In Robbery Reverie, you play as a thief who has realized that their target is a witch. The one choice is what to steal—and of course, in a witch’s house, none of the objects are quite as they seem.
The conceit is fun, but the endings are a little uneven; some are funny, some a bit bland. The small potion, for example, was enjoyably chaotic, whereas the amulet felt like a stock fantasy trope without much specific weird detail to liven it up. My favorite was the large potion; the awkward confrontation between the thief and the witch was delightful. The endings I enjoyed I generally wished there were just a little bit more of, and I would happily play a game that expanded more on these characters.
Based on the cover image, I was hoping this was going to be an entry in the rarefied genre of “surreal public transit comedy”, but alas, the subway-station setting is incidental here. Well, no matter: as a surreal non-public-transit-related comedy, it still packs a lot of fun into its short run time.
This is a one-move game with a central puzzle, in which each cycle hopefully gives you some information that suggests more actions that weren’t immediately obvious, gradually moving you closer to figuring out the one winning action. I can say from personal experience that designing this type of game to be challenging but not unfair is a lot harder than you’d think; the sweet spot is small and the fields of “trivial, provides no satisfaction” and “requires the player to read your mind” on either side are huge. But Boing! mostly lands in the right place.
The conceit, if I can attempt to describe it without revealing too much, is that someone is trying to guide the PC through dreams to accomplish a certain goal. The PC can take one action, and if it doesn’t accomplish that goal, they experience a dream sequence that attempts to nudge them in the right direction and then are yanked back in time to the start of the game.
Mostly these nudges worked, and I moved through the game at a good clip without getting too hung up on anything; the only stumbling block for me was the final command. (Spoiler - click to show)Clearly there’s an instead rule at play here, but under normal circumstances, trying to throw the sandwich would trigger an attempt to take the sandwich. And since you only get one move, any action that first triggers an implicit “take” action has the same result as simply trying to take the sandwich—you can’t, say, “give sandwich to mouse” because first you have to take the sandwich and then you’re yoinked. Once I’d failed at giving the sandwich, it didn’t occur to me to try throwing the sandwich because I figured the same thing would happen. So I spun my wheels for a while before stumbling across what I remember as a fairly direct hint about what to do (I don’t remember what I did to get it).
The bulk of the actual story comes after that final command, and I enjoyed the matter-of-fact tone in which the bizarre events were relayed. This level of random silliness is sometimes a little much for me, but for a bite-size game I think it works perfectly—it’s fun and memorable and doesn’t wear out its welcome.
This game offers brief windows into the minds of Lady Highchester, her daughter and ostensible heir Chelle, and Ara, a commoner who has been brought in as a possible alternate heir.
The choice the player gets is which order to read the three characters’ POVs in. I read Lady H’s last, and it did feel like that was the way it was supposed to be, since while the two younger women are only concealing their feelings for each other, Lady H’s secrets change the player’s view of the situation considerably.
Despite the brevity of each segment, the game gives a good sense of the personalities of the three women and how they relate to each other; Chelle and Ara are endearing, and Lady H an interesting figure with understandable, if unsympathetic, motivations. I'm definitely cheering for Chelle and Ara to run away together!
In this short visual novel, a time traveler resolves to leave her partner because she is distracting him from his true calling as a successful game developer—from her experience of alternate timelines, she knows that his career would have taken off by now if he hadn’t met her, and thus, for his own good, she must go. (He gets no say in the matter; the game does at least acknowledge that it might be selfishness on the PC’s part to make this decision unilaterally.)
This is the creator’s first release, and they created every aspect of the game except the music, which is impressive. The art is lovely and well suited to the fantasy-romance focus, and the prose has a nice flow, although it returns to the same metaphors a little often. The soundtrack’s melancholy music-box tune fits the mood well.
However, Threads of Snow’s single choice is a glorified “restart or quit?” and I was unclear on whether it was meant to have any in-universe implications. If it was, they didn’t really work for me—the PC might be tempted to loop through this short moment again and again rather than move on, but the player has little incentive to do so.
I also think that I would feel the dilemma more keenly if the partner’s potential illustrious career was something that brought more concrete good to the world than game development, or even if it were an artistic career in a field that wasn’t so notoriously grueling. The partner’s relationship with the PC really might bring him more happiness in the long run than a game dev career would, I suspect.