Turbo Chest Hair Massacre

by Joey Acrimonious profile

Saucy Romp

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Number of Reviews: 5
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1-5 of 5

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
REMOVE CHEST HAIR [Hilarity ensues], December 12, 2020
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020

As I was typing out the title of this game, I kept wanting to tag an Extreme onto the end. Try it: Turbo Chest Hair Massacre Extreme. Possibly with an exclamation point, though that’s a risky move. I don’t think this impulse stems from an actual shortcoming in the existing title – now that I reflect, the Extreme sort of fluffs up the rhythm – but rather from feeling like what we’ve got, sublime and exciting as it is, doesn’t fully communicate how bonkers things get in this game. After taking the last couple entries to task for being underdeveloped, I am happy to report that TCHM uh does not suffer from that problem – it is a lot despite the one-hour playtime estimate being completely correct. While I can’t say I fully understand why everything that’s crammed into it is there, and there were a few implementation niggles that keep the game from being a perfectly smooth experience, the central puzzle of the game has the potential to spiral into incredible heights of farce, and the ending is just – I mean I want to say “sublime” though that doesn’t get across how incredibly filthy it is, too (in a good way!)

I thought I knew what TCHM was about after reading the blurb, but friends, I must confess that I was not at all prepared. Rest of the premise discussed in fuzzy-text: (Spoiler - click to show)so yes, we need to perform a bit of depilatory self-maintenance before a hot date, but Theo, the player character, is not just a happy-go-lucky gal with a job in I dunno like publishing or something. Her apartment, which doubles as her place of employment, is also a sort of extradimensional listening post, and her roommate and partner in crime is a dirty-minded android named Marigold – and pretty quickly you get the ability to swap between the two characters at will, which dramatically changes how the apartment is described and what items are most obvious. Then – OK, spoilers are getting real here – after Theo leaves for her date, the listening post detects an extradimensional invader coming through a rift in the basement, and the finale (note: this is emphatically not the climax) involves desperately fighting off this invisible, seemingly-invulnerable entity.

We’ll return to that premise in a bit, but let’s dwell for a while on the mechanics of hair removal. The business of the main part of the game is to figure out how to get rid of that pesky bit of chest hair, and it satisfies this brief quite well. The apartment is a good size, with a pretty high density of objects but clear indications of what’s important and what’s probably a red herring, with some items occupying the fuzzy in-between and helping set up some of the more fun puzzles. There’s also a good balance in having a good number of potential ways to get rid of the hair (spoiler: most of them will not work), but not too many, by cutting off solutions that would be repetitive. There are a lot of sharp objects in the apartment, for example, but you only need to try the cutting/shaving option with one knife before moving on to other candidates. And there’s a good mix of straightforward ideas and increasingly-baroque ones that lend themselves nicely to farcical escalation – though if you’re a boring killjoy [raises hand], it’s also not that hard to hang back until you figure out the real solution.

There’s a lot to fiddle with in the apartment, including your roommate Marigold, who’s also sometimes a viewpoint character. The writing is sharp and has lots of little jokes and bits of worldbuilding embedded in descriptions, so it’s really rewarding to poke around and explore – critical in a game that’s, after all, set in a mostly-normal apartment. You can play dress-up with Theo’s big-but-not-too-big wardrobe, and the substantial differences between how she sees the world and Marigold’s view of thing means I was happy to poke through everything twice. And there are responses for senses beyond sight, which I always appreciate – some of the most rewarding results come from trying to SMELL stuff (and in the game!) Between the writing and the puzzles TCHM is a rich meal that doesn’t leave you overstuffed.

The parser is well-implemented and handles this all quite cleanly, with a few small exceptions: there’s a shower rack that’s described as being empty in one paragraph, then lists the half-dozen items resting on it. And I found that most plural-named objects had to be referred to as IT, rather than THEM. I did struggle a bit with verbs in places, but I think that’s down to me rather than the game – you see, TCHM uses, er, USE for most of its object interactions, which will just never feel natural to me in a parser game no matter how intuitive it probably is to most players. Alternate verbs do appear to work for most actions, but there were a few places where things felt like they broke down (I’m thinking especially of (Spoiler - click to show)trying to jury-rig the vacuum, where I had the right idea but things like PUT FUNNEL ON HOSE didn’t work)). I also found that there were a few places where USE didn’t seem to work (including a high-stakes moment, when (Spoiler - click to show)USE YOGURT ON INTRUDER doesn't do the job). So I dunno, I’m not well positioned to offer advice on how to use USE, but I wonder whether it might make sense to just commit to it and make it work for all actions rather than taking this hybrid approach, though I think I personally wouldn’t like it as much.

I’m going back to the spoiler-text to discuss the ending – honestly this might have been the single highest point of the entire Comp for me, so you should definitely experience it for yourself! (Spoiler - click to show)I’m not sure I really needed the segment where Marigold disposes of the alien intruder – it’s not really a tonal mismatch because it’s in keeping with the zaniness of the piece, and I definitely enjoyed an excuse to spend more time in Marigold’s head. But after spending an hour trying to figure out how to solve Theo’s follicular challenge, I wanted to see how the date was going to go, and shifting to Marigold felt a bit anticlimactic. I also think the delay before the listening post pings is probably a bit too long – I think examining doesn’t cause time to advance, which is generally a good idea, but that convenience means you can spend a long time looking at stuff in one of the object-rich rooms without any idea of what you’re supposed to be doing. The final puzzle itself led to an aha moment, so I liked that. But still, I was disappointed by this sequence – until it ended, Marigold broke down, and I experienced the most raunchy cooling-fan replacement in human history. Ye gods, this climax is a tour de force – the way the writing is both a completely straight explanation of how a machine functions, and an incredibly debauched piece of pornography, is a masterful trick that more than justifies the endgame sequence.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
The things people will do for love, December 2, 2020
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020, parser-based, Inform, comedy

Turbo Chest Hair Massacre is a parser-based comedy game by Joey Acrimonious, published in 2020. In it, you’re a woman about to go on a date when you suddenly discover you have some light chest hair you need to shave.

