Reviews by MathBrush

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Quel Roi Ítes vous ?, by Lťo Tranlin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Fun, short branching game about defending from treason and war, February 2, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This French Comp game uses the theme of 'betrayal' well. An army is coming to your castle at your weakest moment. Someone must have betrayed you, but who?

The game is short but pleasingly symmetric. There are three suspects, each with three possible actions (consult with them, accuse them, and interrogate them). When it's time to face the enemy, you have three choices.

There are a lot of endings, mostly bad ones, of which I received two, but overall it was fun. The text doesn't vary much based on your choices so you can replay very swiftly. Investigating the treason felt interesting. Overall, the game is short but with a fun pattern.


The Usher Foundation XII: The Flesh, by Apollosboy

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Body horror with skin/flesh, last of unfinished series, January 10, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I hadn't realized when I started this series of games based on the Magnus institute that it would just end. As far as I can tell, the creator abandoned social media (under the current name) a year or two ago.

These games were based on the Magnus Archives podcast, which has 14 archetypes of fear. The ones that were missing, and would presumably end this series, are the Web, and, appropriately, the End, or death.

This game is about the Flesh, the fear of body horror and of being eaten.

Your girlfriend is getting a scarification, with some strips of skin removed. She has it bandaged while its healing, but when the bandages are removed...

Overall, this series started out strong and had some great parts (I enjoyed the Dark, the Spiral, the Stranger, and the Eye), but kind of petered out near the end, which may be why they stopped writing it. But I think, if they ever decided to finish it, a strong ending with The Web and the End could make the whole thing kind of a masterpiece.


The Usher Foundation XI: The Lonely, by Apollosboy

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Survive the aftermaths of a fire in a lonely watchtower, January 4, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is the 11th in a series of games based on the entities from the Magnus Archives Podcast. This one focuses on The Lonely, or the fear of being abandoned or all by yourself.

This short Twine game opens a bit slowly. You are sent to decommission a fire tower in a US national park. With no one around, you can at least take comfort in another nearby firetower and its inhabitant that signals you.

Things pick up a little bit later.

While I think this one doesn't really evoke much fear in me, compared to the others, I think its twists and the overall writing is strong. It has also the most action I've seen so far in the second, 'worldbuilding' part.


The Usher Foundation X: The Stranger, by Apollosboy

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Short, sad trans horror game with some overall world-building, December 30, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is the tenth game in the Usher Foundation series, in which each game is centered on one of the primal fear archetypes of the Magnus Archives Podcast.

This one is about the Stranger, which is a fear of the uncanny valley and that people around you are fake somehow.

This story is short. You are trans, and your best friend is trans. You are in high-school. Over the summer, your friend changes somehow. He appears to be detransitioning, possibly against his will.

This game is shorter than the others in the series, but has a more extended 'overarching worldbuilding' segment at the end, which is good, because I felt like that subplot had kind of stalled.


The Usher Foundation IX: The Corruption, by Apollosboy

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Short, horrifying insect/trypophobia twine game, December 30, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is the 9th game in the series of games based on the archetypal fears found in the Magnus Archives Podcast. This one focuses on the Corruption, which is one that really gets me, a fear of decay, disease, and insect infestations.

You are bidding on storage units to sell the stuff in them, when you find one that has a peculiar insect infestation. Later, you find out it wasn't the only thing that got infested...

The game has some nice (as in very gross) interactions with picking/popping black dots on your skin. Overall, this game made me feel deeply uncomfortable.


The Usher Foundation VIII: The Spiral, by Apollosboy

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Madness and minotaurs in a metropolitan subway, December 24, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is the eighth in a series of short Twine games based on the central themes of the Magnus archives.

This one is based on the Spiral, associated with the feeling of losing you mind, as well as being lost.

In this Twine game, you are exploring the subway tunnels under NYC after a hurricane as part of your job, when your crew comes upon a perfectly preserved wooden door deep underground that leads into a well-lit, carpeted hallway.

The game employs some clever mechanics to track the feeling of slowly losing your senses.

My five star rating is not necessarily because I would recommend it to everyone as being an exceptional game, but because it satisfies my personal rating criteria in terms of emotional impact and interactivity.


The Usher Foundation VII: The Slaughter, by Apollosboy

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Civil war reenactment gone terribly wrong, December 16, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is the 7th in a series of Twine games centered around the main themes of the Magnus Archives podcast. This one is based on the Slaughter, or fear of mass violence and death.

In this Twine game, you are hired on to help with a Civil War reenactment, helping fix uniforms, belts, etc. But one of the men has a strange book, and you almost feel like you've gone back in time...

This one didn't pull me as much as the others in this series, probably because the Slaughter has always felt like an academic fear to me, given that I've been lucky enough to avoid direct contact with war during my lifetime, only seeing it in the news. The best parts are linear and the branching parts are rather dull, so I'm glad to see this one go and move on to the next. So far this author's best games that I've seen have been ones that focus on personal connections.


The Usher Foundation VI: The Desolation, by Apollosboy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A brief tale of a criminal escaping a burning hospital, December 13, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is another entry in the series of games based on archetypes from the Magnus institute. This one is based on the Desolation, which is associated with loss and fire.

Thematically, it works well; it features a burning hospital and a health point meter, and has some complex decisions in regards to human life.

Emotionally, a lot of it didn't land with me; the PC is unequivocally bad, so it sets you up to play as a bad guy, but then presents moral decisions which would be completely straightforward for a villain in distress.

And the 'overarching plot' section at the end felt a bit like an exposition dump, one that is well-needed but could have been dragged out a bit more.


The Usher Foundation V: The Eye, by Apollosboy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Magnus archive fangame about being watched, December 12, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is the fifth in a series of 12 twine games about types of fear from the Magnus Archives podcast.

This story is about the Eye, or fear of being watched.

Like the others in the series, it is short, with a couple spelling errors. But it does some fun tricks that make you, the reader, feel that your personal space is being invaded or that you're being surveilled, in addition to the regular story, giving a more direct version of the fear than the other stories so far.

Besides these tricks, the main story is about a man selling off his dead father's possessions, including a very large collection of glass/plastic eyes. But he starts to get a feeling that he's being watched.


The Usher Foundation IV: The Vast, by Apollosboy

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Interestingly-styled Twine game focused on adrenaline and open spaces, December 12, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is the fourth in a series of Twine games centered around the Magnus Archive podcast. This one centers on the Vast, or the fear of very large things like the sea, sky, or space.

Except...this one's not really about fear. Quite the opposite, really. This story is about two girls that meet and start to bond romantically over falling, whether tripping on a sidewalk, bungee jumping, or skydiving.

The game implements 'vastness' into its styling, with very long pages to scroll through; it's actually very effective, I liked this quite a bit. It adds a bit of interactivity to an otherwise linear story.

I was a little disappointed that this doesn't really follow the modus operandi of the Magnus Archives. No one is really afraid, here; this is honestly a feel-good love story with a bit of drama at the end. Which could be great, if that's what you're looking for.


The Usher Foundation III: The Buried, by Apollosboy
A brief horror story about a gay couple and deep snow, December 12, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is the third game in a multi-part series based on the Magnus Archives. This one focuses on the Buried, or the feeling of claustrophobia.

The main characters are a gay couple on a vacation to a cabin in the mountains. One of them finds a disturbing book in the cabin, a copy of a Jack London novel that's not quite as it should have been.

As the story progresses, things get increasingly more frightening. I actually found the writing very strong, feeling visceral discomfort from the horror.

Unfortunately, I found some formatting issues, which others apparently also experienced. At different points, the white links disappeared, until I went to full screen, and even then I had to change the font size multiple times to reach the next links. This took away from the experience somewhat.


The Usher Foundation II: The Hunt, by Apollosboy
Spend a horrible night in a lab, December 12, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is the second in a series of short Twine games centered around the themes of the Magnus Archives podcast.

This one is based on one of my least favorite archetypes from the series, 'The Hunt', and it's presented in a fairly straightforward manner without a lot of twists or turns. For most of the game (spoilers for midgame) (Spoiler - click to show)you are running away from bizarre beast, dodging different directions in a maze-like labyrinth.. It was just so on the nose that I wished there was more subtlety, more build-up.

Overall, the writing is strong; in both games I've played there are occasional typos (I've been guilty of that quite often myself), but the ideas and atmosphere are solid. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.


The Usher Foundation I: The Dark, by Apollosboy

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
First in a series of games based on Magnus Archives, December 11, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

While hunting through few-rating games from this year, I was pleased to see a whole series of Twine games based on the Magnus Archives, my favorite podcast (I've listened to the whole thing at least three times). The organization of the games in this series is based on some of the deeper lore of the series, centered around archetypes of fear.

This one is about darkness, a fear the original podcast writers said they had trouble writing effectively themselves. This one does a great job; at first, it's a pretty mild/boring Twine game about going the bathroom, but quickly gets darker...literally. Warning for those who have trouble reading, (moderate spoilers) (Spoiler - click to show)the text gets harder to read and eventually you have to hunt the screen for text that pops up.

The game is pretty short and could probably have been extended, but overall I'm looking forward to playing and reviewing the other games in the series.


Black River Prison, by Sparks
Short game with colorful links about an abused prisoner aided by voices, December 11, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I've been browsing IFDB by searching 'added:2022' by the fewest ratings to see games that didn't get noticed this year.

This was an interesting IFDB entry: added by an author who only was on the site for a couple of days, editing this post a couple of times, with no other activity.

The game itself is actually an interesting concept. You are a prisoner in a torture chamber-based prison deep underground.

Three voices, (a red one, a blue one, and a green one) urge you to acts of escape and violence.

It doesn't last too long, but looks neat visually. There were several typos (it's possible the name of the player was some special effect that doesn't display, since the subject was missing of several lines). Overall, it could stand to be fleshed out a lot more. But the core concept works.


Restitution, by Anonymous

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A classic story with a small addition involving reader response, November 23, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is part of a group of similar stories. Other such games by this author have consisted of a classic short story with modern additions by the author where people comment on the story, including a text box where the reader can type something which the game then interprets using sentiment analysis to change some subsequent text.

This game is no exception, although it is smaller than the others. It is also different from the others, in that its 'meta-commentary' is no longer a separate, modern story; instead, it's an addition in-universe, still with the sentiment-analysis text box. However, due to this being a speed-IF, only one text box is included.

The short story chosen this time is obscure; I only found one 'hit' when searching, on an internet archive of an old magazine.

My view on these games has certainly changed over time. I went from believing they had no interaction to believing that they are excellent at hiding all the interactivity.

A game that makes you think its responding to your actions, even if it doesn't, is a game that is very fun to play, if only for one time. (For instance, see Attack of the Yeti Robot Zombies). But the converse is true; a game that does extensive work, but leads the player to think it does none, is not fun to play. Simply putting a message next to the box that is, as the author once said, metaleptic (or maybe extra-diegetic???) saying 'positive sentiment detected' in green and then highlighting the subsequent changed text in green or using red for negative sentiment would instantly improve reaction; this is just one idea, there are many ways to make it look like the game is really thinking.

Like a character says the movie The Prestige:

"The trick was too good, it was too simple. The audience hardly had time to see it[...]he's a wonderful magician; he's a dreadful showman. He doesn't know how to dress it up, how to sell this," and I think that applies to this whole series of games.


You Are a Zombie Yelp Reviewer, by Geoffrey Golden
A light snack of a game about reviewing zombie brains, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game has a pretty simple concept and executes it well. You are a zombie who has just completed a tasty meal of brains, and so you write a yelp review.

You pick the number of stars, describe its connection with past meals, discuss how you approached the entree/victim, etc. It's all pretty brief, but I didn't see any bugs, and it was descriptive and funny.

Overall, a nice note to end playing the ectocomp games on.


BLACKOUT, by Playahead Games
It's the end of the world. What do you want to do?, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a speed-written IF game using the Twine system. In it, the singularity has happened, but technology is giving humans exactly 7 days to do what they want with their lives before being assimilated.

It's a sobering situation. The emotional stakes are subtly raised by changing the background color every day.

This is a speed-IF, so options are limited. The main options here are to write or to go outside. I varied back and forth between them, and had an ending that to me was satisfying.

Shoutout to the very specific descriptions of listening to local indie bands, felt very realistic.


origin of love, by Sophia de Augustine

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Love poem about romantic encounter with a husband, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This brief game is essentially a poem about physical love between the main character and their husband.

It is simultaneously explicit and not, similar to the Song of Solomon, which represents sexual feeling as a form of divine worship. This short poem combines both that religious sentiment and also a form of physical violence.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and each person experiences romantic and physical attraction in different ways. While I could appreciate the author's emotion and feeling, I didn't feel a universality in the experience that called me to share in the experience.

The styling is quite complex, with shades of pink and red. The majority of interactivity is in moving to the next page or clicking on words to get essentially footnotes.

Overall, I valued the elegance of the language the most.


MARTYR ME, by Charm Cochran

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A torture/religious game written in 4 hours or less, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

(I discuss some body horror stuff in this post, so squeamish may want to skip)

This is a speed-IF made for Ectocomp. In it, you play as a victim of a torturer who sadistically injures you.

The game is quite gory. There's a lot of things that various games can have that makes me uncomfortable and not play, but I don't really hear that as often from other players. So when several commenters on other websites had said this game made them feel deeply uncomfortable or stop playing, I was expecting perhaps the most horrible game ever created. With such foreboding expectations, the game itself, while still excessively gory, wasn't quite as bad as I thought.

For one, you are a very willing and happy participant in the events. While the descriptions are written to shock and horrify, is it all that different than a C-section, or a dentist visit? I go to the dentist, and they stab the roof of my mouth with a needle and then grab my tooth with pliers and pull as hard as they can, ripping out what's essentially a bone and leaving a bleeding cavity for weeks. So the game wasn't quite as bad as I expected; in fact, the part that turned me off the most was the first ending which had some unexpected misogynistic language.

Overall, the game captures a rapturous tone in a way that reminds me of some of Porpentine's work, specifically Their Angelic Understanding. The violent torture in exquisite detail reminded me of Paperblurt's The Urge.

I don't recommend this game in general, due to a few people having an adverse reaction (and me personally not being a huge fan of torture), but I think the craft is well-done and the writing is descriptive.


THROW. MARIA. OVERBOARD., by Travis Moy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A brief Choicescript tale about a troubled ocean voyage, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a speed-IF written in 4 hours or less, written using Choicescript (which is a hard engine to do speed-IF in). It features a dinner party in old Constantinople, where you, a ship's captain, have to tell the story of a fated ocean trip that leads to the title of the game.

The story itself is bizarre and perturbing, and well done. The opening setting is also solid. Other parts of the game are a bit patchy, as is usual for speed-IF, since time runs out; the main things here are the quickly-sketched out endings and the fact that some parts of the game are written in rhyme and others are not.

Still, the story itself is very solid, and I like this setting and would like to see more. The only Byzantine/Constantinople game I've seen before is Kyle Marquis's Silverworld, also in Choicescript. Overall, I'm glad I played this short Ectocomp game.


One More Page, by PRINCESS INTERNET CAFť
A text message horror game written in 4 hours or less, November 13, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a relatively brief choice-based game with an interface written in Ink that mimics text messages.

You are texting your mom and your friend ash, just having a regular day, when things get strange and weird. The game's appeal is mostly based on its twist, so I won't spoil it here.

The plot is pretty good, but the dialogue and characterization are a bit generic; it's hard to get a feel for who the characters are, and their individuality. The texts are slow to come, which was a bit frustrating.

The UI looked neat, which seems like a good accomplishment. This game makes me think its author is really talented at web programming.


Defrosted, by Riyadth

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Man-shaped mushrooms make me maniacal, November 11, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a relatively brief twine game with three endings, two bad and one good.

The idea is that global warming exposed a layer of mycelium all over Antarctica that is sentient. Scientists made super-soldiers out of it by using genetics to create human-shaped versions of the very strong mushroom material. But these mushrooms tend to cannibalize each other, so to stave off their desires, humans volunteer to be companions that the mushrooms can drink the blood of every now and then.

You volunteer to be this companion, and have to fill out some intake forms and get acquainted with the area before meeting your future companion.

The game does a good job of expressing the alienness and horror of the creatures, but I'm not sure it presents as strong of a picture of the protagonist, whose motives and actions didn't always seem connected to each other or to my desires. Overall, the styling was nice and I enjoyed the ending I reached.


You're In Deep, by Xuelder

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Branching supernatural disaster game during Hurricane in Louisiana, November 5, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game has you play as a well-prepared Louisiana resident hunkering down during a category 5 hurricane. Fortunately, you have an attic stocked with tons of equipment. Unfortunately, all sorts of supernatural creatures are messing around with you.

This game has nice presentation with Chapbook and music/sound effects. The color and font choices worked well for me. It's pretty brief, but has some nice non-linearity and several endings.

The thing I liked best about the game was the specific local flavor. Several of the monsters are referred to with French names or have characteristics unique to the area.

The only drawbacks to me were that each path was fairly short and a lot of the items didn't really do much that I could see.


Las Cartas de Mery, by Mery

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Branching Twine Tarot game written in 4 hours, November 4, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This was a fun game to finish on while playing through Ectocomp games.

You are at a party that is winding down when your friend Mery suggests using Tarot cards to predict your future.

In the game, she deals 5 different piles, each of which contains 2 cards. When she gives you a brief interpretation, you are also allowed to pick one of the two, or to quit playing and walk away.

There are a lot of endings, including gruesome deaths, but there's at least one cute and positive ending about being creatively inspired.

There's some content warnings for sex, drugs, etc. but I only really saw deaths and the Tarot cards have some nudity. This game has a lot of endings for a game made in 4 hours, which is nice!


Siluetas, by Fran_Kane

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A trippy Spanish binksi game about visiting a small town, November 4, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game was complex and difficult to understand at first. It's a binksi game, similar to bitsy (the game system with minimal sprites, color schemes and animations), but mixed with Ink, the scripting language.

In this Spanish Ectocomp game, you wind up driving to a small village that still has people using donkeys and children play strange games with silhouettes and with a fountain in the town.

The game has several shifts in perspective that I didn't fully understand, which I can mostly attribute to my own poor understanding but also seems to be a mechanic designed to mirror the protagonist's own troubled mental state.

I definitely found the imagery in the game disturbing and frightening, but only from a psychological viewpoint; there is little to no gore and no jumpscares or anything. I think it is effective at being frightening. Like the author says in the description, it can be easy to miss things; I missed a lot of things on the first try and had to replay. Fun, short, and easy to play.


La escalera de la bruja, by binary-sequence

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An unfinished Spanish witchcraft horror game with promise, November 4, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I was very excited by the beginning of this game but soon found that it was fairly unfinished.

The opening is very mysterious: you and your wife arrive at a house. Your wife has a bruise--is it from you, or someone else? You enter a house with 5 rooms, greeted by an old woman with dark secrets. That night, you have a terrible dream...

All of this is great. But much is left to be done. Conversation doesn't work (TALK TO, ASK ABOUT, direct speech, etc. in Spanish), and many items are not implemented. One of the few things that is implemented is an inventory limit of just two items.

The game has so many cool ideas, I would like to see it more developed. It stopped right at a very cool part! But for now I think it just needs more work to flesh it out more.


Estado Profundo, by n-n

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A well-implemented small scenario with thriller and occult elements, November 2, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

As a non-native speaker, I appreciated this game, since it was well-implemented, suggested verbs in the text that can be used (like "Montando el kit se construye un..."), and is a tightly-contained one-room scenario which limits possibilities to a reasonable amount.

The idea is that you are in a building watching a newly-born political party (the Party of the Future) holding a rally. Something odd is going on, as people and buildings around you demonstrate if you watch them closely. On the bed is a suitcase containing a disassembled rifle.

This game is short, but it had a couple of twists I didn't expect. It has one main puzzle, which I think is pretty fair. I decompiled it to figure it out, but even then it didn't give it away, I still had to think about it. I really liked the writing in this game, too, it was terse vivid and descriptive with its few details.


Under the Bridge, by Samantha Khan
A pleasantly creepy multimedia experience, October 29, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I'd first like to say that the art, animation, and audio for this game are very well done. I loved the style, and would be happy to see it again; it's unique, I haven't seen other games with the scribbly dark figures.

You play as a dangerous and large being that is hunting for food by a bridge. Humans pass by, and you can decide how to act towards them.

I played through to one positive ending (villager ending 1), but the way the game reacted to my choices made me feel like there were many very different endings. That's pretty cool!

There were some typos here and there (like "One of the small humans'", with an extra apostrophe). Overall, it was fairly brief. But what is here is excellent.


Use Your Psychic Powers at Applebee's, by Geoffrey Golden

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Use mind control for corporate profit--sparingly, October 29, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

As of writing, this is tied with Esther for the most-reviewed game of IFComp 2022.

It's a fun short Ink game where you have the ability once per night per person to inject corporate slogans into people's brains.

The fun of the game is that you can use your powers to mind read 4 different 'tracks' all night (i.e. following each of the four main NPCs), jumping tracks at will, as well as watching the TV as a 5th track.

Your actions have a variety of drastic side-effects, and strategizing is fun, so I replayed several times. I do think it could have been fun to be a little longer, or have one more person, but overall I found it very impressive.


Glimmer, by Katie Benson

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A brief spot of hope in a life that spiralled, October 28, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Katie Benson has made many games of varying length that are always well-polished, descriptive, and generally have simple, story-focused gameplay with a positive message (such as the Crumbs series), although sometimes things can get wild (like Off the Rails).

This game is a bit short but has a nice message. Each screen generally has two choices, one that expands the text and one that moves on.

The idea is that your life is spiraling out of control. Things are getting darker and sadder and you find yourself more and more isolated. But there is a glimmer, like the game name says.

I definitely appreciate seeing games from this author in competitions and hope to see more, always a positive spot.


Esther's, by Brad Buchanan and Alleson Buchanan

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A charming story about mice with a few small puzzles, October 28, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is small and designed for children. It has some lovingly made illustrations of little mice and the girl who runs a cafe.

Story-wise, it's about two mice who want to get special food at the cafe but can't communicate. Mechanics-wise, it's almost like a language puzzle, and had surprising depth for such a small game (like the depth of a medium-sized game).

The writing is generally pleasant; it had some, but I wanted more, humorous incongruities of the type common in good kid's stories (may favorite was the (Spoiler - click to show)fall of the pudding at the end and everyone's reactions. The whole thing feels like it was designed with prudence and restraint, maintaining a small size and scope and polishing itself in that sphere.


