Reviews by manonamora

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Le Manoir Abandonné - Partie II, by oli-x
Puzzle-galore escape game, February 27, 2024

Le Manoir Abandonné is a multi-episode escape game based on the LucasArt game Maniac Mansion, imitating with its images the point-n-click feel. This review continues on the one in the first part.

In the first part, you found yourself stuck inside a manor, and was able to explore the "front" part of the building, with a hallway and a few rooms. During that time, you gets bits and pieces of the former owner of the manor, with hints of a tragic event. This game continues where the previous part left off ((un?)surprisingly you are locked inside this new part), and allows you throughout the game to piece out what happened.

Spoiler for the mystery: (Spoiler - click to show)A brilliant surgeon/doctor loses his wife in a tragic accident. Ridden with grief, he gets in his head that he must find a way to revive her. After many trials and errors, he unearth the body of another young woman who recently died, resembling his wife in some ways, and manages to fulfil his wish... for a few minutes. The revived wife soon turns on her husband and kills him. Still her ghost remains.

This part continues in the same vein as the previous on, in that it is choke-full of puzzles, and different variety at that (as much as a choice-based format allows you). There are many more ways of succumbing to your wrong choices, but the game sends you right back to your previous action (unless this is the last escape bit, when you run out of time, but I'm sure that is a bug). Out of the puzzles included, I liked the putting the torn paper back together, the books in the library, and the unlocking the doors without a key, the most.

Unlike the first part, this game has fewer hints for some of its most important puzzles, forcing you to interact with all of its elements, even if it means dying in the process. It is at times tedious, having to go back and forth between the many rooms because you needed to examine an item multiple times in a row even if it told you there was nothing in the drawer, or finding a key in one section for a door on the opposite side. The frustrating aspect of the game feels very much similar to the old point-n-click games.
It does, however, include a video walkthrough on Youtube.

The horror aspect in this game is cranked up higher, as you start in a hallway with bloody arrows on the many doors and on walls, meet some spectres, have strange visions, and get a few more jump-scares. The ambient sound and sound effects does add to the creepy ambiance.

As for the prose, it follows the tone of the previous part, with its humour and wittiness, playing again on the tropes of the horror genre.

This was a good game and I enjoyed it quite a bit!

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Le Manoir Abandonné - Partie I, by oli-x
First part of an escape game, February 27, 2024

Le Manoir Abandonné is a multi-episode escape game based on the LucasArt game Maniac Mansion, imitating with its images the point-n-click feel. This review will only account for the 1st part.

Starting the game with a prologue, the prose plays on horror tropes with the sudden breakdown of your car and that manor looming in the distance as your only place to find potential help, taking a witty approach to those. Once inside the manor (you really have no choice, no matter the other options), the doors shockingly close behind you, leaving you stuck inside the building. Starts then the escape-game portion.

In this first part, you get to interact with the "front" part of the house: a large and luxurious hall and a handful connected but locked doors. Some of the rooms are quite freaky, down to the more obvious horror elements (like blood on the wall).

The game allows you to explore this section of the manor, examine items lying around, and manipulate them through a list of options. There are a handful of puzzles, which are fairly well hinted, even with the curveballs it tries to throw at you. The thing that took the longest was trying out the different keys on the different doors (lots of back and forth).

While I got to the end of the section, which is fairly abrupt, there was still one locked door that stayed locked, even after solving the main puzzle.

Looking forward to play the second section!

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La fugue d'un homme-poulpe, by aya-mordres
Tiny fun adventure, February 27, 2024

La fugue d'un homme-poulpe is a small fantastical Moiki adventure, in which you incarnate an octopus-man stuck on a pirate ship. Though your fate is more alluring than being enclosed in a zoo, you yearn for freedom. With your trusty herring spoon and oyster fork, you will face some trials before you can reach your goal or... chose the wrong answer and end up back where you started. There are 20 endings to find, most resulting in your bad choices.

While short, the prose is witty, veering at time on the sarcasm. The companions allow for a branching of choices down the line, which is neat. The game includes some illustrations, whose different styles don't always match well together, and sounds, which do add to the ambiance of the story.

Nice for an entertaining short break.

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Le Grimoire de Saphir : Prologue, by Adleiz
The start of an Epic journey, February 24, 2024

Le Grimoire de Saphir : Prologue is a short Moiki game, which, as the title indicates, is the prologue of a much larger fantasy epic. Leaving your home, you are in search for quests and adventure - hopefully, glory and riches would come to follow.

After a rude maritime crossing, you arrive in the town of Sirfang, which you can explore or try to find and employer. Thanks to a handful of coins, you can visit a few spots in town, like its library, a smithy, or a bazzar. The latter option will give you a quest: find the titular grimoire so the great wizard Saphir can be dealt with. Unfortunately for you, this quest will also land you into some political intrigue, as multiple parties have different goals with the grimoire.

It will be up to you to locate the book and decide the best path for its use... in the next episodes!

So far, the series seems rich in worldbuilding, which you get a taste of, and a nice amuse-bouche. I'm looking forward to see how it will continue.

