Reviews by Rachel Helps

IF Comp 2021

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1-6 of 6


Goat Game, by Kathryn Li

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Beautiful game about workplace problems, November 11, 2021
by Rachel Helps (Utah)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2021

This game is gorgeous, with slightly-animated illustrations for various sections of the story. I chuckled when I scrolled down to read about going down in an elevator and the elevator illustration scrolled up into the side of the screen. The UI is really nice too.

I have a daughter with a disabling genetic defect, so I teared up a little when I heard about how the protagonist of this story wanted to help their niece who has a genetic defect. I would have liked to explore more about the niece's disability and the medical researcher's aloofness to it (this was hinted at).

There are 15 endings based on your decisions. The decisions you make are things like who you decided to talk to and whether or not you ate alone most of the time at work. Finding the "best" ending (if one exists) was not intuitive at all. I chose all the "best" worker attributes and got one ending and chose a mixture and got a different one. I understand the idea, but I couldn't figure it out intuitively. I ended up reading the endings from the game's HTML files. I liked how nuanced they were, but I didn't have the patience to work out how to get them all in the individual game.


Weird Grief, by Naomi Norbez

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting window into another world, November 9, 2021
by Rachel Helps (Utah)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2021

This game gave me an interesting a different perspective on what it would be like to be grieving a romantic partner with someone who was also that person's romantic partner. Additionally, the player character and her friends are part of the furry community. This is ignorance on my part, but I didn't realize that fur suits could bring a level of psychological comfort to the people who wear them. I guess I thought it was more like role-playing. I liked learning about polyamorous furries through this game.

The writing dragged a little in describing endless cooking and going out for meals. I would have liked some choices about what to make or how I felt when partner slept in so long that my pumpkin pancakes went cold. There were some choices about whether or not to have sex and how to have it, and those choices did affect the narration, but I'm not sure if they affected the ending.


The Dead Account, by Naomi Norbez

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A view of grief through a dead person's messages, November 9, 2021
by Rachel Helps (Utah)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2021

In this game, you are a moderator of a social media site who looks through messages to a social media account for a user who is suspected to be dead. You get to look through messages to the person to see if you think they're actually dead or not. This isn't a mystery game--it's very clear that the person in question has died. This setup allowed you to see the way grief affected people over time, without awkward time jumps. I thought that was a clever way to explore the theme of grief.

In the second half of the game, there's a (Spoiler - click to show)group chat with timers on each person's messages. I felt a little impatient with the timers, but at the same time, I thought it was a cool way to simulate a group chat. I think an animated ellipsis could have helped me to wait without worrying that something was going wrong.

Your choices don't impact much of the narrative. However, the hypertextuality of choosing what message to read really immersed me in the role of reading the messages as an outsider. This game has the same characters as Weird Grief. I preferred this game to Weird Grief. Also, if these games were inspired by real-life loss, I hope the author is doing okay.


This Won't Make You Happy, by Mike Gillis

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Fourth-wall-breaking humor, November 9, 2021
by Rachel Helps (Utah)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2021

This game has a self-consciousness of game tropes and fourth-wall-breaking that I probably would have found very deep fifteen years ago. Now, I feel like the game was too short to explore the existential problems of collecting things and killing things in platformer-type games. I also had the game-ending bug with the cyan type.

I did like the various effects the writer used with the type, like making it different colors and shaking or blurring it. It made me want to try something like that in my own games.


You are SpamZapper 3.1, by Leon Arnott

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Funny game about email, November 5, 2021
by Rachel Helps (Utah)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2021

This game had a very strong start with lots of funny spam e-mails. Some of them are even relevant to the story later on. You play as a spam plugin and there is drama between you and the other plugins. The drama seemed overblown and it dragged on quite a while. I wonder if deciding to zap or approve any emails affected the story (I suspect that they don't affect it a ton). This game could have been improved by removing Zap's commentary and letting the player do the role-playing and making connections between e-mails. (Spoiler - click to show)I think reducing the other plugins to just two other characters would have been good too, as well as deleting the far-future memories, the partial construction of Laura. The ideas were interesting, but not fully developed. The idea of copying one's self while being conscious of the other selves' suffering and distributing onesself as a virus was strong enough to give the plot a strong feeling of resolution.


The Golden Heist, by George Lockett and Rob Thorman

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A friendly Roman romp, November 5, 2021
by Rachel Helps (Utah)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2021

I enjoyed this short game where you steal from Nero's palace. You can choose from three companions and they change the narrative considerably. Parts of the game are randomized with each playthrough. There was one puzzle which I couldn't solve on my own, but an in-game helper made it so I didn't stop playing because of it. The background music is very cool.



1-6 of 6