Reviews by MathBrush

15-30 minutes

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Smart Theory, by AKheon

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A criticism of fast-and-easy sloganistic political theories, January 22, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a fairly abstract Ink game (and one that I helped beta test).

In it, you play as a college student roped into a demonstration about Smart Theory. The speaker goes off for quite a while about smart theory, and you can choose between making snarky comments, playing along or being passive.

The Smart Theory is a parody of political theories. As presented, it could apply to both American political parties. Some digs seem aimed at one specific side (for instance, the huckster is selling a book called Dumb Fragility, which from the in-game explanation seems like a riff on liberals talking about white fragility), but it could apply to just about any political theory.

Overall, it has several humorous moments and works smoothly. However, I thought the random nonsense words didnt' work as well (like Bathcunk) and would have preferred more chances to act.

Face Your Fears, by Shawn Sijnstra

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A collection of fear-inducing areas which could use some polish, December 15, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game has you try to encounter 13 different phobias as you explore a small area with some woods and a bar.

The range of possible phobias is pretty big and I learned some new ones (like halophobia and ailuriphobia).

This game is written with PunyInform, a version of Inform shrunk down so that compiled files can run on smaller/retro devices.

However, it doesn't take full advantage of the platform, and is weak in many areas. For instance, there are shelves that have several items on them, as seen from decompiling the code. However, X SHELVES, SEARCH SHELVES, and LOOK ON SHELVES all show them as empty. As another example, the barman tells you to 'try buying <a certain item in the game>'. But BUY <the item> doesn't work. There were many such frustrations with the code. There is one person listed in credits who might have been a tester, but this could have used more testing.

-Polish: There is some rough implementation and some bugs.
+Descriptiveness: The setting is mundane, but the phobias were interesting.
-Interactivity: I felt frustrated by the responsiveness.
-Emotional impact: The storyline and fears didn't really draw me in.
+Would I play again? It's an interesting concept, and I never found 4 of the fears.

Entre lineas de fuego, by paravariar

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A bizarre adventuron tale of a soldier's desperate passion for...letters, November 26, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is an Adventuron game in Spanish, made for Ectocomp.

It has 4 chapters, each detailing part of the story of Sidodorf, a soldier in a war that no longer cares about living as much as writing one final amazing letter. This leads him to desperate and bizarre acts.

The adventuron programming works well here, especially since the error messages give good hints on what to do next. My frequent problem with different dialects of Spanish struck again; I always thought TAKE would be TOMAR, but in this game one must use COGER, which is a strong vulgarity in the Spanish I learned. C'est la vie.

This game was really a very interesting character study, and I think its protagonist may be worth nominating for a Best PC xyzzy award next year. Unfortunately for me and other would-be translators, you can't highlight text to paste in google translate. However, it was overall pretty clear.

Por las calles de Madrid, by Clara Cordero

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Take a virtual tour of gruesome Madrid history, November 26, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is, as far as I can tell, the only entry in the Petite Mort division of the Spanish-language Ectocomp, all others being in the Grand Guignol division.

This is also the most educational game of the competition. It's essentially a guided tour of gruesome Madrid history, from torture devices to famous murders.

I learned a lot. The main interactivity is choosing which area to explore next. There is custom styling which was slightly hard to read (for best practices it's easier to read white text on dark grey than on black backgrounds) but had interesting images and even an embedded google maps link.

Overall, fun to learn from.

Historias de la familia Ferrosa, by Cobra626

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Four tales of a family curse, November 24, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a Spanish Twine game that is an anthology of 4 stories of a cursed family. It's contained in a framing story where you're in an abandoned house and teenagers are trying to creep you out.

The stories are all different, explaining how a member of the Ferrosa family was cursed.

Each one is fairly well written, but the interactivity is fairly negligible. There are some noticeable typos, and the story just kind of stops at the end. Each of the stories themselves left me wanting a bit more; the only one that felt really complete was the love story with fire. The others felt like a lot of build up with not as much resolution as I would have wanted.

Still, the writing is descriptive and the game is visually interesting.

