Reviews by MathBrush

15-30 minutes

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(do not) forget, by lectronice

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An illustrated trippy game about finding meaning, December 5, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game always shows up on lists when I'm searching alphabetically, due to its use of parentheses, so I wanted to review it.

It's a Twine game that makes heavy use of 3d isometric perspectives. You play as a little rabbit whose world has suddenly gotten a lot larger.

The game has a kind of mix of cynical and dadaist worldviews. The characters make rape jokes and use strong profanity, drug use is mentioned frequently, and there is a long quest to see the color of the sky, which can break your mind.

The visuals were very nice. The overall philosophy reminded me of late stage Beatles. I think the game is well put together, but it didn't move me emotionally.

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A Meeting in the Dark, by Autumn Chen

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Defining the relationship in times of covid, November 27, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game takes place in the same universe as Pageant and New Year's Eve, 2019.

This has one of the best mechanics I've seen used in the Single Choice Jam, which requires that players can only make one choice of any important.

What this game does is have many choices in a short-but-not-inconsequential game, but almost all of the options are greyed out (something I've seen in games like Depression Quest, but not recently). So you get lots of 'choices', and can see what you could have tried, but can only make one choice. This is great at giving the illusion of choice in a positive way.

The story is messy, like a lot of real-life relationships are. You have someone you mutually confessed attraction for months ago, but covid has happened and you haven't seen each other. Now you're isolated and it's so lonely. You contact your person and...well, the rest is what the game is about.

Some strong profanity, which seemed to fit the characters and situation. Overall well-written.

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A Study of Human Behavior, by Earth Traveler

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Morality test on an alien ship, November 23, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This parser game was written for Ectocomp.

In this game, you have been abducted by aliens for 3.5 years and are currently being held prisoner by them. They require you to do 2 tests: one with yes/no questions about historical views on morality, and then a practical test.

The yes/no questions are about scenarios from Cicero and Nietzsche, with a fictional viewpoint thrown in.

The practical involves a tense conversation between four characters pitted against each other.

The conversation in this game uses ASK/TELL, but I had trouble knowing what topics could be asked or told, and mainly just asked people about themselves.

Apparently it is possible to win, but I had difficulty doing so.

Interesting concept. It is a speed-IF, and could use more polish, and it is a little depressing, but it's also thoughtful.

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Zombie Eye: Campfire Tales, by Dee Cooke

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Compact, spooky Adventuron puzzler, November 23, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a neat little Adventuron game that is highly constrained but manages to fit a real puzzle in.

You are at a campfire with three friends, and you are about to tell spooky tales. One camper tells the tale, and everyone else participates, including you.

The other campers and a book serve to add complexity to the game, each giving you more options to edit the final tale. Only one tale gives a good ending...

This was highly polished (bug-free as far as I can see) and, thought slight, was enjoyable, especially seeing the effects of your actions on the story.

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Vampire Gold, by Olaf Nowacki

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Standard, classic mini-RPG, November 23, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game was an attempt to make a dungeon crawler in 4 hours, and I think it did a pretty good job in that timeframe. I used UNDO a lot, and had to peek at the string dump to get the tiny key, but it might be fun to go back through without UNDO at some point.

You have weapons and armor, and you fight enemies in randomized combat, with damage and hit/miss chances affected by your weapons and armor. Defeating enemies gets gold (which doesn't seem to have an in-game use) and more weapons or armor. There's one puzzle that doesn't involve fighting.

As a game, it's okay, but as a prototype, it seems you could build something fun out of this. In a larger game I'd like some way to heal and more to do with the gold. But it can be fun to prototype systems in Ectocomp; I did that my conversation system and have used it for years, so hopefully the author got something out of this game.

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Latter-Day Pamphlets, by Robert from High Tower Games

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Witness the decline of an Empire!, November 23, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This Ectocomp game takes the form of a series of pamphlets which describe the current state of the British Empire.

Each one presents a conundrum, which you can solve in several (usually 4) ways. At first, your options are to Acquiesce (which guarantees a moderate stat loss) or to attempt to fix it using one of your strengths (which gives either a slight stat loss or a strong stat loss). Eventually the option to acquiesce disappears.

