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Baby on Board, by Eric Zinda

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
In which we might better embrace conventions, May 23, 2022
by DB (Columbus, OH)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

OK so this is going to be a bit of a review of my thoughts on Perplexity as experienced through this game perhaps more than it's a review of the game. We'll see. Also I considered spoiler tagging some of this, but as I got all of three rooms deep into the game, I don't think I really got far enough to spoil anything.

"I only understand full English sentences like 'take the lamp.'" Hmm. OK, but even "Take the lamp" uses the conventional shortcut of an implied subject. It can't further imply an article and answer to >GET LAMP? That seems a little backward.

Turns out Perplexity will expand some typed commands into what it understands as a full command, but it will take the time to tell you every time. I get that the screenreader is helpful for some players, but I wish I could turn it off specifically because it reads these messages out to me every time, word for word, when I would rather just ignore them and move on, reading at my own pace [unspoiler: it is possible, I just missed it]. People have had this critique of homebrew or startup parsers for a long time and it's not that there's no purpose in them, but: what is the point of developing a parser that is specifically less forgiving than its more popular, conventional contemporaries?

>Who am I
>What am I wearing?
"I don't understand 'wearing'"
>knock on door
(Rephrased as: 'Knock on the door.' I'm just guessing here since I'm not designed for shortcuts, use a full sentence or I can get confused.)

Perplexity rejects the convenience of using an established vocabulary of shortcuts in favor of fully embracing the false promise of the parser while at the same time constantly reminding the player of the limits of its parser. Its parser also seems less advanced than some others, unequipped to understand "it" as a reference as far as I could tell.

>Where is the baby?
"Rosa's House, a living room, a world, and north somewhere."
I'm not really sure how I should understand this answer. I think it means: in the living room of Rosa's house, north of your current location, but it kinda reads like I asked William S. Burroughs during a binge.

>Where are you?
"inside a porch and inside a world"
No, that's where *I* am. I think. Actually, I'm *on* the porch.

>enter house
"(Rephrased as... [truncated])
You look around the immaculate living room. Near the couch is a coffee table with a note and a diaper bag on it. Tom is sitting on the floor next to idScrewdriver1.

Tom is gone!

There are doors..."

Welp, that's where I quit. I did report this apparent bug and I'm informed that it's fixed if you're curious about having a further go at it than I did. The game needs more polish and although I appreciate Perplexity's accessibility for screen readers and mic use (not my preference), I think that its rejection of conventions works against it more than it helps.

A D R I F T, by Pinkunz

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
In which I am certainly missing something, but will have to revisit, April 22, 2022
by DB (Columbus, OH)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

OK, it has to be said: it was weird for me personally to see this as a title rather than the development system. I know not everyone had that reaction, no bearing on the review, but it was a funny moment for me.

I would have liked a prompt to press enter at the opening. After playing a few games in a row in Twine, I sat there clicking, trying to scroll (a scrollbar is visible), etc. for too long before I remembered that this project was written in Inform.

I found this game interesting, insofar as the included art drew me in and the events unfolding kept me engaged, but it's overall underimplemented as far as I can tell. I'm not sure I managed to accomplish many verb inputs aside from examining some things. The game suggests that "Maybe you could reorient yourself." I tried some verbs (reorient, turn, twist, spin, somersault, cardinal directions), none worked. I got a response like, "What do you want to turn?" >ME "You might not like that." Hm. No verb list available. No about text. I do suppose (Spoiler - click to show)>DIE has a neat string of responses though.

I'm missing something, I'm sure, but the one help or hint message didn't produce any meaningfully assistive prod in my brain, so I'll probably have to wait for a post-comp release to really enjoy it.

Hinterlands: Marooned!, by Cody Gaisser

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Interact with the Q'udzlth and die... and die... and die..., April 22, 2022
by DB (Columbus, OH)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

Bare. Only interesting bit is one monster description, and that's bluntly standard Lovecraft pastiche. Hints suggest that this Spring Thing entry is either meant to be an allegory, a joke, or both. In my consideration, it fails in building enough surrounding context/content/implementation for either interpretation to really work. From my first playthrough, I regarded this as a troll entry.

