Reviews by MathBrush

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View this member's reviews by tag: 15-30 minutes 2-10 hours about 1 hour about 2 hours IF Comp 2015 Infocom less than 15 minutes more than 10 hours Spring Thing 2016
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Strike Force, by Christopher Drum

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
GI Joe-style underwater action, March 11, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This game has you go undercover with two different characters in an exciting underwater adventure. First, you have to open an airlock door while floating underwater, and then you have to infiltrate a base using stealth!

There were some problems with implementation. Several actions had no response; I didn't see the control panel in the first room, so I tried stuff like 'turn handle with multitool' (which has a completely blank response) and 'turn handle with me' (which gives a really bizarre error with text from later in the game).

The game does have a couple of cool puzzles and fun descriptions, but overall it really herds you one way and doesn't encourage you to stray off the beaten path. There are a ton of useless rooms, a lot like Planetfall and other Meretzky games.

Overall, I feel like it lacked polish and the interactivity was frustrating, but it was descriptive with fun puzzles. I know this was made for a jam, so the author didn't have much time, but this could be an amazing 4 or 5 star game with enough expansion by the author.

In a Tomb with a Donkey, by Dee Cooke

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Clever magical spells a tomb...with a donkey, March 6, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This game was entered in Seedcomp, and is primarily based around the 'seed' of the same name, a text file by Rovarsson containing a vivid description of a game centered around getting stuck in a tomb with a donkey and a bowl of blood and a cat mummy.

This finished game dropped the altar/blood angle but added the rest nicely. You play as a spellcaster struck back in time during a duel. Your spells have scattered to the wind, and after trying to steal some raw materials from a palace you are forced to flee, eventually finding yourself at a tomb.

The pattern of this game is gentle gameplay, generally finding a spell and using it either immediately or in the next room. Some puzzles add in extra twists for more engagement. I got stuck once or twice and I did need a hint in the room with the platforms (I had tried (Spoiler - click to show)LEVITATE ME and received no strong feedback, so I assumed that levitate wasn't the solution.)

Overall, this was enjoyable. I didn't connect on an emotional level, but I found it soothing and sweet.

A1RL0CK, by Marco Innocenti

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Fun amnesia sci fi thriller that needs just a bit more polish, March 5, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

I always like Marco Innocenti games, they usually guarantee some fun exploration, tricky puzzles and lots of complex backstory.

I also like random games where you wake up on a broken ship with amnesia (like Babel, Trisgaea, etc.).

So overall I was primed to like this. You wake up on a ship as a child and find out that there has been major damage to your underwater base. Huge rocks have broken in parts of the walls and the whole thing is flooded.

Overall, the backstory is slowly revealed in gruesome and disturbing detail. It pulls on a lot of old sci-fi tropes but does so in a relatively smooth way.

The puzzles were fun, but some more coding I think could be useful. Especially I think there should be a more clear response to (major spoiler) (Spoiler - click to show)shoot can and put splinter in rock to show that those two are reasonable actions, and just need a little change to make them better.

Entre-Deux, by Atozi

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A touching story of a ghost and his pack of young friends, March 1, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This is a choice-based entry where you play as the recently deceased ghost Victor who visits his friend Guillaume.

It's the day of Victor's funeral, and all his friends come over. You, as Victor, can only be seen by Guillaume, but can influence others. Your goal: to help your Guillaume win the heart of long-time friend Marie.

In the meantime, you discover a lot about your friends: one has come out recently, one has a new boyfriend from Senegal, some siblings are squabbling, one person gets a little too drunk, etc.

It's a little bit like Delightful Wallpaper (the second half), where you influence others subtly, and a bit like Blue Chairs, with its substance-using, young-people-talking parties.

It's a very long game, maybe too long, but the story it paints is beautiful. It does require (like another reviewer said) a lot of clicking, so I got in the habit of just clicking really fast until it stopped and going back to read over the text.

I really liked this world. It reminded me of the work of Katherine Morayati, of being in 'the scene'. This had more 'youth slang' than any of the other games; I learned a lot. It also has tons of cultural references; my search history has a lot of stuff like Science Po, Francoise Hollande, Knife Party, etc. now.

I like this culture because I was never a part of it. I've never drank, never tried marijuana. I had a lot of siblings and cousins and never hung out with other kids after school, so the idea of a big friend group you spend all your time with is something I saw my siblings do but never tried as a kid. As an adult, now I have a lot of nice friends, but there's not that same element of risk and danger that impressionable young people have when it comes to things like drugs or alcohol or unsafe sex.

Anyway, the story I found was well-crafted and overall it resonated with me. Interactivity felt great; out of all games in this comp, I felt like both choices were okay each time, that both would produce a meaningful story and that I could choose what I really wanted.

Apoikia, by PasteourS

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Play one person, then a ship, then a city, in Ancient Greece, February 28, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This game was pretty fun and fairly long, though it is unfinished.

In it, you play as the child of a king. Your father has been assassinated and you must flee the city. Once you do so, you join a boat and, if successful, start a city.

I enjoy city-building games like Civ VI and multi-stage games like Spore, so I found this game more fun as I went on. Early on, though, it felt a bit unfair at times, almost like random events happening.

