Reviews by Dan Fabulich

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Infinite Adventure, by A. Scotts

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
More than it seems, October 18, 2021

This game was released as part of IFComp 2021 alongside another game, And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One, which is an excellent game about playing THIS game, Infinite Adventure. IA is effectively a "feelie" for ATYCtaHNUtPO, a bit of extra content designed to enhance the experience of playing ATYCtaHNUtPO.

BEWARE that IA doesn't work properly in DOSBox 0.74-3 on 64-bit macOS or Linux. (The text is messed up, with missing letters.) Use DOSBox-X instead. https://dosbox-x.com

IA is a procedurally generated adventure game. Each time you play, there's a small randomly generated map, a goal, and an item to take to the goal. Sometimes the goal is an NPC, so you'd give the item to the NPC; sometimes the goal is a pedestal or a chest, so you'd put the item in/on the goal. You "win" a round of IA when you deliver the item (or "lose" if you deliver the wrong item).

But there is also more to it than that. Spoilers follow for both IA and ATYCtaHNUtPO; I recommend not reading the spoiler until you've beaten ATYCtaHNUtPO and a few rounds of IA.

(Spoiler - click to show)There's a fractured wall between ATYCtaHNUtPO and IA, where objects in the IA game are also present in the "real world" of ATYCtaHNUtPO. This version of IA does something similar.

(Spoiler - click to show)Some of the stuff in the office from ATYCtaHNUtPO is here.

(Spoiler - click to show)Some of the NPCs are, too.


Taste of Fingers, by V Dobranov

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Inadequate treatment of themes of racism, October 18, 2021

If you check the about screen before playing, you'll see that this game includes a disclaimer:

Disclaimer: The thoughts, actions and attitudes of the characters in this work do not reflect the views of the author himself and in many ways contradict them.

This game depicts some fairly deplorable attitudes, including racism, without rendering any clear judgments about those attitudes. Note that the author doesn't say anything about his own views.

But, why not?

(Spoiler - click to show)The game is about the main character hiding in a closet due to a pandemic apocalypse; the story is told in flashbacks, exploring the main character's memories.

Later, it becomes clear that a man-made racist disease has spread, a disease that targets different races differently, and that it turns people into zombies.

But, in the twist ending, it appears that the main character was actually a zombie, but falsely perceives everyone *else* as zombies. He sees a couple of people who he thinks are zombies, but turn out to be government officials in hazmat suits, killing zombies. (In fact, we don't even strictly know that the main character's point of view was incorrect, except that there are multiple characters who perceive the main character as the zombie and themselves as zombie killers, and the main character has a nightmare that agrees with their point of view.)


Why tell this story about racists without taking a point of view? Is the moral of this parable that racists and anti-racists are both equally right, or equally wrong? Are they at odds because they're all insane, unable to perceive each other's points of view? (Or is it just the racists who are insane in this way? Are we all insane racists?)

Zombie stories have a long history of racism, and a long history of erasing their history of racism from the public eye. "Pop culture has used the zombie, fraught as it is with history, as a form of escapism, rather than a vehicle to explore its own past or current fears."

I'm afraid that the author's answer is to shrug: I dunno, I just wanted to tell a zombie story about racism because it's fun. Come on, man, can't we tell a fun, escapist story about zombie pandemic racism now and then?

To that, I say, no. Zombie stories don't have to be fun or escapist, but when they are, it's because the zombies are simply evil, without moral complications. There's nothing fun about suspending judgment about zombie pandemic racism. If the author was aiming for fun, the added racism themes and moral dilemmas work against that goal.

And if the author wasn't aiming for fun, then what's the point? To raise the question "is racism as bad as anti-racism?" Why??


The Golden Heist, by George Lockett and Rob Thorman

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Lovely, October 12, 2021

A beautiful piece. I especially enjoyed the background music.

The game is set in ancient Rome, during the reign of emperor Nero; your objective is to rob his palace. The description describes the game as a "comedic historical heist caper" but I would describe it as more "tense" than "comedic."

The slowly revealing text mostly annoyed me though I suppose it did help to build suspense. I wish I could control the pace of the text, because I can't imagine playing the game again while … waiting … for … each … sentence.


After-Words, by fireisnormal

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Lots of inventory puzzles, October 12, 2021

This is the kind of game where there are just a zillion inventory puzzles, so many that the primary puzzle of the game is just remembering which puzzles you've already seen. ("Didn't somebody need an object like that? Where was it??")

