Home | Profile - Edit | Your Page | Your Inbox Browse | Search Games   |   Log In

Reviews by verityvirtue

View this member's profile

Show ratings only | both reviews and ratings
View this member's reviews by tag: choleric ECTOCOMP ECTOCOMP 2016 IFComp 2015 IFComp 2016 Introcomp Ludum Dare melancholic melancholy parser phlegmatic Ren'Py sanguine Shufflecomp Spring Thing 2015 Spring Thing 2016 sub-Q Tiny Utopias
1-10 of 167 | Next | Show All


The Little Lifeform That Could, by Fade Manley
An affectionate take on the evolution/building sim genre, July 20, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
You start as a single-celled organism, wriggling in primordial ooze, but by making decisions on your approach to other cells and what to eat, you slowly build up an organism, then a population, then a civilisation. A game with a similar premise is Epitaph, although that approaches the evolution of civilisations from an outsider's perspective, while this is very much an insider's view.

Systems-wise, it might be the most similar to Evolve; both use quality-gated choices. It's a good fit for the platform. While Evolve aims to be educational and brings the reader through the actual nuts and bolts of evolution and other concepts, The Little Lifeform takes a much looser view of the science, with a whimsical touch. Hats feature greatly.

A polished, simple game - could make a longish lunch break game.

Seven Bullets, by Cloud Buchholz

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A long, highly branching game that treads familiar ground, July 20, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric
[Content warnings: violence, especially gun violence; torture/dismemberment]

You are a trained assassin. The Boss has your sister, and you will bring him down, do whatever it takes, to get her back, even unto death.

This is a highly branching, very long game which keeps track of a number of stats - and it makes that quite obvious through notes in the prose itself. Like Choice of Games games, there are achievements and Easter eggs galore, evidence of the breadth and effort put into Seven Bullets.

Decision-making points are inserted only when there is a significant tactical decision to be made, which makes each branching point's significance clear, but which also produces large swathes of text.

The story itself is fairly standard fare: mob bosses, arms deals with unnamed Chinese and Russians, unemotional protagonist. The typecasting here is almost stereotypical. Goons and villains remain categorically bad. Regardless of realm, they are to be taunted, killed and/or used solely as a means to an end: little chance for empathy. Pretty much every female character I encountered needed to be rescued.

I got the overwhelming feeling that it was the PC's personality that shaped the whole game, not necessarily for the good. Its prose is terser than it needed to be. The PC's stubbornness forced fantastical landscapes into shapes the assassin protagonist can understand. This may be a common enough human endeavour, but it stole the opportunity for humour or humility.

Seven Bullets is polished, and what appears to be Twine Sugarcube's autosave system - much needed in this very long game. I found it hard to enjoy it, though, because of its protagonist - I wasn't sure I wanted to spend all that much time with them.

Down, the Serpent and the Sun, by Chandler Groover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A polished game with a lavish, gory setting., July 20, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
The serpent has eaten the sun. You are the last one who can get it back.

Based loosely on Aztec myths, this game presents a prime example of Groover's signature imagination. Down is dark and bloody - set, after all, in the maw of a monster - but unlikely metaphors abound. Gemstones in gullets. A sun in the stomach.

Contrasts abound in this game. You must relinquish control in the beginning to be able to participate, despite being a warrior - a person of action! The serpent is a broken, diseased creature, despite being undeniably powerful - having swallowed the sun and defeated all before you.

Though somewhat more ornate, and definitely more outspoken than some of Groover's other games, Down, the Serpent and the Sun is well worth playing.

Three-Card Trick, by Chandler Groover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Magic tricks with a dark heart, July 19, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric
Groover's works are dark and delicious, and this one especially so. You are Morgan the Magnificent, the esteemed magician. Last year, your two-card tricks granted you the favour and popularity from the most influential, wealthiest patrons.

Now, however, a rival has emerged: ostentatious, flashy Ivan, and his three-card trick. Now is your chance to regain your rightful title.

Despite a carnival-like setting - one often associated with summer and fun and play - there is an unsettling undertone (why would you need guards around a group of magicians?) which hints at higher stakes than are initially stated.

Highly polished both in style and substance, Three-Card Trick once again features several parser tricks which enhance its delivery. Text is doled out to control pacing; directions are highly simplified, similar to What Fuwa Bansaku Found.

It's a delicate balancing act Three-Card Trick does. It remains one step ahead of the reader, through to the end; yet, the required actions are hinted with sufficient contextual clues - one is unlikely to get stuck for too long - to give the sense of player agency. This is a game that is well deserving of its multiple XYZZY nominations.

Oxygen, by Benjamin Sokal

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
The ship's fate in your hands, July 19, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: phlegmatic
The premise of Oxygen is simple - no tricks, few puzzles, mostly choices. You, a lowly technician, have the unenviable task of deciding who on board the Aegis mining station will get oxygen from the slowly leaking tanks.

This is a resource management game in which you decide how oxygen supplies on a spaceship are to be diverted. You have three moves each time to decide. Tension comes from the fact that the ship is, literally, divided: striking miners on one side, and "the establishment" - the captain and the rest of the crew - on the other.

The initial section was very fiddly for me, because I have lots of trouble visualising mechanical solutions, so I followed the walkthrough for that. The bulk of the story is mechanically much simpler, though.

