Reviews by diddlescatter

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1-9 of 9

Bronze, by Emily Short

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
An excellent piece of work.... but somehow unsatisfying., January 4, 2012

After hearing so much about Bronze, I was expecting a very satisfying and pleasurable experience. This was not the case for me. I played the game through over the course of an afternoon and, although I did enjoy exploring the map and working through the puzzles, I found myself disappointed at the end. I came away feeling like the entire experience was rather hollow and somewhat forced. The game is user-friendly enough, and it's definitely a great beginner's game in many ways. But the execution of the plot feels a little rushed and the meta-puzzle felt anticlimactic. It was as if, even as I did my own exploring, I was being spoon-fed the story without getting to discover it on my own.

Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful love story, but in this version of the tale, I felt that the protagonist's relationship with the Beast lacked very much warmth or deep love. (I do realize this is a "fractured" fairy tale, but generally this refers to a certain amount of humor, whereas this game felt merely jaded to me). I found myself annoyed with the Beast and his continual "voice" in the PC's head, reminding her of his lecherous past and interjecting comments about her current locations. This was especially irritating since (Spoiler - click to show)he was unconscious and, therefore, unavailable for any actual conversation through basically the entire game.

I'm certain many will disagree with my review, but this was my personal experience. Maybe my expectations were too high. Now, with all that said, I want to state in all technical aspects this game is quite exceptional. Emily Short's writing is WONDERFUL (If she ever becomes a novelist, I'll be the first in line!), the map is easy to navigate, and the game is very forgiving and offers many hints.

A word to the wise: beware of red herrings. (Spoiler - click to show)I wasted tons of time exploring the possibilities of the items on the shelf in the Black Gallery, only to find out there was only one useful item in the entire batch. ARRGH!

Mrs. Pepper's Nasty Secret, by Jim Aikin and Eric Eve

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Not just for beginners..., January 4, 2012

Initially I was put off by the fact that this game was labeled as a children's game. Seeing that the reviews emphasized it's appropriateness for beginners, I wasn't all that interested in playing it. However, the title had intrigued me enough that one day I decided to give it a try anyway. I'm glad I did! I liked this game. It was fun to play and very well implemented. The descriptions of rooms & objects and outdoor scenery made me feel like I was right there in the story. (It's actually been a few months since I played the game & I can still picture every room. This is also helped by the fact that, in it's entirety, the area to explore was limited to a house and yard... a fact which I thoroughly enjoyed. No getting lost in this game!) Playing & experimenting with objects was fun... it's clear that the authors paid much attention to detail when implementing the game. I also enjoyed the fantasy/magic aspect. While, in an actual fantasy game, the events in Mrs. Pepper's Nasty Secret would be quite commonplace & possibly even blasé, when placed within a modern-day neighborhood setting, the odd magical elements are mysterious & rather exciting. I recommend this game to beginners & advanced players alike. It may not be challenging for everyone, but it's worth a play anyway, if simply for the sake of the story and the fun interactions within it's setting.

Basic Train-ing, by bpsp

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Untapped potential, February 19, 2011

Oh, the potential this game has… it's almost painful to think about it. I love the story idea. It's got a Twilight Zone feel that makes me think of old classic short stories by Ray Bradbury and the like. That's not to say it's science fiction, but just that it's a circumstance in which there's more than meets the eye.

The PC awakes at the beginning of the game to find himself on a train, with no knowledge of how he got there. He's in military uniform, and is accompanied by two strange and silent companions. Assuming he must have been captured by the enemy, his one mission is to find a way to get off this train. But things are not as they seem.

This story has a very clever and interesting twist. The problem for me was, I had figured it out that twist after about 15 moves. Perhaps if there had been a bit less detail provided early on, it might have carried me along & motivated me to continue, but this was not the case. So, here I was, armed with the information that would have been much more exciting to discover at the END of the game, but I was still at the beginning and hadn't yet solved a single puzzle.

