Reviews by manonamora

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[ MAKE ME. ], by kaijuCrow
Wondering how absurd this could end up..., March 8, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: smoochiejam

[ MAKE ME. ] is a short Twine demo about a supernatural present where vampires walk among us (-ish, most of the world doesn’t know), looking at how you managed to get embroiled in this situation. Are you a vampire yourself? Or a vampire hunter? or simply just a human? How did you get to learn about their existence? And where will you go from there?

The demo… doesn’t really answer any of those. As of now, you have some sort of an introduction to how you get acquainted with the night-walkers (mainly by chance) a year prior to the current story, and a small glimpse of what your present is like as a vampire/hunter/pleb. Though notes throughout the game does promise a future update where everything is explained. I liked that as a hunter you have a cabinet full of vampire-deterrent items that you can just pick up, including rice?

From what there is, the writing wants to be playful and light-hearted, even in between mentions of corpses or deaths. If further updates follow this trend, I think we’d see more of an absurd supernatural story and your run-of-the-mill horror vampire tale. I’m intrigued to see where this could go…

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The Spin-Off, by Nicolás Jaramillo Ortiz
Spin the bottle with a twist-ish, March 8, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: smoochiejam

The Spin-Off is a short visual novel about six friends partying in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, looking for a game to play to pass the time. Thing is: all of them have some sort of history or tension with each other. So what better way to break the ice (or confess your feelings) than playing some sort of Spin-the-bottle with Inprov…

This game is also some sort of a prequel of You’re Next a slasher/horror adventure, which it references at the start as a creepypasta story (and also at the end). This seem to have influenced the aesthetic of the VN, with the darker colour palette, the funky not-very-straight typing font, and the obvious horror trope setting. Still, this is not a gloomy and scary story, but more of a comical one, with everything you’d expect from a party with close friends: drinks, awkward conversations about who still has crushes on whom, and weird games where the goal is to kiss everyone in the room!

It was fun… and I did manage to kiss everyone first

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Forward, by Naomi Norbez (call me Bez)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Understanding the past to move forward., March 8, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: smoochiejam, seedcomp

Forward is a short personal interactive piece made in Twine, about life. Worries and hopes, anxiety and assurance, failures and successes... the good and the bad of realities. Set as a meditation exercise, the prose weaves bits of memories of the past together, with sources of tensions and triumphs mirroring each other, showing both states will coexist, moving from one to the other, moving one with the other.

Setting aside the specific samples of situations, this is still an emotional piece hitting on those universal feelings of not being enough, of being lost and hopeless, of struggling with what is around us. And yet it still gives us a glimmer of hope, forcing us to think about the good things around us, of the achievements accomplished, how we grew and moved further than the struggles.

It is a good exercise to do.

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One True Love, by BrettW
It's not whether you'll kiss a frog, but which..., March 8, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: smoochiejam

One True Love is a short fairy-tale Twine game, where you have just one little task to complete the story: after defeating your evil stepmother and rescuing the land, it is time for you to break the curse of your one true love. Turned into a frog, you will need to find the correct amphibian and kiss it before it’s too late !

The prose is pretty humorous, overall, poking fun at those fairly-tale tropes (the curses and the trials and such). This was a fun short time, trying to go through all the different options, kissing all the different frogs. There are, I think, 3 endings to find: kissing the right frog, kissing the wrong frog, and giving up because who’s got time for that! But, be warned: the correct frog is never the same…

It was sweet and entertaining!

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letters for su, by ghostvines
Will you pour your heart out?, March 8, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: smoochiejam

letters for su is a very short epistolary piece, a fan-fiction letter-writing game inspired by the Ace Attorney franchise. Missing your lover Susato, who moved to England some time ago, you write her a letter depicting your longing for her, hoping for a reply. The piece lets you choose a few options when writing the letter, even rewriting it, and when sealing it (whether you personalise it).
It’s very cute and charming, and seeing your feelings erased for tamer words is somewhat heartbreaking. I also liked being able to kiss the envelope :stuck_out_tongue:

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Bonded in Darkness, by Natasha Luna
Vampire ermit welcomes injured hunter, March 8, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: smoochiejam

Bonded in Darkness is a dark visual novel, where you play as Arnaud, a recluse vampire. His peaceful existence is often interrupted by Julien, a vampire hunter tasked to kill him, though the latter never manages to finish the job. Everything changes one night, then Julien appears at Arnaud’s doorstep, gravely injured. Will you tend to him or leave him to fend for himself?

