This game has you try to encounter 13 different phobias as you explore a small area with some woods and a bar.
The range of possible phobias is pretty big and I learned some new ones (like halophobia and ailuriphobia).
This game is written with PunyInform, a version of Inform shrunk down so that compiled files can run on smaller/retro devices.
However, it doesn't take full advantage of the platform, and is weak in many areas. For instance, there are shelves that have several items on them, as seen from decompiling the code. However, X SHELVES, SEARCH SHELVES, and LOOK ON SHELVES all show them as empty. As another example, the barman tells you to 'try buying <a certain item in the game>'. But BUY <the item> doesn't work. There were many such frustrations with the code. There is one person listed in credits who might have been a tester, but this could have used more testing.
-Polish: There is some rough implementation and some bugs.
+Descriptiveness: The setting is mundane, but the phobias were interesting.
-Interactivity: I felt frustrated by the responsiveness.
-Emotional impact: The storyline and fears didn't really draw me in.
+Would I play again? It's an interesting concept, and I never found 4 of the fears.
It's nice to see Chandler Groover experimenting with the Fallen London format. He is known for his Exceptional Stories, and has a very loyal fan base on the Discord, with people saying things like this:
"I'd go as far as to say that groover is the only writer who consistently captures the mystery and beauty of the setting"
"I’m trying to find what I’m thinking of, but my suggestion is really based on the quality of groover’ s writing and also the focus on the everyday person that reveals some deeper truth about the universe"
"Chandler Groover, author of several fan favourite Exceptional Stories, typically agreed to Never Miss"
With that kind of praise, there's a lot of pressure, and it would be easy to fall into repetitive patterns. But I found this story to be pretty different than his others, so much so that I had no idea it was him until the end.
In this story, a magician's assistant is missing, a crocodile is loose in the sewers of London and you must stop it! This includes a sizable segment that is a complex maze, something I never thought I'd see in any Groover story ever, and especially not in Fallen London, a text-based narrative that tends to gloss over movement. This story also has puzzles involving large machines with moving parts.
During your journey, your goals shift, and you end up acquiring a large amount of materials (through the sewers) for a big project. This was a fun excursion, because it lets you see many of the more mundane or boring parts of Fallen London (like the shops in the Bazaar tab) through a fresh perspective as you tunnel into them from below, often finding bizarre leftovers from previous times or hidden-away secrets. The scenes in Mahogany Hall were really effective for me.
The story gets even more strange in the end, becoming almost mythological and filled with guts and animals. It all feels large and epic, but I didn't quite grasp it all. I think that's good, though; I wouldn't want to grasp all of it.
To be honest, the maze didn't really work for me completely, but I enjoy the innovation and would rather see further experimentation like this than a retread of old things. Definitely a memorable story.
As a side note, parts of this gave me flashbacks to All Dogs Go to Heaven, where the sewer crocodile horrified me as a child.
This story, an Exceptional story for Fallen London (a bonus chunk of content for paid suscribers), takes place on the Zee, and in part feels like an exploration of that part of the game's content (which was recently expanded).
You are in search of the heir of a rich family. She was last seen with the Circumcelion Brotherhood, a group of brawling monks who hope to get murdered and have after-death experiences before being brought back by Fallen London's general resurrection mechanics.
The main character in this has a lot of personality, and is the main attraction of this story, but otherwise there's not a lot here to distinguish it from other tales of the Zee. If you're interested in brawling monks and tough women then it's worth checking out.
This is an exceptional story, a sizable 'bonus' story provided for those who pay for Fallen London.
This one deals with the devils, a faction in Fallen London that is quite distinct from devils as typically portrayed. This group is a little out of sync with the rest of the world (generally having fashions from twenty years in the future), and are very interested in people's souls but also in creating and altering the laws of reality in bizarre ways.
Some Londoners reacted negatively to the presence of the devils and fought a disastrous war with them. The game has frequently referenced this war and its horrifying outcomes (through different stories involving Bishops and more recently with the Great Hellbound Railway, especially Moulin), but hasn't dedicated many stories to detailed events of the war.
In this story, you meet a manservant of a prince, a servant who fought in the war and is now afflicted by having some body parts replaced with plants (thus, the cover picture of the story). This manservant works with the Bellicose Prince, a child of Queen Victoria who, like most the other children, was (strong spoilers for those who haven't seen royal family stories) (Spoiler - click to show)altered by the use of tainted red honey into a gross monster.(Spoiler - click to show)
This story takes a lot of twists and turns and really is an exploration of war, survivor's guilt, PTSD, and trauma. Like most great fantasy or horror, it uses an extraordinary situation to examine ordinary feelings in a new light.
I hadn't really put it together that the Mary Goodden of these exceptional stories is the Mary Goodden of Ifcomp 2021's game 'Funicular Simulator 2021'. Nice!
This was a really memorable exceptional story (a supplement to Fallen London's main story). While writing reviews for these, I had to look back in my fame history to remind myself what they were about, but this one was firmly lodged in my memory.
