Reviews by darlarosa

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Home Open, by Emily Boegheim

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Fun game/, January 13, 2016

Parser games are a matter of personal taste. This one is fun and well written. Loved the little details about the house.

But I hate parser games and found myself getting stuck more often than not. It's so much fun, but for me this will take another round of two to crack. My frustration is this, like many parser games, gets so frickin specific. It's a good fun game, but eh not everyone's tea cup.

Find The Woman Of Colour At The Game Jam, by sui

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Understand the feeling, but not enough here., January 13, 2016
by darlarosa
Related reviews: slice of life,

There are all sorts of interactive texts, and I find that having limited options can be a great thing. This story most reminds me of "The Writer will Do Something", but unlike that game does not manage to fully immerse you in the alienation or hopelessness of the situation. I think with a good writer and an audience that is open to the experience limitations on text can be effective. Here I found it boring and the game felt thrown together.

I'm a black nerdy woman(full disclosure) and have ,partially a result, inhabited mostly white spaces. Not because there aren't other nerds or nerds of color in America, but just simply because we often aren't aware of those spaces or stay in them long,and this author hits on why. You feel alienated and it's hard to communicate ideas to people who don't see any value in them. So I could identify with this story, however, it ultimately falls flat because it didn't fully make me connect at all.

The most unfavorable aspect of this game is that it never stays in one place for long, never explains those emotions or lets you marinate in them. I've experienced what the protagonist has many times, but it never quite captures the depths of it or how one deals with it. It doesn't seem like this work understands itself, or understands the necessity of good pacing and staying in the moment.Throughout the text people are referred to by their race and gender, but referring to people by labels doesn't add anything to the text. It's not ironic, the author doesn't create a sense of distance that emphasizes why that is done or what that means. If the goal is to communicate alienation it doesn't. This story is worth telling, but the way it is told strips everyone of their character in a way that leaves no real room for investment.

It just seems like nothing is expanded on. It's just thrown down and assumed to be felt and understood, and it is not.I think this game could be remade into something fuller, greater, perhaps with black humor. But right now I consider it an honest solid effort that falls flat.

My Name is Tara Sue, by Maki Yamazaki
Good layout and interesting story *spoiler*, December 30, 2015

This is one of the most visually appealing stories made in Twine. If you have difficulty reading due to certain fonts or text layouts, as I do, this format works so well. Color choices, placement of text, and length of passages were great.

As to the story itself I found myself getting really invested in "Your" well being. The depiction of mundane existence is aided by text appearance and passage structure, so that you feel the way mundane choices weigh in your mind. Another example is the path of angering your boss. You see the anger build and I found deep satisfaction in the choice to literally just walk away and leave him standing there like an idiot. Most stories would have "You" cowering, but it felt so empowering to just have that option. What is in the story is great and makes for a fascinating read.

However other reviewers are kind of right. Despite the pros of the writing and the nice way passages are written there are issues. What most stands out is some choices in the text are kind of arbitrary, which on one hand serves to reinforce the importance of every day decisions. However, a fair number of those choices seem so minute, but have a massive impact on the story directions. At the same time some major decisions simply don't matter. What compounds this is while the game says there are ten endings after six play through most of them only differ by where you die and I got many of the same endings twice, and I wasn't quite sure what to do different, by the sixth play through it seemed like all the endings were leading to basically the same sort of ending, so I kind of lost interest. That being said the endings I did see were well-written, and I particularly liked the more abrupt "teddy" ending, but even that was brought about by arbitrary choices.

That aside it was still satisfying, and held my interest for a while. I will probably try again to get the endings later.

Truth is Ghost, by Joel Goodwin
Not to my taste but solid and fun., December 29, 2015

Based on a short story, "Truth is Ghost" is a fascinating exploration of perspective, the paranormal, and murder. As you navigate a variety of character's perspectives you get more and more of a complete picture of events before ultimately coming to a conclusion. My main critiques of the game was that after three playthroughs the full story still eludes my full understanding. Further some of the characters seem little beyond highly exaggerated archtypes rather than full fledged characters even though you basically have their POV at different points. Part of that may be the limitations of keeping a multi-perspective view IF manageable and concise. As a person who loves the IF world for ultra rich and off-beat characters this kind of put me off. Yet it would be wrong to assume these characters aren't fascinating. Ultimately missing some details may be my own fault, but the world created is a bit weaker because a lot of details are left up in the air even for characters who are privy to more information than they share with other characters. Of course, I'm probably being nit-picky because regardless I enjoyed the story!

Bottomline is this a fun game with some minor quirks that meant it wasn't to my exacting taste, BUT it is a fun fantastic little game that most players will love to explore. Highly recommend it to anyone who loves paranormal thrillers and multiple perspectives. Awesome piece. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Trumped, by Soda51

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Full disclosure, not a fun one., December 29, 2015
by darlarosa
Related reviews: politics, satire, parody

I consider myself a progressive liberal( full disclosure).