The gameplay is exploration-heavy - you mainly search around your apartment for ways to get rid of your chest hair. You are also able to switch between the point of view of yourself and a robotic colleague who is present. The narrative voice completely changes depending on who you’re playing as, which is a very nice touch that adds a lot of personality to the experience.

The tone of the story is pretty light-hearted, although sometimes all the naughtiness, innuendo and (Spoiler - click to show)the main character’s recklessly stupid behavior can border on the limits of good taste. Personally, I think good taste is a bit overrated anyway, but this is still useful to note since some players will inevitably find crassness of any sort a turn-off.

I feel like it’s hard to get enough information about your surroundings in this game. The room descriptions only mention objects on a very general level; if you want to know what’s really inside some room, you need to examine individual things to reveal more individual things again and again. Opening a container doesn’t seem to automatically list its contents, and the “search” command can be criminally unhelpful at times too. It doesn’t help that the rooms are generally full of red herrings and other detail that makes it harder to know what’s really relevant to the problem at hand. One final layer of confusion stems from the fact that (Spoiler - click to show)the two main characters see the world slightly differently, each listing different things in their room description - realizing this is necessary to solve some of the puzzles in the game.

Since most of the gameplay is centered around nearly unguided exploration and discovery, and the design is non-linear, plus the game’s train of thought can be rather eccentric at times (Spoiler - click to show)(you have to weaponize old yogurt against the final boss…?), my playthrough of the game felt sprawling, aimless and mildly desperate. But I guess you could say it’s exactly what the story was going for, since the main character too doesn’t know what she’s doing, and she’s willing to go to immense lengths just to rid herself of a bit of hair. Fortunately, there’s a walkthrough - it should come in handy with a few of the puzzles here.

This game could be worth playing if you want something with personality and outrageous humor, and are willing to deal with a lot of unguided exploration.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Have fun enabling bad behavior, December 1, 2020

I went into this expecting a weakly implemented joke, and instead I found smart writing in a parser-based exploration of what it means to be in a relationship.

Yes, it contains coarse language and erotic themes, but they’re artistically justifiable coarse language and erotic themes. Without them, the Turbo Chest Hair Massacre experience would be incomplete.

A wide variety of tools can be applied to the main problem, and they are uncovered by exploring the environment and interacting with the main character’s roommate. I enjoyed their different observations and reactions; they are clearly defined through sharp writing.

I was also entertained by how Turbo Chest Hair Massacre nudges the player towards obviously terrible solutions that are easy to attempt. Some of my worst ideas were smoothly executed without having to guess any verbs.

If I have but one regret, it’s that I didn’t spend more time exploring new frontiers of personal hygiene with Turbo Chest Hair Massacre. It was fun as hell.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Peculiar and interesting, but too many socks, December 1, 2020
by Stian
Related reviews: ifcomp 2020

This game contains many elements I had not expected. Suffice to say it makes the story peculiar and interesting. It is nicely imaginative and features a surprising mechanic as well. Puzzlewise, it felt a bit strange, like an ocean of red herrings. The author seems to have created takeable objects for almost every conceivable thing that reasonably could exist in the house, including a full wardrobe and tons of kitchen utensils. After a few turns of “take all” my inventory list felt demotivatingly long.

One major problem with Turbo Chest Hair Massacre (the version marked 8 Oct) is that a certain item completely takes over the “it” pronoun, something I obviously kept forgetting about every two minutes. I encountered a few other bugs too, though nothing big. Overall, the game is quite well implemented, and the story is good, though I think the playing would actually be more enjoyable with slightly fewer pairs of socks in the inventory.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A complex parser game about trying to shave your chest hair, October 14, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

Joey Acrimonious has been posting great reviews of other games so I was interested in seeing how this one plays out.

This is an enormously ambitious and complicated game. I thought it would be a relatively mild real-world game, but it includes a ton of worldbuilding and even two different protagonists!

Your goal is to shave some chest hair before a date. There are many things to try, almost all of them ending badly.

Your house is absolutely full of stuff. Stuff in the bathroom, stuff in the bedroom, stuff in the closet, stuff in drawers.

So all of this has the hallmarks of a first (or early) game by a talented author: it models an apartment, has lots of extra things, and has a lot of implementation into tricky things while neglecting a few of the smaller things.

What are the smaller things? Well, the game mentions that you can see the exits by LOOKing, but some rooms have no exits listed at all (like the bathroom as Marigold). Room names are all lowercase, which is a common mistake in Inform (you have to capitalize them the first time they appear in the code, wherever that is). When you use the special device, it doesn't indicate a change in location (by LOOKing), which may be intentional but is kind of confusing.

The game indicates several beta testers, and it is more polished than many games in the comp, but I think that having some more people beta test next year that have comp experience could help, and of course the feedback from this year will be very helpful. This game is well-written, funny, complex, and generally polished; but there are some things that I think would be better left off the next game, especially the large groups of unnecessary but well-implemented items. I definitely think there should be a next game, as I would expect this author to be capable of coming up with several interesting stories and some very fun game mechanics, if this game is any indication.

-Polish: The game could use some touchup for sure.
+Descriptiveness: It can be confusing at times, but this game is definitely descriptive.
-Interactivity: I often felt at a loss what to do, and beat my head on the wall a lot as I got lost moving around (probably because the device mechanic didn't make sense to me early on).
+Emotional impact: I definitely experience a lot of interesting feelings while playing this game.
-Would I play again? Not until there were an update.

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