Reviews by RadioactiveCrow

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Bali B&B, by Felicity Banks

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Delightful, heart-warming game about running a B&B and/or deciding your own fate, October 6, 2023
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 2 hours, IFComp 2023

For reference, I played this game during the first week of IFComp 2023, but when given the option to play the original IFComp submission or the latest version I choose to play the latest version. Not sure if there was a bug fix or what, but I would recommend this version to all.

In this game you play as the grandchild (you can pick your gender) of a strong-willed woman, who left her native land of Australia as a young adult to move to Bali and turn her in-laws house into a bed and breakfast hotel. You've grown up in Australia, part-Australian, part-Indonesian, and fluent in the languages of both countries. At least once a year you travel to Bali to visit Granny, but this year is different. This year you will not only be unexpectedly thrust into running the B&B, but you will have a chance to decide your own future in a number of ways.

What can I say about this game without giving away some of its best parts, except that the writing is excellent, the characters are the kind that you just want to spend more time with, and it actually got me to care about cats (a minor miracle!). Though getting you to care about cats is definitely a strength of Felicity's as I know from some of her past games. I've only played through once, and I'm reluctant to play it again as the playthrough I got was so lovely, but it feels like there are a number of different ways you can progress through the game. You can jump in headfirst to your duties or you can play the rebel, you can welcome romance or ignore it, you can be a peacemaker or you can choose violence (figuratively!). I thought the choices offered were great, and even for the ones where the difference was subtle I would sometimes agonize over which one to pick as I was shaping my fate.

Truly, the best things I can say about this game is that it really warmed my heart and I read each new passage with enthusiasm and expectation. There was even tension and drama in a few parts that didn't feel out of place in the overall narrative. Stories like this one and the author's most recent IFComp entry make me want to go play all of her games. Highly recommended!

(Also, she is totally right that brushing your teeth ruins the first few bites of your next snack!)

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Detective Osiris, by Adam Burt

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An ancient Egyptian murder-mystery that blurs the lines between heaven and earth, October 3, 2023
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 2 hours

In this choice-based game written in Ink, you play as Osiris, the recently deceased king (pharaoh?) of Egypt. A post-mortem ritual by your wife and demi-god, Isis, ensures your ascension to godhood. But as a newly christened god, you don't have any assigned duties yet. And all the gods are pretty sure you were murdered, so why not figure out whodunit first, and then you can get on with the whole being-a-god thing.

This is one of those choice-based games that plays a lot like a "parser-on-rails" as I call them. You can move back and forth between different locations, but there aren't really objects to pick up or examine, rather you have a limited number of options in each location (though the number of options may expand with continued exploration), and then it is time to move on. With this game being a murder mystery, your primary actions are to interview a number of different characters who may have either had a part in your death, or have some clue as to who the culprit is. You can visit every location and ask every NPC every question available to you, but then you will need to back track as new knowledge opens up new dialogue with characters you've already talked to.

All my criticisms will need to hide behind a spoiler tag below. But before we get to them, the praises. This game was well-written, with engaging dialogue in most of the scenes and a fairly robust dialogue tree for each NPC. I have a lot of respect for the coding that was required to open up new lines of dialogue with old NPCs only after certain facts were discovered. Also, I appreciated the limited graphics that went along with the text. Many of the names were unfamiliar to me, so having the graphical representation of the character pop up on the side of the screen when you were interacting with them was a nice touch and helpful to keep everyone straight. The credits mentioned music, but while I had my computerís volume up, I never heard it. Perhaps I didnít turn it up high enough.

So, I think a problem I had with the game is (Spoiler - click to show)that it was mislabeled as to the time it takes to play. The IFComp 2023 games listing has it at ďOne hourĒ, but I found that I was much closer to two hours and after ďcompletingĒ the game found that I had probably missed out on a good chunk of the content. Thatís because, having gone back and forth over the geography several times I started to see an option pop up in the dialogue tree to accuse someone of my murder and bring him before the gods for judgment. Given that I was way over the estimated time frame for playing the game I assumed that I had discovered enough clues to accuse this character (who was the obvious candidate from the beginning), and so I did, but I was wrong. I didnít quite have it in me to play through again to see what I missed, so I just went with it. But I was a bit disappointed that I hadnít figured it out on my own, even though it had seemed at that point that I had exhausted all my dialogue tree options (pretty sure that was just laziness on my part). However, I did appreciate that the game didnít just give me a fail-state, but rather revealed the mystery to me and allowed me a satisfactory ending.

Overall, a pretty solid effort, enjoyable for the time it took, but probably not a game I will be coming back to. Still, the author has talent, and I hope to see more from him in the future.

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