Reviews by Sorrel

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The Evil Chicken of Doom, by Mel S

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Hilarious, Really, June 28, 2012

I was a little skeptical when I downloaded this game, if only because I knew my laughter would be at the expense of a defenseless, two-nosed chicken. The humor is not subtle. There are no puns. There are no pop-culture references. It's just funny - utterly, lough-out-loud funny. You're trying to kill a two-nosed chicken. That's the entire premise and as far as the game goes. But the game really runs far with that premise. Apparently, you can't just strangle the chicken. You have to find a more creative way.

The puzzles are perfect for IF beginners and provide very little challenge. But it's worth playing for the jokes (which is something I usually never say about an IF game). Even the hint-system - or lack thereof - is written in an amusing way. Just type 'hints' once. I promise you won't get any.

Play The Evil Chicken of Doom to brighten up your day. And don't worry - the chicken will be avenged in the end.


Under the Bed, by Dan Doyle III

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
Short and simple, but not as sweet as it appears, June 25, 2012

Let me start by saying that I've been away from IF for a long while now. I don't think I've touched an IF game for at least a year. So, choosing to play Under the Bed was much like choosing to play my first IF. I picked it because it seemed short, sweet, and simple. And I'm happy to say that I don't regret the choice.

You're a child tasked with one goal and one goal only: to kill the monster hiding under your bed before it has the chance to hurt your newly arrived baby brother. It's an interesting premise with a lot of potential, and while Under the Bed doesn't quite live up to all that potential, it certainly gets a few things right.

The environment is rather under-implemented. There aren't many objects for the player to interact with, and the setting itself is limited to three sparse rooms (not counting the closets). But, given that we are presented with a single, straightforward goal and given until midnight to achieve it, an expansion on the environment may be unnecessary. It's worth noting that the time limit is more than generous, allowing you ample time to make preparations for the monster's arrival.

Now, onto the puzzle itself. Yes, there's only one, and no, it's not particularly difficult or time-consuming. Because there aren't all that many objects to interact with, the only difficulty comes not from collecting and using multiple items, but from deciding how to use the limited resources that are readily at your disposal. My actions were, for the most part, intuitive, though I admit to being a little baffled by one particular step in the preparation process: (Spoiler - click to show)how to prevent the monster from using the closet as an escape route.

I'm fairly sure that I got all the possible endings, which range from absolute failure to absolute success, with a couple of not-quite victories in the middle. While the game starts out cutesy - a little boy trying to protect his brother from what is probably an imaginary monster - its endings reveal a much darker side to the story. On one play-through, I simply waited around for time to run out, and was rewarded with a very jarring ending. While there's nothing outstanding about the writing of the room and item descriptions, the tone of that particular ending was quite gripping and left me wanting to read more of the author's work.

Another thing worth mentioning about Under the Bed is the hint system. It's integrated seamlessly into the game and comes across less like a series of hints and more like a natural part of the story. Even though it becomes apparent quite quickly, I feel obliged to put its description in a spoiler tag, if only because it was so satisfying to discover it on my own. (Spoiler - click to show)The talking duck was a nice touch, both as a way of introducing hints to the player and as a story element. I do wish that the duck's personality and dialogue options were further developed. Once the novelty of the talking stuffed animal wore off, it began to feel more like a gimmick than a character for the player to interact with. But quite frankly, it's adorable.

My biggest complaint with this game is that it just didn't seem to go deep enough. I would have liked to be able to wander through more of the house, interact with the child's parents, and maybe construct a more elaborate trap for the monster. Having more extensive conversation options with the one talking character in the game would have also been nice. As it stands, the game is very linear, has almost no NPC interaction, and won't provide more than 10-minutes worth of entertainment. But, I enjoyed the story, and it certainly reminded me why I got into interactive fiction in the first place. I'd say those 10 minutes of entertainment and the satisfying feeling of vanquishing a monster from under your bed are worth a play-through.


