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Ratings and Reviews by Andromache

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Coloratura, by Lynnea Glasser
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The Matter of the Monster, by Andrew Plotkin
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Creatures Such As We, by Lynnea Glasser
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The Last Monster Master, by Ben Serviss
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Words of Power, by Stark Springs
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Glowgrass, by Nate Cull

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Clunky mechanics but engaging game, June 6, 2013
by Andromache (Hawaii)
This was an easy game with an engaging premise, exploring an Ancient ruin. Indeed, there are no real puzzles in the game except maybe at the very beginning to get into the compound. There's a touch of horror to the story, but I wouldn't consider it disgusting. More...unnatural. Not enough to be severely unsettling, though.

There are some parsing hiccups along the way, but I found they were mostly surrounding one particular game item, (Spoiler - click to show)the cable. However, the parser does helpfully provide the correct verb if you try to take the object but can't manipulate it. (Spoiler - click to show)"Attach" and "connect," plus related antonyms, should have been implemented, but the problem can also be solved by referring to specific sockets you want to put the cable in. The real trouble with the gameplay is more about having to perform actions one by one. Like, you can't just head in the direction of a door. You have to perform each step individually, which is rather annoying after getting used to more modern games.

Jerkiness aside, the game was still easy enough to get through with no hints and my only major complaint is really that the story is kind of unresolved. I'm a bit confused about the ending. The author says material had to be cut out to make the game fit the parameters of the competition, and perhaps the story resolution was that material, but I'd be interested in seeing an epilogue.

Six Stories, by Neil K. Guy

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Should be played with multimedia, June 6, 2013
by Andromache (Hawaii)
Sadly, I couldn't get the full experience of this game. As a blind player using a Mac, I'm severely limited in the interpreters I can use. As a result, I had to play this with no sound. Maybe the game would have been more immersive with it.

There were some frustrating error messages about not being able to exit buildings because I was already outside, and I actually needed the walkthrough because I got stuck on the one puzzle in the game. I knew what I was supposed to do but had no idea how to accomplish it with the items I had. I think it could have been better clued.

It was also tough to suspend enough disbelief to swallow the story. The characters and settings were cute, but I wanted to interact more with them. You can't really explore or talk, and I didn't really see the point of what happened.

Don't think the game is worth looking at if you can't see graphics or play sounds, but if you can, I didn't find any critical bugs and the game is pretty short. Some neat customization options and the parser is probably the most polite one I've ever encountered thus far. The game is nice, light entertainment. I probably won't remember much about it in terms of emotional impact or excellence in scenery/imagery, but worth looking at if you have a spare hour and multimedia capability.

De Baron, by Victor Gijsbers

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Disturbing, but too well-made to write off, June 1, 2013
by Andromache (Hawaii)
I was reminded strongly of "Blue Lacuna" when I played this. But this is worse. Death is everywhere - literally and figuratively. I'm sickened and horrified and the game enhances this by presenting a public view and the true private one, allowing players to see how far things have degenerated.

I liked the conversation menus. I don't know why people hate them so much. I really enjoy them, as well as interfaces where possible topics get listed. I can never come up with things to ask about on my own or invariably miss something.

I'm still trying to process the game. Would I recommend it? Yes, but only to those who I know have read and can stomach things like this. I don't know how this game improves my perspective on life, but maybe it sheds light on my own moral code. As far as I'm concerned, the PC has no excuse and I feel no sympathy. Just because an act cannot be helped does not make it okay. It is still a bad act, even if the origin is understood. I pity the illness, but not the person, since they know they are doing wrong.

This game moves smoothly and deserves to be played. But since it does deal with a pretty traumatic real world scenario, I think it's important that people considering playing it assess whether something like that would cause serious harm because it hits too close to home. I cannot say I enjoyed the story, but did enjoy the exploration of the settings. Good mirroring in them, and that makes it work from a literary standpoint.

Small World, by Andrew D. Pontious
Neat premise and good game for kids, May 29, 2013
by Andromache (Hawaii)
This was a cute game. Much like "Threnody" and "Sunset Over Savannah," fantasy and American cultural references are blended in a sensible way so that things work in realistic ways even if appearances are mythical. This made puzzles feel natural. The final puzzle gave me a tough time, but after some nudges with the hints about what to do, I was able to execute it myself. There was another puzzle that completely eluded me until once again, after some prodding, I worked out what I was supposed to do in that location.

I enjoyed the various environments, the different civilizations through history in each place. This time around, I was able to catch the Star Wars references. They are blatant but made me smile. The only thing I really didn't like about the game was a tiny nitpick about (Spoiler - click to show)lizardskin shoes. But that is just a personal blip to an otherwise excellent game that has a nice ending and a somewhat wacky feel. This game deserves more attention.

City of Secrets, by Emily Short

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Tricks and Truth, May 26, 2013
by Andromache (Hawaii)
I started this game some years ago but never finished it. I must have gotten stuck early on. But I remembered the mystery of what I did see of the story and decided I wanted to finish it and see the whole thing. Honestly, I'm a bit confused about the meaning - what was real and what illusion.

The city was well-realized and I especially liked how descriptions change as the character becomes familiar with the place and the novelty of grandeur wears off.

Some of the sarcastic conversation options had me laughing with joy. Very witty. It's even possible to lie, and I had the character do both a time or three.

Then, later in the game, you really feel like a tourist yourself when you see all the mistakes you made. (Spoiler - click to show)The sign in the dorm. I'll probably have to replay and try different options with the benefit of hindsight one day.

Figuring out who was good and bad was interesting as well. One is led to think one thing and then in the course of talking to characters, you start seeing factions, those who are trying not to get in trouble with either side, and by the end, perspective changes again. (Spoiler - click to show)By the end, I absolutely hated Malik and wanted to kill him. Is there a way to save Simon?

There are shades of Lord of the Rings in the story, where one is forever changed by contact with a specific item and the resulting trauma.

(Spoiler - click to show)My favorite NPC was the tech guy. He didn't look like much, but very sharp. Managed to feel amiable even as he was performing minor surgery.

There were some things I didn't like.

The text-only option does not have a built-in help system.

I got stuck mid-game trying to figure out how to move the story along. (Spoiler - click to show)The Gnostic Temple puzzle. The solution turned out to be something I should have known but for some reason I hadn't tried. The clue was given only once, and if you missed it, too bad. No way to get it back short of restoring a game, if you were lucky to have one before that point. There may be a "transcript" option for this game but I'm not sure. I never use that feature. Managed to find the solution online and had no more problems, though I wish I hadn't had to resort to that.

There are some odd wrinkles in the conversations and items. (Spoiler - click to show)Specificly, housekeeping versus sweet-making robots, verbene alcohol or the plant, and an allusion to food making you ill even if you didn't actually eat it. I think that ruins the flow of the narrative and spoils the experience of the game a little.

The ending is kind of confusing. I'm still trying to piece together what happened. And I don't feel altogether comfortable with things I'm forced to do. Though I'm happy I was able to restore order.

I'm not really a fan of conversation-based games because I tend to feel like I'm not doing anything productive. For me, conversations are fun to read but not so nice to play. Harder to synthesize information gleaned from talking to people. Unfortunately, there was too much of it here. Too much repetition.

Yet, for all this negativity and frustration, the game was written so well; the world was fascinating; and the initial discovery of the city and change in the protagonist by the end made for a memorable, thought-provoking experience. And if literature doesn't make one think and feel deeply, what was the point?

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