One of the main factions in Fallen London is the Urchins, a large number of lost youth who form gangs and steal things. They tend to represent innocence in Fallen London (like in the story Hojotoho, where they pretend to be valkyries and go on 'adventures'). They also have a connection to rain and storm, as they are generally the source of the category of items termed 'Wild Words', which includes things like Primordial Shrieks, Aeolian Screams and Storm-Threnodies. In fact, in the deeper lore they are associated with (Spoiler - click to show)the somewhat-dead god Storm, a vast dragon that has power over the sea, which is what this story deals with and what most spoilers later down contain.
A young girl is marked by (Spoiler - click to show)the God Storm, but you interrupt, entangling you in her life. You are tasked with taking her around and helping her make a decision whether to embrace her new life as (Spoiler - click to show)a vessel of innocent rage or not. Your journey exposes much of the difficulties of life in a foster care system and of a poor life, as you explore the palace, an orphanage, and a former foster home she was ejected from, discovering the sources of her rage.
I found this one poignant and memorable.
This is an exceptional story for Fallen London, which is a special 'extra' story for people who pay a monthly fee or purchase the story itself later on.
In this story, you rescue three young kids who have decided to find buried treasure on the Zee but get stuck when their boat crashes on a small island. Rescuing them, you learn about their fascination with Captain Redbeard, a mythical pirate, as well as the story of their mother, a woman who died at sea and who may or may not now be a 'drownie' (in Fallen London, people who die come back, except those who die at sea, who become a kind of fish/zombie/person).
The kids are cute, and help you pick out a suitable pirate name (mine was Blood Killer). Their dynamics and their interactions with the larger world paint a really lovely picture of family and growing up.
One of the key features of Fallen London is prisoner's honey, as substance which transports its users to the world of dreams. It plays a role in society similar to opium dens from that time.
Something you can learn about in many of the stories (especially early on in the Nemesis ambition) is about (Spoiler - click to show)gaoler's honey, a stronger variant that is made by bees invading someone's brain and sucking out the memories. It lets you experience their memories but causes them terrible pain. Even further in the lore, you can find a connection between this and the Royal Family, as (fairly big spoilers for those who haven't read stories involving the royal family) (Spoiler - click to show)they all used tainted red honey and became hideous beasts, except for one who gained horrible mental powers).
This game follows a member of the royal family who stayed on the surface, a grandson of Victoria named Albert together with his mother. He wants to experience the honey drug dens and wants to be like the rest of the Royal Family. A lot of the game seems intent on portraying a weak and sad outsider trying to be part of a larger group.
It is a solid story, but pales in comparison to most other royal family stories, especially The Gift or the captivating princess storyline in Sunless Skies.
This is a Fallen London exceptional story, meaning it is a supplementary tale to the overall main game.
This story was meant to explore the bone market and its side characters more. When the bone market first came out, the Carpenter's Granddaughter was (and is) an important figure who can sell the largest bone frame and manage your market exhaustion.
In this story, you go on a journey with that character to the Gant Pole, a location first featured in the spinoff game Sunless Sea. The Gant Pole is an enormous decomposing heart of a sea creature that is lived in an attracts things that have lost all other desires or purposes in life. Gant is one of seven fictional colors in Fallen London, described as the color that exists when all else is gone.
As you search for giant bones and fossils in this story, it takes a darker turn into body horror, including a chance for you to alter yourself in disconcerting ways.
Overall, this story is an interesting character study of its main protagonist and antagonist. The interactivity aids the story but isn't memorable in and of itself. A good option for fans of the Zee and/or bones.
This is the biggest game entered into the Spanish 2021 Ectocomp.
It's a Twine game using a lot of images and sounds. There is very little interactivity; the majority of the game is long pages filled with text and images with 'CONTINUAR' at the bottom. Occasionally there are choices, but they don't always remember what you do (for instance, (Spoiler - click to show)giving an item to a teacher early on doesn't get recorded, because you can give it to someone else later).
The main interactivity is thing of incense that you have that you can burn to stop the goblins. However, it isn't always clear when you can do this; frequently when the goblins were doing something bad I tried to use it, but just wasted my 'charges'. It seems reserved for moments when (Spoiler - click to show)the game is trapped in a loop.
There were a few typos here and there. The story often switches between second and third person, although that might just be me as a non-native speaker misunderstanding. As for the story itself, it was very descriptive with a wide variety of characters and a lot of imagination. Goblins were tied together with a high school that was once a military base, and both tied to another world. It was a complex and long story, and one I'm not sure I understood very well. But the story itself, with the images and the sounds, are a great accomplishment. I just wish I could have done more myself.
This is an Adventuron game in Spanish, made for Ectocomp.
It has 4 chapters, each detailing part of the story of Sidodorf, a soldier in a war that no longer cares about living as much as writing one final amazing letter. This leads him to desperate and bizarre acts.
The adventuron programming works well here, especially since the error messages give good hints on what to do next. My frequent problem with different dialects of Spanish struck again; I always thought TAKE would be TOMAR, but in this game one must use COGER, which is a strong vulgarity in the Spanish I learned. C'est la vie.
This game was really a very interesting character study, and I think its protagonist may be worth nominating for a Best PC xyzzy award next year. Unfortunately for me and other would-be translators, you can't highlight text to paste in google translate. However, it was overall pretty clear.