While this was probably one of the shortest entry of the Single Choice Jam, its subject matter has a special place in my heart (having been part of the Goncharov craze). And, following in those footsteps, the game took its own part of the canon, recreating the setting for the confrontation between Goncharov and Andrej.
To save the most precious thing in his life Goncharov made a deal, one which would involve betraying his friend. You choice here is to either follow through with this plan, or double-cross the dealing party. Which ever option you choose, the scene ends abruptly. But the consequences… they wait for no one.
Though the game is very short, I did enjoy the way the scene was set - in some sort of a Previously in Goncharov serialised way. It gave the fairly intricate (overall non-canon) story some touch of humour.
This was a treat.
This last-submitted parser for the jam is a bit of an intricate puzzle, requiring the player to read the prompts very carefully to find the solution… or they will be yoinked back to the start. The game is built in one room, where the player can do different action in hopes to reach the end - a sort of Aisle meets escape room, where there is only one true action to solve the puzzle.
And so, you are an investigator (maybe?) stuck in some sort of loop (if you could remember why you are here, it would be greeeaaat), in a subway station, next to a vending machine, surrounded by some critters… and plagued by very strange and prophetic dreams (you really should take note of those).
The twist/explanation of the ending is kind of nonsensical and very trippy, very on point from the rest of the game. It is both confusing and hilarious. I’m glad I played this last.
Remembrance is an emotionally charged entry, which follows the player getting ready to put their mother’s ashes to rest. The trip allowing only limited amount of luggage, you can only choose one keepsake.
The entry deals with the themes of death and grief with delicate words, showing the good the bad and the ugly of going through the things that mattered and the memories linked to them. Though you have a choice, there is no wrong or right options there. All are important pieces of yourself, all matter.
I think I liked the box of recipe the best out of all objects. The connection between your mother and yourself felt the strongest and most emotional - I think I related to it the most. I liked the little nod of Jewish traditions hinted in there too, and the want to continue those traditions, in a way or another…
It is a powerful piece that left me without many words when the game ended.
In this short game, you are task to find not who but what has been stolen from your client. Following a party where many artists were invited, including a known thief (a sort of Arsène Lupin gender-swap meets art forger), the hosting couple found a note from said thief, a momento left behind to replace what had been taken.
But nothing looks out of place…
This was a cute moment, with some humourous jokes, and - like the author admits - feels at time a bit incomplete/rushed. I wouldn’t say no to a longer version of this game, maybe in an episodic form with different cases, and showing a bit more the investigators’ relationship.
This entry is the last Visual Novel submitted to the Single Choice Jam, and quite a visual polished one at that. Starting with a short game trailer, you are introduced to two friends excited by the re-print of cards they used to have when they were kids. Especially the very rare print of the Blade of the Overlord, a highly stylised card in an alien-like font.
In three act, the game encapsulates the nostalgia around card games like Magic the Gathering or Pokemon, and all the shenanigans around it - the special editions, misprints, the weird rules on the cards, the seedy players, the hours spent around the table opening packs and playing them, or the rich collectors who will spend thousands on the rare stuff (that was a fun nod at current event, with Post Malone buying an MGT card for $2mil).
I liked the different approach the characters have towards the game, with the one who buys into the hype and would spend all their money to get the rare cards; the one who is the opposite, only buying to build up a playing deck; and the one who is realistic about their situation, but still misses owning some specific basic cards from their childhood. The arguments set forwards may affect what choice you pick at the end, both being neither good nor bad - just very realistic.
This felt like opening a time capsule and reminiscing about the good and the bad old times…
As the months pass and people seem to move on from the health crisis that changed the lives of millions, the early days of the pandemic seem like a distant mirage of a time. Stuck at home (some of us), away from loved ones, crushed under the uncertainty of recovery… there was a lot do deal with. And this entry manages to capture a raw snippet of those early days, when there was more uncertainty about the virus and how to deal with it than known knowledge.
Set in the Pageant universe as some sort of sequel, we catch up with Karen, who obviously is not handling being cooked up at home well. From her characterisation in the previous installments, this truly feels like the correct continuation of her personality: still depressed, still a mess, still unable to communicate her feelings (or just period).