The Argument, by Harvey Smith

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Promising beginning, but puzzle-less and painfully short.., September 25, 2010

The first line of Argument placed the PC as ďstanding in front of a broken mirror just after midnight.Ē It was a promising first line, brimming with unanswered questions. Already, I was hooked.

Turns out the broken mirror is the result of an argument with the PCís wife. That took away from the originality I had envisioned at first, but the writing was still good, so I continued on playing. After exploring the first few rooms (which I found to be grossly under implemented), I was hard-pressed to find any puzzles. There were no locked doors, nothing lost, and nothing in need of being found. Except, there was still the matter of the wife who had left in a fit of fury. So, I assumed the puzzles- less beginning was simply a prelude to the action to come. Oh, how I was wrong.

There is nothing to be done beyond the house and there are only two objects that actually serve to advance the story somewhat. I found the objects in logical order, so the ending I received made some sense. Then, I replayed the game and purposefully passed by the first object - (Spoiler - click to show)the receipt -, receiving the same exact ending. Without knowledge of the first object, the ending was logically impossible. So, there is only one ending and the only thing you need to do to get to it is to pick up a single item.

The ending itself is painfully clichť. Yes, it may be true to life, but itís also true to soap operas. However, the writing is error-free and rather smooth. Iíd like to see future games from the author that are longer and better-implemented. Unfortunately, this one was a flop.


Light up, by The Dominant Species

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
A Misguided Sci-fi Adventure Masquerading as an Ethical Dilemma , August 6, 2010

I wanted to like this game, I really, really did. It started out well-enough, with a drunken man looking for his lost son. There were elements of raw emotion and philosophy, good writing and okay puzzles. All in all, it promised not to be a bad game. I solved the first puzzle with ease and felt a jolt of anticipation to see the story's continuation. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there.

The game has three difficulties and I played it on the default one, which is medium. So, I expected the puzzles not to be overly hard. However, when the difficulty calls itself medium, I expect medium. What I got was painfully easy. But I got over that, since I wasn't really playing this game for the puzzles. I wanted to find out how it ended, because it actually intrigued me. The first few scenes promised the PC wrestling with morality and the ABOUT section warns the player of graphic material. So, I was prepared for some disturbing stuff.

The next scene did get pretty disturbing. However, it was only physically so. Mentally and emotionally, it felt dry. I would have liked to see some more depth in the writing. The player is presented with ethical dilemmas, in which they don't actually have any say. There appears to be only one answer to each dilemma that will move you forward. Light up deals with concepts like free will and memory, violence (in some descriptions, hinted to be of a sexual nature) and social hierarchy. These are serious topics, deserving of serious thought and better implementation. However, it seemed as if the author took up a bigger chunk of philosophy than they were prepared to work with.

The writing had its highs and lows, including some grammatical and spelling errors. The puzzles did not get any harder (even though the ABOUT section promised that they would). There were some glitchy puzzles and descriptions (presumably due to the limitations of ADRIFT). There were also errors that obviously resulted out of plain negligence on the author's part. (Spoiler - click to show)At one point, examining the chains results in a response stating that the chains are not there. However, you are still able to break them. But, I overlooked that at first, because I was still excited to see how the game would progress. Stupid of me.

Things quickly took a very sci-fi turn. What I presumed to be a bleak foray into the world of ethics and morality turned into hack-and-slash other-worldly linearity. The author obviously took some time to develop a back-story for this other world, but I simply did not like it. Too many things were left unsaid and too many issues were not dealt with extensively enough. The game became terribly linear and then, there was an entire episode of pure battle. A battle system complete with health points and a weapon which you had to pick up every time you used it. I must have grit my teeth a few times as I suffered through that particular chapter.

And then came the end - the end which I had been waiting for throughout the whole game... The end by no means lived up to all the build-up leading to it. I found it to be extremely unsatisfactory, even though most of my questions were answered. Overall it was a let-down for me. It was as if the author came up with a great concept for a sci-fi world, but needed a way to work an adventure into it. So, they slapped together a misguided man looking for his son and some surreal, little elements. Light up did not feel complete to me and frankly, I found it to be a waste of my time.


