For a while, this game appears to be a very straightforward quest to gather ingredients for baking. I got pretty far just using common sense, and since I hadn’t read the description, I didn’t know what genre it actually was. When I discovered another layer to the proceedings, it came hard out of left field. I didn’t make it to the end, so on my second playthrough, I was more conservative–which means that I didn’t make any choices to intentionally upset the locals. That worked. Then came the climactic finale. It was pretty satisfying–I would like to keep replaying just to see all the different possibilities in this scene alone. Also, I enjoyed going back to make bad choices, because even though it can cause the game to end early, some of the best moments came on these paths. And a third reason to keep replaying is that you can unlock “bonus endings.” There is a sentence that appears when this happens saying, “Seems like there’s more of these [bonus endings] than actual endings, doesn’t it.” I would recommend Let Them Eat Cake. My only wishes are that you could 1–save/load a game, and 2–have the game keep track of the endings you’ve found (the website will keep a count, but resets if when you leave the page).
No One Else Is Doing This by Lauren O’Donoghue
This was something different. It is a timed text adventure in which you are going around a neighborhood asking for donations. You have to pick which houses to approach, and then make choices about what to say. You also have to manage restroom breaks, and warm up from the chilly weather occasionally. Can you raise your target goal of funds?
SPOILER: (Spoiler - click to show)The description suggests that the experience is meant to feel like someone losing their passion for something they believed in, but it felt to me like a metaphor for any experience that was once enjoyable, but for whatever reason, it begins to sour. Kind of like how Disney World used to be fun, and now you have to pay for fastpass. It’s really hard to get someone to answer the door in this story, let alone hear you out long enough to convince them to take any action. Maybe the author has had bad experiences with community service projects, but it seems like the game was made to discourage you from getting involved.
Blood Island by Billy Krolick
I think this might have been the most entertaining entry from the 2022 comp I’ve played up to this point. The premise is pure Tito Valenz catnip: you play as an entrant on a reality dating show–set on an island, yabish–with a selection of hot singles being stalked by a killer with a cake knife (not a spoiler–the cake knife appears very, very early). The scenes flowed into each other effortlessly with no wasted moments. I was completely engaged, start to finish. When I was done, I immediately played through two more times to look for different results. I do wish there was more variety as far as what you can make happen–especially since there is HEAVY emphasis that EVERY choice matters (not all do). This is also another choice-based story, and you know how I much I enjoy that convenience. It’s a longer game, but the mechanics help it breeze right along. I also appreciated that the author is clearly a student of the producer manipulation these shows are known for: when you take another character on a date, there is a seafood lunch set out, but of course, the couple is NEVER allowed to actually eat the food. That’s for display only! So I will be rating this one highly and I give it my recommendation. Unless you don’t care for dating sims. Or horror trope deconstruction. Or slasher films. Or really, just talking about horror movies in general.
Inside by Ira Vlasenko
In this game, you play as a witch inside the mind of another witch, and many of your choices consist of things to say to your host. It was interesting playing as the main character but existing within the NPC at the same time.
Over the course of the story, you are trying to escape from some unknown place you have found yourselves in. There are some light puzzles, but I would expect every player will navigate them easily.
What I liked: Written in Ink, the game makes it easy to progress, make decisions, and eventually replay it. I feel like the majority of the games I’ve tried for this year’s comp so far have been in a click-the-link style, which I am really preferring. It’s great for when you don’t feel like spending a long time on one passage.
What I wish were different: I always enjoy it when I can experience different content by playing the game differently. On a second playthrough, I made a different choice at almost every opportunity, but almost everything unfolded the same way. Also, I would have liked to have more characterization. However, for readers who just want to get to the action, this story moves along at a brisk pace.
Nose Bleed by Stanley W. Baxton
This one made me squirm. It is short and economical, but still descriptive enough to tap into a fear that nightmares are made of. It uses some clever effects to enhance the repulsion, but the writing is what makes this entry so transporting. Except–who can I recommend it to? Considering that most of us who enjoy text adventures are able to place ourself in the game so effectively, what would motivate someone to want to go through this???
(Spoiler - click to show)As someone who gets stains on their clothes at work on a regular basis, I connected very closely with the anxiety of a highly noticeable mess turning everyone’s attention towards you. I also relate to the feeling that everything you try to do to cover it up and move on just makes it worse.
I enjoyed The Thirty Nine Steps. You play as a man trying to evade capture as he moves from London to Scotland. It is fairly tense, with well-written details, and is easy to navigate. I thought I had made some good choices, considering how successfully I overcame each obstacle. However, on a second playthrough, I made different choices, but the results only altered slightly. This makes me feel like my choices might not have mattered, which takes away from the satisfaction I felt on the first playthrough. I also wouldn't mind if the story was expanded on a little more. It's nice that this game can be played without too much time investment, but I would be willing to spend more time on it if other scenarios were added.
This is an entry that I enjoyed playing and replaying, and I intend to play again. I found it to be a bit atmospheric and mysterious, and it left me wanting to know more. I would even describe it as “fast-paced,” as it drew me in so quickly I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Nadine Rodriguez is able to indicate a lot with just a few words; she keeps it simple, and her work is all the more effective for it.
Here was a quick and easy text adventure with a somewhat whimsical feel to it. There are several puzzles and they all have in-game explanations for how to solve them. Unfortunately, some readers will find that too many grammatical errors were left in. I hate bringing this up, but I know there are players who would want to know how pervasive they are. The amount of run-on sentences alone will be too much for some, as they occur in nearly every paragraph. At one point, the author spells the name of the main character differently for several lines. I appreciated the information included on the credits page, but the impression I was left with was that this entry was written quickly and that no edits were done.
This is a very smartly written IF. I was so glad when I finished this game that I hadn’t read any part of its description–it might have influenced my choices. As it was, I scored a 5 out of 5! However, I think I arrived at an early ending and missed a lot more of the story, so I will play again. BE SURE to read the FAQs as well as the influences page. Did you know that the first choice-based game book was a 1930 publication that let you make decisions about careers and relationships for three different women???
This was a pleasant enough game. You play as a bartender who is saving up money for a goal of the player's choosing. You interact with customers and mix drinks in a mini-game. It has a colorful and well-themed UI that makes use of lots of little tricks to add detail.
The story is divided up into days, and depending what you choose, you may see different scenarios on different days, my favorite being the visit with the elderly couple. However, I found that there were a lot of repetitive tasks that never varied. I expected the drink-mixing mini game to get more complicated over time, but the only change is to add a timed element. Even when I increased the difficulty, there wasn't any challenge to it. However, if you really enjoy mixing the drinks, you can opt to play an Arcade mode that just focuses on challenges involving the mini game with no story running through it.
It is a fairly upbeat story with comical characters and playful scenarios. However, as it stands now, the grammatical errors are pervasive and jarring. They are on every page, and they disrupt the rhythm of the passages. I usually try to overlook them and focus on the story, but there was no getting around it. Some extensive proofreading and editing is sorely needed.