Reviews by MathBrush

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View this member's reviews by tag: 15-30 minutes 2-10 hours about 1 hour about 2 hours IF Comp 2015 Infocom less than 15 minutes more than 10 hours Spring Thing 2016
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Restitution, by Anonymous

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A classic story with a small addition involving reader response, November 23, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game is part of a group of similar stories. Other such games by this author have consisted of a classic short story with modern additions by the author where people comment on the story, including a text box where the reader can type something which the game then interprets using sentiment analysis to change some subsequent text.

This game is no exception, although it is smaller than the others. It is also different from the others, in that its 'meta-commentary' is no longer a separate, modern story; instead, it's an addition in-universe, still with the sentiment-analysis text box. However, due to this being a speed-IF, only one text box is included.

The short story chosen this time is obscure; I only found one 'hit' when searching, on an internet archive of an old magazine.

My view on these games has certainly changed over time. I went from believing they had no interaction to believing that they are excellent at hiding all the interactivity.

A game that makes you think its responding to your actions, even if it doesn't, is a game that is very fun to play, if only for one time. (For instance, see Attack of the Yeti Robot Zombies). But the converse is true; a game that does extensive work, but leads the player to think it does none, is not fun to play. Simply putting a message next to the box that is, as the author once said, metaleptic (or maybe extra-diegetic???) saying 'positive sentiment detected' in green and then highlighting the subsequent changed text in green or using red for negative sentiment would instantly improve reaction; this is just one idea, there are many ways to make it look like the game is really thinking.

Like a character says the movie The Prestige:

"The trick was too good, it was too simple. The audience hardly had time to see it[...]he's a wonderful magician; he's a dreadful showman. He doesn't know how to dress it up, how to sell this," and I think that applies to this whole series of games.


You Are a Zombie Yelp Reviewer, by Geoffrey Golden
A light snack of a game about reviewing zombie brains, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game has a pretty simple concept and executes it well. You are a zombie who has just completed a tasty meal of brains, and so you write a yelp review.

You pick the number of stars, describe its connection with past meals, discuss how you approached the entree/victim, etc. It's all pretty brief, but I didn't see any bugs, and it was descriptive and funny.

Overall, a nice note to end playing the ectocomp games on.


Starlight Shadows, by Autumn Chen

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Assemble your super team and fight, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a speed-IF written in 4 hours or less. It's written using Dendry.

Basically, you're at a party and need to assemble a party of fighters to take on a coming entity. You have both telepathy and future-telling abilities. You can use your telepathy to talk to others and know what type of arguments will convince them most.

There's still some puzzle elements, despite the mind-reading, as you have to figure out how best to implement what you learn. I always liked Divination specialists in D&D and this game seems to show exactly why being skilled in information gathering would be an excellent power.

This story is brief, but has easter eggs from the author's other works, including A Paradox Between Worlds (referenced in on friends' costume and favorite book series), and The Archivist and the Revolution, referenced in encoding data in DNA.


BLACKOUT, by Playahead Games
It's the end of the world. What do you want to do?, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a speed-written IF game using the Twine system. In it, the singularity has happened, but technology is giving humans exactly 7 days to do what they want with their lives before being assimilated.

It's a sobering situation. The emotional stakes are subtly raised by changing the background color every day.

This is a speed-IF, so options are limited. The main options here are to write or to go outside. I varied back and forth between them, and had an ending that to me was satisfying.

Shoutout to the very specific descriptions of listening to local indie bands, felt very realistic.


origin of love, by Sophia de Augustine

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Love poem about romantic encounter with a husband, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This brief game is essentially a poem about physical love between the main character and their husband.

It is simultaneously explicit and not, similar to the Song of Solomon, which represents sexual feeling as a form of divine worship. This short poem combines both that religious sentiment and also a form of physical violence.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and each person experiences romantic and physical attraction in different ways. While I could appreciate the author's emotion and feeling, I didn't feel a universality in the experience that called me to share in the experience.