Just another day, by Simply Ryan

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Poor Copy of a Brilliant Flash Game, August 4, 2010

And it indeed it did make a statement... when it was a flash game called Every Day the Same Dream by molleindustria. The events described in this "game" are a blatant copy of the aforementioned flash game. The scenery, the NPCs, the objects - everything is absolutely the same. Except that in the flash game, the player was actually able to interact with the environment. This textual version is painfully sparse and under-implemented. There are tons of bugs - the elevator doors not opening once the player is inside, for one - and poor writing.

I really appreciated the flash game by molleindustria when I played it and I makes me mad to see a copy of the original author's work put up under slightly different trappings. Of course, the author might have gotten permission to rework the game into an IF, but I very much doubt it. Besides, I believe a reworking of the game as an IF has already been done by Luis Gonzalez, who actually credited the idea's original author. I didn't have the patience (due to the many bugs) nor the incentive (since I know how the original game ends) to play through this. So, I might have missed some form of end credits, in which case I apologize. If the author of this game actually had permission to rewrite the flash game as an IF without adding any new elements to it, then I would very much like to see the original author credited in some form.


Over the Edge, by Ren

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
A Glimpse into the Repetetive Nature of War, August 4, 2010

I honestly didnít know quite what to make of this IF. You have a few turns to get out of a trench as a soldier fighting in World Was 1. After your number of turns is up, you are brought into another trench which looks and feels exactly the same as the first one. Then, you do it all over again Ė and again and againÖ Personally, I could not manage to find a way to end this cycle. I have a strong suspicion that it was not meant to be ended. The vicious cycle if a single soldierís battle and a metaphor for the entire war is clearly represented in Over the Edge. Even with writing that is only average, Over the Edge manages to carry across a haunting feel. From the actions of the PCís captain and fellow soldiers to the gray, hopeless atmosphere, Over the Edge rings with something raw and bleak.

There is something to Over the Edge that caused me too feel a building sense of dread and desperation. The repetitive nature of the game - which so often fails in other IF - actually works here. There are a lot of bugs, some of which can be interpreted as intentional gimmicks.

It left me frantically thinking of a way to free the PC from the treacherous cycle and yet, nothing I did worked. Perhaps, it was not meant to work, which would justly serve to highlight the bleakness and inhumanity of war. In any case, I have not managed to finish Over the Edge in any meaningful sense. Its under implemented setting, bugs, and lack of an actual conclusion work against it. And yet, I feel that something that elicited such a strong emotion without using extravagant descriptions and strong puzzles does not deserve a one or a two. But because of all its errors and limitations, it by no means deserves a higher rating. In the end, I still donít know what to think of Over the Edge. Give it a try and judge for yourselves.


Wearing the Claw, by Paul O'Brian

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
A Short and Solid Piece of Fantasy , August 2, 2010

Wearing the Claw is everything I look for in a fantasy game and more. The premise is simple enough, but contains a lot of interesting twists and turns. You are a young man from the cursed town of Bex. Apparently, an evil wizard has placed a spell on the town's people that slowly has them turning into animals (you included). Now, you must journey to the island of Georgs and stop the wizard. (At least, that's what your task seems to be at the start of the adventure.)

There is no out-right scoring system, but there is a very original method of checking whether you're on the right path. The wolf paw that has replaced your hand will either continue to become...more wolfish or start to change into a human hand once more. I liked that feature a lot, as it managed to relay some sort of scoring information without bringing me out of the story's atmosphere.

Speaking of atmosphere: Wearing the Claw is set in a well-described, if slightly under-implemented setting. A mixture of detail and use of sensory information manages to immerse the reader in the story. The prose is well-written and has some really poignant moments when I could almost feel the wind or the water droplets on the PC's back. In the later part of the game, the setting draws on the mythological perception of Hades. And while that interpretation of hell has been used in IF many times before, Wearing the Claw puts a new spin on it.