There doesn't seem to be any way to improve stats; it seems to be a simulator for the long death and decline of the British empire.

I had a couple of sticking points with the game. There were several typos; I myself am prone to them, but if this is in Twine you can print out a 'proofing copy' with the 'proof' button and run a spellchecker on them.

The other issues were mainly taste; I would have liked the stat decrease to remain on the screen a lot longer, as I couldn't even see it as first, with my eyes near the top of the screen. Second, it's hard to figure out what true effect your losses have. I ran through part of it a second time and there didn't seem to be any changes in the pamphlets that depended on my earlier failures, although perhaps there were subtle differences here and there that escaped the eye.

In any case, turning the many negative actions of the British empire into a horror game by just printing what happened is pretty amusing.

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Sunny-Side Up, by PetricakeGames-IF

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A grim game about torture and abuse, November 23, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This ectocomp game was written using Twine.

It's a fairly short game about a man who has kidnapped a woman and a child and hurts them repeatedly. The game indulges in his verbal and physical abuse, almost reveling in it.

There is a slight supernatural element to the game which is stronger in some endings, but mostly this game just seems to serve up unpleasantries, and not in the service of some greater narrative; the torture seems to be the point.

It is polished and descriptive. However, the interactivity is a little bit weird; after one ending I looked around at the code, and it's pretty hard to figure out which action will lead to which result.

Emotionally, it was affecting, as I had a strong negative reaction to it.

I believe this author has a good writing talent, but different people have different tastes, and I'm not the target audience here.

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Among the Haunted, by aurelim

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A haunted family has a frightening Halloween, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a medium-length Twine game about a family that lives in a haunted house...but all the monsters in it are friendly with them, from the voices in the basement to the ghost children.

It has a nicely written and pleasant atmosphere, and kind of reads like books I'd read as a kid. I liked the homey feeling and the way the monsters worked together.

There was some real agency, where you could choose between different paths.

However, the game ends in the middle of the story; I would have given a higher rating if it were finished. Also, many of the background images had large patches of white, which made it moderately difficult to read some of thee white text.

Otherwise, cute family, nice worldbuilding, fun monsters.

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Help! I Can't Find My Glasses!, by Lacey Green

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Brief, unfinished game about school dynamics and friends, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

A long time ago I studied IFComp games and noticed games that were marked as unfinished tended to do really poorly in the voting, regardless of their quality. I wonder if thatís changed now? Itíll be interesting to see how this game places, given that it says it will be updated and that several of the endings cut off in the middle of the story.

Your glasses are missing, and you have to find them! There are two key suspects, Minh and Jaime. All of them and you belong to the same book club.

The game branches pretty heavily, with one early ending being peaceful and happy and another ending I had involved organized crime(???)

Overall, it was fun, but just needs some more work. There were some typos (like Ďpeakí for Ďpeekí, which is funny because Iíve made that same mistake at least twice this week), but not too many.

Itís interesting to compare this unfinished Choicescript game to One Knight Stand, another unfinished Choicescript game in the comp. This game is pretty minimal with just a few choices, but still manages to branch a lot. The other game has over 400K words with tons of choices for each option. Both manage to be pretty fun.

I liked what I saw of this game, there just wasnít a lot.

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Last Valentine's Day, by Daniel Gao

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short, looping love and loss story, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This was a pleasant treat to play, although it was often sad.

Itís a looping game where the same events play out over and over but with variations. Many things are the same: a visit to a flower shop, passing by a statue, etc.

Things change visually as well, with the game getting darker over time.

I liked the writing and thought the loop was fun. I liked the note the game ended on.

I didnít always see a clear progression between the different cycles. At first it seemed like things were getting worse and worse, and the darkening would imply that, but in many ways that didnít happen. Maybe it was just about change? Itís okay for things not to have clear progression, but the background darkening seemed to indicate there would be. In any case, this was well written and Iíd definitely play another game by this author.

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