None of the puzzles are particularly surprising, and the very sparse writing doesn't really help establish a sense of place, IMO. (This seems like a poetic place, rather than a place that makes any internal sense.)

You can play the game on autopilot if you click the hint button too much; try to keep notes, instead.


The Belinsky Conundrum, by Sam Ursu

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Crashed, October 12, 2021

I got about three choices into the game and it crashed. I selected "oh my god" in response to the explanation of what OPERATION SNOW is, and the game just… didn't respond any more. There's no restart/reset button, so I'm just stuck. I can't play anymore.

IMO, a game set in Facebook Messenger should should be a chat of some kind, like Lifeline or Emily is Away.


And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One, by B.J. Best

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Charming!, October 2, 2021

We played this at the Bay Area IF Meetup. It's an incredibly fun zany meta-adventure. (We found the good ending, but for all I know, I'm still stuck in the game even now!)

Only one minor problem we encountered.

(Spoiler - click to show)
We first picked the "bad" ending where you decide not to give Riley any of the important items. Apparently there's a funeral, which is pretty dark, but then there's a phone call back in the '80s? That was extremely confusing, and I'd argue it's too confusing if you haven't seen the good ending yet. I think it needs another line, like "Despite yourself, you remember your last phone call with her."


Party Is Such Sweet Sorrow, by Anthony Smith

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Short and sweet, September 29, 2021

I liked a bunch of the puzzles. (I especially liked the Mayor.) Some of the puzzles were harder than I would have liked, but that’s why I wrote invisiclues.

(Spoiler - click to show)I think fixing the robot bartender was too hard. It required pulling together several unrelated hints in a non intuitive way.


A Difficult Puzzle, by Kenneth Pedersen

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Unfairly clued, annoying to operate, August 29, 2021

This game has approximately three and a half puzzles, but only two of them are good, IMO.

I can't imagine that anybody will solve it without using the game's built-in hint system (Melinda) and asking her about everything.

Even then, IMO, the silver key puzzle is too hard/unfair. (I was unable to solve it without reading the author's hints posted on the ADRIFT forum.)

On the silver key puzzle: (Spoiler - click to show)I thought the poster rhyme was telling me to turn to page 6 and stand in the western room; that made at least as much sense as the correct answer, and is compatible with Melinda's suggestion to think about numbers.

The game is also annoying to operate, but it's hard to talk about that without spoiling the game's central mechanic.

(Spoiler - click to show)The game's central mechanic is that moving clockwise increases the book's page number; moving counterclockwise decreases the page number. Leaving the book in the recess allows you to switch rooms without changing the page number, allowing you to "dial" the book to a number of your choice.

Two out of the three puzzles are entirely about guessing a page number for the book and navigating to it.

But you can't "turn to page 624," noooo… you have to laboriously put the book in the recess, go to the right room, get the book, move clockwise, put the book back in the recess, go clockwise, put the book back in the recess, go to a smaller numbered room, move counterclockwise, etc.

It's even worse if you play it in the ADRIFT online web player, where each command can take a second or two.


Yesternight, by Robert Szacki

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
One puzzle, and it's kinda busted, July 4, 2021

It's interesting to make a game in AdvSys in 2021. (Note that you can play it in Gargoyle for Windows, macOS, or Linux, or Spatterlight for macOS.)

The game is extremely minimal. Five rooms. You can win the game in a dozen turns, without any meaningful optimization.

There's an item you can take, the book, that as far as I can tell is completely unimplemented; "x book" just says "nothing special" and the game doesn't have a "read" verb.

IMO, the flower puzzle is kinda busted. (Spoiler - click to show)You have to "POUR FLOWER" when you have the full bottle; "POUR BOTTLE" won't work. This took me ages to figure out, because "POUR FLOWER" isn't grammatically correct! You're not pouring the flower, you're pouring water (or the water bottle) on the flower.


Grandpa's Ranch, by Kenneth Pedersen

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Cute intro to IF, July 3, 2021

I wish this game weren't in ADRIFT, so it could be more easily playable online, and so it would work on macOS and Linux. (This game feels like a particularly good fit for Adventuron.)

I got stuck on the laptop password. (Spoiler - click to show)If you follow the tutorial, it will lead you to “say kennedy” to Molly. There is a good reason the tutorial advises you to do that.

Otherwise, the game was simple and charming.



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