HOURS, by aidanvoidout

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short Twine game with lots of worldbuilding, short time, October 27, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

The name of this game comes from the fact that you have 5 remaining hours and each big action or scene takes up one.

This is a short Twine game, but it seems like it has the worldbuilding for a much larger story. There is an ancient, near-immortal Shogun (named (Spoiler - click to show)Charlie????) that enslaves and tortures special people who have Curses.

A weird apparition gives you a weapon to fight the Shogun (from searching, the weapon may be inspired by Sword Art Online). You can have various fights, or just remember all the deaths in your life and give up, etc.

The game feels a bit rushed or unfinished, with lots of plot threads left hanging and some little bugs (an option near the end wouldn't let me click it, for instance).

Overall, I think this just needs more time in the oven. The slavery in the game doesn't really seem to serve a purpose besides being a shorthand for suffering.


To Persist/Exist/Endure, Press 1, by Anthony O

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An exercise in futility, made in Texture, October 26, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is one of the more polished Texture games in the IFComp 2022 competition. Texture is an engine for IF that involves dragging verbs onto nouns to make choices.

This game is primarily a phone menu system. There are a lot of options, many of them creative (like turning it all into Polish).

The overall feeling is a sense of futility or frustration. I tried out several endings, and all of them seemed to express the same sentiment.

Overall, the game is very polished and descriptive, and conveyed its sense of frustration to me. I wonder if the joke could have been extended a bit or if there could be more of a central narrative, or something else to extend this a bit. Unless of course I missed a big final ending! I've missed stuff like that before.


Tower of Plargh, by caranmegil

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A decidedly undercooked parser game, October 26, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Almost any game can be polished up and made great. This game needs a lot of polishing.

This is a parser game that puts you in the middle of 9 rooms, 8 of which have the same description that includes a typo. None of the standard responses are changed, ABOUT, CREDITS, HELP, etc. have no response. There are only two items.

It seemed like there was absolutely nothing to do. I eventually decompiled the code and used it to finish the game; the following set of rules may serve as hints to others:

(Spoiler - click to show)When Floor 1 begins
After dropping colored egg when the location of the player is flod room and Floor 1 is happening
When Floor begins
After jumping when the location of the player is pled room and Floor 2 is happening
Every turn during Floor 2
When Floor 3 begins
After inserting something into something
When Floor 4 begins
After touching monkey during Floor 4
Every turn during Floor 4
After pushing when the noun is Ye Shiny Red Button and Floor 5 is happening and player has golden egg and player has golden seven and player has golden octagon and player has golden monkey
After pushing when the noun is Ye Shiny Red Button and Floor 5 is not happening


According to my rubric, this game is not polished, descriptive, has obscure interactivity, did not have an emotional impact, and I wouldn't play it again in its current state.

But I don't think the effort is wasted or the author is bad. Clearly there are some good ideas here; this just needs more stuff implemented. I would recommend the author to pick the source code of one of the games you find when you search IFDB with the tag "tag:I7 Source Available", and look around to see what kind of things authors can do to make games more polished.


The Tin Mug, by Alice E. Wells, Sia See and Jkj Yuio

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A cute, short choice-based story about a mug come to life, October 24, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a game intended for kids about a magic cup that comes to life, written with the Strand system, which is the system used for the Magnetic Scrolls memorial and several IFComp and ParserComp games since then.

A lot of stories intended for kids end up being too inspid for either kids or parents to enjoy. This game was 'corny', but it was a kind of corny I liked and an imaginative one as well, with its own internal logic and, to me, compelling arcs, even in its short playtime. I found the writing detailed and vivid.

You play as a tin mug that has the ability to affect the world around it, especially on today, its birthday.

Choices were usually binary, often with one clearly better choice, which would make sense when teaching a young child about how choice-based games work. I guess my only thought about possible drawbacks would be that the breaks between choices are fairly large and it would be difficult to hold a child's attention that long if they're excited about choices.


Hanging by threads, by Carlos Pamies

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Exploring a city from Calvino's Invisible Cities, October 20, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game lets you explore Octavia, a city described in the book Invisible Cities (by Italo Calvino) as a spider-web city hung on a great web of ropes, pipes, etc.

You are offered three different items to take with you. When you arrive, you have time to explore and look around, seeing the wonders of the city.

But not very much time. After 20 turns, the game ends with a vague message. I unfortunately got that message on my first playthrough right when I was trying to click a moving link, so I thought that this was a 'failure message'. With no undo, I was out of luck.

But I think the intent here is that you explore for a short time but are unable to see it all in one playthrough. That's a beautiful idea, but I find the execution a bit wanting. There's no indication that that's what the ending signifies, and the other review on IFDB I read also seemed to consider it as a bug or problem of some sorts.

I'm giving 3 stars mostly because I like the conceit both of the spiderweb city but also because of the idea of the limited time, even if it came off a bit weird.


4 Edith + 2 Niki, by fishandbeer

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Very short Twine game about picking a partner, October 20, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

From the picture, blurb, and length on the IFComp page (which I swear used to say 2 hours, but I think I must have misread it because now it says 15), I expected this game to a big, polished Twine game with cool visuals, like Porpentine's Crystal Warrior Ke$ha.

Unfortunately, this is a very short Twine game with 1 major area, with simple links to rooms and back (each room being one passage). State doesn't seem be to be tracked at all. Almost all the endings are just vague statements that you slept with someone.

I think the author can do better. This kind of game can be written up in 30 minutes or an hour. That doesn't mean you can't make a great game in that time, but it's hard and needs good luck. I'd like to see more length and/or effort and/or cool new idea.


INK, by Sangita V Nuli

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Surreal, abstract game about loss and ink, October 20, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a Texture game, involving dragging commands onto nouns, one of several written in a writing group and entered into IFComp.

This one deals with grief; a loved one is gone, and a letter from her appears and follows you.

I played through twice, one being peaceful and accepting, one being hateful and destructive. I felt like it made a lot more sense the second way. This game has poetic and abstract style, and I didn't connect with it. By that, I mean I would often read a page and feel like I couldn't remember anything I read or anything I felt. The words felt slippery in brain.

Overall I liked the branching paths, but I didn't like how the text often lacked paragraph breaks and sometimes changed font size dramatically from one page to the next; I know that can be a stylistic effect but I couldn't the connection between the text and the font size.

Overall, I like surreal games and enjoyed the 'dark' ending of this. But the formatting and phrasing threw me for a loop.


Lost at the market, by Nynym

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A surreal gruescript game about being lost in life and playing music, October 16, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

So I have to shout out this author for being the first person to release a Gruescript game in a competition outside of Robin Johnson (that I know of). It's a cool language and looks neat.

This is a surreal game where you explore various dreamscapes after having failed at a musical career.

In a contrast to Robin Johnson's puzzle-filled games, this is more of a thoughtful introspection game where you wander around and follow directions given in-text.

I love surreal games in general, and Gruescript is cool, so I have a lot of good feelings in general. The execution needs a lot of work, though. The author says they want to learn, so here are my thoughts on things that could be improved:
-I feel like there could be a little space between the output window and the room description window; it felt a little crowded (I don't know if this is adjustable?)
-Some buttons had underscores (Who_Am_I) and some had spaces; I think it would look better if they were standardized.
-Some options seem like they unintentionally lock the player out of an action; like going south in the very last area and finding the envelope. Even if you don't open it, you can't go back north.
-The writing is descriptive, but it often feels like something's off with punctuation. I had similar problems and always check my games with Grammarly (I promise this isn't an ad lol), may be useful here. by playing through and copying and pasting the output

Overall, I think the game could be substantially improved, so I'm giving a lower score for now, but I definitely think this is promising and would like to see more from this engine and from this author.


Through the Forest with the Beast, by Star

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A very brief RPG-style game about being marked and fleeing, October 13, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

In this Twine game, you play as someone born as a Beast, someone who is marked with a strange symbol. You have to run away to a place where everyone else is like you or respects you.

The game seems like it will be huge, with two input fields and 4 status bars or conditions. But I played to two different endings in less than 10 minutes, both of which seem like full stories.

There are a lot of great ideas here; the overall storyline, the lush background graphics and sounds, the compelling choices and the way even the writing responded to my actions. But it all feels very unfinished and unpolished, with some typos and grammatical errors (like 'corspes' for 'corpses'). This just needed more time, I think.


The Staycation, by Maggie H

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short texture game about horror with some emojis and pictures, October 12, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game was listed as a 2-hour game, so I was expecting the largest Texture game ever, but it turned out to be less than 15 minutes long.

In this game, your roommates are going on a trip while you are left behind. Alone in the night, you face a few frightening encounters, and have a disturbing morning.

This is a Texture game, where you drag actions onto nouns, and here all the actions are represented by emojis.

I had trouble forming a coherent story out of this; it's mostly vibes, but it seems to contain elements of anxiety, self-harm, and something weird involving your friends?

An interesting experiment, but not one the grabbed me. It's polished and descriptive, but I didn't form an emotional connection and struggled with the interactivity.


Desrosier's Discovery, by Ben Ehrlich and Isabel Stewart

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An amusing adventure with a custom engine about a lodge, August 10, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I've been playing Parsercomp games in the reverse order of their placement. This one is pretty low on the list, but I actually had fun with it.

It's a custom parser engine, and it could use a lot of work when compared with engines that have decades behind them, but I liked the look, the browser-readiness, and the quick response time, so I definitely think it has promise, better than many custom parsers I've seen.

The game is silly fun and somewhat reminiscent of Zork. You are asked to visit an old professor friend (I think?) and end up at a lodge with several mysterious objects and items around.

A lot of text is non-interactive in this story, with lots of items described followed by 'PRESS ENTER TO CONTINUE', which could lead to some disambiguation problems, but if you LOOK at the prompt it lists items in a big list, making it easier to know what you can interact with.

The structure branches a lot, which is a bit of a bummer as there is no save feature and replaying the beginning quickly gets repetitive. Replaying is more enjoyable if you can shake things up a little every time right from the get go.

I saw one typo, which is not that bad. I had some struggles at the end (this was my attempt at a happy ending after my bad ending revealed a surprising truth):
(Spoiler - click to show)
What will you do?


> hug beast


Undefined response.


> drop gun


Undefined response.


> say hello


What would you like to say?


> hi


What would you like to hi?


> x beast


A terrifying beast standing 12 feet tall. Its teeth and claws look razor sharp.


> give gun to beast


Undefined response.


> drop gun


Undefined response.


> l


I didn't understand that.


> look


There's a terrifying beast, and a bat swarmed exit.


> wait


I didn't understand that.


> stay


I didn't understand that.


> scream


I didn't understand that.


> x gun


It looks like an old service revolver. The wooden handle has been polished with sweat from decades of use.


> give gun


Undefined response.


> talk to yeti


What would you like to talk?


> x yeti


What would you like to examine?


> x beast


A terrifying beast standing 12 feet tall. Its teeth and claws look razor sharp.


> beast hello


The beast pauses.


PRESS ENTER TO CONTINUE




Despite some typos, I'm impressed with the polish for a game made by hand. I found it amusing, and played a couple of times.


Kondiac, by Picarly

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A demo for a game about searching a database for visual images, August 10, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game seems a lot like Her Story (a popular game where you search tons of short video clips interviewing a woman about a crime, and you have to find and use keywords to search; I think, I haven't played it) but it uses static images instead of videos.

There are only about 8 images and it's difficult to know what to type. I got most of the images from this intfiction thread:
https://intfiction.org/t/anyone-having-any-luck-with-kondiac/56651/3

Overall, this is just the beginning of the game, so it's really hard to evaluate how enjoyable it would be if finished. Right now, I'm assigning it a low score on my scale (which measure polish, interactivity, descriptiveness, emotional impact, and the desire to play again), but I could see an improved version being really fun.


python game, by theernis

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A basic sketch of an adventuring system written in Python, August 9, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game was entered into the recent 2022 Parsercomp.

This is a python game. When it begins, it has a neat little loading animation, then gives you a list of commands.

Gameplay consists of fighting, where you can attack or run away, plus eating to regain health and trading.

There are only a few simple encounters and locations, so it seems like most of the work went into the system. These kind of things are pretty hard to program, so I imagine that the author found it enjoyable to wrestle out how to program all the different activities.

Unfortunately, most of the work recreated things which were done before in other languages, and so from a player standpoint there's not a lot here that's new or exciting.
-Polish: The game is a bit buggy and could use more disambiguation and error messages.
-Descriptiveness: The game is fairly sparse
-Interactivity: It was a bit hard to figure out what to do
-Emotional impact: It doesn't seem designed for that.
-Would I play again? Probably not.


Wizard's Club, by Robert Szacki

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short ADL game about picking up and dropping items to get points, May 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This feels kind of like a game for the author to experiment with and/or learn ADL.

It's a .exe file that leads to a simple game with < 10 rooms. Most rooms have 1 item. There are several characters you interact with using TALK CHARACTER. Instead of GIVING items, you PUT items in different places. The game ends right when you get the final point, closing down instantly without waiting to display the end text.

The writing is minimal, there isn't a strong connecting narrative. The puzzles are logical, though. If this was a trial run for the author to check out the language, it succeeded. I'm very glad there was a tutorial, as most games written in .exe parser are hard to navigate, so that's a definite plus here!


Phenomena, by Dawn Sueoka

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
UFO cycling twine poetry, May 1, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short anthology of 7 poems.

Each poem consists of a few lines, each of which has cycling text.

You can either read the poem straight through and then cycle each line, or cycle through one line at a time. Or anything else you like! So it essentially is a collection of two-dimensional poems, which I like.

The poems are all about aliens, and saucers, and changes, and doubt. With its combination of obscure meanings and occasional goofy lines it reminded me a bit of Subterranean Homesick Alien or Decks Dark by Radiohead.

I appreciated this anthology intellectually, especially its polish and design, but didn't feel emotionally engaged for some reason or another.


A D R I F T, by Pinkunz

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An unfinished space parser game with graphics, May 1, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short parser game set in space. It has neat little pixelart graphics at the top.

Like another reviewer, I had a bit of trouble realizing I had to hit enter to start the game (might be worth adding a 'hit enter to continue' text on the title screen).

The game has you floating in space. There's not much to do besides cry, it seems at first, but fortunately the game has implemented a lot of little actions to add character. But then the real puzzles start (for me, I started by (Spoiler - click to show)examining my suit, if anyone's stuck).

Besides being longer, the best thing the game could do is get more transcripts from players and responding to even more actions than are in the game (for instance, I think TURN ME should give a different response).

It also might be worth splitting up some of the complex actions into more parts; I typed in one command and the game had a big, complex scenario where I tried things over and over again until I figured it out. It might have been more fun to do that myself instead of having it described to me.


Confessing to a Witch, by HeckinRobin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A lovely but incomplete demo for a romantic magical game, May 1, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game has plenty of potential but is still in the early stages.

Right now, it's a completely linear intro with some nice music and some placeholder images with a charming feel. You are a young witch ready to profess your love, but when you arrive at your sweetheart's door, she's gone, and only a fragment of a spell is left to give evidence.

And that's it. Would play the full thing, when it comes out.


Crow Quest, by rookerie
A short, amusing story of a crow with nice graphics, April 23, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a visually very nice game, and funny, too.

It's a short twine game where you play as a crow with an attitude and intentionally bad spelling (basically 'no u' times 100). Your attitude, is, in fact, measured, and you 'win' by getting the highest attitude.

We played this in the Seattle If Meetup and I played it after, as well.

It's fairly brief, and amusing. It seems to have some kind of randomization or procedural generation, as you can get different events on different playthroughs.

There's some mild profanity. Overall, it's not too long so if the above sounds appealing, try it out.


The Fall of Asemia, by B.J. Best
Archaeology and translation game with audio and glyphs, April 23, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is an interesting experiment, reminicscent of Heaven's Vault or Short's First Draft of the Revolution, but I think it falls a bit short from both.

You plays as a translator, given glyphs in the ancient language of Asemia. Clicking on glyphs gives you other glyphs. After you go to the next page or two, a translation appears.

Asemia was a place of hard things, where people died and soldiers destroyed. The music and the extra-translatory dialogue also deals with this.

To me, the biggest difficulty I had was in the obfuscatory interactivity. What does clicking do? The same glyphs and stories came up multiple times, sometimes with different translations, and sometimes with the same. Do my actions, cycling through glyphs, change the output, or do you automatically get different results each time?

And it just doesn't make sense from a translation viewpoint. The glyphs you cycle through are very distinct from each other, so it's not like you are trying to guess what different words are in the language. It would make more sense to cycle through the translation of a fixed glyph, like Heaven's Vault does.

I'm sure there could be a deeper meaning to everything, but I didn't find it. Lovely visuals and graphics, though, and the writing is solid.


fix it, by Lily Boughton
OCD/anxiety/sensory processing simulator, April 23, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a compact twine game where you attempt to go about your day despite a minor annoyance.

The bulk of the game is a long loop about dealing with the annoyance.

Quite a bit of it reminds me of my friends with sensory processing disorders including certain forms of autism, where they have to go to other rooms to avoid noise or where head-cancelling headphones.

Some of it, though, seems more directly tied to OCD, like repetitive hand-washing behaviors.

Its overall message about how to deal with these things isn't something I can personally vouch for; however, the techniques described do seem related to those I've used to manage depression, so I could see them being valid in this situation.

Overall, I think the structure is interesting, but I feel like it could have been developed a bit more, hit home more.


Good Grub!, by Damon L. Wakes
Smugness simulator: Edutainment about eating bugs, April 23, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game's tone reads like a game parody of Neil deGrasse Tyson's 'well, actually' twitter posts (like when he pointed out that leap day isn't the earth actually leaping). The tone is very heavy-handed and smug, with the game literally telling you 'you made a wrong choice, make better choices in the future'.

I'm sure it's a parody, but a well-made simulation of an annoying thing is still an annoying thing.

Otherwise the writing is sharp and word choices and images are clever.

Message-wise, I think the concept of humanity eating bugs is just fine; I love shrimp, and shrimp is more revolting-looking than other insects. But it helps that I was fed shrimp at an early age; I got used to it, and I'm not used to bugs.

Overall interesting, but, to me, too successful at imitating an annoying person.


Hinterlands: Marooned!, by Cody Gaisser
One-move game about you, an island, and a monster, April 22, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short, one-move game from the author of the iterative Locked Door series.

You are alone with a hideous monster on a planet, alone and marooned. Most actions end the game immediately, with some kind of effect, while others give you more info.

A lot of work went into this. Decompiling this, there are a ton of verbs being implemented here.

Many of the results are similar to each other, but at least they're coherent. I got a Sisyphan vibe from the game (maybe projecting; I like Sisyphan things).

I can say I found it pretty funny when I realized what the general theme was. Worth trying out due to its short, easy-to-try length.


Let's Talk Alex, by Stephanie Smith
An accurate depiction of a controlling/abusive relationship, April 19, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Whew! This game brought back a lot of memories.

It's a game that doesn't take too long to play. You are a person with an abusive significant other, Alex (I read the protagonist as coded female and the antagonist as coded male, but the game is purposely ambiguous and uses they/them pronouns for Alex).

Alex does things that are expressed as being for your best interest, but really they are for their own selfish interest. Keeping your away from your friends and family on social media , moving to be closer to their family but away from your friends and family, constantly worried that you will cheat (yep), shaming you for interests they're not into. All of which I've experienced in real life.

Actually, contemplating this game made me zone out for about an hour, thinking about things, and I wrote a big personal essay about it and realized I never finished this review. I guess I'll have to give this game points for emotional impact, that's sure. I found the choice structure not as compelling, but I can't think of any recommendations for it. It has real interactivity and limited options, but I feel it could be somehow pushed a little more. Overall, a game that has unsettled me to my core.


You, Me and Coffee, by Florencia Minuzzi

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Branching mini-stories over coffee, April 13, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a Bitsy game with 6 different main paths. Bitsy is a visual equivalent to Twine, using simple graphics and arrow keys, although this particular game has some more elaborate images.

Instead of moving a character like most Bitsy games, you navigate a conversation menu. It's a rainy day, and you walk in to see an old friend you haven't seen through years. Different conversations seem to give completely different friends; or do they? There's another thread at the end which is interesting.

Overall, I found this game polished, descriptive, and the interactivity matched its length. I don't think I'd play it again, but it was emotionally interesting to me.


Cosž fan tutte (prologue), by Julien Zamor

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An ink implementation of the famous opera in French, February 22, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is an entrant into the 2022 French IFComp. It is a prologue that covers the first scene or so of Mozart's opera Cosi Fan Tutte.

It's very appealing visually, with a detailed backdrop and avatars for speakers.

Overall, I found it solid, but I felt less capable of making decisions that change the story. Most options were about reacting, with a few important actions. I wasn't sure if anything was being tracked, but at the end it listed my stats and showed that I had changed things a bit. It might be good to have a way to check that more often in the finished game!


Locked Door IV: Safety In Numbers, by Cody Gaisser

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A compact but tricky multi-stage puzzle to open a door, January 24, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This series of games starts with a simple puzzle in the first entry (just a locked door) but adds puzzles every time.

This entry is quite complex compared to earlier entries, with a broad map, numerous tools and items, an NPC, easter eggs, etc.

However, some bugs and typos have crept in, like 'bathroom' being lower case and some synonyms not being set (like for the (Spoiler - click to show)safe, where 'set' and 'turn' don't work but 'turn' does).

So the game isn't polished, but it is more descriptive and compelling than the others.


Locked Door III: Crate Expectations, by Cody Gaisser

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
The third iteration of a minimalist game, with a real puzzle, January 24, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This version of the Locked Door series (which adds more and more puzzles to the original) introduces the first real puzzle, although its fairly simple.

Rather than the original two rooms, there are now 5, with one room included in another.

There was a bug in this one, where trying to (Spoiler - click to show)open the crate without (Spoiler - click to show)the crowbar will (Spoiler - click to show)increase the score and partially act like you have the crowbar but not open. Given the smallness of the game, I think it could have been error-free.


Locked Door II: Fair Trade, by Cody Gaisser

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Slightly more complex than the first game, January 24, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is part of an iterative series, where every new episode builds on the last.

This one adds an NPC and requires a single somewhat complex interaction, as well as making the final room one step longer. It's reasonably well polished, and I was amused/intrigued by the iterative concept, making it more emotionally impactful than the first.