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The Lacquer Screen, by DREAMSEED

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An intriguing start?, February 24, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: independent release

The Lacquer Screen is a short horror game made in Twine. Your neighbour, for whom you've been remastering the eponymous series for some quick cash, just passed away... leaving you a short window to snoop around his apartment and go through his memorabilia.

Though fairly short, the atmosphere is quite interesting, balancing between the mundanity of a life as a recluse and more surreal/horror-y aspect of your subconscious playing tricks with you. The prose is pretty evocative at times, especially in the descriptions of the past.

Exploring the apartment felt somewhat sacrilegious, considering the setting, even if the PC indicates no one would bother going through his neighbour's things. Paradoxically, I wish there were more to explore, both about the show itself, the man that lived in that apartment, and yourself. There are traces of this being the author's plan, as the computer (with a neat little puzzle) includes files that would explain things... if they were clickable.

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Par une nuit d'Halloween, by mediathequen
A Children's Game, February 23, 2024

Par une nuit d'Halloween is a short Moiki Halloween adventure, meant to be read out-loud for children (according to the comments on the Moiki website). In this game you play as a child during Halloween, going around the neighbourhood to pick up some candies. Between the spooky house and the grand manor, the game subvert expectations in what you encounter in these locations.

The concise prose is simple and light, perfect to be played with children. It was sweet.

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Four Mates, by Thierry Etlicher
Will you be a good ant monarch?, February 23, 2024

Four Mates is an interactive game made in Moiki, in 48h for the Global Game Jam, where you play as a queen ant whose subjects are not quite happy with her. Humouring their discontent, the queen must find ways to increase their happiness, without making a fool of the kingdom or loose all the money in the treasury.

The game is incredibly delightful, both in the prose and the interface. The former is full of puns (on names, organisations, and locations), some memes, and absurd jokes. I found the dig at La CAF to be hilarious. There are a lot of silly choices you can make throughout the game (like make the country drunk or have a military parade worthy of Monty Python.

The game includes a bunch of endings, and quite a large amount of variation. Depending on your choices, you could be done in a few minutes, or spend a good half-hour sorting out your advisers' ideas. I managed to max out the happiness meter, getting my subjects to essentially worship me!

An important part of the game is the design of the page, with its many illustrations. Like the variation passages, these added a lot of flavour to the game: from "photoshop-ing" famous masterpieces to silly little children drawings made in Paint, or the many depictions of the scene... all fit so well with the game, and made things at time even funnier.

Very funny!

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Le Grenier, by MythOnirie

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short treasure hunt, February 17, 2024

Le Grenier is a short puzzle game made in Moiki, where you explore the attic of your childhood home. Among the forgotten comics and old games, you stumble one a locked box, tied to which is a note from your mother that starts a small treasure hunt. Going through the different old boxes and furniture pieces, you must solve a little enigma to find the code, and open the locked trunk.
It was cute, and the prose felt sentimental. I struggled with the code, starting with the wrong end of the hint...

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Solitary Stars, by Stephane F.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Walking down memory lane, February 17, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: independent release

Solitary Stars is a hyperlink exploration game written in Inform, set in an alternative earth, in a capital of an unnamed country after a succession of Wars (potentially WWII?). You receive a letter from a former mentor, inviting you to see his incredibly discovery that will change the world. The letter, and travelling back to the capital that shaped the trajectory of your life, forces you to reminisce on the past, bringing up difficult and painful memories.

Through its extensive and flowery prose, the game describes quite the dark setting. Between the memories of a distant past, filled with conflicts, a rise of an authoritarian power, and your own personal struggles (choice-dependent), you find during the little walk around the Observatory a somewhat dystopian society. The city is filled with scars from the war, with buildings left in shambles, flyers mandating orders from the populace or face the consequences, militia roaming the streets. But also consequences of the wars, with immigrants fleeing further conflicts flooding the region, past acquaintances avoiding you, etc...

The outlook of life and society through this lens is both depressing and melancholic (enhanced by the choice of background), with bitterness towards the old mentor, as he has thrived while you (and the rest of the Group) clearly have not. And the revelation of his discovery does not bring solace to the MC - aside, maybe from spending time with an old friend.

I think I found the exploration of the city/neighbourhood with the reflection of the past from the MC more interesting than this final revelation. Seeing how the city changed since the last time the MC walked its streets, as well as how little it did in other regards, is a familiar feeling - like going back home or to a place you spent an important part of your life.

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the mountain is as it always was, by christine mi

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
... and it grounds us all., February 12, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: independent release

the mountain is as it always was is a short kinetic piece made in bitsy, as a reflection of memories, loss, and what it means to be alive.

With its minimal 3-bit palette and concise prose, this tiny piece follows a little sprite struggling to find meaning in their life with a job that doesn't inspire them and struggling with their finances. Their thoughts (and feet) keep bringing them back to Nature, with its calming and unchanging state. Away from the drowning surroundings of the city, the sprite get to take a moment and meditate on their life.

Through the reflections of relationships and heartbreaks, loss of trusted parents, or their ever-lasting fears, the short piece is very touching and resonated deeply with me. The return to nature to find-oneself might be a trope, but the calming factor of being away from everything, disconnecting with our complicated lives, and just be there, present, surrounded with things that were here before us and will probably be here when we are long gone...

It made me quite emotional.

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