Reviews by manonamora

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Insatiable Jeunesse, by filiaa
To hunt or not to hunt, that is the question..., April 9, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: French, nouvim3000

Insatiable Jeunesse is a short "storylet"-based interactive story, where you incarnate some sort of creature needing to hunt down people to keep young. You come across potential victims, judge the situation (will you be satiated? is it dangerous), before you get to choose whether to eat or move on. But, watch out, if you're caught or starve, it's game over!
There are (as far as I could tell) three endings: the good one, dying of hunger, and getting caught because you were too suspicious.

The blurb describes itself as an unbalanced prototype, which is pretty on point, as you end up going through the different potential victims pretty quickly and it is *very* easy to die (or I could just be unlucky). Quite a good deal of randomisation, in the situation text (variation in victims, feeding and danger levels) and in the consequences of your action (how suspicious you are before you are stopped). The game requires quite the balancing act to win.
I am sure it is possible to win, but I have still not been able to do so...

On the game page, the author described their plan for a future update with more narration and locations, and a more balanced gameplay. I hope I get to play this update one day!

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Meurtres en eau profonde, by Narkhos
Deep water murder mystery, April 9, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: French, nouvim3000

Meurtres en eau profonde is a relatively short Binksi game (mixing Bitsy and Ink), where you play as a rookie goldfish police officer given their first ever case: finish the case left behind by the former Inspector. Interacting with the different elements and locations, you will find how deep the mystery goes.

Since it was made in Binksi, you need to use the keyboard arrows to navigate the little orange goldfish around the screen, and to interact with the different elements. There are a handful of puzzles (like fixing a computer or cutting down weeds) to progress through the story and unlock further interactions.
As you are an officer on the case, talking to witnesses and perps is also an important task of the job. The game includes conversation trees, with options hidden until you find a certain item or information.

The mystery itself is pretty simple, it is just a matter of whether you interacted with all the relevant items or asked the relevant questions to reach the end.

Thought there wasn't really anything to do in the museum, it was fun to explore it and see "humans" on display. I also, for good measure, got drunk on the job (it's just for fun, and does not impact the game. I laughed out loud having to bypass the computer security in the bar too.

This was a cheeky little game, which I enjoyed quite a bit!

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Hidden Gems, Hidden Secrets, by Naomi Norbez, Josh Grams

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Not so hidden secrets, April 2, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: seedcomp

Hidden Gems, Hidden Secrets is a Twine game set in a Discord server, where members of the Hidden Gems Of Poetry Group interact, led by Dr. Cornelius Harper, a retired professor with a passion for poetry. Prior to the creation of this space, each member had some sort of connection with Cornelius (who calls himself Corn), many seeing him as a mentor. The server is also moderated by his trans grandson.

But on that day, two collisions shock the group: a literal one, leaving the life of Cornelius in the balance waiting for surgery, and a more metaphorical one as a secret threatens the bond of this small community. Obviously, the two events couldn't have come at a worse time...
In between beats of conversation, we are able to see personal exchanges between Corn and each member, during different time periods. These, coupled with the live messages in-chat, allows you to paint a clear picture of the man and his actions. There are hints from the start to what is going to happen, and what has happened (Spoiler - click to show)who knows how many times. The implications are pretty damning.

Honestly, I thought this game was completely linear at first. Before sending the first message, I tried clicking on the side arrows to see what it would do, but since nothing happened, I chalked it off as just "for show" (turns out, not every message has a choice, but the arrows always look the same). So I had, for better or for worse, the "middle ending" right off the bat. I've checked the other two endings, and I'm certainly glad I got this one first. Though none of the path feel "good", one feels realistic but disappointing (in the other members), the other quite uncomfortable (though it could probably lead to a "better" outcome for most).
Though I think most players would favour the more salacious choices, with how they are listed on the screen...

