Reviews by manonamora

antiromancejam

View this member's profile

Show ratings only | both reviews and ratings
View this member's reviews by tag: antiromancejam barebonesjam bluebeardjam Concours FI concoursmoiki dialoguejam ectocomp French goncharov ifcomp independent release inkjam introcomp la-nuit locusjam neotwinyjam nouvim3000 orifice jam other jam parsercomp partim500 punyjam reallybadifjam recipejam revivaljam seedcomp sens-dessus-dessous shufflecomp singlechoice smoochiejam springthing
...or see all reviews by this member
1-10 of 17 | Next | Show All


The Archivist and the Revolution, by Autumn Chen

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Some glimmer of hope in a post-apocalyptic dystopian future..., August 7, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: antiromancejam, ifcomp

This is a Post-Comp Version review. Also maybe biased because I really like Autumn's work.

In a far future, after centuries of conflict, the Earth's population has been reduced to small communities stuck inside arcologies (city domes). In one of them, lives Em, an Archivist (sorta), trying to survive the best she can (sorta), and maybe (re)form relationships to better her situation. Throughout the game, you must ensure Em is on top of her duties and health.

As with her other Dendy games, A&R works in layers. On the surface, it is a resource management game, where your savings, energy level (hidden), mental and physical health (hidden) must be minded when organising one's day or spending.
While you have agency in this, how far you can go with the different actions will depend on whether you've unlocked certain storylets, or Em's current health at the time. Since she has chronic issues, you won't be allowed to churn through hundreds of files for your job, or even do anything at times.

Underneath, two other mechanics come to play: the relationship/storylet aspect with Em's old acquaintances, and the archiving loop, Em's job. Both will affect Em's survival (savings/health) and the ending of the game.
The first is relatively similar to Autumn's previous Dendry games, in which a side-story will be parsed throughout the game, requiring the player to meet specific characters multiple times to uncover the story at large. In this game, clearing more than one path in a playthrough is quite doable.
The latter is a mechanic I had not really seen before in an IF game, but one I enjoyed greatly. Your job entails decrypting and archiving files, each with a specific code (hint hint), requiring to be either placed in a specific slot or discarded (or you can keep it for yourself). Combing through the documents were quite fun.

The first time I played the game, I thought I could survive all on my own, leaving past relationships where they were, focusing only on my job and keeping myself afloat. I remember it being incredibly stressful (I almost cried when Em was on the brink of eviction). Everything felt hopeless, and the almost-clinical-at-times prose, as well as the UI, accentuated that feeling.

This time around, I followed Autumn's advice and shamelessly begged my acquaintances for money. I didn't want to recreate that very anxious feeling I had the last time - and wanted to see what else I had missed. Indeed, it was much less stressful to go through. I didn't really have to worry about money (thanks A-), I didn't have to exhaust myself with work, and I could explore more different facets of Em's life (her past relationships, herself, how she had to navigate the world). The world is still wretched, but there is more hope. You almost believe that surviving through it is... doable.

The storylets manages to offer a bit of levity in this wretched world, in which Em can find a community helping others, rekindle her relationship with a (re)closeted trans person, rekindle her relationship with her ex who you had a child with. In (re)making connections, you can learn more about your past and how you (don't) fit in this world. You can go on a date, cook with someone, spend time with your child... have a "normal" life.
I quite enjoyed how grounded and raw these storylets felt. They, at times, seemed like a commentary on our present, with the tribalism of social media, the lack of trust in the news, the grueling life under capitalism, and the treatment of transfolks. Strip away the sci-fi/post-apocalyptic future, and they could could be right at home with our current time.
I still hated the news part... its description changing the 'a form of self harm' was on point considering the comments...

Even if you don't interact with anyone, you can still learn about the world and your place in it through the notes (essentially a Codex page) or DNA files you decode. From old recovered chats between yourself and other characters, science articles, old journal entries, and documents regarding the Arcology's founder - Liana -, you can build together a bleak image about the world, the state of the environment and human condition, filled with disenchantment and conflict.
Depending on what you do with your day, you may find some Easter Eggs, like the TV Series you can watch or the Games you can play, little winks to Autumn's other games. Some characters of the game, made obvious by their names, share a resemblance to ones from the Pageantverse.