Visita de Año Nuevo con jizo, by Mariela 'Scullywen' and Ruber Eaglenest

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A beautiful story set in Japan inspired by a vintage photo, November 24, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

There is a photo called New Year's Visit with Jizo, Niigata Prefecture by the photographer Hiroshi Hamaya, that shows three young children trudging through the snow, the first one carrying a Jizo, a type of Buddha statue with connections to travellers.

This is a medium-length Spanish Ink story inspired by that photo. Its choice structure is fairly simple, mostly linear, occasionally some choices that are more complex.

The writing is very sweet and contemplative. You are the eldest of the three children, and you have to take care of your two younger siblings as you travel to a distant location. Along the way, you must take care of each other and guard the objects you've been entrusted with. You must also deal with your complex feelings about your late father.

The language of the game is simple and meaningful, and I found it emotionally touching. I also ended up looking up a lot of the Japanese words in the game; they're described well in-game, but I found it useful to find out more about them online.

Tránsito, by n-n

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A short parser game with a brutal story about airport survival, November 24, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a Spanish parser game entered in Ectocomp 2021.

In it, you start as a passenger in a bathroom with a dead body on the floor and a fire extinguisher that you used to kill them nearby. The game then slowly reveals the backstory, along with an urgent condition that you need to fix immediately.

The story takes several dark turns, making this possibly the most brutal
fictional airport experience I've seen. And it was pretty fun!

Playing parser games in another language is always difficult, but I appreciated the list of verbs in AYUDA (although there were some verbs I had to look up: (spoilers for several puzzles) (Spoiler - click to show)cerrar, encender, quemar, and I thought I could use acostarme but it was tumbar. The parser was generaly good, but occasionally there were problems with plurals (I attempted to solve the first puzzle with (Spoiler - click to show)PONER CUERPO EN CUBICULO, which gave an unhelpful error message, but finally solved it with (Spoiler - click to show)PONER CUERPO EN CUBICULOS, and similarly X PUERTA in the final area doesn't work while X PUERTAS does).

I enjoyed the atmosphere and experienced a strong emotional reaction to the game. Puzzles were logical and mostly exploration based, although this game is Cruel on the Zarfian scale (available here). In fact, it has a scenario almost identical to the description of Cruel on the scale. I used a decompiler to help me figure out the verbs and actions for several of the puzzles, but the final real puzzle can't be solved through decompiling so I had to figure it out alone.

Overall, I found it fun.

Museo de curiosidades, by Clara Cordero

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A heartfelt story of a woman's life told through Twine and Texture, November 24, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game is really creative. Similar to the latest Castle Balderstone game, it uses Twine to create a 'hub' that you can play other, embedded games from.

In this case, there is a large page where a woman is remembering many things. Each thing you click on leads to an embedded Texture page that you can play through, employing your imagination. For instance, you can be a shadow trying to grow to scare some kids, or an apprentice witch, etc.

The game's ending has an overall positive and bittersweet message. The stories are cute, with animals and a lot of herbs and plants.

Having every option available at once was a little overwhelming, and the texture pages loaded up a bit awkwardly (after one click they looked good). The embedded gifs were a nice touch.

Intruso, by forta

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A parser-like choice game about exploring a strange family's house, November 23, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This Spanish Ectocomp game uses the Kunludi engine, which (at least in this game) means there are in-game links as well as a menu of options on the bottom, some of which have other options. There are rooms and an inventory as well.

In this game, you are exploring an Addams-family-like mansion on a dare from some friends. You have to find something shocking to show them.

The game is pretty linear; if you explore everything you will eventually progress. It's fairly quirky, like Addam's family, and has some pretty mild sexual content and gore.

Overall, the writing was pretty good, but the interactivity could have been more complex.

The River of Blood, by Dee Cooke

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Explore a constantly-flowing river of blood in adventuron, November 14, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This adventuron game, written in < 4 hours, has a couple of nice pixel art images thrown in, which I suspect was hard to do in the time frame.

It also has a neat mechanic. You are in a river of blood, and objects float by, headed downstream. You have to chase them to check them out. Meanwhile, death, or Charon, or a similar figure is hunting you down.

It was tricky sometimes to deal with the moving objects (and I think (Spoiler - click to show)the dinghy will float away even if (Spoiler - click to show)you are in it, causing some weird disambiguation issues). Overall, a fun little treat, with what must be the most blood of any game in the competition.

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