In this choice-base game, you play as Em, an archivist in post-apocalyptic world, who just got laid-off. History is a bit unclear, but several hundred years ago there was a war between transhumanists and those that rejected the "enhancements". The war left the earth scarred and base-model humanity seeking the shelter of huge arcologies to survive. But then within your lifetime there has been a breach of the arcology wall with devastating effects, and also an uprising against the Ruling Party that was quickly put down. And to top it all off, your rent is due. How will you navigate this dismal world and find a way to keep a roof over your head? The choice is yours.
I'm of two minds about this piece. On the one hand, the world is interesting and the writing is good. On the other hand, I think there is a war going on inside the piece between the Setting and the Main Idea. The game takes the form of a "simulator" rather than a story. You are presented with stats (money in the bank, days until the rent is due, food in the fridge) and ostensibly tasked with the problem of figuring out how to make rent and stay alive. But then the Main Idea happens, using the futuristic backdrop as a commentary on the issues of today. For awhile I was able to leave the Setting behind and focus on the Main Idea, the interpersonal relationships of the PC, the philosophical and introspective musings on the meaning of identity and belonging. But then the end of the story kind of threw me for a loop again, mixing the Setting/backstory in with the Main Idea in a hurried way that left me unsatisfied with the final outcome. There are 9 endings that you can achieve, and if after one playthrough you aren't interested in playing again, as I was, then the author provides some notes as to the origins of the piece and what all the possible outcomes are.
Interesting piece that was good, but just didn't quite work for me in the end.
In this choice-based game, you play a human in a vague, mostly fantasy, but a little steampunk, world. You happen to befriend an elf, perhaps the last elf in the world, one night. The great Elven city disappeared without warning and without a trace when your grandfather was a child. It seems so long ago it might be well be myth. But now you get to hear the account of the great city firsthand!
Where to start with this game? First, let me say that the author is clearly a talented writer. Unfortunately, at least for the first third or so of this piece, he seems to want to show off just how just how lyrical he can be with his prose and it gets to be a bit to thick. Thankfully, he settles down further into the piece and the story moves on elegantly and much more smoothly. Still, there is no doubt he has quite a way with words and I'm eager to see what other works he can produce.
Second, there isn't much interactivity in this story. There are a few choices that allow you to direct the conversation, and I suspect, change the latter story a bit. But I don't think that they make much of a difference in terms of branching narratives. This one feels pretty linear to me. Now that isn't always bad (see Turandot), but for a linear choice-based game to be good I think it needs to offer you lots of choices to express your character's character, to make the PC your own. Here I don't think you had that option.
Finally, I was disappointed with the resolution. For a fair part of the story I didn't think there was enough action, but the more tales the NPC told the more I was able to appreciate it for what it was. That said, I don't think that the ending was as fleshed out as it should have been. I think I understand it after a couple playthroughs, but I wish there had been some more specifics about (Spoiler - click to show)how and why the Elven city disappeared.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with the story, and I hope to see more from this author in the future. This was a good piece, it just could have been a bit better.
In this choice-based game you play as a heart-broken and suspicious off-again-on-again girlfriend. Your girlfriend is texting with someone else, a lot, and you want to get to the bottom of it.
This game features the dreaded timed-text, and it is more dreaded in this game than in any game I've played before. In some games the timing of the text is fast enough that it doesn't bother me, or it is used sparingly in optimal places in the story. But in this story it is used on every page for every line and it is slow, even for a slow reader like myself. I actually took to loading a new page, then playing with my phone for a few minutes waiting for all the text to load before going back to it.
Then on Turn 11 (so says the debugger), the game glitched due to a coding error, popped up a debugger menu and, at least on my tablet, prevented me from finishing the game. I'm pretty sure I was near the end anyway, and as good as the writing was, I just wasn't interested in the story. Not that it was heartfelt, it just wasn't anything I hadn't read before. Nothing there to really engage me.
In this choice-based game, you play as a woman fleeing from a massive storm that is sure to wipe out everything in its path, somehow related to the sun standing still in the sky (?). It doesn't really matter, all that matters is the end of your particular corner of the world is nigh and you have to decide what to do about it.
I played through the game twice. It seems like there are a few branching narratives which have you encounter different NPCs with different perspectives on how the end of the world should be handled. You get to decide for yourself. There isn't much to the game, a few choices that lead you into different philosophical discussions, but not much action past that that I discovered. It is well written and interesting enough for the short time it takes to play through it, but not much more.