There are some nice mechanics, like a prophetess guiding you with several messages for the future and a collection of what essentially are riddles or knowledge tests about Greek gods.

I liked my ending, with the city growing good. I felt like a lot of times the choice was between 'do something honorable and good that will make everyone like you or do something obviously bad', which made it feel like there was often a 'right choice' to click. But I also feel the game became more complex the longer it went on.

This was a big French Comp game, but worth playing.

A Matter of Heist Urgency, by FLACRabbit

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A brief action-packed pony parser game, February 7, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This is a parser game where the characters are all four-legged hooved creatures. It of course reminded me of My Little Pony, similar to the Daring Do episodes.

This game is unusual in that instead of focusing on traditional puzzles, it consists of primarily action sequences, outside of an initial investigation sequence.

The author says in the notes that the only way they could think of to make the fights interesting was to have multiple opponents. I have to say, I think it does help. I've played a lot of parser games with combat in them, and some of them are pretty great (like Gun Mute) but others suffer. I think the multiple opponents here help since it allows for strategy, like taking out the strongest one first or the one attacking your ally.

The implementation was actually pretty good. Something about the game as whole, though, felt just a tad thin, and I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it feels like there just could have been more, like using your powers more, more detail about you and your backstory, etc.

Edit: Since I wrote this, the game was updated with a cool little backstory if you are doing well after the first fight. It uses a technique that's very rare in parser games, and which would be annoying if overused, but is actually really cool here and helps fill in some of the gaps.

whoami, by n-n

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Combination twine/parser game with simulated OS, December 25, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This is a fascinating Spanish Twine game that makes excellent use of both Inform 7 and Twine.

You are dying during a radioactive apocalyptic war. You are also a researcher at an advanced quantum computing simulation lab, and you have the capability of uploading your mind to the computer.

Most of the game is navigating a complex computer OS system with a variety of folders and subfolders and apps such as email and the internet.

Once you get through that large portion, there is also a small parser portion that represents setting up societal norms in a simulated society. There is also one Towers of Hanoi section, which I honestly don't generally enjoy, but at least there was significant tie-in with the game itself and it had backstory.

Overall, a very impressive work, one that I think deserves a larger audience. For at least the non-parser parts, I think this plays quite easily using google translate.

Into The Sun, by Dark Star

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An optimization puzzle set on a derelict spacecraft, December 8, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

I played this game during the testing period.

In this game, you run into an old, abandoned spacecraft. It's a large and confusing ship, but fortunately a clear map is provided. Your goal is to grab as much of the loot on the ship as you can before it is pulled into the black hole.

This game is similar to other optimization games like Captain Verdeterre's Plunder and Sugarlawn. The main differences are that this one has an adversary, and that there is much less 'easy money' in this game than those. You can wander for quite a while before getting anything really worth something; the good stuff is all locked behind puzzles.

The adversary is interesting, strategically. You both have to prepare weapons and also deal with the effects its acid has on the terrain; it can both destroy useful items and open areas or containers that were locked.

In my best run, I made 1,755 dollars, including (Spoiler - click to show)taking the ship AI and a gold drone.

As others have noticed, the game is heavily influenced by the hit movie (Spoiler - click to show)Alien, featuring characters and the same setting as that movie.

The Trials and Tribulation of Edward Harcourt, by MelS and manonamora

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent gothic horror choice game, currently a WIP, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

I loved the part of this game that is currently complete. It's a well-style gothic horror game involving you and an old acquaintance, Edward Harcourt.

The idea is that you are one of the few people who are acquainted with Edward Harcourt, who has newly come into power and position. He has asked you to join him at his castle, where you have to deal with suspicious servants, dark dreams, and a town filled with unfriendly folk.

The demo has a lot of branches that seems to really affect the game, as I chose one of three backstories and ended up with some lengthy sequences regarding that backstory later.

So far, only the first two chapters are complete. It's still enjoyable, but I'm definitely interested in seeing the final product. One of my favorite Choicescript games was Heart of the House, which has similar vibes, but this one is taking some different directions that make it fresh.

The Good Ghost, by Sarah Willson, Kirk Damato

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A lovingly written short story about a ghost protecting a family over time, November 13, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This game is written with Twine and takes place in five acts, each of which is brief but meaningful.

You play as a ghost that finds itself in and out of existence, with the times in existence being important moments in the lives of your surviving family members. At first, there is very little you can do, but over time you develop more abilities. But it's not really a power-based or puzzle-based game; it's more about the story, about how your connection with the family deepens and grows over time.

The five acts vary between light hearted, dangerous, and sentimental. Gameplay mostly consists of navigating through the house, inspecting everything once, and then finding the one thing to return to to make things better. The pacing is excellent, as it does take some effort to finish each act but it never took long enough for me to feel frustrated.

The game does have some twists in it which, even though I saw it coming from some vibes in other reviews and though I've seen it done several times before, I did feel chills/lots of sentiment at the end, which to me means the author(s) executed the overall story with a lot of skill.

Overall, the best feature is the skill in plot and characterization.

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