Unable to sleep, she meets up with Emily, her somewhat-girlfriend-but-maybe-not-really - Karen is always questioning labels when it comes to her relationship with others (case and point: Miri). Even with Emily’s reassurance, Karen does not shy away from falling into unhealthy choices (well, you can’t affect that part of the story). Honestly, she’s a bit of a dick there.
I’ve also noticed how similar Karen and Em are, especially when Em unloaded her worries about relationships in general, the want to both be present around people and disappear without leaving a trace, or struggling with her feelings at time and what they mean. It is interestingly very similar to what is expressed from Karen throughout the text, though Em handles it probably more healthy by actually communicating all of this.
Removing player agency from the game is not new in Autumn’s Games, often used to depict the character’s inability to perform a certain task, whether it be because of external forces (e.g. friend is asleep), physical health (e.g. can’t hug your girlfriend during a pandemic), or mental reasons (i.e. Karen is a mess) - with those reasons often styled in a self-deprecating manner (a Karen’s guarantee).
Half-way through the game, there is an interesting point made about choices. While you only have a small choice at the end, the story refers quite a bit to past actions, and how they affected others. There is a heavy sense of regret from having done some actions or failed to do those, with hindsight and time adding onto those guilty feelings. It feels so… real, and human, and it hurts.
There’s always an age when kids will start pushing boundaries with their parents, objecting to their decision or sneakily do what they are not supposed to. And there are often other nosey adults who will lecture those kids, even if they are not related…
From this generic setting, you must suffer through the dispensed morals of said adult who caught you speed-reading (reading without buying) a magazine. But the ordeal can pass through quickly and without much yelling… if your timing is just right.
See, the old man lecturing you has a lot to say to you, about what’s morally correct, and how should kids behave, shaming you for not behaving properly (you seemed to be just a regular kid). Click too early on the response, and you will be berated for cutting him off; too late*, and the scolding will be about not paying attention. If your timing is just right (there is a visual indicator) and let the man finish his moralistic monologue, he will let you move on with your day.
While this is a fun gameplay, my issue was with the timer. It is way too fast to be able to read anything. Even being able to read pretty fast usually, it was even hard to scan through the text before the timer runs out, and worse still with the latter longer morals. Your eyes just focus on the right moment to click the response, missing the rest. I had to open the source code for this part…
I guess it makes sense, context-wise, to have such short timer. You’re a child, and moralistic monologues are a drag - the preachiness of things, ugh… - you’d rather just uh-huh the adult until they leave. But as a player, it’s not very satisfying…
I will say it outright: this fantasy entry was an absolute delight to play. You are an inexperienced thief breaking in the word possible place one could think of: a witch’s house. But that doesn’t stop you - you will take something from the house before you are found out!
A list of options are presented to you, each leading you to a different ending. I recommend going from bottom to top for the most funny sequence. Each ending is different, some where you will succeed, some where you will absolutely fail, all very funny.
Speaking of the humour, it felt very Terry Pratchett-y to me, from the wittiness to the sarcasm, and even the moral behind it. Every passage has some quirkiness of them, each flowing from one to the next. I enjoyed it a lot!
I went into this entry completely blind (did not read the blurb) and came out holding my side from laughing to hard.
Go play it :P
This entry is a companion piece to "forever, an echo", a short game submitted to the Neo Twiny Jam, a sort of opposite point-of-view to the original piece.
It is an endless fight, an unwinnable fight, one your enemy will always come out victorious. But, you never despair. No matter the version of yourself, no matter your weakened state, you will continue to fight. You will always come back, ready to fight.
Unlike the doomed perspective of the other game, this one screams resistance, and hope. You may not win now, but one day you might. You will never surrender yourself, your soul, your everything to your enemy.
A good opposite to the other piece.
This game is a remake of Crawl Back to Me from the same author, but in a visual novel form. You play as Alastair, a gallant knight who recently lost his wife, Cassandra, in an accident while away. Filled with grief, you would do anything to speak to your wife one last time, hoping it will help you move on. Incidentally, Cassandra left you instructions to help your quest.
The story might be a bit cliché, and the twist a bit too obvious, but it works quite well as a visual novel, with the clunky sprites reminiscent of old RPG dungeon crawlers games with all its campiness. I did enjoy the wide range of endings from the final choice, with the moderately neutral ending probably being my favourite out of all of them.