Reviews by brwarner

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1-9 of 9

The Copyright of Silence, by Ola Hansson

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Really cool use of a custom interface in Twine, December 6, 2020
by brwarner (Vancouver, BC)

The interface for this game is really cool. Not sure if other authors have already experimented with this kind of setup before, but Iíve never seen anything like itĖnever even thought of anything like it. The main display is a map of a house with four rooms with prose/dialogue appearing inside the rooms themselves. Easiest way to understand what that looks like is to boot up the game and take a look. Youíll understand whatís going on immediately. Very clear. Probably a huge pain to have setup in Twine.

The main objective of the game, as revealed after your first failure, is (Spoiler - click to show)to create a silence of a set number of minutes. I played a couple times and did not manage it. Puzzle games of this nature that require repeated attempts are not really my jam, but the writing was and choices were really funny and the interface was super neat. Iíd love to see more people try making games like this (without just stealing this game, obviously).

The only thing that bugged me about this game was that the scene refreshes every time you click a link. Part of this is probably because of how it was made in Twine: each passage having the same house image and theyíre just transitioning between in each other. Not sure what you could do to improve that... Thereís probably a way to add some CSS to disable the opacity transition between passages. I mention this only because it made it a bit of a pain to try it over and over again and click through content really quickly.

Anyway, if youíre into the ďconstrained space, many actions, only one clever route leads to victoryĒ kind of IFs, this one should be in your shortlist!

What the Bus?, by E. Joyce

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Wacky idea with good writing but too fragmented, December 6, 2020
by brwarner (Vancouver, BC)

A silly game about trying to get to work. I donít have too much to say about this one. The imagery and absurdity are fun and absurd, but after an ending or two I didnít feel that motivated to go on. I think this world would be fun in a larger game but I donít think it is, in and of itself, enough to carry it this micro-story for me. I was kinda hoping thereíd be something more when I finally unlocked all the endings but alas, no. The humor is very reminiscent of something like Fallen London, which I enjoy (at least, I enjoyed Sunless Sea) but itís missing the meat for me.

But I guess thatís another way of me saying I want more? I did see some other reviewers get a lot of out of it though, so this game is clearly doing it for some people, which is cool.

Actually, now that Iím reflecting on it, I think what I would have really liked is one single, more fleshed out tale of a trip on this network. The 10 tiny stories is what didnít do it for me.

The Brutal Murder of Jenny Lee, by Daniel Gao

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting ideas but I needed more, December 6, 2020
by brwarner (Vancouver, BC)

Another one of the only parser gameís Iíve now played in my life, BMoJL is a short murder mystery where you play as an (Spoiler - click to show)AI detective guided by a mysterious, omnipresent narrator to solve the case.

I really enjoyed the narratorís interjections that arise as youíre investigating the rooms. It gives the game a sense of time and investment. Jenny Lee is nothing to me after all, but thereís someone accompanying me who cares (for reasons yet unknown). It made things feel more weighty, like the objects I am handling are not merely clues, but important objects in a now deceased girlís life.

The game begins with a date puzzle which kind of interested me. I hoped that future rooms and acts would involve more detecting, but unfortunately itís predominately ďlook at XĒ for each object in the room and when you see Important Object Y youíre wisked off to the next location.

The solution, too, is just a matter of (Spoiler - click to show)looking at the key object that contains the solution. Itís a real shame too because I actually figured out (Spoiler - click to show)that the saxaphone with the missing keys were smuggled treasures and was waiting for the opportunity to use that knowledge to prove to the game I had solved something, but no such opportunity arrived.

Iím not well versed in Chinese history, but the Cultural Revolution plays a key role in this game which I thought was interesting. I wish this was developed more deeply because it was the part of the game I grabbed onto the most. Thereís also a few other interesting things going on with the narrator and the real killer I wonít get into due to spoilers, but I also wished there was a bit more exploration of them. I also didnít really understand (Spoiler - click to show)how an AI detective running on a... game console? could discover new physical evidence in a simulation world...

Honestly the twist around who you doesnít add much to the story. I think it kind of takes away from it? (Spoiler - click to show)You have a motivation to escape the digital prison but the story is supposed to be about Jenny Lee and her relationship to Henry and her Dad.

Overall I liked a lot of the forces at play in this story I just felt it was underdeveloped. Game could have been longer and more in-depth and I would still be playing it!

You Couldn't Have Done That, by Ann Hugo

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Very Effective, December 6, 2020
by brwarner (Vancouver, BC)

As I told the author during my playtest, I thought this game was really effective. There are no autistic people in my life, so all my knowledge about autism is filtered through bad cultural preconceptions course-corrected crudely by The Discourse delivered via tweets or screenshots of tweets. This game gave me some insight into via a rather traumatic, unfortunately slice of life.

Since my original playtest, the author has added some coloured backgrounds which change based on the level of tension and fear in the scene. I like the idea, and Iíve seen in other reviews people really liking it, but I found the particular colours chosen made it a bit harder to read the text. Personally I preferred it with the white background but maybe itís just a matter of chosing the right colours? The idea is cool.