The puzzles are very well-clued and I don't believe I've ever had to refer to the in-game hints. Once I finished the game, I did take a look at the hint system and I was pleased to find that the hints are well-paced and give away just the right amount of information at the right time. There will be times where you might inadvertently put yourself in an unwindable position, but the game will hint at the fact right away and a simply UNDO will ratify the problem. But even if you do play ahead for a few turns without realizing you've done something wrong, it won't take you all that long to restart and play the game again. Actually, that's my only problem with Wearing the Claw: it's too short. I would have liked to spend much more time solving puzzles in each location, but the story seemed to rush me on. Some of the puzzles are quite clever and bring about descriptions and sensations that can only be described as magical.

Yes, there are a few glitches, but there are so nonessential that they do not take away from the game's overall feel. Yes, it could have been more descriptive, featured more items, more locations, and more NPCs. There's a lot of things that could be done to flesh out and improve Wearing the Claw, but I liked it for what it is - a smooth, well-written game with fun puzzles and a great story. If you want a solid fantasy game with none of the long dungeon crawls and endless puzzles of so many epic IF games, give Wearing the Claw a try. I guarantee it will be worth the download.


Garden of the Dragon, by Admiral Jota

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
An easy, witty game, July 18, 2010

I rarely enjoy Speed Ifs, but I must admit that this one was pretty good. Garden of the Dragon has an interesting little story that is implemented well. I found no grammar or spelling mistakes and thatís a big plus for a Speed IF game. The puzzle is very easy, almost too easy in my opinion. This game isnít laugh-out-loud funny like some of the authorís other games, but itís witty and entertaining. I definitely recommend it if you have a few minutes to spare.


The Lesson of the Tortoise, by G. Kevin Wilson

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
Flipping Through a Simple, Oriental Tale, July 18, 2010

The Lesson of the Tortoise has a simple eastern flavor, with none of the bows and whistles of many modern-day IF games. You're a man who happens upon a tortoise on his way home. Upon your return to your house, you witness a terrible betrayal by your wife. The puzzles are quite linear, making it very clear that you should get from point A to point B. The puzzles are relatively easy, but allow for a lot of ways to die if you've forgotten to do something or pick up an essential item earlier in the story. Fortunately, the UNDO command will allow you to go as far back as you want.

The writing is clear and concise. The game is short, but polished, with a classical,interesting narrative. Playing through the felt like reading a storybook of old Oriental fables. I think that quite often, all the new ideas, unique implementation, and break-through mechanics allow us to forget what an old, unadorned IF plays like. It's a great relaxation game, where you can focus on the story and the atmosphere, while giving minimal effort to the puzzles and simplified conversation system.


Intro to Jabberwocky, by Gregory Weir

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Whimsical Break From Routine, July 18, 2010

Intro to Jabberwocky is based on Lewis Carroll's poem "Jaberwocky". So, if you never much liked Carroll's universe or his writing, you might not like this game. I, however, rather enjoyed Carroll's books, so I warmed up to ITJ right away. The PC must complete some tasks around his "farm", which is populated by creatures from Carrol's poem. The animals are described with fascinating detail and the location descriptions are concise and well-written.

ITJ has a very original approach to setting up puzzles. It's not even that the puzzles themselves are very original, it's just that they are presented in a very unique way. In order to figure out your objectives, you must read the first stanza of the Jabberwocky (only the first stanza, because ITJ is only an intro) and pretty much do what the poem tells you to do. Have no fear - the full poem is provided in-game. Just type hints and choose the 'read the poem' option. As you manipulate the PC's world to fulfill the poem's conditions, the poem will be filled in a blank tablet which you will find in the very first scene.

That particular technique really grabbed my attention. Unfortunately, the game is only an intro. The puzzles are pretty clear-cut, but the environment is cute and whimsical, carrying the essence of Lewis Carroll's world. A rather mundane "finish-a-list-of-tasks" premise is taken for a pleasant spin with very nice results.



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