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Reviews by IFforL2

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The Lesson of the Tortoise, by G. Kevin Wilson

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Out of Touch, June 30, 2017
by IFforL2 (East Asia)
This well-received story pretends to have Asian influence but is remarkably western and male oriented. It should be no secret that cheating is culturally different in rural China, urban China, and western pop-culture. The scene where (Spoiler - click to show) the husband catches his wife in his own bed with his employee seems more like a scene from the old TV show Friends than a plausible event in in set China. In reality, in pre-Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary China, women, not men are undeniably the overwhelming victims, not the perpetrators, of cheating. When a woman does cheat, and is caught, her husband, the divorce courts of her government, and her neighbors will all ensure that her punishment is far greater than her 'crime.' Taiwan is little better, especially now recent court decisions have ensured that women do not have the right to safety. (People who attack rapists in the act are punished more severely than the rapists themselves!)

A story of a Chinese man who is the poor helpless victim of adultery is about as preposterous as a story of an American white man who is the poor helpless victim of racism by his African-American neighbours. Moreover, (Spoiler - click to show)three men team up to destroy one woman using absolute authority over another woman!

But I understand we all like a story of East Asian flavor that reads like a fortune cookie and ignores reality. I'm sure the author has read the take of several Western authors on Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist thought. HE probably did not intend any of the bitter irony that I'm reading into HIS story.

In a few days, I'll probably be embarrassed by something or everything I've written here and delete this review. I'm normally spineless. But I'll post it now while outrage fuels my, probably unjustified, courage.

Como la Gente Civilizada | Like Civilized People, by Florencia Rumpel Rodriguez

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A Non-Fiction Twine that Stings, June 8, 2017
by IFforL2 (East Asia)
While it's unwise to judge a book by its cover, I tend to make inferences about an IF by its development system. TADS is for computer people, Inform7 is for very precise non-programmers, and textadventures.co.uk is mostly for youths.

Twine is unlike other choice-based IF systems because it has a history of providing an digital literary voice for oppressed communities. What I like best about this example is that it publishes real accounts. The traditional way to publish short first-hand accounts and brief primary sources is by collecting excerpts into anthology books. Here, in contrast, the various accounts are triggered by the reader's choices. (Spoiler - click to show)Even better, the final choice leads the reader to an activist website! So the Interactive Non-Fiction continues with the reader's real-world choice of what to do about this issue, starting today!

Two questions for the comments:
1) Are these eyewitness accounts harmed by the second-person narration? These happened to real women, not to the fictitious IF character named "You."

2) Is it unjust to present a dangerous incident of harassment with a clickable set of options? (Or even with a parser's command line, for that matter?)
(Spoiler - click to show)I was offended when one of the women was being attacked and I was given the option to "react" or "wait." I'm SO glad that neither choice led to more abuse towards her than the other. But putting that choice there strongly suggests, to me at least, that the victim is somehow responsible for what happened to her. She should have made the other choice. Then again, I could just be mentally imposing some of the unfair Twine-game choices I've seen onto this literary work. Again, neither choice was a wrong choice. I'm just uncomfortable that it looks like she has to make the right choice.

I read this piece once in English and three times in Castilian. The English translation is quite good, but uses a tamer, less stinging choice of words. If you know some Spanish, I recommend the original. (Even if you have to use a dictionary. It's short.)

El Archipiélago, by Depresiv

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Fun in the way graphic adventures are fun., June 2, 2017
by IFforL2 (East Asia)
This Spanish work does a good job of being at once a game and a story. It was quite fun, but it felt like one of those graphic point-and-click adventures. The game world is medium sized; I didn't need a map, but I would have moved more quickly with one. Each chapter consists of an initial choice-based backdrop scene followed by a puzzle-solving exploration session.

Again, this game really was fun, but it could have been even more fun with consistent implementation. (Spoiler - click to show)Each magical device only works once to solve a specific puzzle. You can't tinker with the cauldron, the garden, or anything. After I solved the growing fruit puzzle, I tried to do it again, but the game just asked, "Why would you want to do that?" I tried putting other things like water and a rabbit into the cauldron and even lit the fire. Nothing even cooked! That rabbit is a survivor!

Most of the puzzles are standard for parser-games. Some of the puzzles use ascii graphics to imitate graphic adventure type puzzles. Whether or not such puzzles belong in IF, it would be courteous for an author who employs them to hyperlink the controls. The act of typing a command just to make a minuscule adjustment started to feel tedious after a while.

I considered one of the normal puzzles unfair. (Spoiler - click to show)Any interaction with the eagle suggests that she can't communicate with you and she's dangerous to touch. But lo and behold, you suddenly can communicate with her and touch her only when one puzzle requires it. When I consult an in-game walkthrough, I believe I should think, "Oh, duh. I would have thought of that if I'd given it enough time and patience." With this puzzle, I felt irritated that the game steered me away from the correct solution at every prod.