The styling is quite complex, with shades of pink and red. The majority of interactivity is in moving to the next page or clicking on words to get essentially footnotes.

Overall, I valued the elegance of the language the most.


ZIT, by Amanda Walker

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A brief, pustulent game about a horrendous zit , November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a surprisingly polished game for 4 hours (I've said that a lot this comp, I wonder if this shows that I don't use my time as wisely as others do).

You have a job interview coming up, but you also have a massive zit! It's described in excruciating detail. You're in a bathroom with a little but a few things in the drawers and your cell-phone.

To me, the real appeal of the game is in the insight into your loved ones. Each one you call has a different reaction, some of them showing off a poor moral character, others a sweet or charming one.

The other big component is dealing with the zit itself. I had some trouble near the end with the game saying I hadn't done something when I had already done it, but it fixed itself pretty soon. Overall, a strong entry.


The Trials and Tribulation of Edward Harcourt, by manonamora and MelS

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent gothic horror choice game, currently a WIP, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

I loved the part of this game that is currently complete. It's a well-style gothic horror game involving you and an old acquaintance, Edward Harcourt.

The idea is that you are one of the few people who are acquainted with Edward Harcourt, who has newly come into power and position. He has asked you to join him at his castle, where you have to deal with suspicious servants, dark dreams, and a town filled with unfriendly folk.

The demo has a lot of branches that seems to really affect the game, as I chose one of three backstories and ended up with some lengthy sequences regarding that backstory later.

So far, only the first two chapters are complete. It's still enjoyable, but I'm definitely interested in seeing the final product. One of my favorite Choicescript games was Heart of the House, which has similar vibes, but this one is taking some different directions that make it fresh.


Zombie Eye, by Dee Cooke

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A brief but frightening Adventuron game about a zombie eye, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a pretty surreal Adventuron game with images and a little music about confronting a giant Zombie eye in the London Underground. It involves a lot of sensory details, including sound and touch, in ways I found pretty poetic.

Dee Cooke is perhaps the adventuron author I know best, having made several excellent games before and winning or placing high in a lot of comps. I was surprised when this game was so small, then impressed when I realized it was in the 'made in 4 hours' division instead of the 'longer than 4 hours' division it seemed like it was in. This is pretty great for a speed-IF, with conversation, a reactive NPC, and graphics and sound.

Overall, it's a nice little treat with good atmosphere and some perspective shifts.


Something Blue, by E. Joyce

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A riff on gothic horror and folk tales through letter rewriting, November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a charmingly complex game for one written in less than 4 hours for a speed-IF.

You are essentially a protagonist in a gothic novel, writing to your sister about your husband whose previous 6 wives have mysteriously disappeared. You can choose several different versions of each letter you write to communicate different tones, leading to different endings.

This rewriting mechanic is reminiscent of Emily Short's First Draft of the Revolution, another letter-writing game that involved cycling through different options; in fact, that game inspired the cycling mechanic in Twine!

The mechanic here hovers between too simple and too obscure but lands, I think, in a happy medium. The writing is a pleasure as always from this author, with many references to well-known tales (and some less well-known; I was glad to see Ann Radcliffe mentioned, as Mysteries of Udolpho is one of the few gothic novels I've read). Very neat overall, especially for such a short time-period for game writing.


HSL Type Ω MEWP Certification Exam, by Duncan Bowsman

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A multiple choice certification quiz with extensive manual (but spooky), November 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This gave me a chuckle, especially as a high school teacher. The game consists of two parts: a 1000-line text manual and a 35-question multiple choice test.

The game encourages you to do exactly what most students do when studying: start the assignment first and only look up answers as you go along.

The text is dry, an imitation of standard technical writing, but sprinkled with a variety of frightening or hilarious spooky situations, like scissor lifts made of solid flesh or horrifying accidents brought on by improper rituals.

Overall, there's a lot of effort here and the extra flavor is good. But a simulation or parody of a boring thing is often, itself, boring, and while there's a huge effort here to alleviate that, it doesn't fully succeed. As an idea, though, the whole setup is very clever.



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