I came back after another review suggested there might be more possible than I had originally witnessed (Spoiler - click to show)in terms of interaction with the monster. Noticing this game came with a link to Zarf's IF postcard, I opened that up and ran down the list of verbs offered since the game has no other vocab list included. Almost all led to either A) another variation on a one-note theme of (Spoiler - click to show)being dismembered/digested or B) unimplemented or nonsensical responses. The only two implemented parts of the environment as far as I could tell in that playthrough were ocean/water and island/sand, but neither has any meaningful interaction. (Spoiler - click to show)Figuring maybe the point was that everything had some implementation, I was disappointed to find that trying to fill the monster with sand wasn't understood and >JUMP IN OCEAN, though implemented, produces "You take a moment to frolic in the waves. WHEE!" ... what? huh? Why?

At least "Q'udzlth" uses "monster" and some other words as synonyms because otherwise its name is a pain to type with no abbreviation and no pay off but repeated death.

Based on some of the author's previous work, I'm inclined to think this was more of an I7 coding exercise than a full-fledged work. A lot of "oh, you just die" coding exercises were made for TWIFComp back in 2010 and none were especially well-received (mine included), but they weren't necessarily meant to. TWIFComp was more about the challenge of releasing anything given the constraints. Perhaps this author has likewise built this as a personal challenge rather than for a crowd? Or maybe it really was just taking the piss, so to speak.

If the author wanted me to stick around for more, they might have implemented some more encouraging or interesting responses up front. As it is, there's not any "more" to stick around for.

Hinterlands: Marooned! only really became a joke proper the way the hints suggest it's intended once reviewers started playing along with it by flattering the game. Even then though, it's the reviews that were funny and managed to make me laugh, not the game itself. As allegory some have suggested comparing the player's role here to Sisyphus, but I think this is closer to Tantalus: expected to drown with no escape, redemption, or satisfaction.

The Box, by Paul Michael Winters

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Short puzzlebox-escape-the-room type adventure, April 22, 2022
by DB (Columbus, OH)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

The Box is a thin setup for a short puzzlebox-escape-the-room type adventure. Nothing necessarily against a thin setup, just go into this knowing that it's a puzzle-forward experience. The puzzles such as they are are none too difficult and can all be solved by prodding enough of the environment to find the next clue when stuck. They're largely not of a sort of puzzles to need several clues. At least a few are pretty much spoiled on finding a single clue. At least one of them was sort of artificially gated in a way that I felt resisted a logical secondary solution ((Spoiler - click to show)burning the ropes on the drawbridge), but I think I get it. (Spoiler - click to show)Highlighting the one solution is meant to reinforce in its own way that in Kreate the mouse is important (the bit of hardware symbolized by the creature implemented in the game... personally I found the mouse implemented in-game a bit too "talkative" for my tastes; especially considering how little it really contributed to puzzle solutions, it seemed a bit misleading and distracting for me to be hearing from it every couple turns). Only the mouse (the in-game creature yes, but also the bit of hardware) actually didn't turn out in my playthrough to be super important so much as it was handy in a couple given scenarios. Though Kreate has the advantage of featuring a hybrid input parser, mouse input salience was still overall pretty low for me as a player in this game. But then I'm also a practiced typist and not everybody will have the same automaticity in typing IF commands, nor will every game have the same level of keyboard-vs-mouse use. Its inclusion is welcome and I can see future games on the platform making even broader use of it.

The big advantage of Kreate's hybrid setup from the perspective of a player is in being able to use the mouse to interact more thoroughly with the story rather than typing commands into a parser. Maybe I'm being too repetitive here, but it seems a major point of both the game and platform. More specifically, in The Box the mouse (the computer hardware, not the animal implemented in the game) can be used to click links to perform commands (though the links automatically generated are not always immediately helpful, sometimes a distraction) or to operate some of the glyphs and dials on the titular box which might be more tedious if done entirely through parser commands. The drop-down menus for operating letter dials were a particularly welcome change of pace from what would have been a tedious exercise if typed into a parser. Inform has extensions for creating hyperlinks and buttons, but I've yet to see a drop-down menu implemented in Inform as far as I can remember (it probably has) although I don't see why that wouldn't be completely possible too.

