Colour Beyond Time is a promising game that got me interested in its plot and the direction it was heading, but I'm not able to finish it due to a strange bug. TL;DR: don't play the Adventuron version, because it's unfinished and unwinnable. Play the Spectrum version if you can, because it's complete. Read on for the full story.
Let's start with the plot. Your friend Carble has left you a note: everything rests on you to stop an ancient being from rising from the lake and destroying the world! It's up to you to explore the town, figure out who you trust, and uncover what's really going on. I enjoyed the story, the bits of history you pick up and get to mentally string together, and the way the characters interact. Spoilers, but (Spoiler - click to show)I did NOT expect the hotel manager to have such an important role in the story. I wish the existence of (Spoiler - click to show)Sasha was introduced a bit more naturally, since I first heard about them while I was just asking people random questions.
The puzzles throughout felt pretty fair. I kept notes, so I always had an idea of what was left to solve or where I should go next. There is one thing I think I did earlier than intended, though: (Spoiler - click to show)I wound up finding Sasha's hideout before opening the library's archive. Still, it didn't spoil any of the plot, and the puzzles didn't conflict.
The one puzzle that tripped me up involved (Spoiler - click to show)finding the code for the library's archive. While the solution is sensible, I (Spoiler - click to show)guess I never left the library fast enough (I liked to ask the librarian questions) after playing the record. I didn't like that you can't LISTEN to the music/gramophone or get a clue of how long it's playing; you can only notice once you step outside. Again, this probably just comes down to how you play.
One small problem I noticed throughout was the lack of specific responses or even item descriptions. I got a lot of default responses for examining or trying to take things. Having it say "you can't find it" when I tried to take described items in a room was frustrating, to say the least. Carble even has an explicitly mentioned and illustrated giant window in his room, and I wanted to look out of it and see what I could see, only to get that default response for everything I tried.
A few more general notes about the game, and advice for players: Save often, because you can die if you mess up. Still, the game will explicitly warn you when you're in danger. You also have a score counter that you can see by checking your pocket watch; the SCORE command doesn't work. There's a limit on how many items you can carry, but I only ran into this once near the end. You have a fair amount of junk items you don't need by that point, so it wasn't much of an issue.
There's a puzzle where you need to collect blue flowers (so you can (Spoiler - click to show)distill them and make a way to breathe underwater). Each flower counts as 1/3rd of what you need, and when you get them all, you can move on with the puzzle. The first flower is clued in and I got that just fine. There was also a forest area where I decided, okay, let me look for flowers here. I found one and picked it up... but none of the other areas had any. I started searching other places, and after running around this forest searching and examining everything for half an hour, I was at my wit's end. I checked the walkthrough, which said that there were two flowers there. So I wondered... is this a bug?
I reloaded an earlier save, back when I only had one flower (and neither of the ones the forest). I found the first one, picked it up, couldn't find any more. I reloaded the save and found the second flower, in a different area. I went back to the first area, searched, and revealed the flower there. But when I picked up that flower, the other one disappeared. I think collecting either one stops both of them from showing up, but that prevents you from getting another 1/3rd. This seems like a glaring error, and I'm not sure if it's because of anything I did earlier. Either way, it's preventing me from finishing the game. This is a shame, since I really did want to see how the story would end.
Looking at the game's page, I've seen the author respond to a few comments with updates and fixes. They still seem active, too. The game has a third part that requires a password you get from finishing the first and second (the first part being the pretty short beginning segment, the second ending a little after where I got hung up). I'm interested in seeing if anyone else runs into the same bug I did, since it's a pretty serious one. If it gets addressed, I'll definitely want to go back and finish this one.
EDIT (2/3/23): The author has said that the Adventuron version isn't complete. Since I don't have a way to play the Spectrum one, I can't finish the game, but I did enjoy what I experienced until the end point. I can't vouch for how well the Spectrum version runs, but I'd advise you to play it instead for the full experience.
An Artist and an Idea is a cute little Twine game. You take the form of an "idea" inside an artist's head; no emotions, no physical form, just a want to be realized. You first get to decide when to appear in your artist's head, and then you can slip away or stay put.
The game's presentation starts with white text on a black screen, but when the idea is being realized, the colors switch and it uses a more handwriting-style font. At this point, you can decide which emotion you want to convey, reflect on the artist's memories, and then remember the people he's met.
With the game's ending screen, you're given a small sketch, alongside a paragraph of text. No matter what image you get, the message is hopeful and optimistic, with the idea finally realized and hoping it can be developed further. Subsequent runs will take you less time, but you can click different options to see if you get a different sketch at the end. There are six endings total, which is a good amount for a game this size. I'd recommend playing this one to see how the idea turns out for you.
Everyone's familiar with this kind of personality quiz. You take them for fun, or because you're bored and need to kill three minutes, and forget about them. 10 questions takes an interesting turn.
The game's short enough that you should probably play it before reading this review, so I'll spoiler-tag most of it.
