Reviews by RadioactiveCrow

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Equal-librium, by Ima

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Short and buggy, but does interesting things with text effects/timing, November 28, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes

This is a very short choice-based game where you play the CEO of an investment firm facing moral choices about the company's action as well as how you treat your employees. With a game this short I don't think it is worth it to talk about the plot that much as just about anything I say would be spoilers. I will say that it is fairly heavy-handed in its messaging regarding the choices you have to make and what the author thinks the right ones are. I tend to prefer games that weave the message in with interesting plot or mechanics. Also, this game had several typos and one obvious bug, so it could stand a bit more polishing.

I did enjoy the way the author made visual effects out of the text, with flickering or timed text, among other things. I felt that really added a sense of being under stress and/or scatter-brained to the story. I love seeing text and the IF creation engines stretched and used in interesting ways to help convey something that might be hard with plain text alone.


Passages, by Jared W Cooper

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting idea, but falls flat, November 25, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes

This is ostensibly a choice-based game, but as best as I recall only had a single page that offered up so much as two links, and one of those only changed the present text a bit, rather than send you down a new path. Considering that this is supposed to be interactive fiction, I have to mark it down for having only a modicum of interactivity.

The story takes the form of a journal in a strange version of the world where wormholes sometimes open up in the basements of houses and can theoretically be fixed by plumbers. The wormholes, if unsealed, can cause issues with the flow of time, and so consequently the journal entries don't seem to follow upon each other linearly and sometimes something happening in one entry can be explained by something in a later entry. An interesting idea, but the story just didn't grab me.

It is mercifully short though, if you want to give it a quick spin.


The Pinecone, by Joseph Pentangelo

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Another absurdist game from the author, November 19, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes

This game is the author's second entry into IFComp 2020, along with an equally absurd game, "The Turnip". You play a student waiting for a bus when a herd of goats come walking down the street. From there things get really weird.

I played through it twice and got two of the four endings. This piece is better than "The Turnip" for sure, but still not great. Perhaps this style of writing just isn't my cup of tea, but I just didn't get it. Everything is weird without reason, which is fine if something interesting happens in the world. But nothing really does. The ending is kind of funny, but seems disjointed with some of the penultimate scenes along some of the possible paths.

I'd like to see more from this author, but I think it would have to be a longer piece with more interesting character development and interactions. Not just weirdness for its own sake.


Big Trouble in Little Dino Park, by Seth Paxton, Rachel Aubertin

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Keep your dinosaur manual handy, November 19, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes

Bottom line on this game is I did not enjoy it and don't think it is worth even the 15 minutes it took for me to die twice. You play an employee of a dinosaur park (a Jurassic Park knock-off which is ubiquitous in the game world) on the day when another employee goes crazy and opens all the cages. You have to escape from the park somehow.

I just didn't care about any of it, not the characters, not the "puzzles", not the writing. If you die (no real way to tell that's what your choices will lead to) the game will let you restore from the point where it all went wrong. I died twice and restored, trying a new path, but before I even got to my third death (or perhaps victory) I got bored and quit playing.


The Cave, by Neil Aitken

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A game where you wander around aimlessly until you stop, October 31, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes

So, this game makes more sense to me now than it did when I played it (more on that later). But I have to base this review and rating on my experience playing the game in the way it was presented to me.

In this game you wake up in a cave that may or may not be pitch dark. Some of the writing certainly makes it seem like you are just feeling your way around, but then you see things in the room with you so I'm not sure which to believe. Many room descriptions start with the line "You are swallowed in an even deeper darkness." Then many of those follow with the line "It is dark." Then again, many of those rooms continue with a description of some items in the room. I think a lot of the text was generated by a poorly tuned algorithm. The writing just felt really awkward at times.

Anyway, you just wander around trying different things, not really sure if you are making progress and then at some point you stumble across the exit. Then you are told what your final stats are (even though you never realized you were collecting or generating stats), along with a few achievements. Not very satisfying.