Locked Door, by Cody Gaisser

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Almost the smallest game possible with a locked door, January 24, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is essentially one of the coding examples from the Inform manual. It consists of two rooms, one with a locked door and a key. There are no real surprises; decompiling shows no hidden content.

The game is polished, but is not descriptive, has little interactivity, low emotional impact, and I wouldn't really play again. According to my rating system, it's 1 star.


Deep in the Spooky Scary Woods, by Healy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short, classic-style Halloween CYOA set in the woods, November 14, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is just a choose-your-own adventure story with a Halloween theme. You are alone in the woods with various options, and have two encounters with strange creatures. Your reactions to the strange creatures (at least the second one) determines your ending.

It's pretty short and the interaction isn't too strong. I found it relatively funny and played through it a couple of times. It feels very 'halloween'-y, so if you're in the mood for a shoot spooky treat, this is a good option.


This Person Is Not My Father, by N. Cormier

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short, linear twine tale about a true-life parental tragedy, November 14, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short Twine entry in Ectocomp 2021 and is, I believe from comments on intfiction, based on a true story.

You are a young girl with a generally kind and loving father. He begins acting strangely, though, and you try to come up with a hypothesis to explain his behavior. But nothing you do helps...

The game has some options, but is generally structured linearly. The game has custom styling, but the majority of the game's strength resides in its matter-of-fact storytelling of an emotional and complex issue. I found it polished, descriptive, emotionally compelling, and with just enough dynamic energy to push the story forward; however, I don't see much replay value. That would make it a 4-star game under my rubric.


The Fable of the Kabu, by Jorge GarcŪa Colmenar

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short graphical game with text narrative about a baby nightmare, November 14, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is written in Mosi, which apparently is like Bitsy but for mobile. Both platforms are used to do basic pixel art and to have little 'interaction spots' that bring up text and change the environment somewhat.

This game has you wandering around as an egg in the world of nightmares, eventually encountering others of your kind and humans. I explored a lot but saw some parts I couldn't reach. One part of the game was still in spanish, but the rest was translated well.

There was some freedom as to what to do, but overall the game left me wondering a lot about the main character and didn't really fill in very much, so I didn't feel a strong emotional connection to the game, nor did I find it very descriptive or have a strong desire to replay.


Sommelier Nuit, by GusFuss

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An unfinished game about guessing types of blood, November 14, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a game with a lot of good ideas that get kind of lost in execution.

It was written in 4 hours, and not finished. It uses interesting color styling for the background, links and plain text that generally works well (although some inline links are hard to see, being merely bolded).

It sets up an interesting competition where you sample a blood's color, odor and taste and use that to guess its original owner's age, last thoughts, etc.

Only one scenario is programmed. I guessed wrong, but an error in the game let me go on; however, it merely went to a page that said 'this is how far I could get in four hours'.

The text that is here is detailed and interesting, but in most ways it is unfinished and not ready for play.


LIDO, by Elizabeth Smyth

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A creepy short Ectocomp game, November 13, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is an excellent creepy short Twine game made for Ectocomp in less than 4 hours.

It features custom CSS styling that nicely represents multiple worlds. You play as someone swimming in a pool that serves as a sort of portal to a darker (or lighter?) world.

There are 3 endings, one of which took me a while to find. The writing is nice and tight, the pacing is good for a short game, and it's visually appealing.

I had to look up the name, as a US resident. Apparently a Lido refers to a public outdoor swimming area, which makes sense since that's what this game is all about.


My Flat, by ZipLockBagMan

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short story about an evil apartment, November 12, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a fairly short twine game made in 4 hours for Ectocomp 2021 (Petite Morte division).

In it, there is an interesting take on viewpoint as the main text is from the point of view of your (evil) apartment, while your choices are your own.

There is a short part introducing the setup, followed by a puzzle part with limited moves.

I found two endings, but both were pretty depressing, so I'm not sure if I 'won' or not.

-Polish: The game seemed bug free, but had little in the way of styling (which makes sense for a speed-IF!)
+Descriptiveness: The gam isn't heavy on environmental details but has a distinct voice.
+Interactivity: I enjoyed the main puzzle
-Emotional impact: I felt like I didn't have time to really absorb the chillingness, and the two endings weren't strongly differentiated
-Would I play again? I feel like I got the whole message in the first go.


All the Colors of the Rainbow, by Milo van Mesdag

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Multi-colored horror personality quiz?, November 12, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a Twine game about a book. The book is said to drive people to madness.

The book is associated with 7 colors, and each of those colors with different (dark) facets of life. You first read about others who took on those colors, then read the book itself, and choose a future, associating yourself with a color/facet.

There's a weird fact in writing that if you use too much darkness, gore, or sexual references, it goes right past being powerful and/or disturbing and goes straight to silliness/camp, and I think that's what's happened here. For instance: (Spoiler - click to show)YoU doNít knoW True JoY. StiCk youR FiNger in your eYe, put a KniFe throUgh youR TonGue. The writing is so extreme, ranging from insanity to guts to strong profanity to bizarre sexual references, that it loses a lot of its effectiveness. I think it could have benefited from being contrasted with something else, like more specific, concrete details or reactions from the PC that show how a human would feel about this, etc. What we don't see in fiction is often far more effective than what we do.

Of course, reading is completely subjective, and I could easily imagine a review saying 'This was amazing! The variety of voices, the visceral details, I loved it!', so I encourage people to try it for themselves.


Crumbs 3: The Last Crumb, by Katie Benson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Deal with a struggling food bank and personal decisions, November 11, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is the third game in the Crumbs series by Katie Benson, all of which deal with a struggling foodbank and the effects of Brexit. All games in the series are speed-IFs.

In this one, your foodbank is one of many across the UK which are being pressured into closing by HappyHealth, a government-backed private company taking over health care in the nation.

You can call three people to discuss the foodbank, deciding what to share with them, what to ask them about. Then you make the final decision.

Each person seemed real, and the text was interesting. I felt like I had some interesting choices. However, there was a bug where I talked to Trudka and then Mom, but the game thought I had talked to Mika instead, so it looped me in talking to Mom over and over. I solved it by talking to Trudka, then Mika, then mom.

(Edit: In the latest version, this bug has been fixed).


Fat Ass, by Naomi Norbez (call me Bez)

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Kinetic fiction about demons and obesity, November 11, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I played both versions of this game: the 'basic' 0.5 mb strippd-down version and the full 800 mb version with multimedia. The latter is definitely better, since the contrast of blocky white letters on black background makes the basic version hard to read.

This is a fairly short game, as typical for Ectocomp games, but maximizes its content by being choice-free. This style is sometimes known as Kinetic fiction, which draws its interaction potential from our own self-pacing and choosing to further the story. It doesn't always work for me, but when the writing is good, like here, I like it. Another good example is Polish the Glass.

The story is about a woman whose mother hates fat and pressures her to make a deal with a demon that would keep her skinny forever...until it didn't.

I've seen a lot of discussion of fatphobia online, with camps who are extremely upset with each other. The most extreme on one side get extremely upset at any online posts showing a person who's not skinny, while the most extreme on the other claim that obesity doesn't cause any health problems.

This game focuses on a gentler course than either of those extremes. Instead of telling us whether fatness is good or bad, it asks us to decouple our personal sense of worth from our body size; we can still make plans on decide what to do with our weight, but not to please others or out of shame.

I think that's an important message, since a guilt-fueled obsession with weight can lead to many bad habits that are worse than simply being overweight in the first place, such as eating disorders.


Return to Castle Veederstone ...for the first time ...for the last time, by Stewart C Baker

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A blend of game types in a spoof on Castle Balderstone, November 11, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

For several years now, Ryan Veeder has entered a game with a variation on th name Tales from Castle Balderstone. Previously, these games were parser games that contained many 'mini games' with a framing story that you were being guided around a castle that was holding a contest or reading of short horror stories, with each story being one game. The narrator of the framing story speaks to you directly as a guest, and is usually Ryan Veeder himself.

This game spoofs that general idea, but instead of parser games, it uses Ink, Twine, and Choicescript (possibly more). In an interesting twist, this year's real Castle Balderstone game also blends platforms by using both Twine and parser.

This game uses the same framing device, except now there are more Ryan Veeders; in fact, everyone is a Ryan Veeder.

The overall switching between systems is impressive, but the game has numerous errors, such as doubled periods in the Twine system and a game-crashing mis-defined variable 'raven' in the Choicescript section. My game ended abruptly after the Choicescript section with a screen that I could only see when not in full screen but couldn't click on, so I assume that was the ending.

Overall, the game has funny elements (such as the stats screen of the Choicescript section). I feel, though, that it misses the mark a bit. Castle Balderstone is already a humor/parody series, so making a parody of it is like making a copy of a copy, kind of how Scary Movie made fun of Scream which made fun of earlier horror stories. Part of what makes Castle Balderstone games work so well is that, within the framing, the stories can be seen as completely earnest and actually work quite well as sincerely creepy or heartfelt stories; the games also serve as a combination dumping ground/testing ground for interesting game concepts, many of which are completely new or at least relatively uncommon in the parser scene. This game has a touch of that (with blending Ink, Twine, and Choicescript), but in the end I was left a bit disappointed.

-Polish: I found several bugs, including game-crashing
-Descriptiveness: The game is pretty vague
+Interactivity: I liked the switching systems and some of the mechanics
-Emotional impact: Like I said above, it didn't really grab me.
+Would I play again? Yes, especially if the bugs were fixed!


Your Death, in two acts, by Amanda Walker

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Emily Dickinson, twice, November 10, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a Petite Mort game, meaning it was created in 4 hours or less.

The author has chosen two lovely Emily Dickinson poems focused on death and the afterlife. The author has turned them into a parser game as minimally as possible, so that looking or some other simple action is all that is needed to get the next action.

Most adaptations fail when they go 'off the rails', since people's writing is rarely as good as the original they're adapting, so choosing to be faithful to the original was a great choice.

Of course a game written in 4 hours tends not to be super polished, but I like the imagination here and the concept is done well.


The Crew, by Olaf Nowacki

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A micro-story in space with growing horror, November 9, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a fairly short horror story set in space.

You wake up in a food storage area of a ship with all the food running out. You have to exit and explore your ship. The general feel is uncertainty, terror, and wistfulness.

It's a small game, only 4 locations. The writing has a nice creepiness.

Overall, it felt a little spare, a little far in the direction of minimalism, especially the final room.


The Miller's Garden, by Damon L. Wakes

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A short and simple game with surprisingly little feedback, October 24, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I took a lot of ballroom dance classes in college, and I remember one of the biggest problems a pair could have is noodle arms. If the arms are rigid, the two dancers can communicate effectively, but if they're lose, dancers tend to step on and run into each other.

This game has some good ideas but has so little feedback. I had no idea what was going on until I peaked at the code.

Gameplay-wise, you wake up and have 3-4 areas you can take care of by watering, removing trash, etc. (Spoilers for ending and mechanic)(Spoiler - click to show)This lasts for 7 days, and, each day, the river grows bigger, removing gameplay areas unless you shore it up enough the day before.

For me, it was difficult to see any effect of my actions, besides the immediate ones of watering and such. (Spoiler - click to show)The effect of the river was indicated by the absence of old text, not the presence of new, and as I was shoring up a lot from the beginning, I saw few changes. This, for me, made the game more or less a tedium simulator. Even once I knew what was going on, I had no real reason to care for either out come, because I was nobody in a nobody land. I can see the thought experiment, but it just didn't pan out for me.


My Gender Is a Fish, by Carter Gwertzman

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Gender identity through metaphor, October 24, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This brief Twine game has you exploring a forest after you accidentally (Spoiler - click to show)lose your gender. Lookin around, you try to understand and search for gender identity through metaphor.

There are only 4 or 5 choices in the game, but there is meaningful choice. The game invites you to understand what is meant by gender roles and identity.

In the end, the choice isn't all yours; regardless of your choices, the game will not (Spoiler - click to show)allow you to choose your old identity.

I found the game to be polished and descriptive, despite its brevity, and was in some ways emotionally moving, although I don't think I'll revisit it.


This Won't Make You Happy, by Mike Gillis

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A quirky Twine game about exploring a fantasy-based cave, October 24, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

In this game you explore a small cave with different fantasy creatures and gems and such in it.

This game is part of a small genre of games best described as 'quirky twine game based in a cave/dungeon that riffs on the silly parts of fantasy games but also has feels and is generally a simple branching structure with little state tracking'.

Other entries in the genre include Just Get the Treasure v0.9.1, Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir (a more complex example), TOMBs of Reschette, The Cave (a less humorous example), The Thing About Dungeons, etc.

This game is definitely on the zanier end. My son first got into Twine with games like this when he was 5, like Escape from the Crazy Place, because it's fun to do silly things like (in this cave) refusing to enter the cave from the get go. For me, as an adult, I still think it can be fun at times.

For some reason one of the passages didn't work at all for me on PC chrome, but it did when I loaded it up in the Twinery app (the one all in cyan that's on time delays).

Overall, I think that this game has some entertainment value, but I think it didn't offer very much new.


How it was then and how it is now, by Pseudavid

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Abstraction, surrealism and relationships, October 23, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

There is a long history of using surreal, abstract worlds to describe relationships in interactive fiction, with Plotkin's game So Far coming to mind as an early example.

This game pushes that trend to its logical extreme. You are with a woman, walking through an abstract maze that is navigated by identifying three-dimensional solids (except (Spoiler - click to show)they're aren't really any of the options, making it guess and check) or picking out numbers in a pattern. The maze has a negative effect on those who guess wrong, (Spoiler - click to show)turning them into geometric solids.

Pseudavid is an accomplished Twine writer with an extensive back catalogue (I particularly recommend Master of the Land and The Good People). This game contains hints of those earlier games, but has reached such a level of abstraction that I honestly had trouble piecing out what was going on or making connections or 'aha' moments. In other words, this game was over my head.

+Polish: The game was very smooth
-Descriptiveness: It was quite vague. The writing is good when zoomed in but when zoomed out seems to lack content:
(Spoiler - click to show)Oh, still salty about it, aren't we? Of course you wouldn't forget it. So, what's the final tally? Very, very good! But not perfect. How should I take it?'
-Interactivity. The game is meant to be played once, but has pass/fail mechanics and inscrutable choices. I suppose winning may not be the point, but as its set up it seems to be a frustration simulator.
-Emotional impact: I bounced off hard
+Would I play again? The game suggests not to, so I won't, but naturally I'd be interested in seeing other paths.


Taste of Fingers, by V Dobranov

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An unpleasant man in an unpleasant situation, October 23, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I recently played through a game that used pedophilia for its shock factor, to show you just how bad the villains were. I mentioned in a review there how I dislike playing games that heavily feature pedophilia, regardless of the overlying message.

This game is similar, in that it uses something morally wrong (in this case, flagrant racism) to tell a a story. There are effective stories you can tell about racism, but this game uses unchallenged racist terms and ideas, leaving the player to make their own conclusions at the end.

I do believe the author intends this piece to have an overall anti-racist message. (spoiler for ending) (Spoiler - click to show)Your character turns out to be the true monster, and what seemed hideous monsters attacking him, saying things he couldn't understand, were soldiers of the race he hated. But that's only after we spent the rest of the game with characters saying things like (Spoiler - click to show)'all Asian women are ugly', 'mongoloids', 'sub-human'. It's like when an acquaintance repeatedly insults you but says 'just joking!', or back-handed compliments like 'I completely disagree with all your friends who say that you look like a hideous pile of cow pies'. It felt over the line, for me.

Overall, the game was polished. The only interactivity is choosing which memories to remember, and you don't have time to remember them all. I did experience an emotional reaction to the game.

When I play games, I immerse myself in the protagonist. And this is a protagonist I do not wish to identify with.

My 3 stars represents my overall rubric: polish, descriptiveness, and emotional impact.


Infinite Adventure, by B.J. Best (writing as ďA. ScottsĒ)

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Procedurally generated mini-adventures in DOS, October 3, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is intended to run in a DOS emulator such as DOSBOX. It has a nice aesthetic; there was a guy a few years ago who would constantly crank out BASIC games that ran in DOS and their best feature was the cool ascii art and overall look and style, and this game has that.

The parser may be a heavily modified Inform, but is more likely some kind of custom parser, since it doesn't understand standard Inform verbs like VERBOSE or PULL ME.

Gameplay is procedurally generated. You are in a maze of a house with NESW directions and one item or less per room. One of the items is a 'goal' (in my 11 playthroughs, I saw a wet elf, hungry goblin, pedestal with inscription, chest, etc.) and one of the other items is meant to be picked up and put in the goal.

I had always wanted to write a game like this as a meta-commentary on generic adventures, a game that would have random aesthetics and map but always be about gathering 'something' to put in a trophy-case analogue. But I never got around to it, and this game is a better implementation of my vision, so I'm glad to play this and see a better version of my own dreams.

In the end, of course, the game is very slight. It itches my 'play an adventure' desire, just like Nick Montfort's Amazing Quest last year, but that's it.

Mild spoiler if you haven't looked through other comp games: (Spoiler - click to show)This game seems to be part of a pair, since BJ Best has a game called "And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One" that appears to have you play a pair of kids who are playing this very game, with the same text and same credits.

(Spoiler - click to show)There may be something hidden in the game, perhaps a secret that must be communicated between BJ Bests games, of which there are three (I saw on adventuron discord that he entered an adventuron game as well). I'll change my rating if I see anything new from those games.


A AAAAA AAAAAAAAA, by AAAA AAAAAAA

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A fairly short and silly game where all coded responses are A's, September 15, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game uses only the letter A in all of its descriptions. It retains inform's original error messages though.

Like SCP-5251, the puzzle here is figuring out what words would fit into the given spaces. Fortunately, it's based on (Spoiler - click to show)a classic type of adventure puzzle. I only figured that out by looking at the comments of other reviews.

-Polish: The game could certainly have commited harder by implementing more error messages and nouns.
+Descriptiveness: The whole puzzle depends on the way the descriptions are written.
-Interactivity: There could have been a lot more meat here.
+Emotional impact: I found the idea fun.
-Would I play again? No.


Sohoek Ekalmoe, by Caleb Wilson

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A beautiful short game where you play as a plant, September 13, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a lovely little game by Caleb Wilson, one of many games of his involving magical plants.

In this one, you are at the bottom of a well with a piece of nearby sunlight. You want to grow but you just aren't strong enough.

This game is brief but with excellent characterization and strong writing, reminding me a bit of Out by Sobol, although less metaphorical. There are nice bits of world-building as well.


Daddy's Birthday, by Jonathan8

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A cute little birthday game written by a kid, August 2, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game was co-written by an 8-year-old girl and her father. Having a kid around that age that I've made IF games with, I completely enjoyed this game and thought it was cute.

I never had any problems with the parser, and I think the young author's fresh perspective allowed some surprising responses that weren't in the norm.

The 'puzzles' were simple to follow and interactivity flowed well.

Overall, a very pleasant little game. Very small, and very fun; what a nice experience for a family team.


Yesternight, by Robert Szacki

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A tiny parser game in AdvSys, August 1, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

The author has said elsewhere that this is just a small game that will be more polished later on.

It uses the AdvSys language, which is capable of making very powerful games but requires a lot of work to get going. Unfortunately, this game doesn't have all that work.

It is very small, with only one real puzzle, all of whose steps are clear, but it's hard to type them in. Here are my attempts at one of the most important steps:

(Spoiler - click to show)
>pour water
I don't understand.
>water flower
I don't understand.
>empty bottle
I don't know the word 'empty'.
>put water on flower
I don't know the word 'put'.
>pour bottle
Nothing happens.
>give water
I don't understand.
>give bottle
Nothing happens.
>open bottle
I don't know the word 'open'.
>put water
I don't know the word 'put'.


The real answer was (Spoiler - click to show)'pour flower'.

My score of a 1 reflects the games lack of polish and verbs and general unfinished state. I 100% believe that with more time the author could make something marvelous.


Closet of Mystery, by Michael Cox

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A tiny game with some fun twists, May 17, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is perhaps the shortest in the PunyInform jam, and it isn't perfect, but it has a lot of distinct advantage over its competitors:

-it has an overarching narrative
-it fits several twists into a 3-move game
-most objects are implemented more than the other games implement their objects

As surprise is the main feature of the game, I suppose I won't say much more. You start in a pub broom closet with a knife holding a note onto the wall.


A strange dream, by AnaÔs Tn

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A raw quest file that is in no way finished, April 16, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a raw, uncompiled Quest file with a few locations and items. Many actions are built in to the descriptions and the only properties that seem to be used here are descriptions, locations, items being portable or not, and containers. For instance, the front door is a location you can enter and it contains a lock.

There is no ending, but there is a suggestion of an ending given in the description printed when trying to take some items.

This is essentially an outline for a game.


The Secret of Nara, by Ralfe Rich

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short branching twine game about an animal in the forest, April 14, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This nice-looking Twine game is by Ralfe Rich, an author I've seen a few games by in recent years.

It's a peaceful tale where you play a kind of wild creature (I imagined a moose or deer) wandering about, choosing whether to be solitary or part of a group, etc.

The branching structure has some early endings and some later endings, allows for some customization of personality but little strategy, as endings generally come as a surprise.

The writing is pretty but vague, so vague that it loses some of its charm. I think it could have been grounded more somehow, with more specificity or data from the senses. For instance:

"You are not sure what to make of such things. You have been fixed in what you know and believe for so long. Such thoughts dance in your mind as you question if your being is taking on a metamorphosis. Changing what you value, what you hold dear.
"

I think this is poetic, but these words could apply to almost every character in every story in every genre. I could use a little more about this story, now. There's some of that later on.


Cycles (Excerpt), by Mike Marttila

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
The opening chapter of a family-and-memory ink game, April 13, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

The Back Garden of Spring Thing this year strongly resembles Introcomp. Many of these games are just excerpts or intros into longer games.

Sam Kabo Ashwell has done a lot of introcomp reviews in the past, and one thing he mentions a lot (though I can't find a direct link) is how intros are most interesting when they depict what the main gameplay will be like. In my experience, too, it's good to have the first chapter of your game set the expectation for what the main game will be like.


In this game, though, I get the impression that the rest of the game will be nothing like the intro at all, neither in setting, nor tone, nor mechanics. So it's very hard to get an idea if the finished game will be enjoyable or not.

As for the game itself, you play as a woman invited to a family reunion with people she hasn't seen in 12 years (as well as others she has, like her father). The game lets you choose what kind of attitude to have towards your family as the main interaction. Then there is a twist.