With the implementation of the Autosave, I was able to reach a lot more endings than the first time around, especially less bleak ones, without having to replay the game. Those endings are highly dependent on the actions you took during the game, some being sweet (especially with K-), some being maybe critical (imo A-'s, Alone), and one specifically blew my mind (Ending 1 - didn't find before).
Ending 1 is by far the most interesting one in my book. While it might seem a bit like a Deux Ex Machina or coming from out of nowhere (depending on your playthrough it may feel like a whiplash), it is the one that has not left my brain since I've replayed the game - maybe because of how strikingly different it is from the others. I think this ending might work best if connections with other characters were not made. It also made me wonder whether Em's life would have been that different if her arcology was still in contact with the others, or whether contact was severed between all arcologies. Honestly, it brought a lot of questions about the world after reading through (sequel of Ending 1, when?).

I don't know if there is a point or a moral to the game. If I were to give one to it, it would be that communities are important for people to thrive, maybe even necessary, and that the world can be a very difficult place when you keep to yourself, worse when your situation is dire in the first place. Even if it seems bleak, there is a glimmer of hope and goodness there...

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

the beating of my heart, by eckardlise
An attempt at parody?, August 5, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: antiromancejam


This entry does not give one, nor two, but six and a half stories within one game, all taking a jab at romantic clichés. In the container half story, you are courting Molly, a more-or-less maneater, who coyly tells her different affairs with past men and why it never worked out. Among those: a perfect man she always felt insecure around, a mad scientist who let his work consume the relationship, a literal Don Juan who depleted her savings, a foozball celebrity who partied too much, a royal alongside which she felt too much pressure, and a rockstar who cheated.

While the entries try to make fun of romantic clichés, its prose is none the better, emulating those romance novel of questionable quality, without really fully hitting the mark. Adding on to an unneeded formal tone, this adds to the impossibilities of the tales being reality, removing the possibility of fantasy. With the game switching from a second-POV (you, the player) to a first-POV (Molly), it also fails to give both Molly and you distinct voices, making the transition between past and present a bit strange.

Molly is everything you find in Romance stories: she is gorgeous and yet bland, capable and helpless, confident in herself and insecure around men she thinks are better; and in most situation. She is honestly quite infuriating; worse even when she finishes her tale, taunting you with showing her how you are better than her ex.

The end of the game is none the better. After going through Molly’s retelling of her life with her different exes, you simply throw your hands in the air and leave. Claiming she was looking down at you. Which she had until now. But showing the tipping point being the man who behave the worst towards her left an awful taste in my mouth, when you barely flinched her taunt the other times (and had no choice to give up before then).

At this points, I questioned whether this was truly parodying the genre. Or just trying to make a bad joke. In any case, it felt of bad taste.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

affection., by Cœur

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Or melancholic affliction?, August 4, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: antiromancejam


This short poetic prose takes you on a drunken melancholic trip filled with stolen glances, caring touches, and repressed feelings. With every sentence, the tension between the two characters is palpable, edging to succumb to their yearning, yet never faltering - no matter their current state, no matter their actual feelings for one another.
With its simple UI design and atmospheric music, this entry managed to create quite a melancholic and somewhat heartbreaking aura to the story.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

wretched star, by swanchime
Dark confusion…, August 4, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: antiromancejam


I’ve had trouble putting my thoughts in order for this one, as I honestly was confused about the story throughout the whole thing. Parsing bits together from what seemed a memory and what was “current time” was a bit of a struggle, as the formatting for either part were quite similar.

I did take from it a story of broken (maybe more than) friendship, filial duties, expectations from status, and feelings kept secret. I was quite disoriented trying to keep up with it (not knowing where to click probably didn’t help). I did find the aesthetic quite artsy, even if a bit strange for my taste.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

Secret, by ikuyustas

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
(Un)forgivable sin, August 4, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: antiromancejam


This kinetic entry recounts the moment a person realised their parent’s relationship wasn’t as loving as it seemed. Through a series of event, they find their mother’s indiscretion and struggle with dealing with the situation. Ultimately, their choice is to keep it a secret, and the facade of a happy family going.