Not only that, but, as expressed by other reviewers of this game, the implementation is very aggravating! Here's just one example: When you give the command, "GO NORTH," the game says, "You must supply a noun." If you say "WALK," it says, "You must supply a compass direction." But if you tell it to, "WALK NORTH" it says "You must supply a noun." ARRRGGHHHH!! It tells you in the room description that there are front and rear doors. But when you say, "EXAMINE REAR DOOR," it tells you, "You can't see any such thing." And so on…

So, to sum it up, here I am armed with knowledge of the big surprise ending, but faced with a frustrating "read the author's mind" journey ahead of me and very little motivation to complete it. Very disappointing. I would love to see this game completely re-vamped with better implementation and a more mysterious storyline.

In spite of my complaints, I'd still recommend this game to anyone, if only for the great concept behind it. Give it a try and see what you think.

Jane, by Joseph Grzesiak

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Extremely linear, but well-written., February 18, 2011

"Jane" is a conversation-based game, with a strong emphasis on story. It is puzzleless, and very linear. It's best approached as a short story.

You start out as Jane, victim of domestic abuse. You are in the hospital, having a cast put on your wrist after, what you claim, was simply an accidental fall. It's clear from the start however, that this injury was inflicted by husband, and you are adamantly protecting him from exposure. No one, not even your closest friend, is privy to the truth about what goes on in your home behind closed doors.

Over the course of the game (and this came as a surprise to me since I had not read any reviews ahead of time) the player's point-of-view changes from Jane's to that of various other characters in the story. And here was the interesting part… One of the perspectives from which you play the game is from the that of the abusive husband. Wow. Switching perspectives between protagonist and antagonist was, in my mind, a brilliant choice by the author. This not only added an interesting twist to the story, but it also gives the player brief glimpses into the mind and motivations of an abuser.

Conversational system:
Personally, I'm always a bit put off by the multiple-choice conversational system, particularly when there is only one choice offered (or when all choices have the same result!). It disrupts the mood of the story too much for my taste. I suppose the dilemma in a linear, conversational type of story is that if the author takes away the player's ability to interact with the story, he faces potentially losing the player's interest. Thus, in a game such as this, the only viable options to keep the story moving (rather than playing "guess the topic" or using the conversational system in games such as "Alabaster" and "Shelter from the Storm", which require re-typing key words from a list of possible responses) are either to present multiple-choice (even if there is only one choice on the list) or to simply have the player continue to "press any key" to continue the story. This being the case, I guess it's preferable to offer a "choice" to the player, rather than having them keep hitting the spacebar to advance the dialogue.

Your options as Jane are limited by the character's own emotional weaknesses. Therefore, actions such as hiding from John, confronting him, searching his belongings, etc… are not allowed because it's not in the character's nature to do these things. This can be somewhat frustrating, but I suppose it's also beneficial since it forces the player to operate within the mindset and self-invoked limitations of a victim.

All in all, this was a well-written story which, hopefully, will evoke in players a greater awareness of the inner workings domestic abuse.

The Blind House, by Amanda Allen

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Psychologically disturbing... in a good way., February 6, 2011

"The Blind House" is reminiscent of suspenseful short stories by authors such as Ruth Rendell. In this game, you play a disturbed individual, tormented by recent events in your life. You are entering the home of an old classmate from college, who is allowing you to stay with her. She is a timid type of person, and seems most anxious to make you comfortable. She is one of the few people you trust, and you felt compelled to call on her in your time of need. You feel unsafe out in the world. And you're exhausted. All you want is to lock yourself away in the dark and to sleep. But even sleep, it seems, is unsafe. For when you awaken, you find yourself bleeding, and the items in your room displaced. Your paranoia increases.

It's morning of the next day. Your friend is out and you have the empty house to yourself. Your mind is full of unanswered questions. And thus begins your search for understanding. But be forewarned as you embark, for in this search you may uncover a darker evil than you had first imagined.