The overall writing was descriptive and had a distinct voice. I often felt like my choices didn't make too much of a difference or allow me to characterize myself consistently, and I would have liked that.


An Amical Bet, by Eve Cabaniť

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short uncompiled Quest file about stealing stuff, April 12, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short Quest game about theft in a very unpolished state.

The game is a raw quest file. There are a few objects scattered around a big map, with descriptions, and some are take-able and some are not. There is a single condition you have to meet to win.

Your character is a woman who has frequently lusty reactions to things around her.

I think I saw this was a school project. As a school project, I think it's great; I've taught game design courses before and having something like this that is both winnable and has things mostly described is actually pretty great.

But under my usual rating system, I would consider this unpolished, with uninspiring interactivity, little emotional impact and not one I plan on revisiting.


Miss No-Name, by Bellamy Briks

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A charming short Twine game with many endings, April 6, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is short but has a lot of different branches. It's not really a time cave, since some branches come together, so it's interesting.

There's a girl at your school who is icy-cold and intimidates teachers to keep them from saying her name. Therefore, no one knows it, so you take a bet to find out.

There are a lot of paths, most resembling cute high school movie tropes.

I liked the game; the writing was cute, the characters charming. The backstory seems a bit sad but relatable. I always felt that writing a game is like sharing a bit of your soul with others, and reading/playing that game is a way of honoring and accepting that.

I guess my main drawback for the game is that it mostly amounts to guessing what each action will do, and I wish there was a way to puzzle it out more; but that's just me and not everyone may feel that way.


Une vie entiŤre, by Doublure Stylo

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short demo of a 'birth to death' game in Ink, written in French, February 16, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game has a cute concept but needs a lot more work.

Right now, it starts when you are born and stop right when you get to school.

It will detail an event in your life, possibly unlocking a new skill. Then you can use a new skill, continue, or pick from different baby language like 'gaga' or 'ouuiiiinnn' ('whaaaahhhhhh').

Choosing to use your special skills generally seemed to have no effect except possibly on one occasion. The baby language was confusing, and the game ended very quickly.

It definitely has promise and possibility, but needs far more work before it is complete.

-Polish: The game is not finished
+Descriptive: The text is fairly generic, but it's engaging enough that I would have kept reading.
-Interactivity: Hard to know what options do, many similar choices
-Emotional impact: It was hard to engage due to all of the above.
+Would I play again? If it were finished. And I would definitely increase the score then!


Atlantide: La quÍte de la citť engloutie, by Bryan

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short Twine game in French about passing the challenges of the Gods, January 31, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is part of the French comp. In it, you and a bunch of other students accidentally summon the Gods who give you two tasks to complete. Once you do so, you earn a special secret from the Gods.

I thought the idea was generally entertaining, but the game could have used more 'something'. More options, or more details, or more focus.

Here is my overall rating:

-Polish: There were various typos at different times.
-Interactivity: It felt pretty constrained most of the time. The best part was when it opened up to a whole island, but most options there had the same results.
+Emotional impact: I felt like it was a fun, silly game.
+Descriptiveness: I thought the author had some enthusiastic and fun descriptions.
-Would I play again? It's pretty much the same each playthrough.


Howled House, by B Minus Seven

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A B-minus game with a strong sense of place, December 25, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

B-minus makes surreal poetic games where you have to puzzle out the meaning, if there is any fixed meaning.

Some of those games work really well for me and others not as well.

This one from a few years ago has a navigable 'map'. It's made in raconteur, and gives an effect similar to Twine.

The map is a house with three wings, each with two rooms, each with an object inside.

If there's any way to combine the objects, I haven't found it. The hint of a coherent structure paired with incoherent elements confused me more than if there weren't any structure at all, kind of like the famous 'Cow Tools' Far Side cartoon.

+Polish: Worked great, looks good.
+Descriptive: Very well-written.
-Interactivity: Not sure what's going on.
+Emotional impact: Some good parts in here, I liked the grave dirt and the opening.
-Would I play again? I'm not sure what to look for here.


Bring Me A Head!, by Chandler Groover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A horror Twine item-trading game with complex code, December 14, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is polished and well-done, but I think I admire the coding more than the game itself.

You play as an executioner of some sort in a dark castle. This castle seems to me like a prototype of the one in Eat Me, with a similar cast of bizarre creatures and vaguely reminiscent layouts. But castles in games tend to be similar, so it's probably in my head.

You're required to find a head for your master in this game, so you have to explore the castle, finding what you can and trading it for better things.

The complexity comes from two things: the styling (boxes around progress links, none around 'aside' links, glowing words to represent runes), and the way that each character has a unique reaction to each item you carry.

+Polish: Very complex and smooth.
+Descriptive: Rich writing
-Interactivity: While there are some clues, it felt mostly like searching over and over for the right person to talk to.
+Emotional impact: It was unsettling
-Would I play again? It was good for a short game, but I think once is enough.


10 Lost Boys, by Mark Sample

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A game about the wayward paths of children, December 11, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is thought-provoking, and I don't know quite how I feel about it one way or another.

At its core, it's a character generator with 10 options per choice. It's very short, with more than half the play time (for me) dedicated to the achingly slow text in the opening few screens.

It's posited as a generator for the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. However, it always ends up with a darker twist:
(Spoiler - click to show)you are actually creating white supremacists.. The game ends with a scene from your character's childhood, now with a different shade of meaning from the opening scenes.

Production-wise, this is excellent styling, music and css animations, the kind you'd expect from the author of Babyface.

Content-wise, I'm torn. On the one hand, the feeling I get from the game is that (Spoiler - click to show)it 'others' the white supremacists by making them seem like creatures very different from us, the reader, someone with with we have no connection and no relation. I worry that that hides the deeper issues, as I feel like most white supremacy is hidden inside otherwise-normal looking people, and by relegating it to the 'frightening other' in media we neglect looking within ourselves. On the other hand, the narrative is designed in a way to humanize its characters and track their journey, so maybe I'm wrong.

The other issue I think about is the way some things are lumped together. For instance, I know (Spoiler - click to show)many white supremacists, if not the majority, use religion as a pretext. But not all people espousing Christian values are supremacists or terrorists; in fact, white people are less likely to be Christian than either black or hispanic people in the US.

Both of my objections are framed from my own perspective and stem from my own interpretation of the piece, so I can't say it's anything related to the author's intent. Still, it was interesting.

+Polish: It was very polished.
+Descriptive: The text is well-written.
-Interactivity: The slower opening was a bit offputting, and the many menus made me feel like I somehow had less freedom from so many indistinguishable options.
+Emotional impact: It made me feel a lot of different things.
-Would I play again? Technically I did play again once, just to remind myself before writing the review, but I think this is more or less a one-shot game.


RED FAST BENT, by B Minus Seven

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Gruesome poetry in triplicate, November 16, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Like most of B-minus's work, this is a shortish surreal Twine game with haunting descriptions and poetic use of choices.

In particular, this game features several choices in a row, on one page, where for each one you can pick RED, FAST, or BENT.

I originally was going to give this 3 stars, but the layout and format are so nice looking, especially for a game made in 4 hours or less.

I wasn't big on B-minus when I first read their work, but Chandler Groover has always expressed a lot of appreciation and interest in B-minus games, and it made me look at them with more appreciation. I wonder how much of my own reviewing is tangled up in my own experiences and history that I bring to the game. Earlier today I gave a higher rating to an Among Us-based IF game and rated it higher because I liked Among Us. It's weird to think about.

Anyway, I thought this was pretty good.


Rat Chasm, by Hatless

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short graphics-intensive musing on humanity with rats, November 16, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

At first, I thought this game was just a link to BBC (which for some reason didn't work for me when I clicked on it but worked when I manually entered it into the search bar).

Then it turned out I could scroll down. It's a multimedia page and it has some interesting features (for instance, you can either scroll down to read more text or click links instead, with some interaction between the two).

The non-working initial link and the abrupt, buggy-looking ending put me off the game a little bit. The writing is vivid and imaginative, though, and the visuals are compelling.


Phantasmagoria, by Jac Colvin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short replayable escape game in Choicescript, November 16, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I debated back and forth on what score to give this game, so I'm going to break it down by points.

This is a short choicescript game where you have to defeat an evil spirit in a test involving an ever-shortening candle.

It has a cool yellow bar representing the candle, and its structure allows for quick replay.

When I saw the timer, I felt nervous, so the game was able to impact me emotionally. I played through to two different endings.

Very impressive for four hours. I know its silly, but I think the yellow bar is what bumped it up from 3 stars to 4 for me, it's just cool to me as a Choicescript author.


Last Day, by Earth Traveler

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short parser game about the end of the world, November 16, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is surprisingly complex for a 4-hour game. There's conversation (although only ASK X ABOUT COMET works in general), many locations, a vehicle, rope.

There are a lot of grisly details. As a content warning, this game has frequent references to suicide. That part was a bit too dark for me.

I only found one ending, on a cliff. I'm sure there are other endings (I think other reviewers have found them).


The Imposter, by Carter Gwertzman

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short story based on Among Us, November 16, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a very short story about the game Among Us. I feel like I'm giving all the La Petite Mort games 3 stars (which, I figure is what you'd expect most speed-IF to be at most). This game is very short, but I love playing Among Us with my son, so it was fun.

And it surprised me twice. The first one I feel very dumb for not thinking of, given how obvious it is, but the second thing that surprised me is how customized the text is based on the order of your choices.

Short fun.


Fracture, by Ralfe Rich

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short but vivid one-verb game, November 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is directly modeled on Lime Ergot and Toby's Nose, where the main action is found by examining something over and over again, including things mentioned in the description.

It's more rough than those two, with some typos and less direction for the player, but the worldbuilding was intriguing to me and the descriptiveness well-done.

It's a brief game, but I played through it twice and feel there's still more for me to discover.


Ebony & Ivory's Halloween Party, by M. Nite Chamberlain

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Monster party shenanigans, November 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short, styled twine game about having a party with monsters and you having to find some gourds.

It has a world-model, various characters that can interact with each other, and some items.

Everything's just small. There's very little of interest in the conversational options that don't advance the story, and only a few options do anything.

But this was made in 4 hours, and I'm honestly impressed at how much they packed in in that time. And some of the characters are described very well (especially Orlok and Lycan).


Death Plays Battleship, by Nerd Date Night

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short and straightforward game about battling death, November 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is pretty good for a 4-hour-or-less game. You meet death in some sort of spiritual limbo, and you get the chance to redeem your soul through playing chess.

Instead of placing ships on a grid, your position is pre-selected and your guesses come from a menu. I won the first time I played, but I don't know if it was rigged to always win or if it was just random chance.

There are some interesting thoughts on the freedom of the soul, but I feel like the whole thing could use some more fresh takes. But that's hard to do in 4 hours, so I'm overall pretty happy with this game.


Cabin in the Forest, by willitchio

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short choicescript game with elaborate character creation, November 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is an interesting short game. You have to create a character to run through a short horror story.

But the narrator, Pallas, wants your creation to be incredibly detailed. While each choice has narrow options (as commented on by the narrator), there are many options to be had before the impending disaster.

I liked it. Near the middle, I started clicking fast through several similar/repetitive options, but I think that's part of the experience.

The game overall seems well polished for something made in less than 4 hours. The emotional moments didn't 100% land for me, but it was good overall.


Check Please!, by balt77

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A tiny tale of terror told in a totally typical timeline, November 13, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is essentially a small snippet of a horror story told over 4-6 pages. Like the blurb suggests, it's 175 words.

It's completely linear, but I think the interactivity actually works for it here, as it paces the story well and allows for surprise more than would be feasible in a static format.

My rating system is designed to accomodate micro games, so I'm giving it stars for emotional impact, interactivity and descriptiveness but not for polish (there are typos which, in a 175 word game, should really be easy to fix using grammarly or something similar) or replayability. Even with the typos fixed, I would still give 3 stars, as the interactivity is only okay, not great. But fun little game.


A Very Dangerous Criminal, by C.C. Hill

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A gory Choicescript game made for Ectocomp, November 9, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a Choicescript game made for the Grand Guignol division of Ectocomp. It's a bloody and violent game about a confrontation in a forest.

I think that every game has different elements that contribute to the overall strength of it. Here's my take on five elements I usually look at in games:

-Polish. This is where the game struggles the most. There are numerous typos and misstatements scattered throughout the text. As an author, and especially as a Choicescript author, I am no stranger to making a ton of typos (I think I had to fix 'its' vs 'it's' 1000 times in my Choicescript game). But websites like grammarly can really help out here, which is what I use, or asking people to look over the text.

+Descriptiveness. This is the game's strongest point. The writing is detailed and vivid. For me, I found it violent and gory in an unpleasant way, but it was only unpleasant because it was so detailed.

-Interactivity: I personally like Choicescript best when it lets you customize who are you in detail or lets you plan out strategies. In this game, choices can be completely arbitrary (like 'go left, go right, go straight') or represent a forced choice where all options are essentially the same (that's not always bad, but in this case you get the same forced choice over and over again).

+Emotional impact: I felt disturbed by the game, which is not an emotion I like or seek out but which succeeds in its goal.

-Would I play again? Due to the content and the polish, I wouldn't do so right now.

Contains strong profanity and gore.


La noche del protector, by Cobra626

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A gripping supernatural tale about the Spanish Civil War, November 4, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I went back and forth on this story. At first, I thought it was one of the best stories I've read in a long time, but I think the second half isn't quite as good as the first, and there were a few minor errors (like an uncapitalized 'la' at the beginning of a sentence).

This game is set in the 1936 Spanish Civil War, and you're ordered to bombard a city that is supposedly harboring refugees. Chaos ensues, as well as supernatural shenanigans.

The characterization was amazingly good, and the detail made me feel like I was there. For me, the realistic parts were the strongest, while the supernatural elements, while polished and well-done, were less compelling to me. Definitely felt happy to read this.


De lo que aconteciů a Kanwa Tathimizu, by Ruber Eaglenest

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A poetic and imaginative Texture game about Japanese spirits, November 3, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game was entered in Ectocomp 2020.

This is a Texture game, and it presented a double language barrier to me, as it is in Spanish and contains numerous Japanese words as well. So I may have missed out on some of the nuances, but I found it charming and well-written.

The story is about a scholar who is seeking inspiration for a story and so engages in Japanese calligraphy. There are several objects around that can serve as inspiration, each inspiring a sort of reverie or dream that always ends up disturbed by a yokai or Japanese spirit.

I laughed at some parts of it, and was intrigued by others. Parts reminded me of Alice and Wonderland. The multimedia use was lovely. Definitely worth checking out for a chill, relaxing time.


Stand Up / Stay Silent, by Y Ceffyl Gwyn

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Discrimination on Mars, October 20, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short game with two choices, each one being Ďsupport protestorsí vs Ďdonít support protestorsí (with a middle-of-the-road option in some playthroughs).

You play as someone on Mars who is in a relationship with someone who is either marginalized or very socially active.

I believe that all people are equal before God and I believe that racism is abhorrent. I believer that I am a beneficiary of a system that benefits white people over other races, and that change is necessary and requires personal effort from privileged peoples to stop practices that harm other races and foster those that strengthen them.

But i donít believe the choice structure in this game is an effective way to communicate any of those messages.

As a final note, the game was polished and well-written.

+Polish: The game is thoroughly polished.
+Descriptiveness: It was well-written.
-Interactivity: See my thoughts above.
+Emotional impact: It certainly got a reaction out of me.
-Would I play again? I don't plan on it.


Sonder Snippets, by Sana

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short contemplative Twine game, October 19, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a game seemingly designed to be inscrutable. The prose is dense and hard to comprehend, and the structure in the opening sequence is a series of almost randomly highlighted words that lead to musings on those words or the reason you selected them.

Overall, Iím not quite sure if the author succeeded in their goal. Was it contemplation about our place in the universe and its effects? Was it poetry? Was it a meditation on life? Iím not really sure.

And what effect did the Thief have on others? Make them believe only the Thief mattered/existed? Iím not sure what that means.

+Polish: I didn't see any errors.
-Descriptiveness: I found the text vague and imprecise.
-Interactivity: In the first section, it's hard to know what to pick; in the latter portion, there's only one thing to pick.
-Emotional impact: This game didn't land for me.
+Would I play again? I might take it for another spin in the future to get more impressions.


Quest for the Sword of Justice, by Damon L. Wakes

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short RPG maker game about genre conventions, October 19, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is an RPG Maker game. Its goal seems to be to take genre conventions and turn them on their head.

I guess the real question is, does it succeed? Iím not too concerned about the format, as very little happens in the game outside of the text boxes and the playerís choices. At least in my playthroughs, it always ended after one specific action.

I feel like this is old ground. I swear Zelda games have made the same kind of point going back to the first Game Boy game, and so have many other RPGs (I swear the Soul Blazer trilogy does this at least once). The concluding segment reminded me (in a good way of Chrono Trigger).

It just seems a bit silly. And there are tons of pop culture references, including to Adventure Time and Lord of the Rings. So I just consider it a bit of fun. If anyone finds a Ďcorrect pathí that doesnít lead to the main bad ending, let me know!

+Polish: I didn't find any errors.
+Descriptiveness: There were several funny lines.
-Interactivity: I didn't enjoy slowly clicking through interactions with tons of items, but I also didn't want to miss anything.
-Emotional impact: I kept waiting for the payoff.
+Would I play again? I am interested in finding a better ending.


You Couldn't Have Done That, by Ann Hugo

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An effective short story about an uncomfortable work situation, October 18, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I had a bizarre moment when starting up this game because it seemed 100% familiar. I thought that I must have beta-tested it and forgot, or somehow seen it earlier.

Then I realized that I had seen it earlier, but in a blog (I assume it's okay to link, as the author links to their blog in the end-credits):

https://annwords.wordpress.com/2020/06/23/what-happened-on-the-12th-of-july-2018/

I remember at the time finding it a traumatic story.

This game is very well-done. It's not aspiring to be an epic game or a involved interactive experience. Instead, its a game that tells a specific short story and it does so very, very well.

You play as a teen who was recently hired at a store in the mall. Work is a little bit frightening (you're young and neurodivergent, as is hinted at), and things start to go off the rails pretty soon.

The interaction is generally a 'continue' link, a choice between two similar options, or links which 'aren't allowed'. Usually, this makes for poor interaction, but in this game, it's entirely the point: feeling constrained, or helpless, or swept up by events.

Multimedia use is subtle and effective. Slight changes in the background color, inconspicuous music. I was thrown off for a second by the fact that all links are approximately the default color for already-visited links (which increased my sense of Deja-Vu) but that was just a small thing.

Overall, great game, 100% effective (for me) in what it was trying to do. Crappy experience, though.

+Polished: Very nice effects, everything worked.
+Descriptiveness: I felt like I was there.
+Interactivity: It contributed to the game's message
+Emotional impact: Definitely!
+Would I play again? Yes, and recommend it to others.


Babyface, by Mark Sample

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A creepy Twine game with excellent visual effects, October 16, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I enjoyed playing this game after hearing about it from many others.

A shortish Twine story, its main strengths are in its well-wrought writing and its numerous special effects, which include responsive graphics, elaborate text animations (especially the title screen!) and sound. I especially like how it integrated the sound test.

As a story, I was frightened enough by this game that I considered stopping playing (it was close to midnight). As it was, though, Iím glad Iím finished.

A few people talked about the ending not being as strong as the rest. Iím not so sure; horror generally has two endings (hopeful and victorious but at what cost? vs defeat snatched from the jaws of victory), and while this game kind of mixes the two, I donít see that as a bad thing. Itís a game I could definitely recommend to horror fans.

+Polish: Great effects
+Descriptiveness: Very vivid writing
+Interactivity: I loved how responsive the game was to your actions
+Emotional impact: Felt some fear!
+Would I play again? I plan on it.


Sheep Crossing, by Andrew Geng

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A parser implementation of a classic puzzle, October 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is based on the famous puzzle of trying to bring a carnivore, an herbivore and some plant across a river where you only have enough room for one at a time.

It isnít the first time this classic puzzle has been entered in IFComp. In 2007 Chris Conroy entered an Inform implementation called Fox, Fowl and Feed. That game featured several surprises when you tried to implement the classic solution.

This game plays it straight, albeit with some funny messages (like picking up the bear, which is also something you can do in the 1970ís game ADVENTURE). There is one small puzzle beyond the main one, I should add.

My guess is the author wanted to make a game and decided to code it up and enter. And they succeeded in that. The question is, whatís next?

+Polish: The game is generally well-implemented for what's in it.
-Descriptiveness: The descriptions are very plain.
+Interactivity: I was able to carry out my desired solution pretty quickly.
-Emotional impact: I wasn't invested in the game.
-Would I play again? Once was enough.


Move On, by Serhii Mozhaiskyi

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An interesting experiment with single-action puzzles in Twine, October 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This was actually pretty fun, but only because somebody gave me a clue about (Spoiler - click to show)looking at the icon at the top of the screen.

This is a short game consisting of around 10 choices, but the choice is always the same: Move On. In a way, this makes it like the single-action games in the parser world like Lime Ergot, Take, or Eat Me.

But how do you do puzzles in Twine with just a single option? The answer is ingenious: (Spoiler - click to show)there is a moving motorcycle on the top. Clicking before it reaches the end gives you one action, while waiting until it stops gives another. And that's all there is. I love it.

+Polish: The game is smooth and works well.
-Descriptiveness: The text was pretty generic.
+Interactivity: I had fun with the mechanic.
+Emotional impact: I felt excitement.
-Would I play again? I don't think this mechanic would provide a second replay as fun as the first.


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

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A short linear Inform game about physicists and time travel, October 13, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

So this is an interesting game. Basically, itís a time travel plot involving two of the great physicists in history.

The implementation generally worked well, although it seemed to kind of push me around a lot, especially when entering or leaving the cottage, almost like no direction I went mattered, the game would send me where it wanted.

The writing goes back and forth between very plain and more elaborate. The story is full of grand ideas, but I think it could have used a little more spacing between big reveals.

Overall, though, it was a quick and simple parser game with an interesting concept. At first, I was skeptical that things would have played out the way suggested in the game, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that we donít really know how great discoveries and scientific innovation are pushed forward, and itís difficult to understand why there has been such an acceleration in technical innovation in the last few hundred years.