There was something in the prose that felt a bit off. The way the entry was written felt a bit to clinical/academic, quite detached from the event described. Maybe the story could have been from the perspective of an adult recollecting old memories. But it felt so devoid of feelings… I thought it was a bit strange…

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

We're yours and you're ours, by beeyolk
We're each other's..., August 4, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: antiromancejam

Through this quite short entry, we are introduced to Pan and Subsa, two not-quite-human friends who might be more than friends, struggling to put a meaningful and correct label on their relationship. It is very sweet, and kind, and warms your heart.
I quite liked how it ended

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

Flynn & Quinn, by Stanwixbuster
Stole my heart..., August 4, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: antiromancejam


Starting in the middle of a conversation, you play as the titular Fynn, a performing poet by day and well-meaning thief by night, hiding Quinn, a cop on the run after an unfortunate incident from a previous installation of the series. With a love-hate relationship with the man, you must confront your dire situation and some consequences of your actions, plan and execute a heist, and try your best not to fall for him.

Even with having to press the spacebar to show every new line, I could not take my eyes away from the screen until I finished the game. I even had a hard time choosing whether to press the options offered to direct the story one way or let the conversations flow by itself (usually picked the second). The characters had so much personality, and you can't help but take a step back and be a spectator to the conversation of the moment, just to see what happens...

The game makes it quite easy for you to root for Flynn (even considering the implications of the previous game) and want everything will turn out ok by the end of the game. Regardless of his not-so-legal occupations (which reminded me a bit of Lupin), Flynn has a bit of a Robin-Hood heart to him.

But, as every heist demands, things don't go to plan. The gunshot, although expected, shook me. So, did the cliffhanger.

Really great entry. I have to check the other ones, next.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

Philia, by aurelim

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Love is the hurt we gave each other along the way, August 3, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: antiromancejam


Told from the perspective of Terri, a love-inexperienced student, this kinetic entry tells the story of two dormmate hitting off after meeting, moving into a relationship, before breaking things off when unsaid truths were kept silent. And learned lessons along the way.
This entry is what you'd expect from a slice-of-life story, considering the theme of the jam. It is sweet and at times a bit corny (in a good way). Kind of heartbreaking, leaving a bittersweet after taste, overall.

That said, the prose didn't do much for me. While it had some heart, I found it a bit too meandering to keep me focused, dragging some scenes longer than it should, while glossing over beats that maybe should have been a bit more expanded (like the whole avoiding your partner, or going further into Terri's struggle with their identity). There is potential here, it just needs a little more TLC to get there.

I wasn't particularly fond of Terri's passivity either. I think it made sense in the context of the story, but I wanted to shake them so they'd face the issues they created rather than letting Trinity to all the work for the both of them.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

Three Things, by Lapin Lunaire Games

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Translating a broken heart, August 3, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: antiromancejam


Sending you back to class, this entry tasks you with translating a Russian poem by Anna Akhmatova as your final assignment for a course you are taking. A poem (or the task of embodied translation), the teacher hopes will serve you in the future.
I should add there that I don’t understand Russian, nor had I come across this poem before. Went in there blind.

While most of the text will be translated by simply hovering your mouse over the text, the game will, in parts, give you choices (always in 3) to translate specific groups of words. With repetition in words, some choices are simpler than others. Even if not chosen, all choices should be clicked (~delicious flavour text~). Finally, you must choose a title!
I boringly compared the words of the title to the first line of the poem and wrote just that… I also played the game by not touching the translation bit, just continuing to the next passage, and the translated poem was so very funny in a stressed student doing in an exam way.

Then comes the painful process of waiting to hear back from your professor… or your boyfriend…
The poem itself is quite sad, and, as hinted by the game, might be mirroring your relationship…

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

Cinderella - happily ever after, by Kal Down
Happily? (n)ever after…, August 3, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: antiromancejam

This almost-kinetic entry time-jumps 10 years after Cinderella’s tales, giving snippets into her life as Queen of the realm. As her life is described from her perspective, it becomes clearer the title of the game reads more sarcastically as one might think. Overall, the piece was much darker than expected…
Parsed through the story are the lyrics of Labour by Paris Paloma, mirroring Cinderella’s life after escaping the clutches of her step-family. But it leaves you to wonder if she truly escaped that life or if only the walls of house just changed.
The entry seem to have perhaps taken a more realistic take of what would probably have happened to Cinderella after marrying the Prince (if based on the 17th-century iteration), considering the place, status and duties of a Monarch’s wife.
Overall, this was an interesting mashup of a fairytale and song lyrics.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 


1-10 of 17 | Next | Show All