Oxygen's story is largely linear, with just a few major branches; so far, none of the endings I've found are exactly happy. Your position as a tech notwithstanding, you ultimately must choose where you stand - with the miners or with the leadership - and either results in the destruction of the other (or both). It was heartening to see the PC change from lazy and over-ambitious to actually taking a stand.

Oxygen reminded me of Fragile Shells: both are set in a spaceship, with mechanical puzzles. Fragile Shells is a bit more focused on story and characters, while Oxygen, more on the PC's current relationship with his other crewmates and resource management.

The Moonlit Tower, by Yoon Ha Lee

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Exploration in a lush, beautiful East Asian-influenced setting, July 16, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: phlegmatic
The Moonlit Tower is a small, self-contained game, set in a lush, unusual setting. Who you are is not immediately clear; finding out is its own experience.

Again, the player's goal is not clear at first. While this would usually be considered less than desirable, in this case this encourages exploration, and what a world there is to explore! The setting here draws on East Asian influences, and various features give the impression of gilt and intricate detail, such as you might find in a palace in ancient China or during the Joseon dynasty, and it is this detail in the crevices of the text which encourages replay.

This is a small game whose sparse puzzles are enriched by the enjoyable writing. The game boasts gentle, evocative, lush descriptions galore, rich with odd turns of phrase. Story is revealed in vignettes, flashes of memory; nothing is concrete.

Space Princess Coronation, by Marie Vibbert
A irreverent sci-fi/fantasy vignette, July 16, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
You're a space princess, and today's your coronation... or it was, until the Borgons started attacking! This is a light-hearted story about subverting your destiny. Your weapon: your knowledge of ceremonial rituals. Your awfully comprehensive knowledge.

I found the mix of sci-fi and high fantasy-style rituals novel, and the style has shades of Douglas Adams in its irreverence. Given that, consequences such as defending your people against invaders or a fiery death dwindle to an incidental outcome. Because, hey, you got to do what you wanted, right?

I would liked to do more with the setting. The choices in the game are mostly a binary choice between doing what is expected of you and not doing it; although the choices presented suggested vastly different personalities, there seemed to be little consequence to this.

Maybe I overthink. Space Princess Coronation is obviously lighthearted; this is a game that wants you to have fun. And it is fun, kinda: the PC is snarky and spirited; the protocol droid threatens to kick butt if you refuse to do what you're told. So if you're in the mood for very short, lighthearted sci-fi, then Space Princess Coronation might meet your needs.

Psychomanteum, by Hanon Ondricek

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short "haunted house" game with reality-warping possibilities, July 16, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
Every year, your friends hold a Halloween party, and each guest must complete three dares. The Psychomanteum is new: a mirrored chamber, in which you must stay, in darkness, for an hour. That shouldn't be too bad, right? You're a connoisseur of haunted houses and all things Halloween, after all, so nothing should really surprise you.

This game has all the usual trappings of Halloween - pumpkin spice, haunted houses, darkness. This contrasts with the genuine sense of increasing derangement as the PC spends more and more time in the titular box.

Psychomanteum has a strong concept, aided by the background music and sound effects. There were some disambiguation issues, if memory serves, and I didn't know what to make of (Spoiler - click to show)the slate. Psychomanteum leaves its truth deliberately ambiguous, but presented some deliciously creepy possibilities.

brevity quest, by Chris Longhurst

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Time cave RPG with sparse prose, May 17, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: phlegmatic
This is an RPG in the barest sense of the word. You choose a class. You encounter characters and go places, each narrated within the space of one line. The brevity of each passage belies a very broadly branching decision tree. In fact, given how widely stories could diverge, I found the narration of your choices in the end to be a nice touch. brevity quest makes liberal use of familiar tropes and creatures, making the reader's imagination take up most of the storytelling slack.

Several games share the text-sparse, location-based mould. A few which come to mind: The Tiniest Room, vale of singing metals or even burning temples.

What makes these worth having a look at are how they simplify foreign terrains, diplomatic moves and combat into the sparse language they use. I found pleasant small surprises, at times, when the game (brevity quest, but the others as well) showed me that it wasn't just branching blindly - it remembered the decisions that I made. Of course, this is technically very easy to do, but satisfying nonetheless.

Four Sittings in a Sinking House, by Bruno Dias

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A barroom back fable about a haunted house, May 17, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
[Time to completion: 15-20 minutes; this game doesn't work in Google Chrome]

Right. Yeah. The whole island was sinking, really. I say island because that's the official term, but if we're being honest it was more like a pretentious sandbar.


On a house on this sinking island, you perform sittings to uncover memories and, by so doing, figure out what went on in the house. Four candles flicker in the background of your choices, each one going out as you perform a sitting.

In this self-described "barroom back fable", the narrator is cynical, jaded. I got the sense that they, like the titular house, has put their glory days behind them, though having never played into cheap dreams peddled by cons,

You can perform tasks in roughly any order, but you have to uncover all available bits of memory to really figure out what's at the heart of this house. Not to give away the plot, but what's happening in the sinking house reflects the island itself: a place that free market forces took over, yet was chewed up and discarded when it lost its value.

Bruno's writing belies a keen eye for detail. The house's fallen state shows through its faded, garish fittings; the hypocrisy of the promises that were sold along with the house, in its sterility. Four Sittings is a satisfying, polished tale of urban magic, with the same sort of seriousness as, say, American Gods.


1-10 of 167 | Next | Show All