+Polish: I didn't find any real bugs.
-Descriptivenss: The game was plain in some parts, especially the library.
+Interactivity: While I felt like I was being pushed around, it ended up working out smoothly.
-Emotional impact: I don't think the big reveals 'landed' for me.
+Would I play again? Maybe; it's interesting to see the past tense and third person, and to consider the way it pushes you forward.


The Pinecone, by Joseph Pentangelo

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A very brief game about an odd encounter with a pinecone and a goat, October 13, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Like many have said, this is quite similar to The Turnip. It's by the same author, they're both the same length, have the same styling, have the same setup. They also feature large and puzzling agricultural specimens and kindness to animals.

Is there some kind of meta puzzle here? I don't think so, judging by opening up the code and peeking at a few of the boxes. In any case, this is fun writing, and slightly more interactive than the other piece. It reminds me of Sub-Q Magazine's pieces before they stopped printing, albeit a little shorter. I'm glad to have it in the comp; it's not the kind of thing that I'd seek out normally, but it's so short and well-done that I happy to see it.

+Polish: Very polished.
+Descriptiveness: I think the writing is very well-done here.
+Interactivity: There's not much, but it's interesting and a little puzzle.
+Emotional impact: I liked it.
-Would I play it again? I think once is enough.


The Turnip, by Joseph Pentangelo

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short, poetic story in Twine format, October 13, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I suppose this game achieves exactly what it wanted to achieve. It took a fairly funny story (in the way that Kafka would write a comedy if the mood ever struck him), added some interactivity and a lot of polish, and turned it into a short game.

The writing is good, the game is short, and thereís not much to do but read it and contemplate. What does it mean? Besides my Kafka comparison, it also reminds me of Regina Spektorís song lyrics.

+Polish: Impeccably polished.
+Descriptiveness: Some of the better writing of the last few years.
-Interactivity: It wasn't trying to achieve it, and it failed successfully.
+Emotional impact: It was thoughtful.
-Would I play again? Not unless I forget it.


SOUND, by CynthiaP

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short Twine game about communication, October 12, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short, mostly linear Twine game with some interesting text effects and, to me, an inscrutable story.

You seem to be some sort of supervisor in an authoritarian system. You are monitoring a woman named Orange who describes the different job placements she has had. She has a stutter.

The story seems almost dreamlike (I think another reviewer mentioned that?) and the very ending used simple twine macros to produce an unusual text effect that provides never-ending interaction.

+Polish: It seems completely polished.
-Descriptiveness: Everything was very vague.
+Interactivity: Although there weren't many real choices, I felt intrigued by the ending.
-Emotional impact: I wasn't able to reach any deeper meaning.
-Would I play again? I don't intend to at this time.


Congee, by Becci

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short and sweet story about home, October 12, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a truly lovely game. Itís written in Twine, and is basically a heartwarming short story told with interactivity, animation and sound.

You play as someone raised in Hong Kong now living in the UK. You are sick and wish more than anything you could have some congee.

The choices are more about roleplaying than about strategy, and that works well for me. Visually, the game is gorgeous, with animated line drawings, animated color scenes, and beautiful faux text messages.

I identified with the message of the game as well, even though Iíve never experienced it to that degree. I lived in Manhattanís Chinatown and the Bronx in New York for 2 years after growing up in suburban Utah, and it was a real culture shock. Even now, I live in Texas without anyone nearby, as a single dad. And probably the thing I miss the most was our Sunday Roasts lol. I even cooked one for myself last week in the crockpot and ate the leftovers the whole week.

So, very lovely. It might not place in top 10 due to its short length,but Iíd be happy to nominate it for an XYZZY or two next year.

+Polish: Incredibly well-polished.
+Descriptiveness: I could almost smell the food.
+Interactivity: It gives either choice or the illusion of choice, and both are good.
+Emotional impact: A lot, for me
+Would I play again: Definitely, if I ever get down.


Minor Arcana, by Jack Sanderson Thwaite

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short branching Twine game about the Tarot, October 11, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

My only real experience with the Tarot deck is from the Deck of Many Things in AD&D and also Stardust Crusaders, so games featuring Tarot symbology significantly always mystify me somewhat.

In this game, you play as a deck of Tarot cards brought to life. You help design your own life story, then make several predictions for others.

Thereís a lot of metafiction here about how we construct our own narratives. It reminds me of the 2015 game A Figure Met in a Shaded Wood as well as SCP-3939, both of which make the shape of the story an integral part of the narrative.

The graphics here look good. The writing is interesting. I felt it hard to either strategize with choices or roleplay as a character, which are my usual two ways of interacting with a game. This game definitely shows a lot of craft, though, and I respect the one who wrote it!

+Polish: It looks and plays great.
+Descriptiveness: The writing is vivid.
-Emotional impact: I wasn't invested in the character, perhaps due to my unfamiliarity with the tarot
+Interactivity: Despite my struggles, the self-referential nature of the game validated my actions.
-Would I play again? Not at this time.


The Shadow In The Snow, by Andrew Brown

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A promising Twine game about a stranded motorist, October 11, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I taught a summer camp in Twine a few months ago. We spent about a week going over adding multimedia, setting variables, beta testing, etc. They liked it and kept working on games even after the camp, some which were pretty cool and impressive.

This game reminds me of that, the game of someone who has recently learned twine and puts in 10-20 hours of work making a fairly complex game. It has a soundtrack, custom styling, and non-linear puzzles.

It reaches for a few things without quite making it. I vividly remember when I entered my first IFComp game, one of the most famous people in IF made a comment about my game:

"I found *Ether* least effective when it explicitly went for pathos in the writing, because it was asking me to empathize[...]and it hadnít put in the time to build up that empathy."

I was hurt by that at the time, but it's true, and it's true about this game, too. The violence and the blood in the snow aren't as frightening because there wasn't enough buildup. The game is asking us to be afraid or to be disturbed by the death of others, but we know nothing about them.

It wouldn't take a lot to fix that. The difference between an okay story and an awesome story is usually just a few tweaks. In my experience, the best thing to do is just try something, see how people react, and change it if it doesn't work, then repeat. That's why I usually have 10+ beta testers, it lets me work out all the questionable parts of a story before I release it. In this case, if I had to suggest anything specific, I'd give our character some more personality: maybe this is their first cross-country road trip as an adult and they're a little lost and terrified of how dark it is. Maybe they run out of the room at the first sight of blood. If you say something is scary, the reader isn't usually scared. If you say the character is scared, though, then a lot of times the reader will empathize with them.

The puzzle parts of this game weren't too bad. There are a lot of unfair deaths you can't undo, but the game is short enough that you can try over and over again. I still would have liked a few more hints at what works and what doesn't, and maybe expand the story and game a little longer. Overall, I definitely think the author should keep writing; I'll keep an eye out for any future games.

+Polish: I didn't notice any bugs, and the multimedia aspects worked well.
-Descriptiveness: Like I mentioned above, I think the story could use some work.
-Emotional impact: Same as above.
+Interactivity: The puzzle structure wasn't too bad.
-Would I play again? Not at this time, but I would play another game by this author!


Captain Graybeard's Plunder, by Julian Mortimer Smith

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A fun short game about pirate literature, October 11, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I was surprised to see this game has no relation to the classic Captain Verdeterre's Plunder, but it's a good name style so it makes sense it would come up more than once.

This is a short Twine game with one big idea and it does it well. You are a pirate captain who has been forced to retire to his library. You have only one plan left: (Spoiler - click to show)to reconstruct a pirate crew and ship from the texts of classic books.

It's a nice concept and the books involved are fun to learn about or to remember. The game is over very quickly, so it's worth playing through while the comp is running just to enjoy some of the fun. This review is brief because there's not much to say that doesn't spoil it.

+Polish: The game looks great and plays well.
+Descriptiveness: Yes; some from the source texts and some from the author.
+Interactivity: It's short but has several interesting options.
-Emotional impact: It was interesting but I didn't really feel invested.
-Would I play again? It's a good game, but I think I've seen enough of it.


The Moon wed Saturn, by Pseudavid

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A non-linear storytelling game with lots of visual polish, October 10, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I tested this game.

Pseudavid has really turned out to be a Twine master in the last few comps, placing in the top 10 each time and making technically proficient games.

This game is more understated than the other games, but still complex and thoughtful. You, a night guard at a soon-to-be-abandoned housing complex, gets into a fast and stormy relationship with a remarkable woman.

The story takes place over three days simultaneously, with your choices in each day affecting the others (so a choice in the future can be a flashback with affects the choice in the past).

The effects in this game aren't as obvious as in Pseudavid's other games, but the ending I got was very nice. If this game has faults, they lie in it being somewhat opaque or dense, leaving the player to sort through several narrative threads at the same time. But taking that away would fundamentally change the nature of the game, so I'm not sure it's a bad thing.

+Polish: This is what Pseudavid is known for. At least to me.
+Descriptiveness: The characters were so vivid it hurt a little.
-Interactivity: It was hard to figure out what's going on at times. I was a tester, so I had a leg up, but still it was a bit rough for me. Like I said, I wouldn't recommend changing that.
+Emotional impact: I felt very invested in the character I was playing as.
+Would I play again? I'd like to explore other paths.


Mother Tongue, by Nell Raban

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short but compelling dialogue between immigrant mother and daughter, October 10, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game had a ton of buzz on Twitter and received a lot of early reviews, so I was interested in playing it.

It turns out to be really good. Raban seems to have a firm grasp of storywriting and interactivity. This is a perfectly well-crafted game, limited only by its relatively small size. I imagine, though, that many judges will be happy to find a quick and enjoyable game with excellent handicraft.

In this game, you are texting with your mother. You come from a family of immigrants, and your mother decides to try and teach you Tagalog over the phone. She quizzes you on your life and choices while trying to introduce you to various grammatical rules which, of course, you could never absorb in a single sitting, but which she seems determined to impart.

This game uses slow text to good effect, which is really rare. I think the keys are having a very short game with well-defined parameters. Here, we know we're in a text message conversation which can't last too long, and the game is advertised as short. The delays are realistic and not too long.

I think the best part of the game is showing the tension between a mother (especially a southeast asian mother), her desires for her American-raised children and the children's own personality and feelings. I think this is great.

+Polish: Very polished.
+Descriptive: The characters really came alive.
+Interactivity: I felt like my choices really mattered.
+Emotional impact: Felt some tension. Worried I'd say the wrong things.
+Would I play again? Sure!


At Night, by Oscar Martinez

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A shortish multimedia Twine game about demons attacking, October 9, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a fairly short game, and the authorís first game. Because they mentioned trying to learn things, Iíll keep that in mind.

This is a multimedia-heavy game, and it encourages you to use headphones while you play and uses timed text, sometimes fast and sometimes slow.

The game is translated from Spanish, but I didnít notice for a while because itís a fairly good translation. But it needs some more work; when running around the room, for instance, one of the links was Ďpedizquierdaí.

The story is about being creeped out and attacked by a demon at night. Interaction-wise, you have a sort of maze (thatís not really a maze), a couple of Ďguess the right optioní things and some battles.

Knowing your audience is important. A couple of things to keep in mind about IFComp are:

1.The winning games are often very polished, having been worked on for dozens or hundreds of hours. Not every game does this, but
2. Having your games tested is a plus. Having it tested by people whoíve done IFComp before is an even bigger plus. Having it tested by a lot of experience people, responding to their feedback, and improving your game over months is best.

3.Making fun of the player isnít as popular as it once was. For instance, if you choose the wrong thing, the game has the demon say:
I think youíre too stupid for me to feel like playing with you.It was the worst decision you have ever made, but thanks for being so stupid.

As a player, thatís not super fun to read. Itís not horribly bad, and I know itís about the person in the game, but it was my decision, and saying Iím stupid is kind of frustrating.

4. Multimedia and timed text can make a game look a lot cooler, but if you think about, why are people even interested in a text competition? Some people like it because the games are easy to make. Others are blind and use text to speech readers. Some (like me) like having games you can play as fast or as slow as you want, take breaks, play without sound while taking a break at work or at home. So having a lot of your game dependent on keeping up with the text or having to listen intently to the sounds can be hard. Thatís why games like Limerick Quest that have timed text have options to turn it off.

Overall, I think this game shows cool programming and a fun writing voice. Itís okay that it has some faults, because itís your first game. Nothing would be more depressing than having your first game be your best game, because itís all downhill from there. I think of Victor Ojuel and Ruber Eaglenest who both entered IFComp for the first time with games that were heavily criticized. They listened to the feedback, tried again and both placed in the top 10 with excellent games (and Victor has a job as a narrative designer now).

+Polish: There are bugs and typos, but the sound effects and art are fancy.
+Descriptiveness: The game makes its world come alive.
-Interactivity: I was frustrated by having to choose exactly the right option.
-Emotional impact: This game didn't really impact me.
-Would I play again? As it currently is no.


Saint Simon's Saw, by Samuel Thomson

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A unity game with 3d cards similar to the Tarot, October 8, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This unity game is more of a reimagining of a tarot deck than anything else, like the text describes.

Itís a 3d game with responsive physics. You can pick up a card, place it in the correct spot (or just slop it around), flip it over, flip it over part way.

Cards can be placed in four different positions, and then the game will register the full reading for you.

Itís an impressive use of the 3d engine and the art is great. As a purely narrative game, I didnít feel a strong emotional connection to the cards or the readings. But this will almost certainly be the most technically impressive game I play in this comp

+Polish: Immensely polished.
-Descriptive: I found the card meanings and descriptions fairly vague.
+Interactivity: Smooth and nice 3d interactions.
-Emotional Impact: I felt distanced from the messages of the cards.
-Would I play again? I'm not sure what I could find in it more than I have. Although to be fair I was always leery of Tarot, which this resembles.


Amazing Quest, by Nick Montfort

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A tiny Odyssey game running in an in-browser C64 emulator, October 6, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Nick Montfort wrote Ad Verbum, a great wordplay game that predates both Andrew Schultz and Emily Shortís wordplay games (but not Nord nor Bert), and has since then done a lot with the intersection between text and software.

I had heard a lot about this game, mostly consternation and mystery.

Iím happy to take this game at face-value. Without digging deeper, this reminds me of ASCII and the Argonauts, but slightly less complex.

In this game, you are presented with yes/no options on what kind of interactions to have with a scrambled group of towns. It seems that there is a pattern on what to do (and I was able to be right more than half of the time, so either there is a pattern or the game is good at making you feel there is a pattern, which thereís not really much of a difference there).

Iíve always had a fondness for little games done well. I came up with my current star-rating system on IFDB just so I could feel consistent giving the tiny micro-game ĎCreak, Creakí and ĎCounterfeit Monkeyí both 5/5.

So, yeah, this is cool. Not what I expected from Nick Montfort, but then again I didnít know what to expect, and this definitely fits his recent work. If more about the game is uncovered, thatís fine, but I kind of like its meditative simplicity.

+Polish: It does exactly what it sets out to do.
+Descriptiveness: I found that it packed in meaning in small chunks.
+Interactivity: I liked discovering the pattern.
+Emotional impact: I'm still pondering on sacrificing to Gods of a dusty planet.
+Would I play again? Yeah, I think I'll take another look at it.


The Cave, by Neil Aitken

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A small, thoughtful fantasy cave crawl turned into a meditation, October 2, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

When I clicked on Neil Aitkenís website, I saw that he is an accomplished poet, with testimonials by other poets including some state Poet Laureates.

So I was interested to see how the game panned out. Games by static fiction authors are often different from games by programmers-turned authors. (Edit: apparently he was also a programmer before too, which explains the smoothness of the game!)

So this game is a cyclical kind of twine game where you wander around a maze of rooms (different on both of my playthroughs, with about half the rooms the same and the other half different). Itís a cave and itís influenced by standard fatnasy tropes (treasure, magic runes, lizard people, magic pools, etc.) and you can gather various items and use them as well as gathering things like Ďincomprehensible wisdomí which I thought was a nice touch.

Visually, the game uses neon-style text for important nouns, kind of like the neon in Cactus Blue Motel. I found it visually appealing.

This game was polished: no bugs, no typos that I found. Usually first-time game creators tend to have a few unfinished ends here and there (blank passages, macros typed incorrectly), so that was pleasing.

Overall, I would say that the line by line writing was excellent. Iíve found over time in the comp that a lot of people who try to create poetry in IF fail to inspire me, but I was genuinely into the writing here. As an overall story and as a series of interactions, it didnít excel to me; it was competent, but I feel it could have been more ambitious. The same could absolutely be said about my own game in this competition. I would definitely consider this a game for the author to be proud of.

+Polish: The color highlighting around important words is nice, and this game had no bugs or typos that I found.
+Descriptiveness: Lovely writing, very nice.
+Interactivity: The overall structure didn't stand out to me, but the variation and the many ways the inventory can be used was fun.
+Would I play again? Definitely.
+Emotional impact: Yes, a kind of meditative, chill emotion.


Equal-librium, by Ima

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short game about the big consequences of small actions, October 2, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Equal-Librium is a short, replayable Twine game about how our daily choices affect our lives in deep ways, and interesting topic that I had actually been reading about before the comp began.
The game uses complicated styling, like shaking text and some timed delivery (which didn't really annoy me here as it was fairly fast and the game was short). It emulates e-mail systems.
The story is about being a CEO of a company and receiving a bribe offer with ecological consequences. There are several endings with a suggestion to replay.
I found some typos and a broken macro, but the story was interesting.
-Polish: The effects were fancy, but there were too many typos and errors for my liking.
+Descriptiveness: I found the writing vivid and interesting.
+Interactivity: Branches a lot but is short enough to make replaying feasible.
-Emotional Impact: I got where it was coming from, but for some reason or another the message didn't sink in.
+Would I play again? Wouldn't mind giving it another spin to find more endings (already found 2).


Instincts, by Madison Vassari

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short branching Twine game about a ritual and your child, August 4, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a fairly-well put together Twine game with background sounds. You are driving down a road late at night, and you need to abandon your child in the woods.

The writing was descriptive and the game was fairly polished, but it felt a little short for the heavy themes being developed, and many choices lead to early deaths, making it more of a gauntlet structure.

As a small, self-contained Twine game, though, I think it's successful. Maybe I just wanted a longer and more involved version of the same story?


"Do Not Meddle", by Teaspoon

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A clever speed IF about resisting standard parser tropes, July 18, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game, made for a Speed-IF and never fully developed, reverses standard tropes. It may not even work as a longer game; as it is, could just use a little polish.

You play as one of/a series of young boys applying to be a household servant. As a 'test', you must resist several things tempting to an adventurer: a key in its lock, a partially-open door, a covered dish, etc.

It's cute and short. There are some bugs and it is not polished, but I enjoyed it.


The Voodoo You Do, by Marshal Tenner Winter

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A well-put together Speed IF with a surprising amount of detail, June 23, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

MTW, the author of this short speed IF, has always had a talent for putting together locations and NPCs. Speed-IFs are usually very sketchy, but this game manages to have a large map, responsive items, good error messages, and even a conversation (which I know from experience is difficult to implement in a short time).

It involves the Voodoo or Voudon religion. While one part of it revolves around the use of (Spoiler - click to show)Voodoo dolls, which just tonight I discover actually originated in European druidism, most of it seems to represent Voodoo beliefs in a fairly accurate and respectful way, the kind of accuracy you'd expect in a game where you visit the Christian heaven.

I think Speed-IFs would be much more enjoyable to play if more of them were this well put-together. I'm not giving 5 stars, though, because even as a speed-IF it still has to compare to longer games.


Please Answer Carefully, by litrouke

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short but effective horror game, June 12, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is centered around a survey and uses various literary and programming techniques to establish a creepy atmosphere.

I found it inventive and effective. My ratings are adjusted to the length of a game, so I consider this a 5-star game for a short, under 15-minute work.

Otherwise, I don't want to give away too much. Very fun!


Tallest Trees, by Peter Bates

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short fantasy tale with good worldbuilding and the promise of sequels, June 6, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I rate games on a five point scale. This is a shortish but broad Twine game where you are being hunted by something magical and must use your equipment to survive. It branches heavily, enhancing replayability.

Polish--The art is good, the game seems well-thought out and designed. Pretty good.
Descriptiveness--Very good. I could picture it all in my mind vividly.
Interactivity--It's hard to play without learning by death, so I struggled a bit with this one. And widely branching games are a bit frustrating at times because you have to replay the beginning over and over to see all the different ends, but it's totally a valid stylistic choice.
Emotional impact--I felt moved by the story. I like fantasy, especially TTRPG-adjacent fantasy like this.
Would I play again?--I've already played it a few times, so yes.


Beautiful in His Stasis, by Hannah Nyland

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An unusual experiment in place and time; horror, June 1, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game was interesting.

In initial appearance, you are in a house and have several options for exploring it, with no option allowed twice in a row but otherwise full freedom.

Over time, the game changes in both subtle and overt ways.

It works well technically, and the idea is good, there's just not much of it, and I feel like the concept needed a bit more time to come to fruition.

In any case, the author is clearly good at both writing and programming, so I'd be interested in further games.


Investigative Journalism: A Welcome to Night Vale Fan Game, by Astrid Dalmady

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A polished and stylish Night Vale-style game with investigation and danger, May 28, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I grade games on a scale of 5 stars, in the following criteria:

*Polish. This game is very polished, with custom sounds, varying backgrounds and images, complex menus and text input.
*Descriptiveness. This game nails the Night Vale voice and has vivid non-descriptions of real things and real descriptions of non-things.
*Interactivity. I felt like my choices mattered and had consequences. The game wasn't quite linear and not quite lawn-mowery, and I felt good.
*Emotional impact. I felt amused.
*Would I play again? I think I would.

This is a game in which you have to track down The News, a wild beast which has escaped in Night Vale, a town where every conspiracy theory is true.


silences, by beams

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A '2-command' game in texturewriter, April 16, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is an odd game. I was excited to see it used texture writer, a system that often produces unusual games.

In texture, you slide 'action' blocks onto 'noun' blocks. This game switches that around a bit, more just sliding one of two nouns (eye, shoulder) onto adjectives and nouns.

It took me a while to figure out the functionality (which is (Spoiler - click to show)'eye' provides a description using several adjectives while 'shoulder' adds the word to a sentence, except at the very end where you get one or more endings.

I didn't really know what to make of it all, but it worked for me, the discovery of the use of the nouns providing the same kind of feel that solving a puzzle does.

My favorite insight was realizing (possibly incorrectly) that the game provides insight into the author's feelings about themself.


