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Reviews by MathBrush

15-30 minutes

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Station spatiale S16 - Prologue, by Samuel Verschelde (Stormi)

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A mid-length french inform game about an abandoned space station, February 22, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This french game is written in Inform and reminds me a bit of Starcross, as you spend the first part in a spacecraft while approaching a cylindrical space station.

The game alternates between linear, exposition-based segments where people tell you things and unusually difficult or illogical puzzles, where being illogical is the point.

The game seemed well-implemented, and the writing was interesting. The author went to a lot of trouble to implement a ton of different responses.

I guess if I could change anything, it would be that the conversation near the end was no conversation at all, just hearing one side of everything. I wonder if some kind of menu system might be good here, since it would fit with the theme of that section. Anyway, I'd be interested in seeing the finished game.

I used the walkthrough the entire time, as there were a lot of words I didn't know!

Poussière d'Asphalte, by Tristan

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A bizarre and poetic french choice game about an old robot, February 22, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this French comp game, you are a robot that wakes up to be greeted by a cute little helper-AI that has a little emoji face.

In this Moiki game (a relatively new and complex engine for choice games), you have to explore everything around you to see if you can be repaired and fixed, as you are close to dying.

Everything you see, though, is rendered in poetic language, as someone has hacked you. A supermarket becomes a body, where you explore the heart, the colon, etc. and a repair shop has become a church.

I probably missed a lot of figurative language due to not being a native speaker, but the concept and execution worked really well. It can be gross at times, but is more often funny or charming. Great game.

Dernières heures avant liquidation, by Fabrice G.

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A French gangster sim, February 21, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a money-based procedurally generated French twine game.

You take the role of a leader in the mafia who is in debt. You go on missions (each giving a certain payout, lasting a certain amount of time, and having a certain downtime, while requiring a certain number of gangsters), get money, and either die after 24 hours (which usually happens), or, if you made enough, win. Your debt and your savings persist from round to round.

It's a pretty short loop, and you'll see the same text a lot. There is some variety, and things change as the game goes along, but I think the main story just wasn't very compelling for me.

It was polished, though, and had a distinctive 'voice'. I spent a while looking at the code after, and it seems very complex.

Sur le temps - Capitaine, by Bstrct

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A twine game about a sailing ship with some looping, February 6, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This entry in the 2021 French Comp is a Twine game where you are in a kind of random loop for most of the game.

So you sail, then you can check your inventory or scrub the deck, then you sail, and you can get drunk or raise the sails, etc.

After a very long time (seeing every scrap of text 4-5 times), a big event with another boat happens, which can have several endings.

The randomness looks complex and the concept is interesting, but in execution I felt it was too tedious. I would have reduced the main loop to half its size or less so the action could happen earlier.

The Covid Assignment, by Northwind

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
An educational CYS game about covid with math tests, January 23, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game from the CYS website is a difficult, branching game about Coronavirus. I found it surprisingly informative and I learned some things I didn't know before.

You play as a professor recruited by the government in the early months of Covid to help them understand the spread of the disease and to make recommendations about it. If you do well, you have the chance of moving up and influencing public policy.

Part of 'doing well' includes doing well on difficult math questions about things like exponential growth and infection transmission.

This kind of math test hasn't always done well in IF before, with games like #vanlife and A Final Grind inserting frustrating calculations in the middle of otherwise normal stories. But in this game, the choices are fair, and undo is available at any time. It uses math to teach instead of punish.

That being said, it's pretty hard, and the questions involve policy as well. In my best run, when I thought I was very successful, I only ended up with 14/50 points!

+Polish: The game is generally well-polished.
+Interactivity: I'm not usually interested in 'only one right path' games, but it's fair and gives you a chance to try again.
-Emotional impact: The topic and mechanical approach left me feeling distant from the story, making the whole thing a thought exercise (though a welcome on).
+Descriptiveness: Especially good at putting difficult concepts into understandable language. I swear a lot of people should try playing this to understand coronavirus better.
-Would I play again? It was interesting, but it more made me interested in looking up what it said to understand it better rather than replaying.

Kerguelen 1991, by Narkhos

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A mid-length French Ink game with art and animated logic mini-game, January 20, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a game in the french comp which is very technically proficient and uses figurative and descriptive language (which left me running to Google Translate more often than not).

You are a bestselling author who ends up on an island looking for inspiration for his next book. You have a phone with little minigames on it that remind me of Lolo on the SNES (mostly involving pushing sliding blocks around).

The island is fairly small, and soon bizarre plot twists happen.

I believe there is some branching in this game. In my branch, I found a minigame where you use a radio to solve a maze and another minigame where you visually push blocks around (like the cellphone puzzle) to open a door, but Jack Welch said he found a Towers of Hanoi minigame, which I did not encounter.

Overall, the story was interesting and it was complex, but I'm not sure how well the disparate elements tied together. Overall, though, it was polished, descriptive, compelling, and had good interactivity.

A Christmas Quest, by Richard Pettigrew

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A complicated present fetch quest in Adventuron, December 26, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is the last 2020 Adventuron Christmas Jam game I played, and it was pretty good.

There is a large map and several independent puzzles to solve, as well as many red herrings that add to the interactivity instead of taking away.

You are an elf who has to find a present Santa lost before catching up to all the other elves on vacation.

Everything was competently coded. I had a little trouble occasionally guessing verbs but not a great deal. The art and writing are good, but I feel like everything was 'good' but could go even further somehow to be 'great', like it's missing some final ingredient. But I'm impressed over all!

Day of the Sleigh, by Dee Cooke

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Compact christmas puzzler with hidden achievments, December 26, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a smaller game with about 4 rooms but a lot of tiny puzzles.

The girl you're baby sitting has gone missing and you have to find her. On the way, you find that Christmas needs your help! But just for a second.

The puzzles are fairly small and mostly well-clued. The game makes it clear that searching things in various ways is the path to success.

The achievements are perhaps the best feature, basically puzzles that would otherwise be unfair are not part of the main story, instead giving you achievements to reward your curiosity.

Feathery Christmas, by OK Feather

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A medium-length humorous Adventuron game about pigeons, December 26, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is an Adventuron Christmas game where the Reindeer are knocked out by your 'special potions' that Santa keeps in barrels. You have to recruit someone else to help!

The art is superb here, adding a lot to the game. The puzzles are a mixed bag, including a logic puzzle and a visually-based minigame where you have to guide pigeons across windy terrain.

Overall, I found the writing to be funny. The whole thing felt a little light, which makes sense since I suppose additional time went into crafting visuals. But it's worth a fun and silly 30 minutes, and I didn't run into any implementation issues.

Jimmy's Christmas Foul, by Kieron Scott

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A minimal parser game with graphics about trapping Santa, December 26, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this brief Adventuron game, you have to set a trap for Santa to make him give you a present.

In writing, graphics, and gameplay, this resembled nothing more to me than a single puzzle (or maybe two) in a Scott Adams game. Everything is stripped down bare, and you have to get things exactly right for the game to recognize your answers.

It works overall as a puzzle, but here is my score:

-Polish: Everything is bare-bones.
-Descriptiveness: Same, the writing is minimalist and mostly just lists of present objects.
-Interactivity: I found the main puzzle frustrating, not in figuring out what to do, but in figuring out how to communicate it to the parser.
+Emotional impact: Despite the above, I found it fun to solve.
+Would I play again? It's brief enough that it could be fun to check out next year.

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