Ratings and Reviews by Cerfeuil

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Studio, by Charm Cochran
Cerfeuil's Rating:

Provizora Parko, by Dawn Sueoka

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Purgatory of some sort, May 22, 2024
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)

A bizarre and beautiful game. As given by the description, you are in purgatory after having apparently... died? But the nature of your death, or even your life, doesn't matter much. It's not that kind of story. Instead of learning about who you were and what you've left behind or that stuff you often see in those "I died and now must come to terms with my existence" stories, you're just wandering around a strange bird park and having strange encounters with strange people. At the end of it all, you... transcend? It's not entirely clear.

This one Youtuber made a video about how game journalists will describe every single game as a combination of some other game, and I think about that every time I tell myself "this thing is just like that thing plus that other thing", but I'll do it here anyway. Provizora Parko is a bit like You are Standing at a Crossroads meets Beautiful Dreamer. Like You Are Standing at a Crossroads, it has a bizarre purgatorial world, a sense of unease and "how do I get out of this?", questions answered only by more questions, and many allegorical happenings. But the overall tone and ending are far more lighthearted, which brings me to the second comparison. It shares with Beautiful Dreamer a strong sense of whimsy and a world that feels consistent in a strange way, adhering to a set of unknown rules, even if those rules aren't at all explained. And both have strong writing.

Is it that similar to either of those games? Not really. But I'd recommend them if you liked this one. Play more games, they're fun.

Time to finish: ~10 min

Quote:

Every evening, a stork would peer into a lake looking for fish and shrimp to eat. One night, under the full moon, her shadow spoke to her from the bottom of the lake. “Come join me at the bottom of the lake. But you must pluck out your eyes first. You will not need them any longer.” So the stork plucked out her eyes and passed into the world beneath the surface. Only a few drops of blood remained on the water, but soon they, too, disappeared.

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Solkatt_ (english version), by BenyDanette

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Stunningly eerie horror game, April 15, 2024
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)
Related reviews: Shufflecomp 2023, Seedcomp 2024

You're a 26-year-old NEET who starts hearing strange music in the house where you've been living depressed and friendless for many years. Shortly after, you find a lens that lets you see messages from extradimensional entities when you look through it. Things progress from there...

Absolutely love the surreal, disturbing atmosphere. Was a bit disappointed that the nameless entities you encounter basically boil down to (Spoiler - click to show)'things that kill everyone' in the end, though. I wanted something weirder to happen, and that was a letdown. Oh well.

Despite the disappointment of the ending, there's a lot of stuff in this game to be stunned by and incredible detail put into things. Besides the odd lens, there's also the black-and-white music video on the computer, the interactive fridge magnets, the interactive Walkman, the interactive piano... Loads of cool point-and-click interactivity here. Then there's the writing itself - the person you play as, Linus, has a wry sense of despair. Their (his?) "yeah whatever" response to all the weird stuff that happens really sells the vibe. And the writing's great. Lots of pithy, darkly ironic one-liners.

Excerpts:

- On a waste bin in the laundry room: "It's a graveyard for socks with holes in them and socks that have lost their twins. It's a good thing we don't treat humans the same way."
- On entering the kitchen: "Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him to fish, and he'll eat for the rest of his life. Give him a fridge, he'll become sedentary, forget his survival instinct, and be satisfied eating parmersan straight from the package."
- On coloring books: "These are my old coloring books. My mother kept them all, because she thought it was impressive that I managed to stay within the frame when coloring. My only talent: I never go overboard."
- On a window: "The glass has been fitted for over a year, but the frame has never been installed. It's a window that can't be opened. Just like my life."

If any of that resonates with you, go do yourself a favor and play this game!

Playtime: ~20 minutes

[Review initially written January 2024, edited April 2024]

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A Collegial Conversation, by alyshkalia

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Least Fun Workplace Interaction, April 15, 2024
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)
Related reviews: Seedcomp 2024

I'm fascinated by the perspective switching in this one. It takes the seed and really puts it to good use. You get to see a heated, passive-aggressive confrontation between two couples, and man there's so much tension simmering beneath the surface even though their words to each other are perfectly cordial. Jumping from character to character as the argument progresses is jarring, but also a great way to capture the chaotic back-and-forth of the conversation.

I can't help but think this would be a great writing exercise - a way to illustrate the differences in perspective and how they can vary from person to person. But it's not just about perspective, it's about diving into each character's head and seeing what they want and like and dislike. It's a pleasant kind of whiplash and it really makes you feel like you're seeing the situation from four dimensions (everything at once!). Replayed a bunch of times.

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Dungeons & Distractions, by Emery Joyce

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
DND Sim, April 15, 2024
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)
Related reviews: Seedcomp 2024

Here's my DND story: The longest campaign I've been in ended after two sessions, but not before my character broke both legs jumping off a cliff and had to be carried around in a bag of holding for the rest of the game. I've done a few other oneshots, but nothing much. I've still been exposed to it enough to be familiar with the basic rules. Also, illithids are cool. In Baldur's Gate 3 that new DND game that everyone was raving about there are illithids and you get an illithid tadpole inside your brain and you can romance one and what was I saying again?