I have to admit though that from playing this game alone, although I wouldn't say I disliked it, I'm just not totally clear on what Kreate's advantages as a development system are over its contemporaries. I suppose the success of the platform will come down to more people trying it out and The Box is at least an advertisement that it works. As a work of IF, The Box is a rewarding enough puzzler to spend your time on. If you're experienced, it won't take a lot of time anyway, and if you're new seems like it should be accessible enough to guide you through without too much head scratching.

fix it, by Lily Boughton

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Psychological grounding trainer best read as internal monologue, April 22, 2022
by DB (Columbus, OH)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

fix it is a short practice for a psychological grounding exercise. It's earnest and admits in the end that "it isn't always easy." The goal here is toward "self-compassion and tolerance of your own feelings," though that's only said explicitly at the very end of the experience. fix it might be useful in introducing a user to some basic grounding techniques with the right setup and expectations. Perhaps teaching the techniques isn't actually the goal here and it's just like a more personal, reflective work about an experience and that's fine too. I want to be clear at the outset here that despite the amount I'm about to ramble I don't think that fix it is bad, in fact, I think it is even valuable and useful. But I also think that it could just as easily backfire and given the piece is rather short that's what I've decided to focus my blathering on about here. I will briefly note that my going on about it is somewhat based in my work with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, so again, perhaps a limited context but I would think it's worth considering. The tl;dr here is not "I'm offended! This is bad!" nor do I intend to offer a bad faith take of the text, but mostly fix it kind of rubbed me the wrong way in that it could be read in the context of caregiving in a way that's malicious. Maybe "That's a full-on misread" is perhaps also a valid response to everything I'm about to say, I dunno. I don't think fix it was necessarily intended to be interpreted in that context, but it is there and it is possible, so here I go anyway.

On a quick neither here nor there technical note, I found the opening screen a bit too slow, but I get that I should sit with that feeling and ~6 seconds isn't exactly a major waste of time. That seems appropriate thematically and allows the reader to notice and consider the author's note before jumping into the main experience. OK.

I am otherwise about to run through a set of criticisms of the setup and execution which should not entirely detract from its commendable goal. I don't know what Lily Boughton's relation is to the issues at hand, e.g., whether the author personally deals with OCD or has training as a psychologist. Poems like "Ritual," "You Call Yourself an Artist," or "Bittersweet" (found here) seem to suggest that the author might identify with the subject of fix it and the narration might be a representation of a couple voices of internal monologue, one more helpful than the other. I don't want to presume too much here in my review, but to offer data points from my own reading and from imagined, possible counter-readings (again, fully intended in good faith) that might help better inform it or draw a bigger picture around it as a tool for teaching psychological grounding. My apologies to the author if none of what follows is entirely relevant or helpful.

For starters, one might not read fix it to completion, feeling mocked by the initial scroll of negative responses rather than seen or identified with. The author's note acknowledges this insomuch as it offers that one might quit if they feel uncomfortable. So I feel like some who might have greater need of approaching the subject are already either being shut out or else asked to read it in a controlled setting removed from the sort it's intended to model, if it's to be read to completion. That's fine and doable and indeed one might argue that's the very point of practice, but it does limit its potential audience and playthrough settings in a way not entirely suggested by its open presentation as a general entry in Spring Thing. True, most entries are probably not played in a situation where one is not at least comfortable enough for some extended reading, but fix it also makes a point of both actively triggering its reader and offering clear-cut solutions which is kind of like trying to have your cake and eat it too in a situation that's not a one-size-fits-all sort of deal.

(Spoiler - click to show)A reader might not (as I almost did not) scroll down to see that taking a deep breath was an option during the "fix it! fix it! fix it!" screen. Scrolling isn't really necessary in playing through until the twelfth click of "fix it." Also the option to "take a deep breath" which moves the story forward doesn't appear until after the 16th click of "fix it," so one should have to look for it and know or at least expect that there will be a change or alternative option introduced (or play with the text at about 80% zoom full screen at 1920 x 1080 resolution in order to see its entirety). In some ways the core message of having to sit with one's discomfort already has to've been internalized to reach this point.