While the game mentions having 4 endings, one good and three bad, I’ve only found two (which I think are the bad ones? it’s coded as enemies-to-lovers…), so I don’t feel yet like I had the full experience with this entry. From what I did get though, I quite enjoyed this darker atmosphere, with this dangerous tension between the two characters. They have history together, one is currently at the mercy of the other, and there are many moments where they could take advantage of the situation to end each other. It makes you think of which choice to pick, because any wrong move, and you might die…

I also really liked the sprite for Arnaud… gosh damn!

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One Night Fairytale, by Kayel
Bibbidi bobbidi boo, time to find *you* a prince !, March 8, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: smoochiejam

One Night Fairytale is a cheeky short VN, where you play as a fairytale-jaded servant at a fancy noble party in some unnamed fairytale kingdom, when you are pulled aside by a strange character, your “Fairy Godmother” - Ash. Hoping to get you to believe in the power of love, you are thrust into this fancy world as if by magic. Will you find your Prince Charming?

This was a fun and cute short time, poking fun at fairytale characters. And overall, the interface was pretty nice – like fairly tales, it’s pretty dreamy. Though, I think it could have included sprites for the different princes you end up dancing with. There were a few moments were the text was a bit hard to read against the background, but History does record everything if needs be.

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Angelblood, by LittleMissLeeStories and CyberSe7en
Gorgeous and Intriguing, but little to do, March 8, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: smoochiejam

Angelblood is a fairly long gorgeous and highly stylised visual novel, edging the fine line between romance and horror. You play as Quin, a witch working in a magical pawnshop at the Crossroad between worlds. Your world turns upside down when a peculiar character waltz in: a vampiric angel. How will you handle this novelty?

There is something interesting about mixing the celestial (angel) with the corrupt (vampires), creating a strange world filled with ancient lore forgotten with time or apocalyptic events. The vampiric angel is incredibly gorgeous and frightening; the holy warrior is protecting but with a hint of unhinged; trades are what runs this world, with memories as currency… Nothing you see, nothing you believe, nothing is what it seems. In this world of Good vs Evil, everyone here is neither, no matter how they justify their actions.

The religious symbolisms mixed in the story makes for a fascinating world-building, with the all seeing eye that does nothing, the hand that forgives but also hurts, the wink to biblical accurate angels with the sprite, the separation of the flesh and the divine, the holy and the damned… There are definitely layers in this story, which might require a few runs to find all the links between everything.

While it is an incredible game, both in the visual and narrative side, there is little left for the player to do. Aside from a couple of choices, with the final one deciding which ending you will end up with, you are pulled along the story, clicking the screen for the next sentence to appear (I think it took me 30-45min before reaching the end?). Where it not for the styling (and wanting to see whether I’d have a choice at all)…
With the level of polish considering the tight deadline of a jam, it is understandable to have such linear story. But it would have been interesting to have more agency, especially when talking to the different NPCs coming to the shop.

Still, bonus point for the cute kitten.

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Stigmata, by vileidol

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Be careful who you are kissing..., March 8, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: smoochiejam

What do you do when you, a vampire, are faced with a vampire hunter pointing a crossbow at your chest, while, incidentally, in the bed of his daughter? Or better yet, what can you do?

Stigmata is a Twine piece about survival, identity, and relationships. You play as a vampire found in your lover’s bed by her vampire hunter dad, fighting your way to escape (and the pointed insult coming your way). As your standing in this fight becomes uncertain, memories of your Sire and of your meeting with your lover intertwine, painting a picture of who you are… and how you got into this sticky situation. There are 3 endings in this story, with some path insinuating maybe your lover’s implication in all this.

The writing is quite emotionally charged, and gruesome at times, especially during physically demanding sequences. The depiction of the PC being a filthy thing who corrupted the virtuous daughter and which should be hunted down was disconcerting, but evocative of the usual rejection and derogatory depiction of queer individuals.

I didn’t always feel immersed in the story, probably because of the often confusion shift in timelines and interlocutor. But I liked the conversations with the Sire the most, those were pretty interesting.

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I Want to Kiss, by MeiMeiStudios
To kiss or not to kiss, March 7, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: smoochiejam

I Want to Kiss is a short visual novel about that first relationship in (high? middle?) school and accepting the other’s differences. Just before winter break, you asked out a girl you had fallen for from afar. Now back in school, you want to try whatever it takes to get closer to your girlfriend, and maybe even get to kiss her. But… how will you react to her secret?

It was a pretty charming and sweet time. The visual introduction of the girlfriend felt a bit out of place compared to the simple style of the interface, but it made me giggle too. I liked how emotions were portrayed on the sprites, it was cute!

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