Catch That Kitty, by Rohan

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A kind of confusing Twine game about gangsters and...stuff, April 8, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This seems like a first-time Twine author's game, with at least no broken links.

The writing is rushed and seems untested. Here's a sample:

"He pulls out a big rotten fish and throws at you, it hits at at the head and knocks you unconcious."

There is some funny humor, but a lot of it didn't make sense even as nonsensical humor.

I think this just needs to be heavily revised. At its best, it could end up like the madcap game Escape the Crazy Place, but at its worst it still represents a step forward for the author.


The Golden, by Kerry Taylor

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A very short Twine story with allusive worldbuilding and implied relationships, April 7, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This short Twine game about some disaster making people not want to go out (at first seeming like Covid, later not so much).

It satisfies my 5 requirements for stars:

-Polished. This has great understated use of color and is organized neatly, with an interesting mechanic at the end.

-Descriptive: The house, people, and items and even mood were palpable to me as I read.

-Emotional impact: I could really feel the emotions the game was pushing out, maybe just because of my quarantine experiences.

-Interactivity: The card game was a nice change, and I felt like my choices in general had some kind of impact, if nothing else than in my roleplaying.

-Would I play it again? I already did. I like the feel of it. Might play it again.


composites, by B Minus Seven

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Classic B-Minus. A short, surreal poem in Twine format, April 5, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

B Minus makes what I would describe as anti-games. Just like Ryan Veeder likes to do counter-culture things like making very elaborate set pieces that are useless in the game or giving anti-climactic climaxes, B-minus likes to have functionality that's not all that functional.

In this case, it seems like the links might have some kind of strategy or purpose, but instead it's more like file folders, with the game ending if you get too deep.

The writing is opaque and symbolic, with elaborate language and constructions. I learned the word "aubade", a poem appropriate for dawn or morning.

B-Minus is an author that either pleases you or puzzles you, but I feel pleased.


GUNBABY, by Damon L. Wakes

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A madcap baby-mecha twine game, April 4, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game consists of the following elements:
-Custom graphics and animations
-Custom sounds
-4th-wall breaking goofy storyline
-A baby in a robot suit destroying things

These elements are all good in themselves, but this could have used a few more pass-throughs. The sound is loud and has no visible controls. The choices imply freedom without granting it or even, after choosing, the illusion of freedom. It implies strategization while taking it away.

The concept is funny, and I laughed, though, which is what the author wanted. So I believe that the author has been entirely successful in their goals.


States of Awareness, by Kerry Taylor

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short, pleasantly surprising short zombie Twine game, April 3, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This short Twine game has you play as a young character surviving alone after some time of zombie-style apocalypse. You have to make some critical decisions regarding an old acquaintance.

I thought at first that this was just a heavy-handed riff on the coronavirus, but then it took a turn which pleasantly surprised me and which I'd like to see more of in Twine. Thoroughly enjoyable.

The author's conent warnings include profanity and a non-consensual kiss.


Assemblage of Angels, by Els White

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short fantasy love story about invention and angels, April 3, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a shortish Twine game by Els White, author of the popular Twine game To the Wolves and writer/designer under Spider Lily Studios.

This game isn't meant to be epic, just a simple love story, but it has fairly heavy world-building done through implications. I felt like it explored class politics, transitioning, gay relationships, theology, etc. all in ten minutes.

There are some nice visual effects that add to the play (you literally assemble a visual angel), and I enjoyed the time I spent playing.


Another Love Story, by HťlŤne Sellier

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A charming and chilling story of nature, photography and love, April 3, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a Ren'Py story that uses beautiful photography with a mostly linear story broken up by binary choices.

These binary choices always have an immediate effect, but I don't know if their influence lingers later on.

I love the type of story. It's almost like a romantic version of the Turn of the Screw. The hero is confused, foggy--possibly non-neurotypical. They have someone at home--sister? caretaker? spouse? And they encounter someone in the woods. But who and what are they?

The answers are never fully revealed, but gradually hinted at more and more. I found it effective.


Si j'avais su..., by Eve Mercť

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An amusing French twine game of unintended consequences, February 23, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

In this game, which has beautiful graphics, you have risen to the throne after your mother was accidentally poisoned by a drunk witch.

You have numerous binary options, and one (or both) options will have humorous, unintended consequences.

It's not too long, but it is polished, descriptive, and amusing. However, I found its interactivity a bit frustrating at times, but I could see my self playing again.


La fťe des rÍves, by Eve Mercť

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A cute, funny French game about dreams and fairies, February 7, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I've long enjoyed games about fairies, other worlds, and dreams. This game doesn't branch much, but provides plenty of humor and child-like fantasy.

You play an insomniac who is visited by the dream fairy. The dream fairy attempts to diagnose your insomnia, taking you from person to person to try and find someone who can help.


Raishall, by Jac Colvin

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short choicescript game with horror elements and moral choices, November 24, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a Choicescript game written in less than 4 hours for Ectocomp 2019.

I had a lot of fun with this one despite its size. The author managed to cram a lot in. There's a 'build your monster' segment followed by a series of moral choices. It provided a feeling of agency beyond its substance and had solid writing.

Loved it! If you want more monster stories from this author, they also wrote Each-Uisge from IFComp 2019.


holloween spookie adventure chapter 1, by rhl2123

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
The very beginning of a Halloween game, November 23, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I'm pretty sure this game is the result of someone opening up Quest for the first time, putting in some rooms and an object, and sending it out. Probably a younger person as well.

There's nothing wrong with doing that, but it's not really a game. It's three locations and an item and nothing else. In addition, it's released as the code for the game instead of the finished game itself.

I'm glad the author figured out how to use Quest, and if they want to make longer stuff, more power to them.


Limerick Night, by Pace Smith

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A limerick-styled short horror game, November 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Another Smith limerick game
But this isn't more of the same.
Instead of a jolly
heist or other folly
You're seeking to kill or to maim.

Who then is your target, your foe?
A vampire's the one who must go.
Or 'wampire' I mean
(since that's what my screen
displays as the name of the foe.)

But to my surprise there's a twist!
I had guessed the genre, and missed.
It's truly perturbing
This game is disturbing
So keep it right off your kids' list.

If you liked the Heist game, here's more
That also deserves a good score.
The writing's well done
I found it quite fun
So I'll give this short game a 4.

(Edit: improved with suggestions from A. Schultz).


The Village, by Helene Vitting

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A story about a terrifying small town, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game has you travelling to live in a small village where electronics are banned, church is every night and the rules must be enforced.

This is a common theme in horror (like Midsommar), and this pursues a lot of those tropes.

I found the story interesting and exciting. The formatting threw me off, since the paragraphs sort of ran together. All in all, though, it was a fun short horror experience.


The Reptile Room, by Elizabeth Smyth

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A short speed-IF twine game with a surprising amount of worldbuilding, November 18, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is very small, smaller than almost all the Twine games in IFComp. Made in 4 hours for the speed competition known as Ectocomp, it seems the author spent most of the time working on polished writing and world building.

I think it was very successful. I found myself repeatedly surprised as I read, each time realizing how the surprise connected with proceeding material. The author does an excellent job of choosing what to reveal and what to imply. I'd give more details, but it's better to just play it yourself!

There's some violence and brief strong profanity.


O Verbo, by Janos Biro

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A charming short creating tale with a difficult puzzle in it, November 16, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This Portuguese game is a nice, compact Twine game about creating something when you are an omnipresent, solipistic being. There are a lot of options, and the consequences of them can be unexpectedly amusing and spot-on.

Many options lead to a sort of puzzle, which gives you more and more hints. I had difficulty with this, especially due to the language barrier.

Overall, the writing and the interactivity was very satisfying.


American Maniac, by MelonPro

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A bloody and violent short Twine game, November 14, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

In this game, you are a maniac who shoots all of their enemies with a shotgun at a party.

Half of the game is devoted to saying why you hate people, and the other half is devoted to gruesomely describing the blood and guts that come out when you shoot them.

Their are numerous typos and errors. Given its poor taste, I cannot recommend this game. Even if it's somehow a parody, a non-American's perception of Americans, I think it could have been done less offensively.


Crumbs 2: The Will of the People, by Katie Benson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short Twine depiciting a near-future Brexit scenario, November 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Katie Benson has a specific genre of games she makes that work pretty well. They are Twine games with some light styling and multiple endings, with a branch-and-bottleneck structure.

Structurally, they're all very similar, but Benson has done a lot of exploration of controversial topics, innovating in the subject matter portrayed rather than in the mechanics.

This game is a sequel, and has the player working in a food kitchen in a version of Britain where the British Jobs Act has given subsidies to companies hiring British citizens (I think).

I found two different endings. There was one encounter that occurred twice in the game with identical language (Spoiler - click to show)(talking to the cop), but it was otherwise a smooth experience.


The Crimson Terrors of Delamay Manor, by Logan Noble

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short Lovecraftian Halloween tale, November 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I've rated this game on my 5 point scale:

Polish: The red color on the choices is a nice effect, but typos and grammar problems drag this point down.

Descriptiveness: Very good! Lots of vivid images here.

Interactivity: The available choices felt pretty satisfying, especially for such a short game!

Emotional Impact: The shortness and over-the-top-ness limited the emotional impact for me.

Would I play again?: I tried all the options, and I think I've seen everything I need to here.

Edit: Overall, I would say that all of the problems could be fixed by having more time. As a Speed-IF, this is good!


Wild Party, by kunludi

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A bilingual javascript game with some inventory management and conversation, November 11, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This one was a hard one to score. One of its main features is language. It's bilingual, and part of a project that produces multilingual games, which is something I support.

This means that many of its language errors come from incomplete translation, which means I'm more inclined to go easy on them. The most egregious error I saw was an entire passage in Spanish included in the English version (I'm sorry, I don't remember which passage it was!) There are other errors as well.

The system is interesting. Functionally, it's very similar to Ink: text continually scrolls downward, instead of replacing like Twine, and you either click a 'more' button or select from a menu of choices.

However, it's not actually Ink, I think, and seems to be a custom system that needs some work. Ink and Twine have me used to lovely little transitions between text (not slow fade-ins, but quick scrolling animations and so on). This game just adjoins the new text quickly.

Similarly, punctuation (like ---) are used for line breaks instead of nice horizontal lines. These are all things that can be added to over time.

Storywise, there's an interesting plot about abducted Russian scientists and bizarre experiments. But I was so caught up in the new system and multilingual aspect that I didn't have a chance to immerse myself in it as much as I'd like.


Whole Souls, by Drumclem

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A space horror tale with great elements that don't blend well, November 10, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I've played this game 4 or 5 times now, trying to find if I've missed something important (and if I have I'll update this review!)

You are in space, having a family dinner on Halloween through a videocall. You can guide the conversation as your family clashes with each other over things like religion and politics.

Then something happens, and the game takes a more linear turn, then ends.

The twist involves several elements, and I just don't see how they all connect together. I'm a fan of leaving the most frightening parts of horror as mere suggestions, but we have so many things here: (Spoiler - click to show)a time loop, suggestions of being an android, government conspiracy, mind control taken from Bioshock. Each part is great, and the writing is good, but how does it all tie together? The simplest explanation is that (Spoiler - click to show)you are an android and your 'family' has always been fake, and your programming gets reset. But then why change the clocks? Isn't accurate timekeeping important in space? And why have the elaborate video call setup at all?


Mindful, by Ian Michael Waddell

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short Ectocomp game about a heart warming cooking blog, November 10, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This Twine game has an interesting accretive feature: you build a blog post paragraph by paragraph by making different selections (such as for the name, etc.).

It's all fairly mild stuff, but the fact this game has content warnings should let you know it can't last forever.

Presentation is nice and smooth. Good for a quick bite.


Let's Play: Ancient Greek Punishment: The Text Adventure, by Pippin Barr

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An amusing short mythology game with a couple of errors, October 11, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a fun little game. You're dead, and you essentially have the option to pick your own punishment.

It draws heavily on Greek mythology with a little swerve into mathematical history. I laughed. I cried. It was fun.


The implementation could be a bit better. (Spoiler - click to show)X LIST or X CHECKLIST didn't work, but X CLIPBOARD did (which I know was highlighted, but LIST is a reasonable synonym). When I did X NOTE as Tantalus, it said 'Do you mean the nothingred post-it note or the blue post-it note?'. POUR WATER INTO BASIN didn't work as Danaid (although again, it was a different command than the note suggested).


A Blue Like No Other, by Dan Cox

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Some interesting ideas but not really sure where it's going., October 9, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game has a retro-looking font. A button on the lower right titled 'messages' tells you that it was found on some old floppy disks.

The idea is that you're supposed to be able to click on certain words related to grammar lessons in the text on the lefthand side of the screen. I opened up the game in twinery to verify this, and there is code there for it, but it didn't work for me on Chrome.

Essentially, there are 6 'grammar lessons' but they are just an excuse for the creator of the software (in-game) to publish chunks of her novel.

Overall, it's interesting, but it's short, and it just kind of peters out. The chrome bug made the interactivity and polish just not there for me.

The one thing I did like was the writing in the actual novel. It was descriptive and interesting.


Out, by Viktor Sobol

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A charming little game that takes an idea and runs with out., October 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game meets my criteria for five stars:

Polish: I found no bugs, and everything ran smoothly. The game logic was sound.

Descriptiveness: I learned new things. I was intrigued by the game in ways that bled into real life.

Interactivity: This game explores parser space in a way that (Spoiler - click to show)Take, The North-North Passage, and Lime Ergot did. These games take the player-parser interaction and do 'variations on a theme' like composers.

Emotion: I felt a warm glow.

Play again: Sure!

Sobol's been reviewing games for at least 5 years, it's high time he post one of his own. This is a lovely game.


Eldritch Everyday: The Third Eye, by Norbez

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A slightly buggy but compelling Twine game about a surreal horror, October 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is currently broken. I don't think it will always be that way, and I'd be happy to change my review if that changes.

You play as a character who experiences a life-changing event that results in the implantation of an alien presence. You shift back and forth between a real world and an alien, and between linear parts and puzzle parts.

There is some strong language. I'm loving the storyline here and would love to see this fixed.


Edit:

The author has made several improvements, although it's not perfect. I completed all three chapters this time, and I really felt a connection with the author. The feeling of impending doom that cannot be escape is truly a relatable feeling after I faced a difficult job search this year.

I love dark, psychological/surreal settings, and this story called to me. Some small things still need tweaking, however.


For the Cats, by Lei

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Rescue the cats!, October 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This polished but small Ink game has you trying to rescue 7 cats from a cruel breeder.

You have three different places you can go to earn 'coals', the currency in the game. Each cat costs 3 coals.

There are many ways to get money, including some dark paths, some scientific. While the game is very short, it has 10 different endings, and is worth replaying a few times.

I may have given an extra star just because I love cats. But what's wrong with that?


The Legendary Hero Has Failed, by Tom Martin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Majora's Mask fan fiction with timed Twine events and friendship, October 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is one of two clear fan-fiction games this comp (the other being one set at Hogwarts).

This game is based on the Zelda game Majora's Mask. You and your buds are NPCs in that game, and since the moon is going to kill everyone, you sit on a hill drinking beer, shouting at the moon and waiting for the world to end.

It has some good animations, and some interesting text effects (such as giving you a five minutes time limit). It has some strong profanity. I found it descriptive and enjoyable.


Lucerne, by Dimitri Kaviani

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A great story with no interactivity and some typos, October 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a mid-length story, kind of between a creepypasta and fable in tone, presented as a completely linear story with a single link on each Twine page.

It has a few typos: wading instead of fading, for instance.

So the interactivity, polish, and replay value are low here.

But I liked the descriptions. Not everyone will like this story, but I have a very specific niche that I like, which is games/stories where you are transported to a dark shadow world and must conquer it with the power of light. (Eidolon, Kingdom Hearts, Zelda: A Link to the Past, Twilight Princess).

This seems like it's drawn from some game design, though. It mentions stuff like 'a ladder 30' above you', 'a 10' monster', 'a 10' globe of light'. The character (in this completely static story) collects globes of light to upgrade their weapon.

So, it's interesting, and weird, but I enjoyed the story.


Break Stuff, by Amy Clare Fontaine

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A powerful game about destruction and catharsis, October 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

There are some things that definitely need trigger warnings, and the warning for this game is self-harm.

(Spoiler - click to show)This game uses bare styling in Twine, but it's text layout, pacing and link structure are very polished. The writing is descriptive, with some profanity appropriate to the situation you're in. I felt strong emotions during this, first feelings that drew me in and helped me identify with the character, and then feelings of horror as I chose the 'bad' choices later involving self-harm. I didn't know it would be that bad, which perhaps is how the protagonist feels.

A powerful game.


Rip Retold, by Hipolito

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A sweet little tale re-doing Rip van Winkle, October 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is fairly straightforward design-wise and writing-wise. You are a kid that witnesses a modern-day Rip van Winkle fall asleep.

Instead of focusing on the dramatic event, the game talks about the repercussions over the years, the effect it has on the community.

It's a little too short to become involved with the characters, but I found the whole idea charming and a good reminder of the effects we can have on each other.


Abandon Them, by Alan Beyersdorf

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An illustrated, short game dealing with the moral choices in Hansel and Gretel, October 6, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is an interesting game. It has custom art and animations in the Godot engine. You play as three characters (well, four characters, but two are at the same time) as you go through the story.

It is very short, with just a few screens and one choice per screen.

It's a philosophical game. In the beginning (which I now realize presaged the end), you are asked to abandon the characters as soon as the game is over (hence the name).

I realize now as I write this that (in regards to that ending) (Spoiler - click to show)I was surprised and annoyed that the game just stops in the middle. I wanted to know more. But isn't that the whole point? That I had promised to not care?

So it is clever, but it left me feeling frustrated. Also, I feel like it could do better in its choices; for a few options, none of them were things I'd like to do.


Iamb(ici), by Jo Lourdez

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Immerse yourself in a world of poetry users, and maybe find a special one, October 4, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

In this game, you play as a new user on a poetry forum. You select from 3 usernames of varying respectability (and they all get commented on). You can then join 4 or so different chat workshops.

Each one has different characters, all reminding me of real-life forum members: the rude ones, the funny ones, the cute ones.

I got the Kanojo ending, which I enjoyed. The game's not too long, but it's replayable and its length suits its purpose.

I didn't feel strongly emotionally invested, but it's polished, descriptive, has good interactivity and I would (and did) play it more than once.


Slugocalypse, by Charlotte Blatchford

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A funny game about giant slugs that ends too soon for me, October 4, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a game that I like, but which I feel could have been quite a bit longer.

It's got fun illustrations, an enjoyable premise (giant slugs attack everything), and the beginnings of inventory- and location-based puzzles.

But then it's over so quickly. It's 10,000 words, and you don't see most of those because it branches a lot.

In a way, it's kind of like Dungeon Detective 1 last year. I liked that game, too, but it was also too short, and the author made a bigger sequel (Dungeon Detective 2) this year that was much longer, and I loved it.

If anything, I just want more of this. Would love to play more games by this author.


The Surprise, by Candy Meldromon

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A micro-game about an important moment in life, October 3, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game reminds me of one I've looked for for years. In 2015, when I started playing IF, I played a parser game where you've just had a fight with your husband, and you eventually find (Spoiler - click to show)a used pregancy test in the trash. It was very short, and it comes to my mind often.

This game is a choice game, but has a similar theme. With only a few links in the game, it manages to be pretty tricky at times to advance the story. The styling has been modified somewhat, most notably by some timed text which is pretty appropriately used here.

It's hard to get emotionally involved in such a small game, though, and there is a tug of war between the puzzly link interaction and the heartfelt story. I feel like the interactivity doesn't pair well with the drama.

In any case, as a person I can identify with this moment and the feelings involved, and it brought back vivid real-life memories. I wish them the best!


Eye Contact, by Thomas McMullan

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short conversation augmented by expressive eyes, October 2, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

The concept of this game is clever. You're having a conversation with a friend, and every emotion of the NPC is expressed by a photo of eyes. It's the same person, same pose, but with anger, happiness, sadness, etc. in the eyes.

It's very effective, kind of how emojis help express emotion in texts.

The one drawback in the interactivity and emotion of it is that it all seems a bit shallow. The story is toothless, a frivolous problem with hints at relationship issues. This same technique with a deeper story (not necessarily longer) would be splendid. As it is, it's presented in a very polished and well-done manner.


Yellow Dog Running, by Sam Kabo Ashwell

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A terse, symbolic dark Speed IF game, August 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Sam Ashwell's games always seem to be from a parallel universe where IF developed in wildly different directions. They don't 'fit in' with usual IF tropes.

In this game which quotes (and reminds me of) T.S. Eliot, you are pursuing a wounded troll across a desert while being pursued by Yellow Dog.

The feel is sort of like a mix between Stephen Kings's Dark Tower and mythology. You encounter a series of obstacles, characters you deal with through menus (reminding me of De Baron. This game reminds me of a lot of things!)

Pure symbolic obscurism can be pretentious or effective. But I'm a sucker for it, so it definitely is 'effective' here for me.


Cat Simulator 2016, by helado de brownie

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Achieves its aim: to be a small game depicting a cat's life, August 22, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game was one of the author's first games, and it is small and simple.

However, it matches my ratings system well. It achieves emotional impact in that it makes you think of being a cat very well. It puts you in the mindset of the cat and all the actions are things my cat does.

It's polished in its smallness, and the interactivity work well, as it doesn't feel like lawnmowering to play and the links are placed well, better than many longer works.

It's also descriptive, and that's 4 of my 5 stars right there.


Sirens in the Distance, by Astrid Dalmady

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short mermaid story with layers of duality, July 2, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game only lasts for about 1000 words, so it's a quick read.

It was made for MerMay, so it makes sense it would be about mermaids. But the title has multiple meanings, and the game itself deals with ambiguity and feeling.

This is a slight snack of a game, but it left a good feeling. It reminded me of my time living in Hawaii, in many ways, although I imagine it more as a cold Atlantic ocean than the Pacific.


Living Will, by Mark Marino

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A will that can change in real-time. Short choice game, June 27, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game features an old man who made a fortune in the Congo. It's set in the near-future, with a variety of corporations mentioned.

It is a short game, with the bulk of interactions taking place near the end of the game. Basically, you can pick which character you are, and raid the shares of the others.

It reacts quite pleasingly. But I noticed that the interactivity was fairly opaque, and the story hard to grasp. Marino's later games feature detailed and exciting stories with clear interactivity, which is a development I'm very happy with!