(Spoiler - click to show)It can often take a lot more than asking someone to breathe when they're "discomforted" to see a result and could even exacerbate an active issue, much in the way that telling someone to "calm down" is almost certain to only make a person angrier. A binary choice (Spoiler - click to show)between the chance to "continue fighting against your discomfort" or "to make space for that feeling and move on with your day" is easy to make in an interactive fiction with clearly delineated choices played at leisure. The game's inciting event is ambiguous, even trivialized to an extent that could be an issue. It's never even really clarified who exactly thinks the issue-to-be-fixed is an issue; it even seems a bit like it could be that the narrator is projecting an issue onto the reader. Instead of getting the sense internally as the reader that I had a problem to address (I kind of just always felt the goal was to progress through the story but that's because of the context in which I was reading it), I am told there is a problem and "if you would like to be comfortable, you have to fix the problem." ((Spoiler - click to show)Actually a lie that will get you stuck in a loop.) This could be even worse if the reader takes that issue to be an internal one which by the by it is not clarified if the issue-to-be-fixed is internal or external as far as I could tell, i.e., is this an issue with my environment or with who I am? Though well-intentioned, in some cases client-centered language (Spoiler - click to show)like "what you do next is your choice" can be empowering in one context or more sinister in another, especially if these were external problems inflicted upon the reader or if they were internal issues projected onto the reader that might not be truly "fixable," whatever fixing means.

(Spoiler - click to show)The author's note mentions themes of self-harm, but when hands bleed when washed, it is because they are commanded to be washed. I suppose this is a crucial point for some of the other criticisms I had as well and I've already mentioned it a bit, but: not everyone lives in a situation where this command would be read as coming from an internal monologue. Read in a caretaking rather than internal monologue sense, "if you would like to be comfortable, you have to fix the problem" and the grounding exercise could be seen as victim blaming or unhelpful distraction, respectively, or even negligence or abuse. Asking the reader to perform stretches further reinforces that this assumes an able-bodied context.

I've gone on for far too long about a project that ultimately implores us to be kind and gentle and that I actually thought was mostly well-written and effective. Perhaps my spinning my wheels over it might speak a bit to the effectiveness with which it managed to lodge a bit of a thorn in my brain. Should I have just breathed and moved on from these thoughts and feelings? That can be tough to say sometimes. As fix it says, "It isn't always easy." That might be an understatement in some cases, but I guess I'll leave it there.

Sweetpea, by Sophia de Augustine

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Contemporary gothic chaos with a happy ending, April 20, 2022
by DB (Columbus, OH)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

It's hard not to be drawn to Sweetpea's striking cover art. It really speaks to the full level of commitment that went into the entire project.

From a non-supernatural perspective, Sweetpea is (Spoiler - click to show)the dramatized story of a child frightened of the "other" person her father becomes under the influence of alcohol and how he chooses to change to do better for her. But forget the non-supernatural perspective because this story likes to get weird with it and I love it for that. This is a battle between an invading doppelganger and a guardian angel inside a living house.

Much of the overall linear story (I was surprised to hear from the author that the game was written without actually any state tracking at all. This did lead to one issue though where a player might have to retread part of the game if it's done out of order) is written around being jolted awake and falling asleep again, and the events that unfold feel like the sort of vividly wrought nightmares one might have in between those twilight states. The story's imagery is deeply and effectively described throughout-- the sights, the ghostly creaking wood of the house, the taste of coffee and caramels, the feel of the cold-- the writing clearly delights in all of these. They can start to bog down the tale a bit though, as the protagonist gets sidetracked describing minutiae a few nodes too deep when a more immediate response might have better maintained a sense of urgency. (Spoiler - click to show)Should we really be recounting gift pens and remembering secret drawers for stashes of candy and savoring caramels or old sweaters when something is banging on our door trying to get in? This opening section reminded me of playing The Forest House or Back Home back in the day, and for me I think this pace mostly worked. Lacking the option to (Spoiler - click to show)rush downstairs and let the dad-doppelganger in reinforced the dread of our viewpoint character at least until the point where she decides to (Spoiler - click to show)take a nap. That threw me off.