In this choice-based game you play as... someone. A non-descript person with a desk job, whose nose continually starts and stops bleeding throughout the piece, without much explanation. The ending intrigued me and put a new spin on the story that came before, but it wasn't enough to redeem it.
This one didn't work for me on several levels. The first was the interface. Instead of clicking on a word or sentence to make your choices there would be 1-3 verbs in boxes at the bottom of the screen and you had to drag them up to the proper noun to make your choice. At first it seemed unique/fun, but in the end it just took me out of the flow of the story. Clicking a hyperlink is easy and keeps my mind focused on the text rather than the logistics, and if you missed dropping the verb tag on the noun by a little bit it would drop back to the bottom and you'd have to do it again.
Another thing that didn't work for me was the game basically telling me "No!" when I made a choice. Sometimes I would pick a verb and the next screen of text would tell me why my character couldn't do that. In other games I've played in the past this mechanic has served to emphasize the helplessness of the character, but I didn't feel like that was justified here. Also, sometimes it works to interrupt your character in the middle of the action as a change of pace, but it happened too often in this story for that to be effective.
Finally, the story just didn't grab me. When you start you have no idea what is going on and the same it true right up to the end. The writing is vague, on purpose I'm sure, but it didn't work for me. If I never know what is going on, even a little bit, I can't get in to the story. And it seemed like the story repeated the same cycle of (Spoiler - click to show)nose bleed -> deal with it somehow -> get ridiculed -> be confused too much.
Clean interface and programming, but nothing about the game worked for me.
ADDENDUM: I've since learned that the interface isn't unique to this game. I thought it was a Twine innovation or something, but it was actually made with Texture Writer, an authoring tool that came out in 2014, but that I hadn't encountered until this game. That said, do to my other issues with the game, I'm keeping my star rating the same. Just an FYI.
In this choice-based game you play as a former street kid turned courier, scraping out an existence delivering packages to those much more well-off than you. The world you live in is a strange walled city in the middle of a desert, with a rainless storm permanently hovering above a garden at the city's center. Outside of that protected greenspace though, life is bleak and always a struggle.
My favorite thing about this piece was the world building that took place quickly and effortlessly as the beginning of the story unfolded. Think steampunk, but without the steam. Yes, there are robots and elaborate machinery, but their workings are more mystery and magic than steam and pressure. The main currency is electricity stored in a personal battery/wallet. The weaponry is blades and spears, rather than guns.
The author did an amazing job setting the scene, throwing you into a strange new world without much explanation, but almost always with enough context that you could figure out what was going on. I didn't feel like (at least in the first half, more on that later) that any aspect of the world or culture was brought up just for the author to show-off. Even if it was only tangentially important to the scene at the time, it always seemed to keep with the flow of the story while also hinting at undiscovered depths to the world. This piece could have easily been a much longer game or even a novel. And the writing was really good (at least in the first half), slow enough to let you take in all the strangeness, but fast enough to keep the action moving; flowery enough that it felt like poetry at times, without being ostentatious.
The first half of the story was near perfect. Everything was working for me. The second half didn't quite keep me locked in as much as I would have hoped though. All the things that the author got an A+ on in the first half slid down to a B in the second half. The world got deeper and stranger to the point where I couldn't keep up any more. I think the game should have either been longer, to help flesh out and explain the new concepts and characters, or shorter, with some of the story trimmed to lower confusion and keep the plot moving. The writing got a little too flowery and philosophical, and there were a few digressions to make certain points that I thought could have been just as powerful if addressed in subtler ways (as they were in the first half of the story). Finally, the ending was a bit disappointing. Perhaps I will find a better one after more replays, but for all the build-up of the first half, I just felt like it ended weirdly.
I came very, very close to giving this one four stars, and I still might as I think about it some more and play it another time or two, but I'm very stingy with my ratings and I just couldn't get there on this one.
Bottom line though, this is a very enjoyable work and I would encourage everyone to play it. I hope to see more from this author. Would even love to see another story set in this world!
In this choice-based game you play a soldier during the Shogun era of Japan (I think? It mentions Shoguns, but also your name is Jack) that includes among the armaments of the time: bows and arrows, swords and guns. And magic, don't forget the magic. Mortally wounded on the battlefield, though apparently to you it just feels like a flesh wound, an apparition appears before you and asks you to undertake a very short quest (you'll be dead by dawn they say) to assassinate the evil Shogun of your state.