Anyway, so this game is heavily remniscient of my own DND experience. DND is complicated. There's all kinds of rules for combat and spells and levels and so on, and it can easily get overwhelming. When I played, sometimes one player's combat turn would take ten minutes while everyone else (myself included) browsed their phones until the rules and rolls finally got hashed out. Everyone was new to the game, including the DM, which didn't help. It's really not that beginner-friendly.

We still had fun, and there were some hilarious moments, but sometimes the tedium outweighed the fun. For not entirely unrelated reasons, I haven't done any kind of TTRPG in a long time.

Our main character at least has her girlfriend Rachel to help her out. Rachel can go a bit too far with the backseat DMing sometimes, but it's nothing too bad. I think the stuff you deal with in the game is mostly par for the course (and much better than what I've heard of on r/rpghorrorstories - now there's a subreddit to go to if you want to burn some time). Sure it has a supernatural bent to it, but players who talk out of character or get into silly arguments or make decisions the DM wasn't preparing for is just most DND sessions, in my limited experience. You have to roll with the punches. Which is what I ended up doing in my playthrough, and despite everything that went on we did make it to the end with some time to spare. (Side note, four hours seems pretty long for a first-time DND game, but I guess it makes sense if you want to play a oneshot all the way through and have someone more experienced to guide you. I personally feel like I'd be bored to death by the end, but this group of players is probably better than my group.)

I do have some UI quibbles that I think could've made the game a smoother experience: you're given info about the characters and the characters' characters (meta!) at the start of the game, but after that you can't really reference the info again, and it can be hard to remember it all. I never figured out exactly what the "Look around the table to see how everyone is doing" thing does - I think it shows you how distracted everyone is, but it's hard to check exactly since it only gives out textual descriptions. I got in the habit of barely checking it since the descriptions often don't change from one "turn" to the next. Also, is the general Distraction meter just for you, or is it for the whole table? If it's just for you, does every character have their own Distraction meter? But only yours is directly visible? Questions I wasn't totally sure about the answers to. Fun game overall, though.

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Faery: Swapped, by mathbrush
Unique and whimsical puzzle game, April 15, 2024
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)
Related reviews: Seedcomp 2024

This game is really trippy. And hilarious.

Took me a while to figure out you were supposed to give the meat to the dog - there was what seems like a red herring, where there's also a guy trying to discard meat in the alleyway outside the pizza place. But I never figured out what the point of that was and eventually obtained meat via the kitchen.

After that, the rest of it was fairly easy. Good game. I noticed a few typos and lightly implemented areas, but nothing to get too worked up about.

The one quibble I had was that initially, while I was fiddling around, I somehow managed to reach a point where I named the kitchen fridge "dog", and then couldn't interact with it even though the room description said the "dog" was in the room. My guess is that the security guard noticed it and took it away, but the fridge is still fixed to one place, so the description didn't change? I really have no clue, though. I was swapping a bunch of names around at once, so maybe I broke something and didn't realize it. I ended up restoring an earlier save and beat the game more easily when I knew where all the names were and didn't have to chase down the stray refrigerator or wastebasket running around the premises.

Also, the ending is amazing:

(Spoiler - click to show)
The gnome goes on: "I said you could expose a changeling with iron. That baby's not a changeling."

"What do you mean?" you say. "It's hideous!"

"Yeah, that's what human babies look like."


Overall, it took me about an hour to finish this game, because of the meat thing. Really smooth sailing after that. I'll also note I played the comp edition, so the game is even better now!

-

Highlights from my playthrough (contains the mildest of spoilers. IFDB is being finicky with nesting blockquotes inside spoilers, so I'll leave them unspoiled):


'Staring at the baby in the crib, you just can't believe it. That...thing just can't be human. There's no way. It looks like a shriveled apple with flailing hands and feet.'
friendship ended with baby, apple is new best friend


'Oberon's Pizza Parlor'
Nice.


'"No way that's a human," you say.

"Sounds like you have a changeling problem," says the gnome sitting next to you.

That's when you notice the gnome sitting next to you.'
Surprise Gnome Attack


'>x plants
Looks like grass. Seeing it survive in these harsh conditions fills you with determination.'
Undertale music plays


'>x counter
The counter looks like it's made of formica. You don't know what formica actually is or what it looks like, but this has got that weird texture and color that makes you think, "Yeah, that's formica."'
I, too, have no idea what formica is.


'>x memo
This note says:

Important:

Monitors are for night time use only. Daytime guards should be constantly on patrol!

Night time guards, for safety purposes, please remain inside the room and use monitors exclusively.

All guards should report promptly to loud noises, including screams'
Five Nights At Freddy's? In MY parser game!? No way...

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prepare for return, by Travis Moy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Post-apocalyptic AI game, April 15, 2024
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)
Related reviews: Seedcomp 2023

Disclaimer: the following review is heavily biased because I love AI and post-apocalyptic settings and especially when the two are combined, so from the outset the concept was hitting all the right notes. I mean, "post-apocalyptic AI overseeing the remnants of the world" is an idea that resonates with my soul. Plus it's based on a poem by Kit Riemer, who's one of my favorite IF authors. I fell in love immediately.