Sam and Leo Go To The Bodega, by Richard Goodness

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Munchies simulator, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game portrays two stoners with a friendly relationship grabbing food to eat. There are four aisles in the grocery store, and most of the game involves selecting different foods and seeing what comes out.

It's weird, it's short, but it works. Scattered strong profanity.


The Challenge, by ViRALiTY

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A simple CYOA with now-gone graphics, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I played the archive.org version of this game, which now lacks the original graphics, which I understand were simple 3D graphics.

All that's left is the choice structure, which is meager. You are in a 3d area, and you can turn left and right and go up stairs. I played another game recently using Unity that had similar mechanics, but I can't find it now. (Maybe from Introcomp 2019?)

The game ends after a few moves. Pretty disappointing.


PTGOOD 8*10^23, by Sartre Malvolio

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short and stupid, both on purpose, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Sometimes I find purposely bad games charming, and others have found this one so in the past, but I think it's just dumb. Especially since you have to open a window in the first room to make a later exit work, for no reason at all!

All you do is explore a lab to find and kill Slan Xorax (an alias for Jonathan Berman). Not much else here.


Wumpus Run, by Elfindor

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
More fun than I thought it would be, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Wumpus is an old game, and Andrew Plotkin had long since done an amazing remake of it by this point (Hunter, In Darkness). But this Adrift game was surprisingly fun.

You wander through a pretty bad maze (although you can find a nice, hand-drawn map), avoid obstacles, and try to kill the wumpus and escape.

I won on the second try after about fifteen minutes or so.


Simple Adventure, by Paul Allen Panks

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A regular old Panks game with the same old stuff in it, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Paul Panks made one pretty cool game, and then made a ton of little games which are all very similar.

When I started this up, I thought, "I wonder if I'll be in a village with a 2-floor tavern and a church." Lo and behold, I started in a two floor tavern next to a church. Is my first enemy a hellhound? Yep. Then I fought a dragon. That was new. But the game was over after that.

Not much here, but at least it all works together as long as you're familiar with Panks' style (GET, not TAKE, and WIELD weapons and WEAR armor).


PTBAD6.5: The URL That Didn't Work or Have You Seen the Muffin Man? He Is Quite Large, by Jonathan Berman

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Fails at being a horrible game, June 22, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

In the PTBAD series, which is generally an ill-conceived series of intentionally terrible games, this one manages not to be too terrible. It has generally smoothish implementation, not-too-hard main puzzle, and a poem that has crosses the line from awful to sublime.

Uses Adrift 4.0.


The Storm, by Stephane F.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Brief, unusual existential horror, June 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I played the French version of this game before. I like this game, it calls to my exact sort of tastes in games. But it may not call out to everybody. It's like Cannery Vale, which is one of my top 10 games of all time but which didn't win IFComp, or Creak, Creak, a tiny game by Chandler Groover.

In this game, you wake up in the middle of the night to strange sounds in the garden. You can explore your house, but everything seems off.

Great for fans of existential horror. Very short parser game.


SCP-3939 [NUMBER RESERVED; AWAITING RESEARCHER], by Croquembouche

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short self-referential narrative describing an anomaly, June 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is short but satisfies all of my requirements for 5 stars:

Polish: This game has a custom format with well-designed buttons and overall CSS and layout.

Descriptiveness: There are several characters who are described in exquisite detail (or not, with good reason), and the location and item descriptions were evocative.

Emotional Impact: I could really identify with the researcher and the anomaly. The final description complemented the main narrative in an excellent way.

Interactivity: This game allows quite a few paths, but is self-deprecative. It says: (Spoiler - click to show)This may be a multiple-choice story, but there's no multiple endings. If you pick the wrong options, the story has to pretty much drag you to me so we can have this little chat. You see, fundamentally, this just isn't a good multiple choice story. That's not what it is. It was never supposed to be that. A good multiple choice story has decisions, it has character development, it's got different pathways to get to different goals and most importantly it's got replayability. There just has to be at least one ending where you die. It's a game, and there's a different way to play every time. This is not a game. These are special containment procedures. And these procedures make a very bad game, but they do a very good job of containing me.

Coincidentally, I disagree with the game's self-identification as a bad game and with its overall design philosophy. The material in the spoiler is only one way of doing things.

Replay: I enjoyed this both times I replayed it.


CRY$TAL WARRIOR KE$HA, by Porpentine

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A violent and sexual metaphor-ridden game centered on glam and Kesha, June 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is one of Porpentine's games that highlights one fact of her games (especially her early games) more than any other work of hers: intense, destructive femininity. This is explored in other works, especially Cyberqueen and With Those we Love Alive, and, well, all of the other works, but it is the lifeblood of the game.

This game centers on being Kesha, infused with powerful glitter and mascara, driving vehicles named after genitals and destroying hater-men in a techno-cyber-surreal-sephora mashup.

It's more gruesome and sexual than I like, and Porpentine herself seems more toned down now. But the production values are really excellent. Few people, perhaps none, have managed to extract as much presentation value out of Twine's basic features.


The Train, by Obter9

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short twine game about a train, amnesia, and identity, June 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

There is a curious sub-genre in interactive fiction about surreal games on a train. There is something about the train as both metaphor and as a constrained, linear, isolated space that makes it ideal as both a narrative setting and a game setting.

Combined, then, these make for a perfect combination when it comes to interactive fiction.

As a standalone game, this one is short and trope-reliant but well-paced and compelling. You wake up with amnesia, opposite an old woman on a train. The game doesn't last long, but choices you make matter.

An interesting short read on a lunch break.


Almost Goodbye, by Aaron A Reed

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Procedural generation, loss, and relationships, June 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game would be a 3 star game if not for the highlighting.

Visually, it's presented beautifully, with background images, multiple textured text boxes, and UI options.

Structurally, as a standard choice game, it leaves a lot to be desired. You have a menu of people and a menu of places, and take turns picking one then the other. For each pairing, you have a binary option or two. There is a lot of text per choice.

But with the highlighting on, you can see the trick of this game: some of the game is procedurally generated. Not in the sense that the game uses predetermined text replacement based on your choices, but in the sense that there is some kind of corpus generating new sentences.

Is this useful for the game? It's cool to see your choices produce new things. But a hand-written sentence would likely be just as good or better, which is the perpetual problem of procedural generation.

Still, the highlighting gave me a sense of involvement, and the overall story was dramatic and touching.


Cup of Frost, Palm of Gold, by Emma Osborne

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A polished fantasy/mythology twine game with extreme branching, June 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I saw this game a few months ago, and I was pretty impressed. It has a beautiful story to tell.

The format is large pages of text with 2 choices at the bottom. The choices split quickly, so you get very little of the game in each playthrough. However, replay is quick and enjoyable. I've seen 3 endings.

The idea is that 4 siblings are chosen every few decades to become demigods corresponding to the seasons. You can choose summer and winter, love or war, peace or sadness.

I do wish their was less extreme branching, with more of the main story in each playthrough, and that it was easier to make decisions based on a strategy, but this is a stylistic choice.


Haywire, by Peregrine Wade

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A great superhero game divided into many small branches, June 9, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game could have been more accessible and/or popular with some design changes. It suffers strongly from ďTime CaveĒ effect. Instead of having an overarching narrative, itís made of a dozen or more distinct threads with very little in common. It branches wildly.

Each playthrough is, to me, a 3-star game. But the whole story is pretty cool. I discovered stuff on my 4th and 5th playthroughs that changes the whole story (although I am ever an enemy to slow-text in IF games ).

I could see this game having been made slightly more coherent, with some of the best scenes always occurring.

But this could all be down to authorís choice. Did the author want most of the game to be hidden away as a reward for the careful reader? Thatís a valid design choice, limiting the number of people who enjoy the game but increasing the joy in those who do. Hanon Ondricek has many games in that style in the past, but heís now done stuff in many styles.

Anyway, this is a pretty cool superhero story.


Time Passed, by Davis G. See

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short, intense twine game about a relationship over time, June 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is fairly short, and can be completed in 4-6 clicks. Each page has some Ďasidesí that take you into a few paragraphs from your past, and one Ďreal linkí that takes you to the next page. The shortness, combined with the absence of strong choices, are why Iím taking a point off. The styling is spare, but color transitions and positioning of various link types show signs of careful thought and polish.

Otherwise, this is an emotional short story about a school crush and a chance to meet them after many years, one complicated by gender preferences.

Itís hard to go into more detail, because thereís just not that much there.


Careless Talk, by Diana Rider

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A slight game with a heavy message about discrimination, May 27, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is short and mostly linear. Many choices that are presented, in fact all, it seems, either don't actually work (your character can't choose them) or has no effect.

Within that short time and constrained play system, though, the author manages to build up an entire world and vividly describe a wide variety of characters. I felt emotionally invested in the game.

I'm not sure that this game would be better serviced by being longer. It has a short tale to tell with a clearly defined narrative arc.

The general idea of this is bigotry, and features a world where magic blends with the era of British sailing ships and naval domination.

I'm taking off two stars, one for interactivity (I feel like the game could have at least remembered a bit of our earlier choices, like the way we handle the bigoted crewman), and one because it has little replay value. It's been over a year since I played, and I remembered the entire game when I just replayed it, finding nothing new. Perhaps this is actually a good thing, a story so vivid it's seared into your brain? But 3 stars is where I'm leaving it for now.


Dreamland, by Tatiana Statsenko (as eejitlikeme)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A small series of dream vignettes , April 21, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is fairly simple, but a pleasant way to pass the time.

You are given warnings about how what you do before bed affects your dreams. Then you fall asleep.

You experience 3 dream vignettes, one with a puzzle, one with little agency, and one with a few moral choices. The order you experience these vignettes in depends on your earlier actions.

This game would be good for an interactive fiction class to analyse, because it has some delayed branching, a variety in choice structures, and is small enough to digest.

However, the game itself isn't strongly polished. I had the impression of grammar mistakes at times, and the visual presentation could be developed more.


The Ballroom, by Liza Daly

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A brief demonstration of an innovative method for changing a story, April 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Liza Daly has come up with quite a few ways of presenting stories in the past, including complex parser games, the precursor-to-Twine game First Draft of the Revolution (in tandem with Emily Short), and the Windrift engine.

This game builds on that earlier material. It is very short, finishable in 5 minutes (unless I missed something major!).

Basically, there is a sequence of choices in the story, each of which can be revisited at any time. There is a bit of hysteresis, a term Emily Short has used before to describe how doing and undoing choices doesn't just put you back where you started, but has lingering effects.


a short walk in the spring, by Amorphous

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A partially-random walk in the forest, April 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This was an interesting game. Perhaps the most interesting part was the author's afterword.

The idea is that you set off to several journeys that are procedurally generated. Along the path, you can control how surreal the messages are by staying on the path or wandering away.

Much of the conversations at the end of each journey were repetitive, which the author states is a bug. It gave an interesting effect, though, almost like a dream, a ghost conversation, or a fading memory.


Writing Program Five, by Dan Cox

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An intriguing experiment that is at times confusing, April 14, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is a sort of meta-commentary on writing and the nature of writing, technology, and maybe a bit of Sci-Fi.

It's format is essentially that of a cited and annotated series of paragraphs, each on separate pages. The presentation is slick, handling different browser sizes adeptly.

There is an extra layer to the game allowing you to access a command prompt with a few actions.

This game constantly hints at their being more, but I felt like that promise never materialized. That may be part of the point, but I feel that somehow just a couple of small tweaks here and there could have made everything gel for me.


Dashiell Hamlett: The Blue Dane Meets the Black Bird, by Tony Pisculli

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A deconstruction of Hamlet in Ink, April 14, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

More than any other piece of Western literature, Hamlet has been mangled up and mashed and transformed, from Hamletmachine to Lion King. But it makes sense, because it's a compelling story.

This version is a mashup between The Maltese Falcon and Hamlet. It borrows heavily from noir tropes, to the point of parody, but it also features heavy elements of surrealism.

This is a short, linear game that maintains an illusion of slightly less linearity.

It's an interesting concept. Some of the surreality was hard to distinguish from bugs at first, and this created a kind of disconnect between me and the interaction.


Our Darkest Thoughts, by Jesse Villa

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short Twine game about identity and depression., April 8, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This short Spring Thing game is in the genre of text games that take a major issue confronting humanity and explore it through a player's story. In this case, it reflects depression.

You wake up in the dark, forced to rely on sense besides sight to discover more about yourself.

This game is dark, literally and metaphorically. It allows you to do anything you set your mind to.

I felt like the game's mild puzzles contributed to a sense of agency. But somehow I felt an emotional distance from the game, perhaps because of my personal feelings regarding the subject matter.


Darkness, by Jeff Schomay

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short contemplative metaphor game based on the new Elm Narrative Engine, April 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is designed to showcase the Elm Narrative engine. Although it's not the first game written in the engine, it's the first I've seen.

This engine is based on the Elm programming language. From what I've seen of the engine, it features less emphasis on branching and more on context-sensitive choices (which would be useful for inventories and such).

In-game, the same link can have multiple effects depending on when you click them. Because the links can scroll out of view, there is a handy top bar listing all active links. This gives an experience somewhere between Twine and Robin Johnson's Versificator engine (which the author praises in an early dev blog).

There was one critical issue that cause me trouble. Due to the large font size, I usually had to rely on the bar, and the bar wasn't always there. I had to tap the up arrow to make it appear. This was the case in both Chrome and Firefox. I know this is just an option in the engine, as the other sample games use a constant menu bar.

Everything else about the engine was smooth and enjoyable. I could see this engine gaining wider adoption.

As for the game itself, it is a metaphorical game about the pursuit of light and darkness. It's short, contemplative, and even melodic at times. I had difficulty making an emotional connection, though, which may be related to my interface frustration.


Quiet, by Martyna "Lisza" Wasiluk

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A contemplative game about the role of words vs expressions in conversation, April 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game joins the growing sub-genre of twine games where you express yourself with emojis (including 10pm, a recent French IFComp game, and parts of Known Unknowns).

The author speaks about being a quiet person and the game forcing you to consider the effects of that. That's an angle I really haven't seen explored before, and it was telling.

I found the game frustrating, because I couldn't guess the effects of my choices. But maybe that's the point? Intentional frustration for the player, depicting the problems quiet people unwittingly cause? If so, it's quite clever.


I Will Be Your Eyes And Hands, by Cam Miller

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short, thoughtful and polished take on dystopia, April 6, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is a take on dystopia in the well-trodden vein of Kafka and Orwell, but I think it does well, mostly due to pacing and attention to graphical detail.

This game is more of dynamic fiction than puzzle. The interactivity is there to draw your participation in the story, and it does a good job of that.


smooch.click, by Devon Guinn

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short game about kissing with great design obscured by the execution, March 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a simple game. It's a random kissing simulator. Input gender, then make some atmospheric real-time twine choices about your feelings, then kiss. Over in 5 minutes.

Reading the documentation and looking at the game structure, though, it's clear there's a bit more here. The game does some state tracking and the best endings are hard to find. Reading the source code, I find the worst endings (found by (Spoiler - click to show)Making choices that increase anxiety) highly amusing.

But finding these endings isn't even possible sometimes due to RNG, and the game doesn't do a stellar job of giving you feedback on your choices.

But perhaps this is an intentional choice? A way to model the inherent uncertainty in romantic relationships?

In any case, this is a fun game to poke around with, especially if you look under the hood. Good styling, too.


+ = x, by Chandler Groover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A twisted Texture tale. Short and obscure, a sci fi story, March 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This was a controversial IFComp game. Chandler Groover, known for writing well-received games with dense, descriptive writing, released a short and cryptic game for IFComp.

After listening to the author talk, and playing it myself, I now think I know what it's all about.

The clear part is that there is a fortune telling machine. People are 'added', which summons them to the machine. There, they are either equalized or multiplied.

After finding the easter egg, I realized on my most recent playthrough:

(Spoiler - click to show)The fortune telling machine is the engine for a spaceship/planet. Each person who is 'multiplied' is erased from existence. The energy from erasing them is used to rewrite the timeline to one where the planet is in another space. Movement by not moving, just changing the timestream.

Figuring this out made me like it more, otherwise I'd give it a 3. Nice presentation and good use of the Texture format.

I still don't know what being Equalized means.


LET'S ROB A BANK, by Bethany Nolan

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A minimal heist game in Twine with strong characterization, February 18, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a shortish replayable twine game where you assemble a team for a heist. You choose people for different roles, such as getaway driver, then see what happens.

It seems like a very branchy game, but a big chunk of branches are eliminated early on by one choice, making it smaller than it seems. The styling is non-existent, using the standard Twine design and formatting.

The characters are memorable, though. It's pretty intense for a humor game, and I played it several times.


Pegasus, by Michael Kielstra

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A short and emotional tale about partners in a futuristic organization, February 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a fairly stripped-down parser game, mostly involving linear conversations and simple tasks where you follow orders. The emotions are on-the-nose, and the descriptions are small.

But I liked the game. For my personal, somewhat cheesy style, this game was a great fit. I've played it a couple of times, and I enjoy the relationship it develops.


Panoptique, by Hugo Labrande, Nighten Dushi

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An illustrated parser game with multiple independent tracks, February 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This French IFComp game was written using Vorple, allowing it to have a dozen illustrations.

In stark contrast to the freedom of parser or the generally linear Twine games, this game has twelve different screens you can pay attention to, each of which has its own timeline. This makes it more like Varicella or Master of the Land, which implement similar parallel timelines.

However, just as with those games, I found it difficult to make and carry out plans.

I believe there may have been an error in the scoring. Despite receiving positive feedback on many of my police reports, and playing through a half-dozen times, my score only went down from 100 out of 1000, sometimes even becoming negative. My final scores were 100, -50, 80, and so on. I checked the walkthrough after and it seemed to say I was doing a good job, so I don't know.


Le jour oý la Terre dťgusta, by Yakkafo

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An amusing take on alien-human interaction, January 31, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game employs two common tropes but combines them in a fun way.

The first is communication using emojis. Like B.P. Hennessy's Known Unkown's and litrouke's 10 pm, you have an array of emojis you can pick from and combine into different emoji sentences.

The second trope is 'aliens communicate and we must decode it', like Contact, 2001, or Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind.

This particular game takes a humorous approach. I was faked out twice at the end, which I enjoyed. I used google translate, as there were many French words I was unfamiliar with.

It's a fairly short game, with 4 chapters and an epilogue, but each chapter being only a couple of choices.

I felt like the game respected my choices and made an effort to be interactive.


Firefly, by Indigo

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A partially illustrated futuristic sci-fi tale, January 28, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a French IFComp entry, and it worked pretty well for me.

You are a cybernetic soldier who has been massively damaged on the field of battle. You have a screen/HUD sort of thing that you can control (the theme of this year's comp is 'screens'). Clicking on different armor pieces gives you different options.

The storyline, dealing with the aftermath of war, goes in fairly standard directions for sci-fi, but I found the presentation charming and my mangled non-Francophone reading ability found the writing interesting. Slick game, and not too long, for any English speakers trying to get some mileage out of Google translate.


Escape Game, by Bryan

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An incomplete puzzle Twine game from the French IF Competition, January 25, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game presented a conundrum to me. As a non-native French reader, I couldn't tell if the lack of punctuation and capitalization was avant-garde or the result of less-than-perfect design processes. However, I reached a point where 2 out of 3 choices lead to death and the third said 'click anywhere to edit this node', so I believe that this is simply an incomplete game.

But the idea of it is fun. It hearkens back to more riddle-based gameplay than most narrative-focused Twine games. You're trapped, and there's a madman with a knife coming to get you. You must find six digits to unlock a door, each digit being given as a reward for a puzzle. Puzzles include logic puzzles, wordplay puzzles, etc.

I would have liked to see this finished and polished. But, in its incomplete state, I can't recommend it.


I Should Have Been That I Am, by E. K. Wagner

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A short game about autonomy and robots with one big moment, January 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Zarf/Andrew Plotkin has said before that he thinks about a certain interaction he wants players to experience in a game, and then builds the game around that.

This game was built around one interaction at the end. Itís a cool interaction, but the rest of the game doesnít do enough to build up to and support this special interaction at the level it deserves. Itís like having a small 1-tier cake with a huge crystal wedding topper that it canít quite support.

The cards were a nice visual feature: this is set in a futuristic Vegas casino, and you can see the cards being dealt.

Overall, this shows a high level of craftsmanship, and I anticipate that a longer game by this author would be great.


Bi Lines, by Naomi Z (as Norbez)

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A shortish, nice-looking Twine game about bisexuality, January 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Norbez has written quite a few games over the years now, including several IFComp games, and itís clear that their style is progressing, adapting, and improving. This is the best Norbez game Iíve seen, and definitely one of the best ďPSAĒ games Iíve seen. Just like Depression Quest for depression or Hana Feels for self-harm, Bi Lines is meant to help you consider what itís like to be a bisexual man in an unacceptably society.

What made this piece work for me was the presentation. Nice chalk/like effects when you click on choices, smooth writing, and a supernatural setting with a reporter talking to ghosts make an excellent frame over the deeper charcterization choices and the central narrative.

This game takes place over three days, but is still fairly short. It contains some strong profanity in a scene or two. I recommend this game.


Campfire Tales, by Matthew Deline

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A campfire tale with randomly generated elements, November 24, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game isn't bad in it's own category, it just happens not to be what satisfies my criteria for stars, which is why it got a low score from me.

This game uses randomization of elements taken from some sort of database (so that figurines might be of monkeys one playthrough or of dogs on another).

The player has some text input, and there are images, but overall it seems like you just get a story to read that you don't have much effect over or investment in.

The game shows a great level of skill, though.


And You May Find Yourself, by VPC

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An incomplete texture game about a surreal world, November 24, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

In this game, you wake up in the world described in Talking Head's 'Once in a Lifetime' song. You have a beautiful house, a beautiful wife, and none of it makes sense.

This is a texture game, and has great promise. Unfortunately, it is not complete at all.

If you experiment with it, note that it has some sensuous scenes.


Linear Love, by Tom Delanoy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A demo for Glyffe, an engine where you physically move through text, November 19, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This was a game meant to show off a particularly interesting engine, but which may not have been the best choice to show it off.

Glyffe lets you navigate (using arrow keys) around a text on screen, with interactions happening when you run over something. There are interesting Glyffe 'worlds' with red FIRE and grey WALLS and DOORS that you can physically interact with.

