The Last Doctor is a choice-based game by Quirky Bones, published in 2021. You are an impoverished doctor in a conflict-ravaged, ambiguously post-apocalyptic setting. Some patients enter your clinic, you assess them, and you then decide how to use your scant supplies. The story can progress to a few different directions depending on your choices.
The writing style is compact and stylized. It feels like many details about the game's world are obfuscated by the intentionally vague and evocative prose, but it still tells you enough to create interesting mental images and make you care about your choices. (Spoiler - click to show)It's a pity that the game is very short and doesn't build much on its core ideas. You only take care of two patients, and the story ends so soon that it's a bit of an anti-climax.
The game has some brief descriptions of medical procedures and injury, but they aren't very detailed and come across somewhat milder than I'd expected considering both the main character's bloody profession as well as the grim feeling of the setting itself.
The technical quality of the game is decent. The interactivity is simple but functional. I did notice two text mistakes, including a missing word and a typo. It's nothing deal-breaking, though.
The suggested playing time is 30 minutes, although I think my first playthrough was actually closer to 10 minutes. However, the game does have multiple endings which gives it replay value. Overall, it's not a bad title to try out if you want to briefly dip into a dark setting and think about humanity.
A Calling of Dogs is a choice-based horror / thriller by Arabella Collins, published in 2020. In it, youíre a woman who is being held captive in a cage. Interacting with your kidnapper and (Spoiler - click to show)thinking about how to escape or gruesomely murder him make up most of your choices inside the game.
The tone of the game is intense and unpleasant. The slightly rambly and at times very graphic writing creates an impression of a feverish thought process where itís mainly hatred that keeps one sane. I thought the characterization of both the hero and the villain worked well - I was always interested in seeing what would happen next in the story.
The game has an ambiguous lack of polish. The writing has a lot of typos and odd turns of phrases, but that might be an intended part of the expression here to create that aforementioned feverish, raw feeling. However, I did find one softlock too, which is a bit harder to defend. (Spoiler - click to show)During day three, right after being let out of the cage, I examined one of the choices twice. This resulted in a dead end with no more choices appearing.
While the game is short - only around 15 minutes - it has some significant branching paths and therefore replay value, in case you want to relive this harrowing scene. Itís simply a potent experience, if you donít mind entering a darker place for a moment.
Big Trouble in Little Dino Park is a choice-based comedy game made by Seth Paxton and Rachel Aubertin, published in 2020. The game is a parody of Jurassic Park, where you, a reluctant summer employee, have to survive a particularly grueling work day at a cheap knockoff dinosaur park.
The gameplay consists of clicking text links to move around and make decisions. The game opens up after a linear beginning, but even at its most complex it remains a fairly relaxed affair where you donít have to think about your choices too hard. Game overs are frequent, but you can usually just retry from previous choice if that happens, so it doesnít impact progress too much.
The writing is exaggerated and comical, as youíd expect in this type of comedy. At times it feels like the humor is a bit unfocused and shallow since the pace of the game is thunderously fast - it doesnít dwell on any scenario or idea for particularly long. In addition, (Spoiler - click to show)later on the tone changes to something slightly more serious as you embark on a rescue mission, dampening the pure carefree comedy factor here.
Some more polish wouldnít have hurt, as there are a few typos here and there. I also found one game over link that just flat out didnít work, forcing me to restart the entire game.
I wouldíve personally preferred either a sillier or a more fleshed-out and well-paced story, but still, the game can be amusing, and itís clear the authors love dinosaurs from the way they name-drop so many different species here. The game could be worth a try if youíre a fan of Jurassic Park, dinosaurs and fast-paced madcap comedy.
The Coffin Maker is a short choice-based game by A.M. LeBlanc. You can get through it in less than 5 minutes, but it has multiple endings for some replayability.
As you start playing The Coffin Maker, it quickly becomes apparent that not everything is right in the world. Mysterious illnesses seem to plague people and you... are the coffin maker. *title drop*
The core gameplay loop is simple. A few different local people come to you for a coffin, but you only have a limited amount to give. Your choice as to what type of a coffin you want to give (or none at all) plays a major role in regards to what happens afterwards.
The writing is cryptic and terse. It evokes gloomy pictures but doesn't say many things straight. Most facts about the seemingly apocalyptic setting are left ambiguous on purpose, and it doesn't help that (Spoiler - click to show)common terms like "winter" and "coffin" seem to have a vastly different meaning in this grim fantasy world than they do in real world. But the ambiguity gives the game a sense of mystery as well.
The only error I noticed in the game was that (Spoiler - click to show)if you don't give the mayor a coffin, a sentence says "Your workshop is permanently." I presume it was meant to say "permanently closed"?
While short and light, The Coffin Maker has the potential to engross and provoke thought. Personally, I like its dark and mysterious tone. I don't regret trying it out.