I think it would have driven the point further if we were able to go through previous conversations in the server. From the first live conversation, it is clear the users know each other well by now, and have created strong bonds with one another (and with Corn). But the only channel with potentially substantial discussion also starts with Sorry, older messages can't be loaded, per the settings in this server., which wouldn't make sense if you are a member of a server (why would all the messages be hidden every time someone logs off? especially for the purpose of discussions), but also thwart the possibility of understanding who the users are (what do they like? what kind of writing to they do? etc) and how they usually behave with one another (do they fight and make up? are they always friendly? how does Corn fits into their dynamics). Instead, you end up as an onlooker peering into what is happening right now and also controlling the members as puppets (I mean, you kind of are for the purpose of the story) - kinda weirdly voyeuristic?

On the interface side, I would have preferred if it had been a bit closer to the actual Discord interface, whether it is the palette use (I know you can change it on browser, but it would have been suuuuper unlikely everyone used the same green palette, especially considering how different the characters are) or the placement of elements on the screen. Though it was smart to keep the messages of the "playable" user separate from the rest of the chat, and each user getting their personal pfp.

Definitely a confronting game, thought not completely unrealistic. Interesting mechanic and interface wise, discomforting story wise.

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Cozy Simulation 2999, by KADW

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
The cabin of your dream..., April 2, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: seedcomp

Cozy Simulation 2999 is the coziest Twine experience you will ever have. Set in a remote cabin in the mountain during winter, you get to enjoy peace and tranquillity, with all the comfort and activities you'd want to have. Maybe you could just spend your day staring at the fire, or drink all kinds of warming drinks, or you might be more into eating to your heart's content or creating meaningful art pieces... or how about taking a walk outside huh?

Sounds enticing doesn't it? Not having to worry about anything else but the coziness of yourself in an idyllic (and strangely isolating) settings. Being taken care of by a lovely narrator that not only listens to your wishes but expand your ability to do things as time pass. Isn't it JUST NICE and definitely not skin crawling when you stop and think about all the things that seem just a tad out of place, or details that just don't quite add up... and what about those memories that keep haunting your dreams?

But are you truly ready to open the door and find out?

Ok some spoily stuff I liked
(Spoiler - click to show)the contrast between the simulation and real life (he I clocked that at the start but it was just too cozy to matter), the pretty eerie descriptions of items hinting at something that happened, the eviscerating descriptions in the "real" world with the conveyor belt of bodies... Going from the cozy end to the less than cozy ones is exciting but creepy as heck!

It's a really cool game for a first Twine game attempt!

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Bradisson Rayburn's Revenge!, by Lance Cirone

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Cheating is the only way!, April 2, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: revivaljam

Bradisson Rayburn’s Revenge! is a short parser where you play as a contestant in a show hosted by Bradisson Rayburn, with the hope of winning the show altogether. As you are a bit worried about it, you explore the studio, collecting along the way items you believe you can use to your advantage (among them, the return of the Sprinklepill). Ensue a series of trials, where your items end up being quite helpful!

I didn’t manage to get to the end the first time I played, not understanding why I couldn’t get to set no matter how long I waited. It wasn’t until I restarted the game and re-explored everything, trying to examine almost every noun on the screen and trying to take every single named items that I unlocked the next part (and finished the game).

The second section focuses on the actual show, and the different trials you must go through to win the game on set. The items helps you along to get to the top (the game actually will push you to use them, you can’t really play it “in good faith”), though I am unsure why we had to pick up certain things if we couldn’t really use them (was there maybe more trials to use the cup or the pot? or did I miss something?). Or why we couldn’t use them against other contestants (why not zap everyone and win by default :P)

I also still don’t get why Bradisson was targetting us like this with his trials, especially the last one being quite “something”, but hey, if you manage to piss him off enough, you get to win! Well, not so much as winning as more getting some self respect, I guess… :P. Will we ever know what beef Bradisson has with us?

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tiny ratopia, by alyshkalia
Utopia on a tiny scale!, April 2, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: revivaljam

tiny ratopia is a one-page entry where you are a little rat in your cage enjoying the warmth of your surrounding, with your brothers by your side. A movement stirs you, prompting you to recall your routine and what you will do later. But now, now you keep enjoying the warmth.

It is quite the cozy piece, depicting what a utopia would be for a tiny being (here a rat, with few needs and all being met), using simple structures and vocabulary to encapsulate the mind of the little creature. And the entry finishes with the perfect message: focus on the now, because now, everything is great.