Also, the ending, as they say, ripped my heart in two.

(Spoiler - click to show)I can't believe the author had the guts to kill off the protagonist like that. I mean, what the hell? When the ending happened, I think I stared blankly at the screen for a while. Then I said to myself, "There has to be a way to avoid this." Then I replayed and discovered the game was entirely linear. None of your choices matter at all. There's no way to avoid failure.

The ending message is devastating. It really makes the game for me, knowing that no matter what you do, you can't avoid your fate. You're always going to be left dead and forgotten. At first I rankled knowing everything I'd done was meaningless, and then the more I thought about it the more I realized how perfectly tragic it was. You were doomed before the game even started. And the slow decline from setting out on your mission with purpose to falling behind and eventually dying unceremoniously is so well-paced.

It makes the greater setting, which is hinted at in just the right ways, even cooler. Throughout the game you're treated to glimpses of what might have caused the earth to become uninhabitable and where the humans went. It's tantalizing to have these sketches of the wider world you'll never know more about because you're going to die alone. And the whole story revolves around futility, so it fits.



Other stuff:

The writing's good. Not necessarily on the sentence-by-sentence level, but in the way all the lovely aphorisms are put together. The snippets of art. The odd dreams you have while in sleep mode. While not directly relevant to the plot, they resonate with the themes of death, solitude, and the search for purpose in a way I can't totally articulate.

I also couldn't avoid thinking about Kit Riemer's Consciousness Hologram and Universal Hologram. There's a scene in I think Universal Hologram where you're watching Youtube videos from thousands of years ago and the Internet, long-ascended to sentient AI status, is fruitlessly trying to explain them to you. But neither of you actually know what's going on. All this stuff has been shorn of its original meaning because so much has been destroyed, and no matter how hard you try you can't recreate it.

In short: Love how your entire existence here is for the sake of a long-gone species you can never fully understand, and love how it ends. Such a keen sense of loneliness and loss.

[Review written April 2023, edited April 2024]

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Hidden Gems, Hidden Secrets, by Naomi Norbez, Josh Grams

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Great UI, mixed feelings on story, April 15, 2024
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)
Related reviews: Seedcomp 2023

The UI in this game is fantastic. The effort to recreate Discord's interface, right down to the typing indicators, is incredible. Also love how it switches around depending on which character you're typing as. This is exactly the kind of thing I love to see Twine games do, recreating existing websites and playing with the medium in a way that makes full use of Twine's HTML capabilities and the potential of web fiction in general. Great stuff.

The plot, however, I have some quibbles with. The topic is dark, it's interesting, and it's treated with the gravity it deserves. But as a person who's been in a few close-knit Discord servers, I feel like what the story is missing is a real sense of community with more fleshed-out characters. Since the game is so short, we don't have time to get a sense of who any of the characters are. Name, age, gender, and some vague descriptors is pretty much it. None of them have the time to feel like real people. We don't get to see how the community works and what things were like before the revelations came out, which deadens the impact of it all. We're told that Cornelius is admired and respected more than we're shown that. We only see him (Spoiler - click to show)being a creep, and I guessed that he was a predator almost immediately. It wasn't a surprise at all. I think if there was more detail on the specifics of these people and more on what things were like before it all went down, more of a gradual reveal that there's something wrong with this guy, it would make the revelations and the decision to dissolve the group at the end much more impactful.

Also wish there was more choice involved, though I'm not sure how. I only played once, but there doesn't seem to be a broad range of choices. It's either (Spoiler - click to show)"tell everyone what Cornelius did" or "don't", and what sane person wouldn't pick the first option? I get that in real life there are various reasons people wouldn't want to, but as a reader choosing not to tell just strips you from being able to see the full narrative.

Also, and this may just be a pet peeve of mine, some of the character voices feel slightly off. The older characters especially. Their inclusion is odd in the first place because I rarely see mixed-age groups online and especially people older than 30 or 40, although this might just be a side effects of the communities I'm in. I can see it making sense here with the history of the group, though some more history and notes on how the younger members ended up joining might help. Anyway. A lot of the older characters' dialogue came across as old people talk for the sake of making them look old, i.e. dropping 'boy', and 'dear' all the time. Basically, the older characters rang the least true to me. But as I just said I have no idea how older people act in chatrooms, so who am I to talk?

It's still an interesting game, though. I liked how the flashbacks slowly revealed more of the story over time. And the escalation from (Spoiler - click to show)"Cornelius is acting off here" to "Cornelius is a straight-up predator", coupled with the drama of the car accident, unfolds well. I think if it was longer, and gave us more time to get attached to the characters, I'd feel the vibes more.

[Review written April 2023, edited April 2024]

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The Film, by studiothree, and LoniBlu, and precariousworld
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Found Journal, by KnightAnNi
Cerfeuil's Rating:


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