Full disclosure, that has nothing to do with why this...."game" stinks. Foremost it is a game in the barest since with the barest interactivity or points of strong interest to engage you. Twine is without question a means for individuals to share perspectives, experiences, and opinions. After all what is any piece of writing except that? Even the description of objects can be opinion based (I cannot often separate the feeling of cold and wet, so my description of a can of cold soda may differ from yours for instance.)

However, this is a pure and simple very confused propaganda piece by an author whose intentions seem both unclear and sincere. At best this "game", and I use the phrase lightly, is a rant by the writer, a result of constantly being bombarded by "Trump-mania" on both sides of the American political spectrum. Certain answers to questions are actually quite clever, while others are lazy and simplify certain bigotries and beliefs, as clear cut and always in your face. Of course, parody/satire often tries to simplify things to an absurd degree, but it isn't as successful here as it could be.

One of the clever segments was a question that asked "When did America stop being great?" and one of it's answers was "When I grew up and gained adult responsibilities". That's clever because it is often true. We, as humans, generally look back at the past as being simpler more peaceful times, even though truth is we were often too young to really grasp the world around us. Even for a black woman, such as myself, certain periods seem in some ways simpler than today despite trials I would face in the 1970s or 1920s. Incorporating that sort of awareness shows signs of the author's potential. Yet those glimpses are mired in cheap shots and that nagging sense of being ranted at even if you agree with the author's perspective in certain places.

And here's the thing. I hate being so mean, and part of it is I just finished playing, but I have such a strong reaction because it is obvious this person knows code and has ideas. I don't care whether you're republican, democrat, or part of the Intergalactic Peace Party for Purple Citizens Rights from the 4th Dimension (IPPPRD if you will), but when you do something like this you have to put effort in to really make it concise and effectual. It's not writing a story, but writing the hardest of genres humor, parody, and satire. This seems kind of thrown together in terms of writing, which doesn't serve it's genre. This "game" is all over the map in terms of tone. And the author seems aware that this "game" stinks. Trying to be "meta" about it doesn't change the fact that you are basically telling your audience the game isn't as good as you could make it, or are just offering them a lemon. That is something that makes going through the whole thing hard because the player feels like you are wantonly admitting to wasting their time, and that is not ok for a game this long. That's what galls me and I'm trying to think of nice things to say, but the entire game as a whole elicited primarily, "Really? This is what you want to do. Ok? I guess."

It's not the worst thing in the world! Do not think I'm saying that. It just wasn't effective. In fact it is far from it. It is relatively visually arresting well put together in terms of code and text, though it could be prettier, but it's prettier than most. Certainly more arresting than my twines I admit. The "Thank you for playing" screen is the funniest part of the whole game, and legitimately got a chuckle. Further there seems to be a sort of meta critique of IF/Twine games being a way for people to get "too personal" or to moralize/politicize more than tell a story naturally that has moral/political/personal elements. I want to believe that the greater, "meta game" theme, is that this is supposed to be a parody of that to an extreme degree, which I find clever. Once again there is talent here. I see it and that's what disappoints me. It's not an utter flop, but it flops hard not because of a lack of talent, but because either:
A) Someone just wanted to make and publish their Trump rant.
B)Someone got Lazy.
C)Why not both?
D) Why not Zoidberg?
E)The author is talented in other arenas than parody or satire, and stretched themselves too thin here with no feedback on if any of this actually worked for anyone regardless of political ties.

I apologize to the author for sounding so cruel, but I try to be honest about my reactions.

Out West, by veoviscool12
Fun quick game., December 29, 2015
by darlarosa
Related reviews: western,

The Good
- 8-bit art definitely set the sort of aesthetic, and helped add to the retro "do it yourself" vibe. Really nice. The ending art in particular was effective.
-The descriptions of the figure were nice.
-Ma's advice was well written. The western style sayings were enjoyable and interesting touches that added a real nice touch to the story. It made it both more personal and more real.
-I enjoy the death scene structure very much. It's clear, brutal, and deeply satisfying because it doesn't drag it out and it doesn't make it too abrupt.

The Not-so-Bad?
-Occasional awkward wording (" You steer your steed")
-The choice between objects feels a tad forced and out of nowhere.
-While the old west wisdom of Ma is also gets a tad tedious and I did find myself wondering if Ma only spoke in wise sayings. Not necessarily a bad thing.
-The twist was ok? I have many questions about who "Ma" is if she exists. I just couldn't dig it. It felt sudden and as though I was supposed to just accept it as a "neat twist", which doesn't work well here. If this was a longer game, where you not only see Ma, but get strong hints of "Your" true nature and nothing seems quite right it would be a better reveal.

The Verdict
A quick way to spend some time in the old west, while enjoying some nice 8-bit graphics.You definitely feel like the choices matter, and like you have to act quickly. Worth a play, but perhaps not as gratifying as one would like.