When the text starts getting really crazy-jittery after that though, you just know something's about to go down. (Spoiler - click to show)Broken glass, bloodied footprints, a rosary bead stuffed against teeth, doppelganger vomiting and washing its face in the sink, abduction by a shapeshifting guardian angel with no constant, understandable visage. And then, your choice of breakfast. This crazy, pitched pace is exactly what the slower, early portion allows to build and pay off. Then we get some breathing room again, grounded in imagery (food), and some exposition.

I won't spoil the climax, but I will say that it did involve a perspective switch that caught me by surprise. I rolled with it just fine once I did realize what it'd done though. The ending is a happy one whose tone is quite different from the rest, as emphasized by the change in background color, but it's one that's earned rather than forced.

I did notice that Sweetpea features a content warning for "ecclesiastical content" that made me slightly apprehensive, but aside from it having a rosary in it and a guardian angel the story itself didn't seem too specifically religious. Then again I'm not sure what I would've expected to fit that sort of tag. It's certainly not irreligious and it does include those elements. I suppose a story can feature such content without directly offering a sermon or revolving around Christian ontology or messaging in general, and the story does feature at least one redemptive theme that would fit with that theology although it could fit with others as well. It's also possible that I missed some other symbolism that someone more versed in that sort of stuff might have picked up on, but it is good to know that that CW tag doesn't mean enjoyment of the tale is founded on that understanding.

The Hole Man, by E.Z. Poschman

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A wacky search-for-your-self adventure, April 15, 2022
by DB (Columbus, OH)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

A surreal, crazy quilt entry in Spring Thing 2022. The Hole Man is often playful or bizarre though not always very cohesive, as one might expect of a crazy quilt. It's clear the author had quite a time writing it all, taking us on a tour of a wandering mind and showing us what weird, wonderful stuff they've conjured up, peppered with observations, insights, jokes, and literary allusions. That's one of the more pleasurable uses of writing after all, and probably what makes this game most commendable rather than a reliance on complicated puzzles or technical wizardry. The game's informal, fun tone of writing always kept me chuckling and wanting to see what the author would come up with next. I enjoyed it with a mallsoft/easy listening vaporwave soundtrack playing alongside that was not included as part of the experience and may have influenced my reading, just FYI, and you might find that sort of soundtrack fits too. The Hole Man is a bazaar of the bizarre (to borrow another allusion) with sights to behold and bedazzle.

As the reader traverses The Hole Man's different connected worlds, they will meet Wise Men (as far as I saw, always men, and always The X Man-- a parallel with the protagonist's position as The Hole Man) who each offer their thoughts on a subject. (Spoiler - click to show)The Go Man offers some thoughts on games, The Servant Man offers some thoughts on the dependency of belief systems on non-belief, The Slaughter Man offers thoughts on food production & horror, etc. Maybe I'm just picky, but some of their offerings came across as a little pat to me or somehow not fully explored. Some of The Hole Man's Wise Men offer more eloquent or stronger positions than others, granted, but I won't spell them all out here without a spoiler tag beyond saying your mileage may vary. With a spoiler tag, however: (Spoiler - click to show)I think it seems unlikely The Slaughter Man was read through by a vegan (those gingerbread people were sentient, man!) or The Servant Man by an atheist, for example, (also, nitpick, in the instance where the object of worship demonstrably exists, we're talking not necessarily about believers, but followers... but that's a fine hair to split I suppose and my own hill, not the author's) or that the author would really be satisfied if I were to pick up a piece of paper and just write my own ending to the game as suggested by The Go Man (I would have missed a lot of the game that way as he was the first I encountered). Perhaps they're good fodder for a forum thread somewhere and the starting point for some good conversations though.