You Will Thank Me as Fast as You Thank a Werewolf, by B.J. Best

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Thank You Werewolf but I'm Confused, December 6, 2020
by brwarner (Vancouver, BC)

Poems? With choices maybe? Reading this is like reading Trout Fishing in America. The words are fun to read and sentences taste good in your mouth but the through-line was too loose and I only made it 20% through. I think the author said it was about a relationship?

Big Trouble in Little Dino Park, by Seth Paxton, Rachel Aubertin

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Fun if you like dinosaurs , December 6, 2020
by brwarner (Vancouver, BC)

A game for anyone who loves Dinosaurs and Jurassic Park. It has fun with the tropes and lets you relive a variety of dino outbreaks (is it a spoiler to say the dinosaurs get out? I donít think so). Not my cup of tea personally, as someone who could barely pronounce half the dino names. This is the kind of game where thereís ten ways to die in each scene and Iím not sure there was a clairvoyant way to really know which action was going to succeed and which was going to fail. To be fair, as those kind of games arenít for me, itís possible I just wasnít invested enough to look for the clues. I think this will really appeal though if you have a favorite dinosaur, as the game lets you choose in which part of the park youíd like to be employed.

Congee, by Becci

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Lovely little Twine game, December 6, 2020
by brwarner (Vancouver, BC)

Lovely little Twine game. This honestly feels like what all the tiny, evocative Twine games aspire to be and it does it so well. For such a small game, it has a lot of visuals but they are so effectively woven into the passages, it isnít distracting it all. The first screen after the title will show you exactly what I mean. Great atmosphere, so much care taken with each passage, and really cute and heartwarming ending. Never had Congee, but now I want to try it! Please play!

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, by Kenneth Pedersen (as Ilmur Eggert)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
I wanted more Newton!, December 6, 2020
by brwarner (Vancouver, BC)

This is my first parser game of the contest. I do not really play parser games. I played a bunch of Hugoís House of Horrors when I was a tiny little boy, but for 20 odd years: nothing, until this game.

In this game you play as Issac Newton, contemplating how he will revolutionize physics until he gets a strange letter informing him of a intellectual puzzle befitting his burgeoning genius. You travel down a linear path to a cottage and meet an old woman who remarks about how easy it was to lure you down here and then refuses to speak to you. I tried to talk to her, ask her about any of the key words she said, ask her about anything in her house, myself, herself, or what was going on. Nothing. Giving up, I went outside, fainted from dehydration, learned that I was (Spoiler - click to show)in 2020 and science was in trouble, then visited the library.

The game is pretty simple. I had to use the walkthrough once to solve the puzzle in the library, but otherwise had no trouble. I think there was a cool idea here, the potential for perhaps some commentary on science and history, but I felt it was under-explored. I would have rather the game delved deeper into that than have a puzzle about sneaking books out of a library. Maybe part of the reason is that I am a firm opponent of the idea that single individuals shape history so profoundly, especially when it comes to the development of ideas. So perhaps my objections are more ideological than anything. I think it would have been neat and Newton came to the future to find history had easily continued on without him. Or perhaps if the game drew more from Newtonís biography rather than the idea of Newton. Didnít he think a lot of what he was doing was alchemy? And I think a primary objection to his explanations was that positing invisible forces was basically saying magic existed (Iím drawing from my memory of Structure of Scientific Revolutions here).

Anyway, Iíd love to see the idea of science and history explored more. Interested to see what the author does next. Mechanically, I also think there needs to be more responsiveness to questions and verbs. If an old woman tells me Iíve been subjected to a ďphenomenonĒ I should at the very least be able to ask about ďphenomenonĒ. Took me a while to realize the game just wanted me to leave and go outside.

Mother Tongue, by Nell Raban

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Immersive and Unique, December 6, 2020
by brwarner (Vancouver, BC)

My girlfriend and I had a good time playing this one in bed last night. Itís the perfect length for its premise and challenges you to learn a few basic words of Tagalog while exploring the inter-generational relationship between a mother and daughter.

I really liked how the game introduced you to the quirks of the language. Word order and spelling changes based on context that the mother canít quite explain over text because itís ďvery complicated.Ē I only speak English, but I can just imagine trying to justify even some of our simplest conjunction rules. That being said, this isnít Duolingo. The challenges are short and solvable with what youíve learned, and when you get it wrong itís fun to see your mom encourage you and try to explain exactly why the right answer is right. Itís cute.

What I would love to have seen explored better was the tension between the two characters. In the gameís early choices, I tended to express interest in learning more about Tagalog and my cultural ancestry, but near the end the game railroaded me into (Spoiler - click to show)blowing my mom off and explaining to her that learning a language will not make me Filipino; that I am already American and my mom canít just suddenly fix that over text. Iím not an immigrant, and thatís probably true, but I didnít feel as though I was playing a story about that until it was suddenly sprung on me. I thought this was about a moment of connection.

To be clear, I have objection to that theme at all. I think itís very interesting. I just think it needed to be more consistent. I believe the choices we are offered as players tell us about the relationship and character. They should be limited based on what the author wants us to explore and learn. I just found it inconsistent. If this interactive tension existed throughout, it would really bring the game to the next level. I think the possibilities for this 15 minute game could be quite profound.

Great work!

1-9 of 9