But this game is just a long text, where running over a paragraph makes the next pop up. The text is interesting, but the interactivity of this example wasn't sold to me.


Awake, by Soham Sevak

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Part 1 of an AI sci-fi story, November 9, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short, incomplete science fiction story.

This game has excellent worldbuilding, you can really get a feeling for the kind of place that you're in. It's a high-tech sci-fi scenario.

However, it feels more like a good first effort than anything else. Formatting is kind of off, with no spaces between paragraphs. The clinical tone isn't quite nailed, with first names being used for researchers (like Dr. Sarah and so on).

I believe a further game by this author, with practice and polish, will turn out great.


Dance in Blood, by Intudia

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short branching teenage camp horror game, November 6, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is in the Intudia system, which was also used for Addicott Manor in IFComp.

This game is quite short, as is appropriate for the Ectocomp competition. It's also a widely branching game. You are a counselor on a bus trip to a camp. You have about 2-5 choices on any branch.

The story is about murder, supernatural violence, etc. and relies on several stereotypes and tropes of teenage slasher films.


The Magistrate's Chambers, by Stewart C Baker

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A Chinese literature-inspired short Halloween story, November 5, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This fairly short Twine story has us playing as a magistrate's assistant, reviewing three different accounts of ghosts by three different characters.

The characters are inspired by the Chinese novel Di Gong An.

I found the setting interesting and the writing well-done. The only real choice was the order of the stories, but there was a bit of a puzzle at the end which I was pleased with.


Please Help Me, by Phillip J Rhoades

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A promising first entry in the Ectocomp competition, November 4, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is the second Ectocomp game I've played by howtophil, and I have to say that it's not as good as his other, and I actually think that's a compliment.

This current game was, as far as I know, the author's first completed work. I remember testing it in the forums. It implements several clever ideas/puzzles, one puzzle in each of four rooms.

However, it sort of attempts too much at once, not leaving enough time and space for careful implementation.

The author's second game in this competition, Wake Up, was written in less time but with more skill. It had a narrow focus, excellent implementation, and a great overall structure. It's clear the author is learning by leaps and bounds.

So I can't strongly recommend this game, but I can recommend Wake Up, and I believe the next games to come from this author will continue to increase in quality.


ZOINKS!, by Elizabeth Smyth

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An entertaining short Twine story based on a classic kids' cartoon, November 3, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a feel-good game, which, as the author pointed out online, is very different from their last game, Bogeyman:

"my entry for ifcomp, which is genre-neutral: "extremely disturbing", "relentlessly horrible"
my entry for ectocomp, which is specifically halloween-themed: light-hearted family-friendly HIJINKS"

This game is based on a classic kids' cartoon, and it holds up well. You have a big, lawnmowery exploration phase looking for supplies before setting up a home alone-like defense.

The game feels slight and smallish, but polished; this makes it perfect for a casual competition like Ectocomp.


The Grievous Miskatonic Modus, by Lynda Clark

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A Texture Halloween game with some great moments, November 3, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is a shortish Texture game with a Halloween theme. You are brought before a macabre group and forced to perform a ritual.

The Texture programming was more complex than I'm used to, which was a nice change. It felt like a real puzzle. At first, I thought it was similar to Moon Goon, with an altar containing 'assorted items', but the ending couldn't have been more different.

I loved the overall plot design in this game. Given its fun-to-length ratio, you should just go try it.


The Experiment, by dk5000p

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An interesting speed-IF that uses audio exclusively, November 2, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

It was great to see something as complex as an audio game entered.

The controls are simple: 1 to say yes, 2 to say no. It uses Unity. I wished there were a pause button, but that would matter more in a longer piece.

The game is made using voice changers. The main 'scary' voice is highly distorted, but I was able to hear it most of the time. Your character's voice is like a chipmunk.

The story is that you've been kidnapped after signing a waiver, and you have to answer questions from a questionnaire. My game ended after two questions.


mESSYWITCH, by B Minus Seven

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A messy game about a messy witch, October 31, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

B Minus Seven writes games that are more surrealist poetry than anything else, and this is no different.

It's unabashed in its content, using profanity, brashness, confusion and vulnerability. It's also very short. You pick from three things in a cross between a recipe book and a shopping list, each one with 1-3 more options before returning.

It didn't really gel together for me, but for fans of B Minus Seven it is a great addition to the oeuvre.


The World the Slugs Made, by Hatless

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A twisted slug-based horror story about modern information sources, October 31, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a political game by what I presume is a non-native English speaker who is very experienced in their own language, as there are numerous typos together with a very creative story.

The game also contains a great deal of offensive material, but it's difficult to tell who it's aimed at; I could see it being equally offensive to everyone, but curiously inoffensive at the same time.

The central storyline is that slugs have changed the world into a hyper-connected group of individuals that subsist on trashy news stories, including stories about Soros and Clinton.

Playing this game was certainly an experience.


Crumbs, by Katie Benson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A political slice of life game, October 31, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a speed-IF game, written in just 4 hours, but it has some pretty good heft; I've seen some IFComp games with less material, and it has nice styling.

It presents a scenario in which you've run out of biscuits, and the effects of Brexit have made it difficult to get enough food.

There are multiple paths, most of which have no choices (which makes sense for a Speed-IF), and the game encourages replay. Probably the best use I've seen of Twine in a Speed IF for creating the most material in the shortest amount of time. A nice game to add to Benson's growing portfolio.


Moon Goon, by Caleb Wilson

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A surreal blood world, caught in a moment of time, October 31, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a neat little puzzle/story written up in just a few hours.

You are in one of Caleb Wilson's bizarre worlds, a world of blood and ectoplasm and strange gods.

You are provided with a multitude of items and left to sort it out for yourself. Every object has a use, and in the end there are 7 ways to finish the game.

The best part of this game is the immersive worldbuilding.


Wake Up, by Phillip J Rhoades

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A short nightmare speed-IF based on a real experience, October 31, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

First, a note about my ratings. This game is very short and is necessarily unpolished (as a game written in just 4 hours). So I took off one star for that.

But I found it had emotional effectiveness, I would play it again, the interactivity worked for me, and the writing was descriptive.

You are having a terrible nightmare and feel paralzyed. There is only a small amount of time to help yourself.

It took me a couple of play-throughs to get through it, but I was impressed at the level of craftmanship in an Ectocomp game. Well done.


This Is A Real Thing That Happened, by Carolyn VanEseltine

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A moral lesson, experiment, or thoughtpiece as an Inform game, September 19, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I found this game to be touching. It's an online-only Inform game that asks you to make a certain moral choice.

It has a unique sort of interactivity that is only available in an online game. Due to the specific response I got, I'm not sure if this kind of interactivity is still operational.

It is short, and deals with the nature of story vs. game (among other things).


Jetbike Gang, by C.E.J. Pacian

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A twiny jam 300 word branching futurepunk story, May 23, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is Pacian's only Twine game I know. Entered in the popular Twiny Jam competition for twine games of 300 words or less, this has a Time Cave type structure. You can see all endings by lawnmowering, but it might be more fun just to explore 4 or 5.

The story is grim and gritty. You are part of a jetbike gang, and the cops are coming. All of the branches are short, and they all paint out a dystopian world of grime and flame and bad relationships. It is a vivid world.


Human Errors, by Katherine Morayati

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A help-desk for wearable emotion-manipulators. Fiction through bureaucracy., May 22, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a complex Twine-and-Javascript based game that reproduces the help-desk environment from IT. You are given a bunch of tickets or help requests to address. You can dismiss them, respond to them, rank their severity, etc.

But instead of normal IT, you're troubleshooting a device that creates impulses in others.

As you progress, your performance is evaluated, and others might respond to you. The story slowly splays out.

It's an odd story, too. Like Morayati's other works regarding technological dystopias (Laid Off from the Synesthesia Factory, Take), the game explores uncomfortable parts of the human condition.

The game takes real-life issues (like the below-minimum-wage oppression of gig jobs like Mechanical Turk, having to buy cheap knock-offs of products that can harm you, workplace harassment, etc.) which people have gradually become numb too and puts them in a startling new light by applying them to new situations.

If you liked this work, I strongly recommend the two other games I mentioned earlier.


Mystery House Makeover!, by Anonymous

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A silly short game involving replacing lineart with clipart, May 11, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This was from the Mystery House Taken Over competition, where IF authors were tasked with revamping the old, famous adventure game Mystery House.

As far as I can tell, this game only allows directional commands, and all that happens in each room is that a piece of original, poor quality line art is replaced with a piece of badly cropped clip art as a joke. I found it amusing, but the game is so small and light as to be hardly there.

If anyone finds additional content, let me know and I'll revise my review.


The Public Tarot, by Marilyn Roxie

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A well-polished Tarot simulator, April 28, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game allows you to experience three different randomly generated tarot readings, complete with illustrations.

This is a polished game, and it incorporates information from a survey done about people's impressions of the cards. So it's almost like having a reading randomly selected from several dozen other people's readings.

It was impressed, but I saw it as an intellectual exercise without gut feeling.


Remember Remember, by Chandler Cash

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An illustrated surreal Twine game with earnest writing, April 28, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game starts you in a dark room with several voices talking to you. There are eight doors, some locked, and others not. Your goal is to escape.

The different voices seem to represent parts of your psyche, and the short game is a game of self-discovery. It is illustrated with hand-made colored pencil drawings.

The writing is littered with typos, and the storyline is somewhat confusing. It was descriptive, though, and good at evoking emotion.


MAR/TEAR, by Iliria Osum

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A poetic exploration of four women's deaths and the cause thereof, April 28, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a fairly brief game written in free verse. It seems to draw on the writings of four famous women who died, mostly in controversial situations (including deaths that resonated in the trans and African-American communities).

The writing was interesting, but the free verse format made it hard for me to make an emotional connection to the writing. It was interesting looking up the four women in the story.


twenty two-hundred, by Sean Navat Balanon

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A brief slice of life in an anime-inspired techno future, April 28, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This Twine game uses appropriate styling and occasional graphics to tell a slice-of-life story in a world where cybernetic enhancements are common.

You have encounters with two different friends whose lives are different than most people's, and explore some unusual technology.

It feels like a brief vignette of a larger world, either a fan fiction, a taste of the author's own universe, or an introduction to a longer game.


The Case, by Axel Cushing

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short, text-heavy twine game about a detective taking a case, April 27, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short Twine game that leans heavily on standard detective tropes. You, a hard bitten male detective, have a female client come in with an extensive backstory that you explore through various links. A lot is made of her appearance, but more in a deductive way than a seductive way.

The woman's story is about suspected adultery. The story uses standard Twine styling and has a heavy amount of text per choice, making it more like a story with distinct branch points and less like a mechanics-driven game or visual art piece.

Overall, I would have preferred some more deviations from the noir formula or some more compelling mechanics, but what's here is done well.


Attack of Doc Lobster's Mutant Menagerie of Horror, by Duncan Bowsman

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A systematic monster creation system speed-IF game, April 22, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is pretty fun. You have a body on a table, with several items you can attach to them. Every single combination of attachments yields a different monster, which causes a different amount of mayhem. The game officially ends after several monsters you create do a certain amount of mayhem.


REALLY, IF / REALLY, ALWAYS, by Dawn Sueoka

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An interesting experiment with human-guided AI interaction, April 21, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is an interesting game. It's a conversation between ELIZA and some human-mediated input that is taken from a collection of computer-generated speech.

The conversations at first are pure nonsense, but later evolve into partial nonsense, with recurring themes of frustration, curiosity, and romance.

There are sexual references in one portion. The overall feel is one of experimental poetry, very appropriate for the Spring Thing competition.


The 4th Break Up, by Papp Růbert

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short game using an rpg-maker that diagnoses your mental illness, April 11, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This interactive fiction game uses a unique engine: an RPG-maker.

There are no RPG elements, just dialog boxes. You have somewhere between 2-4 choices, and the game gives you a diagnosis of a mental illness.

There are some spelling mistakes, and the game is pretty short. But it's creative and uses images in an interesting way.


Murder on the Big Nothing, by Tony Pisculli

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A clever parser take on memory and time with some unfinished corners, April 11, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game reminds me of last year's spring thing game Niney, where you gathered up 'roles' and distributed them to other characters.

This game isn't similar in form or content, but it's similar in creativity. Your motions affect time, and there are hidden stats affecting what you are able to do.

My main interest in playing this game was piecing together the backstory, which was fun.

There were some unifinished corners here and there; many of the standard responses (like X ME) are left with their standard forms. But I enjoyed this.


Nouns, by Andrew Plotkin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A They Might Be Giants Nanobots tribute game with disappearing words, April 10, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is part of the They Might Be Giants Nanobots tribute album. This 'album' consists of Twine games inspired by the songs and their lyrics, and is a sequel to the Apollo 18 Tribute Album of parser games in 2012.

I passed over Nouns at first, as it's fairly minimal. I was learning Twine at the time and downloading games to look at the code, and Nouns had a tiny, tiny 'game map'. Then I realized it was all javascript.

The game consists of one passage, almost all of whose words are links. Clicking on each link transforms the game.

I thought it was random at first, but on subsequent playthroughs, I realized there was a specific pattern involved. I liked it.

I only took off one star because I didn't engage with the game on an emotional level. Otherwise, the game is polished, descriptive, with good interactivity and a nice overall experience.


The Imposter, by Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A crisp and smooth small illustrated Windrift game, April 8, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is the first game to use Liza Daly's windrift system besides her own.

I found the writing in this game to be sharp and evocative; I loved it, and might nominate this for best writing of 2018 when that time comes around.

It's very short, and the interactivity is quite limited, but the visuals are placed very well, and the styling and writing come together in a really pleasing way.


The Eyes That Look Back, by Leno

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A gripping short creepy story about identity , April 8, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I found this short horror story compelling. You are someone, somewhere, intentionally vague, and you have a knack for finding faces on things.

The game is more than just that, of course, but I found it compelling, especially with the multimedia.

I don't want to say too much about it, because experiencing it all is the point. I wasn't satisfied with the conclusions of the piece though, even after experimentation. But that's something that's due to personal taste.

This has nothing to do with my rating or even something I think the author should do, but I wish the game had included a gallery of found faces. But I can satisfy that interest by my own searches. I like this game.


Happy Pony Valley Riding School, by Lynda Clark

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A short humorous horse relationship game, March 18, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is billed as just a demo for doing relationships in twine, which affected my perception of it (in the sense that I assumed it wasnít a fully fleshed game), but it manages to have a lot of heart and some neat tricks.

It is based on a riding school with three different ponies/horses, who you interact with in a couple of branching choices. Each one has its own likes and dislikes, which affect the ending.

It succeeded in its goal of making twine seem more like choicescript, and made me laugh a few times. If it was going to be fleshed all of the way out, I wish it were longer and had better cluing as to the effects of the relationship choices and more endings. But as it is I like it.


Her Majesty's Trolley Problem, by Buster Hudson

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An amusing and odd fantasy game involving a series of trolley problems, February 26, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is set in a fantastical alternate world with animate skeletons and talking pigs.

Supernatural trolleys and trolley lines connect different parts of the world together, and you are a harpooner on one such trolley.

Your task is to be confronted with several situations where the good of one is pitted against the good of many and you have to make a choice. This is the classical trolley problem, and also, in this game, a literal trolley problem as you decide who to run over.

There is also a side mystery uncovered by Club Floyd but which I was not aware of.


Dolores and the Cave, by Magda Knight

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A branching horror story in a cave with a challenging puzzle, February 26, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This was an interesting game.

You find yourself in a cave in a branching sort of exploration/conversation.

On my first play through, I ended it fairly quickly, and I wasn't too impressed. It seemed like a faintly cheesy sort of Halloween story.

But on my second play through, I encountered much more text, and the game became much more developed, with compelling issues and questions together with a nice puzzle.

Overall, I recommend it for fans of horror.


Ex Materia, by Juhana Leinonen

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A smooth, short sci-fi/AI game with fancy text effects, February 5, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game, similar to Leinonen's earlier Ex Nihilo, is a short text-effects-heavy game about a powerful entity questioning its own existence.

This time, though, the game is linked to all of Wikipedia, and debates the worth of existence of an advanced system. Overall, though, like Ex Nihilo, this game feels like a demo for advanced graphics in a text setting. This isn't bad, but the game is very short.

Definitely worth checking out!


Finish your Foe!, by Oliver Frank

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A fantasy one-move game about combat with an ancient vampire, February 3, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game was part of the New Year's minicomp. I was pleased to see that it's a puzzly one-move game, and that the formatting was done well.

The setting is fairly standard fantasy, but it helps establish the setting quickly. You are a sort of paladin facing a 'Red Queen' vampire.

I'm very much into D&D inspired games, and one-move games. But some very basic things were not implemented, like 'pray' (when you're a paladin and the game mentions your orisons). But enough was implemented to be fun.


La TempÍte, by Stťphane F.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A polished, short modernist tale about a storm, January 20, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is firmly in the modernist tradition of the early 1900s, similar to works by Kafka or T.S. Eliot.

The tags on this game include 'existentialist' and 'absurd', and that's a good description.

The game is dream-like; you are in a lushly detailed house where nothing really matters, and the story drives you forward. It's like a Ryan Veeder game without the Ferris Bueller attitude.

Overall, I found it effective, especially because I forgot the french IF commands and had to look them up (on the french play-IF card http://ifiction.free.fr/fichiers/play-if-card_fr.pdf), so at first I was just typing room names. This gives you a description of the room, but doesn't take you there, and doesn't give you the same description as actually being there. This made the game very odd.

Overall, I liked it.


Stand Down, by verityvirtue

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A short, meditative Twine game about a dual-culture paramedic , January 13, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This Twine game is intentionally short and linear, but it's not quite as linear as it advertises; basically, you are unwinding after a long day, and you get to pick what order to unwind in.

You seem to be a volunteer for a hospital, as well as a student. Actions like taking off your boots or untying your hair trigger memories from earlier in the day.

I found it fascinating as a glimpse into another, medical world, as well as portraying a character who seems to be a minority in their current situation.


All Hail The King!, by Luke Skytrekker

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An amusing little medieval/goofy farce, December 17, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I have to give a caveat about my score first; I think this game is really around a 5 out of 10 on the IFComp scale; it's short, silly, self-conscious. But, it satisfies all of my 5 star criteria:

1. Polished: I didn't encounter any errors, and the writing was consistent, and even the plain twine styling seemed to fit the story.
2. Descriptive: The game has a nice voice and inventive language (I chuckled at the word turdburglar, especially because I misread it at first).
3. Interactivity: The game presented me with exactly the kind of options I wanted at several points in the game. It was actually very effective at presenting options that made me go 'Yes! This is exactly what I want to do'.
4. Emotion. I smiled a lot.
5. Would I play it again? Yes, I'm interested in exploring the mechanics.

So this is technically a 5, but on the 'how much will the average IF player like it' scale, I'd give it a 2-3.


Sacrifice, by Hamish McIntyre

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Play as a living dungeon in this short looping game, December 3, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

I swear this game was different the first time I played it. In any case, what it is now is a living dungeon Twine game; you are a living dungeon, and adventurers come in in a cycle. You choose from a menu of 3 randomly generated options until either the adventurer dies, or succeeds.

I thought it was clever, and the graphic was helpful. But I felt like it could be further developed.


The Dragon Will Tell You Your Future Now, by Newsreparter

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An exercise in futility, in Twine format, November 17, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

In 2006, Theo Koutz entered an IFComp game called Sisyphus, where you roll a stone up a hill and it rolls down again. It was a troll game that was smooth and polished.

This is essentially the same game, but with shiny new polish. You have to open some doors, but you can't. Replaying this, though, I found that I actually enjoyed the writing, perhaps more than any other game in the comp.

So this was pretty fun, despite the author's intentions.


A common enemy, by David de Torres Huerta

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A game about conspiracy and aliens, November 17, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is centered around a spy drama, like the Bond movies. It is translated, with several errors.

The main characters is a chauvinist, who 'negs' women and is over macho. That really turned me off.

It does have a clever plot, involving a conspiracy (led by you) to manipulate the world.


Black Marker, by Michael Kielstra

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A game about censorship, November 17, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

You play a government censor in this game. You are given a series of incriminating documents which you have to censor; clicking on various sentences blacks them out.

You are graded on how you do. This doesn't matter quite as much as you'd think, but it does affect the final ending.

I loved the feel of this game, the feel of manipulating documents and being in control. I do wish it had been longer or the the censoring had been more closely integrated with the story.


The Adventure of Esmeralda and Ruby on the Magical Island, by Marco "Erik108" Anastasio

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A cute little Twine tale of kids on an island, November 17, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a cute little game. You play as two kids who are searching for their pet named Sicomore.

You pick the order to visit three locations, then finish off the last location. So there's not much interactivity.

What makes it charming is that it seems like it was designed around a series of characters drawn and named by children, which I liked. The illustrations are provided in the game.


10pm, by litrouke

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A fancy symbol-sliding game, November 17, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game has you speak completely in symbols.

You are bird, a child living with a single male named Ty. Ty has problems, and so do you.

You communicate with Ty completely in symbols. What this means in-game is never explained.

This story didn't grab me, but the presentation was slick, and it's a game worth replaying. Sometimes technical stuff is enough to impress me on its own; however, the author has a great knack for characterization as well.


The Very Old Witch and the Turnip Girl, by Megan Stevens

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A modern fable about a witch and her child, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This story is fairly linear, more like dynamic fiction than puzzle-based or branching cybertext.

In this game, you read the story of an old witch who, out of loneliness, creates a girl out of turnips.

This game has Megan Stevens' most imaginative writing of her IFComp games, and presents an interesting analogy between the witch/turnip girl and parents/millenials. It's short, and worth reading.


Something, by Linus Lekander

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short branching Twine game about routine and its interruptions, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short Twine game entered into IFComp 2017.

It branches in a non-trivial, interesting way. You are lying in bed after an evening with some man and you realize you need to wash your hands. But it's dark, and you don't really want to.

This is a character whose life is centered around routines, and around keeping secrets. I found it interesting, but not compelling.


Nyna Lives, by Sarah Rhiannon Nowack

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A gauntlet of kitty death in a witches story, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This short Twine game has you acting as a witch's assistant for fetching a magical flower.

Every choice that you make leads you either to instant death or further along the path.

The witch who owns you refers to other cats; could this be other lives, or do you play multiple protagonists? A careful reading can reveal more.

The writing was well done, but I would have preferred a different kind of interactivity.

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