Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!

by Steph Cherrywell profile


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Number of Ratings: 66
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- hoopla, January 9, 2016

- jessicaperssica (Sweden), December 17, 2015

- Aryore, December 12, 2015

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Consistent fun, beginner friendly, December 5, 2015

I'm new to IF, but I still had a good time with this game.

In terms of the gameplay, I was never frustrated, but I still found the puzzles to be enjoyable.

I wasn't a big fan of the old (50s? 60s?) setting, but I appreciated the opportunities for humor that it afforded. It made me chuckle quite a few times.

I particularly liked the conversation system. I've been constantly frustrated by conversations in other IF, and having a multiple choice system like this works well, IMO. I've heard a common criticism of this type of interaction is that it feels too much "on rails" and doesn't feel immersive because you're not able to do whatever you want with regards to interacting with a character. I don't really agree with that criticism - in practice, you ARE limited to what you can do with a character even when it's not a multiple choice dialog system. Sure, you can type whatever you want, but a large class of actions are going to receive an identical or very similar non-response, so, effectively, you get the same experience. Even for choices that may seem like valid things to say to a character, the author might simply not have had time to implement responses or the parser might not be good enough to anticipate them. I like the compromise the multiple choice system achieves. Instead of spending time figuring out how I'm supposed to say what I want to say, I can just see my options right away.

The choice-based dialogue may not work so well, though, for a more first-person type of game where you're supposed to get more of a sense of "being your character", and it also has issues with regards to hiding information from players and having the dialog choices change when certain events occur, since, as the player, you don't always know when an event is going to let you say new things to a character. But I still liked it for this game.

I also really liked the inclusion of character portraits when you start a conversation. Just a few images to characterize the characters and give you a bit of an easier time imagining what the author intended adds a lot to the game, in my opinion. I thought the style of these portraits really went well with the style of the game, too.

So, overall, I definitely recommend it if you're new to IF. It's quite short, but it's solid and lacks some stuff that can make other IF frustrating to new players.

- Carty, December 4, 2015

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Spine-Tingling Text-O-Rama, November 24, 2015
by CMG (NYC)

Brain-guzzling aliens have arrived from outer space to torment a New Mexican town. The citizens are oblivious, and it's up to you to convince them they're in danger before they've all been brain-guzzled. You play as Bonnie Noodleman, a Well-Adjusted Teen-Ager, and your yearbook profile lists your accomplishments as:

Winner, Miss Human Compass Junior Orienteer, 1956
Winner, Pine Nut Days Girls’ Grocery-Balancing Competition, 1958

I think this succinctly encapsulates the game's intent. It's a traditional text adventure that is self-aware about its tropes, and it's going to exploit them to have fun. And that's exactly what it does.

Structurally, the game is divided into a prologue followed by two main parts. The prologue is pretty much perfect. A character customization system built into an in-game magazine questionnaire, which then segues seamlessly into the action and establishes the setting, tone, and Bonnie's motivation all at once. It's great.

After the prologue, both of the game's two main halves are centered around object fetch-quests. You solve puzzles to collect items to deliver to an NPC in order to progress the story. When the first half concludes, you're treated to a satisfying action set-piece that feels like it will fundamentally alter the game. But then the dust settles, and not too much has changed, and you have to solve another puzzle sequence very similar to the one you just finished.

The second set of puzzles is actually better than the first, and the first set was already good. But the structure saps tension from the story right when things are starting to get dicey. I wanted the stakes to keep rising.

Of course the stakes were never going to be really high, because the game is a parody of B-movie horror. But parodies can have their own high stakes. And actually, the game is more a satire of American society "back in the day" than it is of horror films. It takes place on the cusp between the 50s and 60s. You've got Scooby-Doo hijinks, "ultramodern furniture" in "avocado, orange, and mustard-yellow," and the town fair has a Tomorrow Pavilion whose displays (including a robotic wife) are "glittering with the promise of tomorrow."

This reminded me a lot of The Venture Bros., which has a similar nostalgia for the era, even though it recognizes and criticizes the era's bigotry, repression, and naiveté. Brain Guzzlers is also critical, but it's never as scathing as Venture Bros. It's more interested in using the time period as a playful backdrop.

In the end, this is a very solid text adventure that will appeal to both sci-fi and horror fans, and it's got nice character illustrations too!

- E.K., November 19, 2015

- Brendan Patrick Hennessy (Toronto, Ontario), November 17, 2015

- Cat Manning, November 17, 2015

- SallyChamp, November 12, 2015

- Karl Ove Hufthammer (Bergen, Norway), November 9, 2015

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), October 31, 2015

- Pegbiter (Malmö, Sweden), October 28, 2015

- Sobol (Russia), October 26, 2015

- rwallace, October 26, 2015

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Well written, funny, parser-based interactive fiction., October 4, 2015
by besmaller (Portland, OR)

If you enjoyed Hunger Daemon or Chlorophyll, waste no time -you need to play this one.

Funny, great setting and characters, but most importantly a fully formed game, reacting well to player interaction with the environment. Fun, challenging, and sensible puzzles.

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