Reviews by Rovarsson

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Savoir-Faire, by Emily Short

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
(mostly) Logical Magic, October 11, 2020
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: Fantasy, History

I had been putting of playing Savoir Faire because it is a) an old school puzzle hunt which b) depends on magic. Two things I do not particularly enjoy when playing IF.
However, after succesfully completing the puzzly Theatre with very few hints, I decided to take on Emily Short's challenge. It was great!

The reason I dislike most magic is that it feels superficial. A bunch of floaty blabla about "words of power" that somehow control the essence of things doesn't appeal to me.
In Savoir Faire, most of the puzzles depend on the Lavori d'Aracne, a magic system that lets the practitioner LINK objects. That way there is at least a hint of a physical connection between the objects and the practitioner of magic. These links also depend on a material likeness of the objects, so the magic system feels more like the use of an extra property of nature than a violation of it.

At the start of the game, your PC is almost too obnoxious to even be an anti-hero. Coming to the house you grew up in to ask for money to help with gambling debts, finding that your adoptive father and sister are not there while you expected them to be, and then going on to loot the place? Not very nice, to put it mildly. Through the snippets of backstory you find through memory and exploration though, he is somewhat redeemed (somewhat, that is.)

The setting, the mansion of the count who took in the PC, makes quite an impression through the near-perfect prose of Emily Short. Descriptions are terse, only the bare necessities there, with an ever so delicate sprinkling of detail. Examining further however opens up layers of feeling and meaning about the rooms and furniture, so that the player is drawn into this world. Extremely well done!

Because of the use of magic, I tagged this game "fantasy", but it's actually more an alternate history, where the old France is precisely the same as it was, with the addition of this extra set of natural laws, i.e. the Lavori d'Aracne.

Hard puzzles, but all of them logical; many alternative solutions (except one I found so obvious that I was disappointed not to have it work: (Spoiler - click to show)To uncork a bottle you link the cork to your sword and then draw the sword. To my mind it made much more sense within the magic system to put the sponge in the drain, then link the cork to the sponge and pull out the sponge.)
And even when you're stuck you can relax while playing with the mechanical cooking contraption (which is very reminiscent of the contraptions in Metamorphoses)

Great game!


Napier's Cache, by Vivienne Dunstan

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Historical scenes from a treasure hunt., September 17, 2020
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: History

Well, this was a very short but very welcome historical experience.

Each scene puts you in a different situation as the servant of mathematician/alchemist Napier. You are his hands and eyes in this easy treasure quest.

The scenes are very well written, letting you feel the atmosphere of the castle, the cave,... The NPCs have distinct characters, adding to the immersion in the story.

All in all, more a series of historical impressions than a full-fledged game, but very enjoyable.

Great side-effect of this game: it sent me on my own treasure hunt to find out more about this John Napier, an intruiging personality in the history of mathematics.


Price of Freedom: Innocence Lost (expanded 2019 version), by Briar Rose

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Good Gladiator story, but too short., December 4, 2019
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: History

I'm rather new at Choice-games, but this one, with its ancient Rome theme appealed to me.

I very much liked the customizing of my character at the beginning. You can choose male or female, which doesn't seem to have any effect on further gameplay. The way you assign further strengths and talents was very rewarding to me. You get stat-points based on your choice of family background, and on the choice of the mythological character you're named after. (Diana, goddes of woods, wildlife and hunting, gives you a headstart in Stealth, for example.)

It's well written, apart from a typo here and there. It's also well structured. A coherent story of development as a fledgling gladiator, with attention to development of fighting skills (of course) but also of various personal relations. Do you choose sibling loyalty above a strong training ally? Do you choose friendship above a good rapport with your trainer or master?

These decisions play a clear role in how well you fare in your first battle in the arena. Just before and during that fight, you also make difficult but influential decisions (weapons choice, tactics, who you help and who you leave to fend for themselves). Deep involvement with your character here.

And then it's over...

This game feels like a very good introductory chapter to a longer, fully fleshed out novella about the life of a roman gladiator/slave. Will she earn or buy her freedom? Will he become trainer of gladiators that follow? Will she escape with her brother and confront their father? How about his friends, enemies, allies, trainers?

I, for one, would very much welcome a continuation.

I felt hungry for more.



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