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Bright Brave Knight Knave

by Andrew Schultz profile

Episode 6 of Prime Pro-Rhyme Row
Comedy, surreal
2023

(based on 13 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

Friends, for ends, or mends (more).

Sixth in my Prime Pro-Rhyme Row series, though it is fully independent of the others.

Option to skip one room with an off-color name and bonus puzzle.


Game Details


Awards

36th Place - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)

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Member Reviews

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3 star:
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Might make light ... lake? (I am bad at this), December 4, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2023's IFComp).

Graham Nelsonís adage about a work of IF being a crossword puzzle at war with a narrative has been rattling around for decades at this point, so itís perhaps surprising that so few authors have steered into the crossword side of things. By this I donít mean puzzles at the expense of narrative Ė there are still plenty of puzzlefests out there, of course Ė or even literal crosswords Ė shout-out to 2000ís Letters From Home! Ė but adopting the crossword puzzle model. Like, most authors (myself included) tend to conceptualize their games as distinct, requiring bespoke narratives and mechanics , or if theyíre part of a series, adopting a traditional narrative throughline connecting installments. And yet, for all that, I have cheerfully played the New York Time crossword every day for Ė [checks statistics on phone] Ė actually, letís not get into details, but suffice to say, a whole long time, and the fact that the framework is almost entirely static isnít at all a barrier to my enjoyment, because the variety in clues and theming is enough to make each one feel unique.

Andrew Schultz is one of the few authors whoís exploring this territory, notably with his series of rhyming wordplay games, of which the present instalment is the sixth. As with a crossword, the basics are the same each time Ė the player navigates a somewhat-absurdist space, and when prompted with the two-word name of a location or significant object, needs to come up with a rhyming phrase that substitutes a different letter or sound at the beginning, as in the gameís title (weíre miles away from the traditional medium-dry-goods model). The games donít tend to have very involved narratives, as often-idiosyncratic circumstances required to support the baroque wordplay arenít really consistent with the Aristotelian unities, but they do have cross-cutting themes that animate some of the more memorable set-pieces and serve to distinguish them from each other. They also all boast incredibly robust quality of life features, from a hint function that tells you whether a guess is partially right and how far off you might be, to a THINK command that memorializes guesses that match the wordplay constraints but require some change in the world model to be effective, to a handy list of the most common English phonemes if youíre reduced to lawnmowering (reader, while I enjoy them, I am not very good at these games and am always reduced to lawnmowering).

Itís a unique puzzle system, and itís still engaging even this far into the series; youíd think the list of rhyming phrases would eventually run dry, but Schultz is able to keep filling his quiver with clever prompts that make for memorable visuals and fun gameplay. Sure, thereís an occasional clunker (Spoiler - click to show)Ė HID HUM felt like a reach Ė but look, you donít have to do many crosswords before you realize that sometimes some junk in the fill is the price to be paid for a construction thatís elegant overall. The theming on this one is also interesting; itís more social than the others, with the protagonist suffering a crisis of faith that requires them to find and help other people to reclaim their prior (metaphorical) status as a knight. This idea is present in the introductory text, but also through the gameplay, as several puzzles involve finding different companion characters who can help solve certain puzzles when the right pair are present. I also felt like Bright Brave Knight Knave had a bit more focus on the world model Ė youíre still not INSERTING X INTO Y, or anything, but there are more puzzles about finding objects which in turn unlock new possibilities elsewhere this time out (BBKK isnít quite a Metroidvania, but it is a sequel and thereís a boat, so yes, itís a 2023 Comp entry all right).

I liked these new features, but they did lead to some hiccups, too. In particular, having to decide which pair of followers to bring along when solving specific problems felt like one more axis of complexity than my brain could handle, and exacerbating the challenge, I couldnít quite get the syntax for swapping them to work (characteristically, thereís a difficulty setting that should automate this process if you donít want to bother with it, but I likewise had trouble activating it). At about the two hour mark, I hit a point where this meant I got stuck, but I definitely felt satisfied with the portion I was able to play; Iím sure thereís a cool set-piece ending, but Iíll probably wait for the post-Comp release to check it out. In the meantime, itís almost midnight, so tomorrowís crossword will be up soonÖ

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Never Knew that Clever Clue, December 28, 2023
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2023

Adapted from an IFCOMP23 Review

There is an obvious bit for these reviews, right? Some alliterative rhyming to show I am clever enough to play in this authorís field. Hereís the thing. IíM NOT THAT CLEVER. This is what I learned from BBKK. This is another of ASchultzí wordplay line, and I do have an affection for these. Wordplay is just inherently fun, the kind of puzzle where even when you fail to guess, the answer still delights you.