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stomping grounds, by Sophia de Augustine
Peace in Nature, April 2, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: revivaljam

stomping grounds is a short Twine piece dedicated to a friend, as a reminder of a promise once made: to one day, going fishing and camping. Formatted as a calendar, each date is linked to a short snippet, like a daily nudge to not forget about said promise.

The snippets depict different elements related to fishing or camping, like the noise from the wind crashing into the tent, or how fire can be dangerous but oh-so worth it because it can warm up the much needed coffee, or that we need to make sure to bring a first-aid kit, or how liberating and invigorating a plunge into a lake can be. By focusing on all the little things, the piece reminds us of the powerful and exhilarating connection we can have with the simpleness of Nature.

Thanks to its expressive prose, with its vivid depictions, Romantic (artistic) description of Nature, and still realistic portrayals of what could be, the game really painted a sincere picture of camping… and it’s making me want to do so myself too.

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The Chosen Path, by Noah Si
More like the Forced path, April 2, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: revivaljam

The Chosen Path is a Twine interactive game where you are an unnamed AFGNCAAP character on a path to become a martial artist in some sort of unnamed and unreal world. Along your way, you come across Dr Syrup, the main antagonist of the game, which you will need to overcome to rescue the Author and Emily Short (and win a prize?).

This is as far as I could make sense of it, as the story is more of an absurd amalgam of references (which seem more done for the sake of referencing), than a coherent narrative. Even with its very linear progression (you don’t have more than 3-4 real choices in the 122 passages of the file), I was more confused with how parts moved from one another… until I gave up and wrote it off as this is all either just a dream or a really bad trip.

I’m not super sure of the point of using Emily Short as an NPC here, especially one that you’d need to rescue. With how influential she has been in the space (which the game acknowledges), it would have made more sense for her to have enough PLOT ARMOUR to not have been in this situation to begin with. Or that she would need the player’s “capabilities” to make her weapon work better than she could. It felt cheap.
But then again, I’m never really comfortable with the use of actual regular living people being used in games period (especially if the person has not given their consent for it).

As a game structure, when looking at the available actions and how the game responds to the player, it does feel like a missed opportunity not have used a parser format (or a hybrid one for the 2-3 choices there are). You are often set into rooms where you can EXAMINE objects or sometimes yourself, TAKE some of them, or USE others. There is also a section where you need to navigate through different rooms, with all the NSWE (and the diagonals) listed - all aside one being valid (the having to go back and forth is tedious). As for the Alice in Wonderlan - like puzzle (EAT/DRINK) it could have been an interesting puzzle of pacing out which item to use to get to the right height.

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Kel (2024, words on screen), by alyshkalia
The museum in your mind, April 2, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: revivaljam

Kel (2024, words on screen) is a short interactive piece, describing the portrait of the titular character through snippets, each focusing on a part of a face or movement, before closing on the overall picture. You can really explore in details the face of Kel, as the IF Art Show, the jam inspiring the game, required.

Each section is just a sentence long, small enough to fit the rectangle interface, which mimics the frame of a portrait fixed on a wall. You can move from one section to another through the links mentioning another part of the face.

This entry reminded me of those studies of paintings, that would describe in details a piece with such vividness you could almost imagine it standing right in front of your eyes.

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Labyrinth, by KA Tan
Melancholic and hopeful goodbyes, April 2, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: revivaljam

Labyrinth is a short interactive story made in Twine, where you play as the Minotaur, who after a long period of isolation, decides to leave the labyrinth he calls its home and venture out into the world. But before he does so, the beast takes a moment to recollect the time spent in this place and say goodbye to the comforting space.

The writing is strangely prophetic, starting with a snippet of Jorge Luis Borges’ The House of Asterion, which is followed by Today is the day. The day you will leave this place. You can’t explain how you know this, but you know it as firmly as the horns are attached to your head. in the next screen. Yet, the hint is just subtle enough not to realise the inevitable end that is coming. It ripped my heart out when I read the final words…

This was a really good entry!

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