Reviews by MathBrush

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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 Anaïs 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 Cabanié

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 entière, 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 quête de la cité 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.

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