(Spoiler - click to show)The QUESTIONS. They get so personal and accusatory, and tell a story. The first one that hit me was "Is that the same date you took me on when we first met?" I was suitably creeped out. This got hammered in with "When you wake up to an empty bed, what do you think about?" It made me start wondering, how is this supposed to be taken in-universe? Did my ex make this quiz and send it to me just to harass me? That's a whole new level of obsessive.
She says, "I always feel like I come last. Whatever else you're doing, it's always more important than me." When in reality, you just have normal human responsibilities. She thinks what scared you away was that she "liked loving you too much." Actually, it's just that she's judgmental and clingy, and holding you back from real opportunities you want.
She becomes increasingly desperate, repeatedly asking you to relive one of her favorite memories. You respond, "What's the point of rehashing everything we did together?" It's been years, you two broke up, and it'll never be the same. At the end of the quiz, I got a really passive-aggressive and needy response. It was thematically appropriate and also kind of disturbing.
For my next run, I tried being more of a jerk, but I got the same response. I think this might be rigged up to specifically guilt trip me no matter what I do... or maybe I was unintentionally being "sweet, but aloof" on my first run. I did get a bit more out of this second run, but the way the story unfolded was mostly the same, so I don't think it has much replay value.
Overall, the game tells a story with a very unique format. I realize the "romance drama" genre is a bit overdone, and this story did feel a little uneasy at times, but I feel like it was worth my time.
I loved Threediopolis. It's inventive, I got a kick out of seeing all the interesting places I could go, and the difficulty was challenging yet fair. When I heard there was a sequel, I couldn't wait to jump in and see what kind of new mechanics were added.
Figuring out Fourdiopolis for the first time gave me much the same experience as Three. I tested my moves, tracked what they did, then found the letters I needed to use to get somewhere close. I (Spoiler - click to show)met Ike first, and after that, everything clicked.
I think I had a harder time finishing Three; not only because that game had more tasks before the first "ending" point, but the number jumping felt a bit more severe. Also, in Four, your completed tasks are listed in alphabetical order. This was a big help, since for every destination I chose, I had a good idea of which letters it could start with.
I love the different vibe of Four. Three had you traveling around a city to complete tasks for your employer. Meanwhile, this game's atmosphere is futuristic and throws you into a controlling society where you're witnessing rebellions and captures. Everything feels more oppressive and hostile. It's a big change of tone, but it sets the games apart pretty well.
I was kind of relieved Four ended when it did; while I was open to (Spoiler - click to show)completing 15 more tasks, I didn't want to do it immediately afterwards, having just solved similar puzzles for an hour straight. I might pick this one up again in the future to see if I can make it further, but now I really feel like replaying Three. If you liked the predecessor, check this one out. Otherwise, you should probably play Three first.
I'm playing this game in its very early state, but I'm not sure if it'll be finished. The author says that he'll "hopefully keep working on it soon" on the game page, but he seems to have been inactive for almost 300 days, according to his itch.io activity. Which is a shame, because the story is promising so far.
Your crew has been investing in an expensive construction in a jungle-like area, until you receive word that it's been canceled. It's up to you to navigate the structure and find the human foreman (the rest of the workers are robots) to shut it down before it takes away any more of your money. The game has a vaguely futuristic, sci-fi tone to it, and I liked the descriptions of the massive structure.
I got tripped up when I was expecting a simple puzzle, but there turned out not to be one: the scene with the robot at the entrance. I dropped my luggage and stuff, and the robot wanted to know my ID and name, so I started searching my items for an ID card or some identification. I was planning to show it to the robot, but if that didn't work, I could just read it and say what it was (I, as a player, didn't know my number or last name yet). Instead, you can just type something like "say your name and id number to the robot" and that works. There's also three points you can get, but I only earned one (from taking one of the items that dropped), and I'm not sure if the other two are available.
The game ends immediately after this scene, before it really gets started. The blurb admits that the game was made in a couple of days to meet a jam deadline. With that said, I wouldn't recommend playing the unfinished version (it's pretty standard gameplay), but if it ever gets finished, I'd be glad to return. Still, even if it doesn't, there's something to be said about a permanently in-progress game with "Cancellation Order" in the name.
I played this one a bit after Very Vile Fairy File, and it's clear they're cut from the same cloth. That doesn't bother me, though, because I really enjoyed Fairy File, and the game has a bit to differentiate itself. For one, the leet learner works differently, and figuring that out again was fun. I just wish the new notes returned, because I liked looking over those as a recap of what I had done. I think it was easier to figure out this time around, but I had to manually track down my reads as I went through the game until I understood it. I also noticed that you get a few more items that you carry with you and have to wordplay with to get out of difficult situations, like the light lute and the red rose.
I'm split over how I feel about the Spurning Sprite as an antagonist over the Fairy File. Whenever the Fairy File spoke, you got some kind of humorous insult and then the player character's introspection. Plus, the showdown against it was fun and climactic. The Spurning Sprite's dialogue is more intelligible and has personality, and I thought its battle was clever, but overall it didn't lead to the same deep thoughts and doubt that the Fairy File gave us.