"The Blind House" is a beautiful and disturbing short work of fiction. It is basically puzzleless, and is thus best enjoyed when approached as a story, rather than a game. There is plenty of opportunity for free exploration during portions of the game, but after certain tasks are completed, the story takes over. NPC interaction is limited to multiple choice lists of pre-written dialogue, but this seems to work well in this particular game. "The Blind House" is best enjoyed when approached with an open mind. And it's definitely worth a replay or two (there are interesting clues throughout the story which will more appreciated after having reached the end.)

The Mulldoon Legacy, by Jon Ingold

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Hard to complete without a walkthrough., February 3, 2011

First of all, this game is incredible. I started playing it and was hooked after five minutes (excluding the opening scene, which I couldn't get into at first). Entering the museum, exploring the first rooms, speaking with the first NPC, beginning the transition from the tangible to magical realms. This was very exciting for me.

I had read the author's notes about playing the game without a walkthrough, and I was very excited to attempt this. I made a determination that no matter how long it took, I would not consult any solutions guide. But, of course, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak right? So after days of being at a standstill at one particular puzzle, having exhausting all my efforts and resources to try and solve it, I finally gave in and looked at a walkthrough. And I was completely and utterly disappointed. I still have not figured out how I was supposed to reach that particular conclusion without guidance. Nothing in the game up to that point (Spoiler - click to show)(how on earth was I supposed to know I needed to point at the sign and get the monkey to look at it? I mean, huh?!) seemed to have given a clue as to encouraging that particular action in that particular circumstance. It felt like such an unfair situation that, in spite of having the answer I needed, I found myself half-heartedly playing the game after that (continuing to use a walkthrough), before finally giving up and moving on.

Now, would I still recommend this game to others? ABSOLUTELY! It is a great piece of work, and it deserves every bit of praise it receives. (In fact, I personally think Jon Ingold is a genious). But I do wish that I had been able to play without a walkthrough, particularly since this was the author's own advice.

Suveh Nux, by David Fisher

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Don't be put off by the "magic language" aspect...., February 3, 2011

I must say, I was initially put off by this game when I read in reviews that in this game you interact with your environment by learning to communicate in a language it understands. As a semi-relative-newcomer to IF, all I could think was, AGH!! ISN'T THAT ALREADY THE PROBLEM WITH INTERACTIVE FICTION?! DO WE REALLY NEED TO MAKE IT HARDER?!?! However, I found myself continually drawn back to this game with its strange title, and eventually I just had to try it. Casting aside my misgivings, I downloaded the game and began to play. And, I must say, it was well worth it. I was immediately drawn into the story and my fears about the "magic language" were completely dispelled (no pun intended). There were NO endless "guess the verb" sessions as I had feared. Rather, everything needed to solve the puzzle was provided within the game. What a relief not to have to read the author's mind, as seems to be the case with so many other games. All in all, Suveh Nux was a beautifully simple and enjoyable game. I now laugh at my initial hesitation to try it. After completing the game, my only disappointment was that it was over!

Goose, Egg, Badger, by Brian Rapp

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An ingenious word adventure., February 2, 2011

I had a BLAST with this game. It was one of the few IF games I've played that actually made me laugh aloud. The writing is clever and there are many responses built into the game, so it makes experimentation fun. It's difficult to describe this game without giving anything away, so I'll just say this: For anyone loves clever wordplay, this game is a treat. Huge kudos to the author for this engaging and satisfying game!

The Absolute Worst IF Game in History, by Dean Menezes

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
It's a JOKE, people!, February 1, 2011

I think this game has been taken MUCH too seriously by those who've reviewed it. Anyone "pained" by the experience of playing it obviously did not take the title literally enough. I mean, c'mon! It's called "the worst" because it IS the worst. LOL. I thought it was funny. I'll give it a terrible rating because that's what it deserves, but I don't think the author ever intended anything more. ;)

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