Beneath Fenwick

by Pete Gardner profile

2021

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Number of Reviews: 5
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Act 1 of a puzzly horror game, November 22, 2021
by autumnc
Related reviews: ifcomp 2021

First impression: The PCís name is Jennifer Hedgerow and sheís a botany student. Wow. This is a comedy right? *Checks blurb* oh.

Jennifer Hedgerow doesn't feel like a horror name, or a Lovecraftian name. There is music here, which feels unobtrusive; I don't think much is lost by playing it without music. I like the interface, especially the pop-up asides. Sense of Harmony from 2020 used that to great effect. Actually, this game reminds me of Sense of Harmony for a number of reasons.

Beneath Fenwick is one of several games in IFComp 2021 to use a parser-like mechanic in twine, with locations, inventory, puzzles, and so on. Of those games, I think this is the one that goes furthest; it feels more parser-like than any of the other twine games with similar ideas. And it works! It works quite well! The systems are implemented in a nice, bug-free way. Overall, the game is constructed very well, with a great UI, good writing, and an interesting setting and plot. I was always interested in what the game would throw at me next!

Navigation and travel can be kind of tedious. At several points I was wandering through the whole town trying to find the necessary thing to progress the story. It felt like lawnmower-ing, and it threw the pacing off a bit.

None of the characters act like human beings. Of course, being townspeople in a Lovecraftian story, they might not actually be human beings. But even the outsider protagonists act in strange ways. The first puzzle was kind of ridiculously contrived. The (Spoiler - click to show)escaping-the-rabid-dog-by-going-to-an-abandoned-mill puzzle was just weird and felt a little out of place. Is there no animal control in this area? Or even villagers with weapons or traps or any sense of self-preservation whatsoever? Itís weird that barely escaping from the dog with your life canít be discussed with anyone (maybe it was discussed, but I forgot). But maybe this is all for the sake of Lovecraft-ness and thatís the point.

The game just... stops. There really isnít an ending. It feels like an Act 1. In 2020, Sense of Harmony was another game to do this. I think I preferred Sense of Harmony because of the characters and plot.

I hope this doesnít sound overly nitpicky; I really enjoyed Beneath Fenwick and Iím really looking forward to the next chapter, if/when it comes!