After hearing any one Wise Man's thesis, the player is offered a chance to take the place of the man they were listening to. That seemed to me at first blush like a distraction from the goal of rediscovering and reclaiming the protagonist's own body in a game that's made of distractions and sideways steps, but it is suggested any time you meet one of these men that they are "like you," based on some bit of description, so maybe any one of these is actually secretly the same person that was heading for jury duty before having their body stolen at the start of the game. Indeed, that seems to be the suggestion of the epilogue, sort of like the game is structured as a big personality test. As a test of this sort, I think it matters less how exactingly structured the arguments of any one Wise Man are because what unvoiced disagreements seem to suggest then would be more like, "This position isn't the right one for me," assuming a player is trying to find the "right" one rather than simply collecting them all (although actually the latter option is the game's more valorized one).

On a technical note, most nodes in the story that I saw do not change text upon revisiting, meaning that links lead to experiencing the same scenery, descriptions, and events every time. This goes uncommented on by the text itself, but is pretty much forgivable given the scope of the game and the understanding that because the goal isn't related to solving puzzles around different locations, tracking state in each of them is not so much a priority of the player either.

Although I've said most of the locations are disjointed by the "crazy quilt" nature of the game's setup, they do share at least one major theme through it all as far as I could tell. They all portray a kind of search for the self through consumerism. The "soul" (or "the person/body with accompanying attitudes," such as it is; the text agnostically suggests such a place as Limbo exists, but goes a long way in not committing itself to any one understanding of a soul as part of a specific or pre-conceived notion of afterlife) is lost in a mall. The player wanders through The Hole Man looking out on mall shops or department stores, exploring their contents, commenting on the sale or creation of art products, watching rituals of consumption, etc. all while trying to discover and listen to single Wise Men generally defined by their primary vocation expound upon their pet subject in mostly one-way conversations, thereafter offering up their positions in the market as a path to a new self. (Spoiler - click to show)Even "Reason. Patience. Acceptance. Things you can't put on a store shelf, and that you can't wrap up in a box" are still explicitly packaged along an assembly line by elves in The Kind Man's workshop, for example, awaiting their consumption (or, parallel with the game's other major choices, awaiting bestowal upon the seeker by a Wise Man). While my guess is that the author may not have intended The Hole Man as an allegory about the search for self-identity necessarily through consumerism or vocation outright, and The Hole Man may be better enjoyed as the exploration of an eclectic intellect for entertainment purposes with personality test style epilogues, I think that the idea sitting under the surface there unengaged or uncriticized (for as far as I played through anyway) kept it from going deeper than it might have in some of its analyses. Each of the selves available on offer in The Hole Man is prefabricated and can be selected like a different brand of cereal off a shelf, made "just for you"; at the same time each is also explicitly treated as a collectible commodity.

For purposes of this review, I did cut my playthrough short a bit by accepting the role of The Kind Man. The epilogue wrapped up with a neat moral and posed a bit of a quandary to think about, which was a fitting ending. I don't think I have time while trying to play all of the other entries (Spring Thing has 47 this year) to go back and try to get what the blurb says is 12 different endings with a perhaps hidden 13th if you collect all 12, but I may return and revisit later just to let my mind wander along with the author's again and see what other spectacles await me there.

Wry, by Olaf Nowacki

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Rube Goldberg sells insurance, April 14, 2022
by DB (Columbus, OH)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

Wry is a delightfully chaotic, farcical comedy that can easily be played through in a single sitting. This was a playthrough that I had a lot of fun with, sort of like visiting an interactive comedy sketch where things just keep going wrong in a Rube Goldberg domino-like setup, but one that will keep its player going, "Ah, hm, okay... I can deal with this..." (and where it's intuitive enough that I didn't run into any "guess the verb" issues) until the scene escalates from minor infractions of etiquette into real ridiculousness. Although I never did find out (Spoiler - click to show)what was causing the curtains to burn or how to stop it (if that's even possible), at some point in a good comedy these things like cause-and-effect or rationality go out the window for the laugh. Or, if you prefer, the cause is: because it's funny.