I am not sure why I struggled with this one more than others in the line. As now standard, there are clue objects and mulligan objects to keep from getting too stuck, as well as generous tracking of prior guesses. For whatever reason, I struggled to use and interpret those tools this time. I never did figure out how to use the mood mapper and was at best only superficially getting info from the Leet Learner. Donít even get me started on the Lurking Lump. I did find a lot of hints and text around these things, but struggled to find the info I needed. My only guess is that trying to play in an airport was too distracting? I was a bit crestfallen when the Hint system noted ďNot implemented for IFCompĒ

One crutch I could have certainly used was a tracker to remember NPC friends I had previously discovered. I had to keep consulting my transcript to remember their names. I think this is an artifact of the puzzle type - when you generate dozens of rhyming phrases, remembering SPECIFIC ones is not a sure thing.

I hit another roadblock with these NPCs. Due to an accident of my brainís chemistry, I discovered 3 of them, but none could coexist. I burned a lot of energy trying to figure out if there was a rhyme that would unite them and never succeeded. Only as my timer expired did a phrase buried in the VERBS command indicate they might come in pairs. If that was clued elsewhere I totally missed it. But it also meant I had at least 3 more to find!! Certainly there were many puzzles queued up for teamwork, unfulfilled at the two hour mark.

To be clear, my frustration is with ME, not the game here. As always, these things provide copious Sparks for me, not the least of which the gameís response to rhyme after rhyme after rhyme. Many individual responses are funny, but at some point the fact that the game is just that far ahead of you starts getting a humorous momentum of its own. I guess I have to call my inability to work the gameplay elements Notable, but I canít be sure this one isnít on me.

Ok, to salve my bruised ego, let me say I was some strange mix of disappointed and triumphant when I came up with a character the game did not recognize: the TEAK TUTOR. Who else do you want to learn wood working from??

Game: 345 points; Reviewer: ONE POINT!!!

Played: 10/24/23
Playtime: 2hrs, score 18/74(85), 3/14 bonus
Artistic/Technical ratings: Sparks of Joy, Notable player ineptitude
Would Play After Comp?: Almost certainly, but I probably need to start from scratch in a better mindset


Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Long wordplay rhyming game with helpful NPCs, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

This is definitely one of the heftier IFComp games; I took a whole evening to look at it, spending two hours playing it and then speeding through with the walkthrough and thinking about it for a while after.

This is the 6th in a series of games that are all based on the same concept: rhyming pairs of words. Progress in the game consists of walking around/exploring and taking the names of rooms or objects and finding another pair of words that rhymes with them (like the name of the game itself).

Andrew Schultz has written many wordplay games over time (more than 40!) but I think this concept has proven the most productive, given the number of games that have been produced with the rhyming pairs.

Iíd like to describe what this game has in common with the earlier games and whatís unique to it.

First, in common: This game is set in a kind of abstract land, reminding me a lot of The Phantom Tollbooth, where abstract concepts are taken literally. By removing the need for all items to be concrete or to fit into a unified setting (like a fantasy world or spaceship), it opens up the opportunity to include a ton more of the rhyming pairs.

Another thing in common is that the game is centered on an emotional journey of sorts. with a lot of focus on emotions and experiences. I said earlier that the game doesnít have a unified setting, and while thatís true physically, each game has a unique emotional setting, a journey of self actualization that changes from game to game. Most games have an enemy that represent negative social traits such as bullying, peer pressure, cruelty, lying, pandering, or other bad traits, which the protagonist can only defeat after a great deal of personal growth. Not every game has these exact ingredients, because there is a lot of variety.

So that brings us to the unique parts of this game. First, its personal journey is quite a bit different from the others; rather than the hero alone reading books or psyching themself up, they help others. You can grab a whole lot of friends to walk around with you, each of which can help you in different ways. You can also find some people who have been wronged that you can bolster and lift up. Your friendsí journey becomes your journey, in a way. Overall, I liked the positive atmosphere.

Youíre also provided with a list of items to get, which I found helpful as a way to track my progress in game.

Itís also pretty hard; while you can just go through the alphabet plus some letter combinations, it can be tricky to come up with solutions. Iíd recommend one of two different play styles:
1-Taking a long time on the game, with breaks between sessions, to let yourself find everything.
2-Explore for a while to get as many answers as you can before getting stumped, then using the walkthrough to get to a new area and repeating.

This is definitely one of those games that you can figure out early on if you like it or not. The puzzle types and themes are very consistent, so you can try out the first few rooms to see if you feel like playing more or not. Iím glad I saw the end, even if I needed some help to get there.

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Bright Brave Knight Knave on IFDB

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The following polls include votes for Bright Brave Knight Knave:

Most Sequel-worthy game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the most sequel-worthy game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members....

Outstanding Underappreciated Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2022 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the most underappreciated game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members....

Outstanding Surreal Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best Surreal game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Suggested...




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