by Jared Jackson


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A fun, complex card system with occasional bugs, October 8, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

Jared Jackson is one of the most innovative IF authors out there, always pushing the boundaries in weird ways to test what you can do with text. His previous games, Instruction Set and Language Arts, explored algorithms and text manipulation in fascinating ways.

This game is a card-based game where your attacks and defenses are represented by a deck of cards. There are 3 dungeons to work through, each with a boss, and there are checkpoints and small encounters like gambling, a maze, and a funny recreation of Leroy Jenkins.

I beta tested this game, and I didnít help much. At the time, I couldnít help but die really early on, so I felt like I was a bad player and didnít try much further (sorry Jared!)

As a player, Iíve taken the game up on its offer to give me unlimited respawns with increased health each time. This made the game far more enjoyable. I ended up making it halfway through the middle dungeon as a berserker when the game stopped responding to my link clicks. Restarting the game and continuing my save, I found that I could not continue, as it took my to a blank screen (this possibility is mentioned in the gameís readme txt). I might give it another run as a wizard later. This is probably something I would have caught as a tester if I had embraced dying, so sorry Jared!

Iím not sure if this game is possible to beat without dying a lot. There are no healing opportunities between encounters (except very rarely), and even maximizing your defense actions still wonít be enough to protect you from attacks, so itís mathematically impossible to keep from dying. Since dying is framed as bad in most games, thatís kind of a bummer at first.

The variety in the game is fun; as a combat system I find it genuinely enjoyable. The complexity though may be its own downfall; balance and bug-hunting become much more difficult with increased complexity.

In any case, I look forward to the next innovative game by this author, and I plan on playing this game again for fun after the comp.

+Polish: The game is complex and interesting. There are bugs, but the art and other systems make up for it for me.
+Descriptiveness: Lots of variety in creatures and objects and cool backstory.
+Interactivity: Once I embraced dying, I really enjoyed the system.
+Emotional impact: It was fun.
+Would I play again? Yest.