For Spanish language learners, I'd rate the vocabulary as roughly intermediate level. However, the work includes a warning that it is not for readers younger than 14. A walkthrough is accessible within the game.

中正恐慌 THE CCU HORROR, by Seth Silverstone

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
只對特定的觀眾上訴, February 20, 2017
by IFforL2 (East Asia)
這段恐怖視覺小說設在台灣的大學校園。寫作風格是還可以的, 有點陳詞濫調。有很長的無選擇的敘事,特別是在前面。後來一些選擇導致突然失敗,雖然可能把故事帶到兩個不同的結局。

This horror CYOA is set at a particular university campus in Taiwan. For this reason, it may appeal only to a very specific audience. The quality of writing is not bad, but unremarkable. There are long stretches of narrative without options, especially at the beginning. Later, there are a couple of binary choices, one leading to sudden death, and the other continuing the narrative. A few consequential choices do exist, and it is possible to find two different endings.

Forrajeo, by Incanus
Immediately entertaining and easy to pick up., February 10, 2017
by IFforL2 (East Asia)
Although this is not Incanus' most polished game, it was my personal favorite until I found the time to play Ofrenda a la Pincoya. It's also the one I'd recommend for Spanish language learners--The parser never misunderstood me and didn't expect me to go through extremely detailed procedures.

Aunque este juego no es el más finamente construido de las obras de Incanus, todavía era mi favorita, hasta que leí Ofrenda a la Pincoya. También este es el que recomendaria para los que están aprendiendo el Español.

The Poisoned Soup | 有毒之湯, by Steven Dong

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
More successful at puzzles than the average visual novel., February 9, 2017
by IFforL2 (East Asia)
Although I enjoy many works of interactive literature just as well as text adventure puzzlers, I observe that puzzles help language learners to read IF with more focus, care, and investment. Therefore, I find it unfortunate that few East Asian visual novels include puzzles. Those that do tend to limit themselves to instant death by wrong choice. The Poisoned Soup is a rare piece in that the fluently bilingual author is well-read in a variety of IF genres. These range from parser-based puzzle games, to parser-based literature, to choice-based (and basically linear) East Asian visual novels.(Spoiler - click to show) Steven Dong intentionally makes it difficult to select all the right choices in the first play-through. However, wrong choices don't usually lead to instant death without clear warnings. Rather, most wrong choices cause trauma to the PC. As I made progress in the game/work, Dong's method caused, in me at least, a sense of desperation and increasing cautiousness, as well as personal investment in the PC's lot.

I would have to say that this is currently my second favorite Mandarin game after 逃出去 | Escape.



A Friend to Light Your Way, by verityvirtue

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
verityvirtue at her best, January 18, 2017
by IFforL2 (East Asia)
This story includes a light puzzle and a bit of creepiness. What I really love about it is the spot-on cultural setting. Right at the start, you can choose between two very realistic and quintessential types of Asian daughters for the PC. As you enter the scene, every detail, from conversations to "rooms" genuinely feels like modern rural China or Taiwan. (Please forgive the comparison! It's not politically motivated!) The author could have kept this as a very well-written slice-of-life. But the puzzle and the creepy plot do a good job of gamifying it all.

A Dark Room, by Michael Townsend

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Google Translate is great!, January 17, 2017
by IFforL2 (East Asia)
Related reviews: Easy English
This minimalist idle game is available in lots and lots of languages. Not-so-unfortunately, after reading through the start of the Mandarin and Spanish versions, I must deduce that they were created using Google Translate. (I may be wrong, and I'd gladly eat a humble pie from Michael Townshend.) That's actually not so bad, as this game is one of a handful that make the most of a few short phrases. Julian Churchill's Tiny Text Adventure is another.

The Zen Garden, by Privateer

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Perfect Use of the Medium, January 16, 2017
by IFforL2 (East Asia)
One of the things I love about text adventures.co.uk is the unabashedly amateur nature of many of the pieces. But it is nice to see near perfect implementation, and this is one example. In my opinion, this game is as entertaining, sublime and meticulous as many of the IFComp winners that I've played. It is also one of those games you can continue to "play" away from the computer during an interminable meeting or while proctoring final exams.

No Quiero Verla, by Comely

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Potentially powerful, not perfectly implemented, January 16, 2017
by IFforL2 (East Asia)
This story explores the PC's thoughts and memories, rather than geography. Compared to other IFs of the same concept (e.g. verityvirtue's Staying Put), this is relatively under-implemented, which kept me mindful of the parser. (Spoiler - click to show)For an example, talk to Claire.The author clearly didn't want the reader to go in that direction, but a more natural response would have helped me stay immersed.


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