Reviews by MathBrush

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



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