Reviews by AKheon

surreal

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1-3 of 3


The Turnip, by Joseph Pentangelo

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
The taste of a turnip, December 1, 2020
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: Twine, choice-based, IF Comp 2020, surreal

The Turnip is a choice-based fantasy game by Joseph Pentangelo, published in 2020. It features a story about a mysterious turnip a man finds on a field while working.

The gameplay is simple and linear, and the presentation neat. The real draw here is the eccentric story, which at first feels a bit like a slice-of-life story from somewhere in the 18th or 19th century, but turns into something more surreal in short order.

I think the writing is good. Itís economical with words, but it creates lively imagery and dispenses fantastic and weird details at just the right pace to keep the reader guessing. The story is very short, though - I wouldíve liked seeing even more of the world where the game takes place in.

The game is worth setting aside 15 minutes for if you like well-written, strange tales.


The Place, by Ima

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
It's a very elusive place, December 1, 2020
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020, choice-based, Twine, surreal

The Place is a choice-based game by Ima, published in 2020. The game features (Spoiler - click to show)a poetic, flighty description of a young woman known by the narrator, although you wouldnít know it from the bizarre game blurb that directly addresses the player, talking about fate, choices and meaninglessness.

The story is short and relatively linear. The gameplay consists of clicking text links while trying to make sense of whatís going on; slightly annoying pop-up messages are also used to make the player choose between options and name some things inside the game. Having the player give custom names to things might be a good way to make them feel more invested in a story in some cases, but here the pop-ups often felt like an interruption. Also, since the blurb flat out states that your choices are meaningless, and thereís a quite a number of these pop-ups, I felt like there wasnít much incentive to play along and name things the way the game would want you to.

Presentation-wise the game is fairly ordinary, although small things like timed text, changing text and background images are used in moderation to add some variety. Everything seems to work as intended, although the writing could have used some more polish as it has some rough spots and typos here and there.

Iím not sure what the game made me feel, if anything at all. I didnít become immersed in it very well due to the unfocused expectations set by the blurb as well as the frequent pop-ups. It might be worth a try if you want to set aside 15 minutes for something original but confusing.


Keepsake, by Savaric

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Mulling over murder, September 22, 2020
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2011, surreal, parser-based, Inform

Keepsake is a surreal parser-based game by Savaric, published in 2011. The story begins with the main character having just committed murder. Afterwards, (Spoiler - click to show)the game shows you what happened immediately before the murder through scenes playing in reverse, although this is not explicitly told to the player at any point during the story.

The ambiguity gives the game a sense of mystery at first. The game prompts you to escape the scene of the crime, and you do so, but then (Spoiler - click to show)you start seeing things in double and it feels like you have stumbled upon some strange time paradox. The tone of the game is uncanny, yet it has a sense of creeping fatalism to it too.

The writing is clear and functional, giving the gameplay an appropriate sense of urgency and mystery. I didn't notice anything wrong with the implementation either, although (Spoiler - click to show)having two similar things in many rooms does cause a lot of ambiguity questions.

It's a fairly short game, only 10 - 15 minutes long, but the ending changes a bit depending on what you did during the game and (Spoiler - click to show)you also see the game in a whole new light the second time around so in practice you will probably want to replay it at least once or twice.

But eventually you realize that (Spoiler - click to show)this is really just a very mildly branching and somewhat undeveloped crime story that is told out of order. The only thing your choices affect is whether you are a nice murderer or a slightly less nice murderer; a detail which seems incidental in the bigger picture. In this sense I would say the journey is far more interesting than the destination.

Keepsake could be worth a try if you're looking for something fairly quick yet different. It doesn't have hard puzzles, but it can still be challenging and refreshing in its own way.



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