I highly recommend you read the review that deathbytroggles wrote. It contains info that the author put into the walkthrough, but that I strongly believe needs to be on the front page of the game. Apparently the author intended this game to be a unique way to generate stats for a character you are creating for D&D or a similar game. You play the game for 15 minutes, make whichever choices seem appropriate to you and are awarded stats based on your personality in the game. That's a genius idea! I love the idea of creating your D&D character not by rolling dice, but by making choices in this somewhat abstract environment. It seems the game is designed to make you wander around until you have used up all the points at your disposal for character creation and then generate an exit. Which is fine as long as everyone knows what they are getting into.

So as a character creation tool for D&D, two thumbs up. But as a piece of IF, it leaves a lot to be desired.


You Couldn't Have Done That, by Ann Hugo

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Short game about an autistic girl's first day at a new job, October 21, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes

Please know that I mean this with the utmost respect, and in the best way possible, when I call this piece an "autism simulator". I say it not at all to diminish the autistic experience, but rather to praise the game. I am not autistic myself, but I have a young son who is autistic, as well as several adult friends who are autistic. From observing their behavior and listening to them talk about what it is like, I think that this game does the best job I've ever seen at helping a non-autistic person experience what it is like to be autistic. The writing is properly terse and excellent at getting the player into the mindset of the main character and what she is dealing with in her first day at a new job; the things she likes about the job and the things that make her uncomfortable. The game features very limited choices that at first didn't seem to have a big impact on the game, a feature that I don't usually like. However, eventually you will make a choice that (Spoiler - click to show)is rejected by the game as something you can't do (hence the title) because of your brain just doesn't work that way. It is in these moments that you really feel the pain and discomfort of the character. When every interaction gets dialed up to 11, normal situations can be uncomfortable and bad situations can be hell.

I'd recommend everyone give this a playthrough to help you better understand some of your fellow humans. Well worth the little time it will take.


Stoned Ape Hypothesis, by James Heaton

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Simple, short choice-based game with a few puzzles, October 14, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes

There isn't a lot to this game. You play as some version of a primitive human, who finds some mushrooms, eats them and has a giant leap forward in consciousness, enough to eventually (Spoiler - click to show)join a human town. Even though this is a choice-based game the story line is very minimal and the game is mostly about solving some simple puzzles. That's really it, give it a whirl, it won't take long.

Two things I really liked about it:
1) How the prose got more verbose/detailed the more mushrooms were consumed. I thought it was a nice illustration of the increasing intelligence of the player character.
2) How the author was able to program a Tic-Tac-Toe and Mancala AI in Ink for the game.


Mother Tongue, by Nell Raban

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Short game about a mother teaching her child the language of their ancestors, October 8, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes

My childhood best friend was Filipino; born in the Philippines, but moved to the US at a very young age. I would hang out at his house a lot and heard his mom speaking Tagalog quite a bit. I picked up a handful of words, including the curse words, along the way. All that to say that I think this story reached me in a way in might not reach others.

The game is very short and takes places completely over text messages. A mother tries to teach her child her native language, something she regrets not having done sooner. A choice-based game about the decisions immigrants have to make in the name of helping their children fit in to a new country, and children deciding if it is too late or not to connect to their heritage. A simple and heartwarming conversation.


Congee, by Becci

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
The IF equivalent of comfort food, October 6, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes

This short choice-based work is about being both sick and homesick, and the comfort that certain foods can bring to both kinds of illness. While primarily text, the game is accompanied by soft music and occasional illustrations that perfectly compliment the mood of the story. I don't want to say much more as the game is very short and I wish for everyone to experience it for themselves. But I will say this: I've only played this game once, and for the best reason. The path that I took and the ultimate outcome of the game felt so perfect and brought me such joy that I can't imagine finding a better one and I want to preserve this one playthrough in my memory, undiluted.


Quest for the Sword of Justice, by Damon L. Wakes

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Parody of the traditional RPG, October 4, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes

This isn't your traditional IF. It was made with RPGMaker and looks like a top-down RPG from the 16-bit era. It is very short with limited choices. The whole game basically exists to make fun of old-school RPGs and it does have a few very funny lines. That said there isn't much to it. Worth a playthrough if you loved FF4 and FF6 as much as I did.



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