What happens next? Its hard to tell. Forgive me for saying so, but the story feels like the ones I wrote as a 10-year old. I would write a sloppy, but moderately coherent page each day, then they next day when I came back to writing, whatever idea had popped into my head overnight would be the next part of the story, whether it flowed or not. There was more than once after I got to the end of one of the lengthy pages that I made a choice and was just bewildered by what happened next. It didn't seem to flow at all.
The writing and formatting are sloppy, the few choices available to you don't make sense all the time, or lead down very dissatisfying paths, and there are a few coding bugs in the game. I could say more but it would just be piling on.
In this choice-based game you play as a psychic marketing agent for a lousy beer company. Your job on this night is to order the latest frankenfood off the Extreme Menu!, sit at your booth and use your psychic powers to convince the other patrons to order your company's beer. The game offers you some hints right of the bat if you want them, not cheats, more like strategies, and then you are off. Jump around into the different minds at the restaurant and try to find the right moment to get them to try your beer.
The game offers multiple endings indicating various degrees of success. It follows the pattern of other choice-based puzzle games I've played before, where your ultimate goal is to find the correct path through the story to get the best ending and it requires multiple playthroughs to figure it out.
The writing is decent with some funny moments and colorful, if not deep, characters. There are plenty of things that don't make sense like (Spoiler - click to show)the idea that you can convince a 12-year-old to order beer (the Jr. variety!) or that you can convince a waitress on duty to drink one and then somehow she ends up with a case of it in her car when the night ends (does Applebee's sell beer-to-go now?), but no matter, this game is supposed to be wacky, not realistic.
Overall fun and easy to playthrough 3-4 times quickly to try to figure out the correct path. A good way to spend 15 minutes, but not much more.
In this choice-based multimedia game you play a man who wakes up on his last day of vacation in London to find a dead man in his living room and you quickly realize that it is part of some conspiracy and like it or not you are involved. What follows is a cloak-and-dagger chase across the English countryside where you must plan your actions carefully at every step to avoid being caught by your pursuers. Many of your choices will be presented in the context of one of three main strategies: BE OPEN, BE CLEVER or BE BOLD. Choosing one of them will alter the text in future scenes. For example: being clever will mean the text draws more attention to suspicious things, but also means that it might make something seems suspicious that really isnít.
I quite enjoyed the mechanics of this game. Right from your first strategy choice the game tells you what it means to pick a certain path and will let you know when your personality alters later on based on your choices. I also loved that at the end of each chapter the game would give you the option to move on to the next chapter, or replay the chapter you just finished. Frequently, with choice-based games, I found that Iíve learned something for future playthroughs, but I still have to finish the game before I can go back and try the new thing. Sometimes I want to iterate on my path many times and that involves lots of clicking and not much reading. Being to take this game in chunks was lovely and made for a very pleasant replay experience. I also liked that at the beginning of Chapter 2 (Spoiler - click to show)the game told you that the chapter would end if you got caught and you would miss out on some of the story, then when I finished the chapter it let me know that I had seen the whole thing. Finally, I loved that the code in the game is a real cipher that you can decode on your own outside of the game, allowing you to take other productive actions during the game.
The game also has original music by the author, which was a nice touch in certain moments and at the beginning and end of chapters. I would also recommend reading the walkthrough that is available at the end of the game. It lets you in on things youíve missed and also made me realize how impressive the coding was for this game.
The game says that it is adapted from a novel. Iím curious was the novel is like, but I can say that the reason I didnít give this game four stars was the storyline. I just never felt invested in the characters, the plot didnít grip me from the beginning because it all seemed to come out of no where without any context as to why I should care, and I felt like the end came too suddenly and too easily. So, only three stars for this one, but I hope the author writes another game like this with some of the same mechanics, Iíd love to play it.
This is a very short game featuring two mice trying to order brunch at their favorite restaurant, run by a human girl that doesn't speak squeak.
What can I say about this for the adult audience? Not much. It is a cute story, the epitome of a children's book in IF form, but doesn't offer much for adults. If you have a precocious child they might be up for this story, but I feel like my 7- and 9-year-old (albeit a special needs child) would either struggle to keep up with the story or be bored by it.
All that said it is a sweet story in the classic children's storybook mold. I do want to see more IF for children, even as I am working to create stories to help my autistic child learn in Twine or Ink, but I find it hard to judge this type of work in the IF Comp. Perhaps we need an IF Comp exclusively for children's stories. Something to ponder.
Bravo, Buchanans! I hope you create more childrens' IF.