Transilience, by Glass Rat Media

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting take on sleeping beauty, December 14, 2015
by darlarosa
Related reviews: adaptation, fairy tale,

Firstly, this story is well written and an adaptation of the authors short story. It takes you into main characters head very well. This isn't the sort of IF where you have agency, but one where you're following along as she, the protagonist, tells you the story. Even still it achieves this intimacy that makes you feel so close to her. That intimacy is key to understanding how the Sleeping Beauty myth is honestly, and I say this as a girl who loved the Disney version as a child, pretty terrifying. I've read T.L Bodine before and just love her work. She's a great writer though I've never read her adapted story on which this is based.

The surreal nature of the character constantly shifting spaces is an inventive way to toy with an old fairy tale. I loved the idea and most of the execution. However, I found myself constantly lost about details that need to be very clear to the reader so we can follow the protagonist's state and how we should react to the story. It seems like we're constantly jumping within her jumps. By that I was never sure how old the version of her we're following is, or whether their are multiple psyches of hers we're following. The passage about Brittnany threw me for a loop because previously the protagonist sounded like she was at least 14, and quite frankly she gets older as she describes her jumps in ways that sound a bit too mature for someone who has no idea about "kissing" and "babies". I knew about that stuff when I was 12, and I knew girls who has kids at 13 and 14. She may not know the nitty-gritty, but she should have a slightly better picture if she's older than fourteen.

Unpolished, by Sparklebliss
It does exactly what it means., December 14, 2015
by darlarosa
Related reviews: slice of life, dress up,

It's a very short game about painting your nails, and it certainly does what it says on the tin. It's quickness is a virtue and it has a bit of humor in it too. It's kind of funny that such a small decision that most people don't think about actively is sort of a chore and yet even if it's done you aren't quite happy. It's the little things in life that can be a bit interesting.

A Man in His Life, by Yehuda Amichai and sub-Q
A fine adaptation, December 14, 2015
by darlarosa
Related reviews: poems, poetry, life, man, men,

I must admit the timer caught me off guard, until I realized the hourglass really was measuring the time to read this beautiful poem. In terms of adaptations this is a clever piece. It makes for a relatively quick read, and it's done beautifully by unfolding the "link" passages of the poem, by unfolding them into the spaces between the lines of the poem. I think it's a very successful adaptation. It did exactly what it needed to do, which is emphasize the theme of the poem without taking a way from it. While this cannot fully replace an original reading it is a wonderful accompaniment.

the last love song, by Some Strange Circus
Ambitious, but falls short, December 14, 2015
by darlarosa
Related reviews: romance, relationship,

This story is a very ambitious piece, but unfortunately falls flat in a number of places. I will start with some basic thoughts and then some of the larger picture items.

For starters this game does not use capitalization, which isn't an inherently bad thing, but it reads as somewhat lazy when the story is about this mature subject matter. It just is kind of unappealing for the amount of work that was seemingly put in it when looking at the website. Also the title has no reason to be there, and it doesn't fit the text because there doesn't seem to be anything to do with music. Next the first passage doesn't grab the reader's interest. It's mostly onomatopoeia's and it's done in a way that one of my favorite writing professors( Jessica Anya Blau if you want to read her stuff) always said was one of the problems with second person. It is an attempt to create something that can't really be captured in text without a gifted hand. Starting with blinking isn't interesting and it isn't notable really. It would have benefited the story to have started with the feelings and emotions of the character waking up.

There are subtle nuances in the writing that are rarely done and done well. The fact that the boyfriend and the protagonist are caught off guard and he calls her out, almost insulting her is great. Another passage that I liked , for example, was the passage about doing nothing. A number of the endings seem to just "end" without anything happening, but the choice whether to speak or not should leave a bit of impact. Not doing so is kind of a disappointment to the subject matter. Overall there are some passages that capture things well and really shine out, but the overall experience leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn't offer anything particularly insightful or new, but it attempts to tread on this ground in a different and more down to Earth way. But there just isn't enough in the way of results or meat to really impact the player/reader.
I once read an article that accused most IF of being like personal narratives, and while the article was almost insulting to everyone who wasn't in the writer's inner circle, the spirit is applicable here. There needs to be more detail. Why would we want to stay with him? What makes us special? What does our fear feel like? There's a way to go into that in second person that wouldn't compromise the imagination of the story. Without those details many passages feel like a straight script of an event where the player/reader has no agency that matters, doesn't achieve actual intimacy or investment with the situation or characters. Ultimately there's nothing to leave you satisfied even when the characters get a "good" ending, and they have no real problems. What problems there are do not get to experienced, but are told to the audience. Those problems and what they mean never felt by the audience. It is almost assumed that people will connect, and that's not true. I have had many relationships where this sort of conversation has occurred for a variety of reasons in many ways. Still the scenario as presented without real feeling, context, or umph lacks maturity and any impact.

There are some really good bits of dialogue. The character's have a nice voice and the use of space between them is a beautiful touch that people often over simplify. Those two things are the most convincing parts of this story. And I'm not trying to insult the author, but there needs to be a lot of thought on these subjects. People live them. People read them. People watch them on television and film. You really have to up your game and think hard about the whys, whos, and whats along with how to make them bring in the reader.

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