Overall, both games are pretty fun, but I think Fairy File slightly wins out over Jokey Journey for me. If you liked Fairy File or Quite Queer Night Near, you'll get a lot out of this one.
My Girlfriend's An Evil Bitch is, first and foremost, a wilderness survival management simulator. I realize this genre appeals to some people, but it felt poorly planned and executed here. For reference, I played release 13.
The thing is, you don't know what this game will be the first time you play. I was sure I could take my time and explore my house, maybe see a bit of what's on the street, and then take my car to the airport on time. Every turn after 3:00 PM, the game will nag you with the same piece of text after every command. It got annoying fast as I repeatedly tried to fight my way there, and you will end up seeing it a lot, because there's no way you're getting everything done before the survival aspect. Especially if you're taking time to prepare.
I bought everything from the pawn shop, because I thought I'd be able to find more to sell. I couldn't, not even the diamond ring and violin I found in my house safe, which I thought would be worth a good amount. There's a bookstore with hint books, and a general store, too. Once you pass a certain point, you can't come back for any of this, and it's up to you to do the wilderness survival portion using just what you got to prepare.
Once you crash into the wilderness, it's up to you to get rescued. I opted to use the radio I bought from the pawn shop. The thing is, no matter what you do, you don't feel like you're making progress. I staked out a hollowed-out old tree to bide my time, but even after I cleaned it up with some nice wooden flooring and stones to keep the bugs away, staying there didn't seem to do anything different. I had to make my fire outside, and while I had more than enough material to burn and ways to light it, it didn't do much (heat doesn't matter). It made smoke that the game said could help someone find me, but that didn't go anywhere. Repairing the radio was a bit more complex than I expected, but I hooked it up to a speaker, had the fire burning and making smoke, and got a notice saying I was ready to go. I decided to wait it out until help arrived, rationing out what meager food I had... and died before anything really happened.
The hunger and thirst mechanics are maddening. You have a limited amount of food, so that's constantly working against you. For thirst, you have a stream to drink from, but you can also buy a canteen from the general store and fill it up. If you don't? You have to run back and forth between your shelter and the river to drink, which also lowers your hunger and thirst meters massively with how much time it takes. I guess what I'm supposed to do now is start over, solve all the puzzles again while the game repeatedly shouts at me to go to the airport, spare myself an excess purchase (maybe the matches) to find the general store and buy the canteen, and then gamble for another chance at survival? I'd probably just die of hunger again, even though I picked up all the food I saw on my first run.
One important aspect to note: it does seem like there's a lot you can do here. The hints detail a bit of content that I didn't come across, but it seems equally as frustrating as what I did see, so I'm not enthused to play more. Maybe if you're willing to give this one a lot of replays to find a solution, it'd be worth it? As it stands, I really didn't enjoy it.
Jupiter's forcing you to set up a party for Chuck D. Schmendiman, a man entering the pantheon for his newfound immortality. To get supplies for his party, you trade four delicious fruit pies (which, disappointingly, give a "plainly inedible" default response if you try to eat one) to the Greek gods spread around.
This is a Speed IF, so there's not a lot of gameplay or puzzles here, but I liked the atmosphere. All of the gods are practicing different activities and have amusing personalities. I particularly liked Mars looking just like the planet Mars instead of a god. And the ending is silly, but I wouldn't have wanted anything else from this game. A quick play, but worth it.
Speculative Fiction's voice and narration are full of personality. Everything is written from the perspective of wizard-turned-bird W.D., whether he's reflecting upon his past failed inventions or trying to cheat his way into wealth. The NPCs and characters around the world are interesting, and I had so much fun on my initial run through the world just to see what there was.
Eventually, it came down to the part where I had to start puzzle-solving, and this is where the game started to grate on me. There's very few clues, and while I was able to solve two or three on my own, I spent a lot of time struggling with ones that I didn't have the necessary materials for. I think I had a bug with the (Spoiler - click to show)cabinet puzzle, and the blind man's puzzle wouldn't accept some of the other solutions I thought were sensible. Other stuff, like the (Spoiler - click to show)stock market and fishing chalk circle, are practically begging for you to look at the walkthrough.
I'd recommend giving this game a quick look to appreciate the unique style, but don't be afraid to look for hints if you're intent on solving it.
I still haven't played much of the game yet, but I admire the author's honesty and willingness to improve the game. I hadn't heard of OpenCola before this game, but I think it's a cool idea. I'll definitely give this one a try now.
Old review: (Spoiler - click to show)I haven't gotten very far into the game, but I noticed that it uses the quite contentious system of AI-generated art. There's an image of a man that shows up early in the game, and it was immediately recognizable as the "AI art" style to me. Plus, it's how the cover art was made. Just a heads-up for anyone going into this.