I wasn't sure what to make of it at first, but throw your expectations out the door and give "My Very Own Train Station" a whirl. It's deserving of attention and praise.

What was my only critique against this game was that it is easy to quickly reach an ending and that to get another one, you have to start over again and again - I wasn't sure how I felt about this recursive quality during play. However, I came to feel that this trait really fits the game, a day or so later, and now I can't help but wonder if it's intentional.

The mundane repetitiveness of the story, how thoroughly the player is willing to read through all of it and the main character's primary dilemma of escaping a rigid environment tie together to the game's overarching ideas and themes. "My Very Own Train Station" was carefully made. Well made. Be careful to give it good time and thought.

Love, Prestige & Spookiness, by Elizabeth Smyth, Pedro Alves, D'Ack Games, Maria Vittoria Patti, Ed Roberts, Alan Wills, Anita G. Zadeh, Aria Zadeh
A short demonstrating what IF can look like when built solely with Unity, October 20, 2019

I played "Love, Prestige & Spookiness" after looking for games by Elizabeth Smyth ("Bogeyman"). Here, Smyth has worked with several other game creators on an IF short built entirely with Unity. I've played other strong IF implemented with Unity alongside other programs (most often Twine), but here, Unity stands alone. I don't think that "Love, Prestige & Spookiness" is the best IF I've seen built with Unity (I've recently discovered Niklas Glosen's Unity/Twine IF, which is stronger in this regard), but it does demonstrate what an IF game built WHOLLY through Unity can look like and how such an approach may be able to change the shape of IF in new ways. This game takes a kind of point and click approach to an open ended IF story where the player can visit varied rooms (faintly evocative of a parser) and then make choices via hyperlink (evocative of Twine). The overall flavor of this game is new. However, the story is very short. While it plays out some interesting ideas, it doesn't push them very far and feels lacking as a whole, as a result. Overall, I think that this game is noteworthy as an experimental piece, but as a playable game, it falters a little bit.

(Be sure to play the game on a computer with a mouse or keypad which allows you to use a scrolling function.)

Bogeyman, by Elizabeth Smyth
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ZOINKS!, by Elizabeth Smyth
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Poppet, by Bitter Karella
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Secluded, by Niklas Gl°sen
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The Horrible Pyramid, by Ryan Veeder

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Yeah, it's a Fun Short, October 7, 2019

This would be a very solid pick for people new to IF, but otherwise, I wouldn't call this one particularly memorable. It is fun and well built. I enjoyed it on the first go, but I wasn't wowed by it. I'll never play it again. I prefer Veeder's bigger games, and if I were to introduce someone to his work, I'm not sure I'd start with this one unless they were totally unfamiliar with IF.

One Eye Open, by Caelyn Sandel (as Colin Sandel) and Carolyn VanEseltine
My Favorite Parser Game, October 7, 2019

Yes, "One Eye Open" is over the top, but it's just so well fleshed out (heh heh, "fleshed out") and engaging that I cannot help but absolutely adore it. That and I'm already sort of a sucker for horror games anyways. This game has great replay value, the story runs near cinematically (that is, no matter what choices I made, the story felt cohesive), the dark humor is on point and it plays a variety of tropes to clever and original ends. 10 out of 10 from me.

American Election, by Greg Buchanan

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Worthy of XYZZY nomination, when the time comes., September 13, 2019

I'm currently a little short on time to write a review at the moment - I'll come back to his later to write one.

The Physiognomist's Office, by Christina Nordlander
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Through Time and Space, by Amy Clare Fontaine
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The End Means Escape, by Steve Kodat
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Ghosterington Night, by Wade Clarke
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Open That Vein, by Chandler Groover
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Bring Me A Head!, by Chandler Groover
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Wretch!, by Josh Labelle
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Divis Mortis, by Lynnea Dally
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the uncle who works for nintendo, by michael lutz
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Draculaland, by Robin Johnson
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Fabricationist DeWit Remakes the World, by Jedediah Berry
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First Times, by Hero Robb
In terms of scare factor, this is the best horror game I've ever played., July 24, 2019
by thecanvasrose
Related reviews: horror

Okay. So there are other horror interactive fiction games out there that are objectively cleaner and smoother than "First Times."

"Anchorhead" is wildly immersive, detailed and, in terms of build, it's a work of art. "One Eye Open" is messy, fun and provides the player with an eerie sense of adventure. "Bogeyman" is a kind of tearjerker that will give you nightmares.

And then there's this oddity. Maybe it has bugs, is a bit too disorienting to solve and isn't necessarily one for the plotline. Yet in terms of scare factor, this is the best horror game I've ever played. Cults, zombie creatures and cannibalism will always be creepy. But pulling an egg out of a doll's stomach? It should never have had to be creepy because I shouldn't have ever had to picture it in my life - if it weren't for this game.

"First Times" hosts a few cliches - creepy hospital, demonic entities - but where it stands strong is where it is really rather original, where an empty stage or a mural of a castle or a room full of stuffed animals manage to send more chills down your spine than your average zombie attack. These elements never quite come together too cleanly, but these elements within themselves are insanely cool and insanely scary.

Play it if you enjoy feeling regret. (I mean this in a good way!)

Zork I, by Marc Blank and Dave Lebling

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Look. I have yet to find a game as satisfying as 'Zork 1.', May 6, 2019

If you've never played 'Zork 1' before, give it a spin. As for myself, 'Zork 1' is the first interactive fiction game I've ever played. Maybe it isn't the friendliest game for beginners of IF, but I'm personally glad that I began with this clasic masterpiece.

What 'Zork 1' did well, in my opinion, is that it hooked me right away. The opening scene - and this is not a spoiler, it's the start of the game - where the player is placed in front of a mysterious white house is purely brilliant. My brother and I, who I first played this with, would brag to each other via text who made it furthest into the game. It was thrilling to text to him that 'Hey! I made it past the house!' or 'I did it - I killed (Spoiler - click to show)that horrible thief!'

So maybe it was the rivalry I had ongoing with my brother in playing this game that made it so exciting and gratifying to me on my first play, but 'Zork 1' really is clever when it comes to its presentation of exploration and surprise.

Don't miss this one.

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