The highest rank I've been able to achieve after a few playthroughs is Shy Guy, which is only a little over half of the highest possible score, and wanting to see how to get more has kept me coming back. So far I've only seen a win ((Spoiler - click to show)you sell the insurance) and loss ((Spoiler - click to show)you are sent on your way with no sale), though the game's description does mention that there are three possible endings. I might even have to come back to revise this review if I manage to find it. So far I've kept coming back with little ideas and have managed to progress to (Spoiler - click to show)throwing water on the curtain from the coffee cup (although also the response to (Spoiler - click to show)trying to throw coffee was funny too), but that didn't seem to affect much. I'm 95% certain of a couple things about the game's structure: 1) (Spoiler - click to show)it will generally last 30 turns and 2) (Spoiler - click to show)the game will always end a couple turns after the curtains catch fire. Even if my brain is working at solutions in the background, I have reached what to me is a satisfying and funny ending, so I'm going to move on to some other Spring Thing entries for now.

If there's one thing I would say is missing here it's not the hint system, but an >AMUSING command at the end, if it wouldn't be too spoilery. There's plenty to laugh at in Wry.

Good Grub!, by Damon L. Wakes
Worth a bite..., April 14, 2022
by DB (Columbus, OH)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

Humorous writing, even slightly educational. Brief 'n buggin' (but bug-free as far as issues go). I was pretty sure it would have some squeamish bits, but no that's not really this bite-sized game's direction. It's sincere about the virtues of eating bugs from an environmentalist and nutritional perspective.

Good Grub! could've been more complicated; like a bug there just isn't a whole lot of meat on the bone here (or should I say inside the exoskeleton?). To be fair none of it is wasted. If the blurb even half-way intrigues you, I do recommend it. It might even be faster to finish a playthrough on your own than to read reviews of it.

Crow Quest, by rookerie

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
CAWmpletely CAWrazy, April 14, 2022
by DB (Columbus, OH)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

A quick, fun jaunt-- or perhaps a "romp"-- into corvidity. Crow Quest has quirky humor plus sweet crow art (many props to the illustrator). It's entirely worth the 5-10 minutes it takes to play through and beat it twice and probably more. Although I was a little disappointed that the game rejected crow names I came up with even when I thought played along well enough ("Aleister Crowley" was my best shot; I get that the idea is that (Spoiler - click to show)nothing you type will work, but playing along anyway is part of the fun and that I felt I could play along from the get-go is a good clue that the game communicates its tone clearly right away), I got a chuckle from the crow names that the game came up with for me too. Being rejected here was more like that cheerful tone Willy Wonka strikes when Violet says, "By gum, it's gum!" and he says, "Wrong!" and he's excited (even delighted) to go on about the wonder of Wonka's Magic Chewing Gum as opposed to being rejected like, "You get nothing, you lose, good day sir!" (I'm talking about the scenes in the '71 movie, but never mind.) Alas my only true disappointment was that despite the bevvy of creative names the game had to replace whatever I came up with, my crow rival Rodney always had the same name.

A lot has and will rightfully be made of corvid intelligence and their uses of strings and sticks and things, but my favorite interaction in this game was probably (Spoiler - click to show)befriending the little girl by giving her the dead frog and seeing how delightfully weird she got with it.

The game also kinda has two levels of difficulty, which is cool. You can play through (Spoiler - click to show)with a partner in crime for immunity to an event or two and the ability to have almost every inventory item at the cost of having to fight at the end, or go (Spoiler - click to show)on your own for a more challenging playthrough.

I wanted more of Crow Quest in the way one wants seconds after a good slice of pie, only to find crumbs left: a larger pool of events, longer storyline, greater complications, more crows in the murder, more items, maybe a higher attitude cap (goodness knows the writing and art have attitude to spare). Even just the bigger event pool would've been welcome, if I was to ask for one thing. Still, it didn't ever come close to wearing out its welcome and I can see how that might be a risk in a version that strings too much together or goes too long, so there's a certain grace and satisfaction in keeping it short. If there is a sequel or an expanded post-comp release I would look forward to playing it though.

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