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Reviews by verityvirtue

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View this member's reviews by tag: 2018 choleric ECTOCOMP ECTOCOMP 2016 IFComp 2015 IFComp 2016 IFComp 2017 Introcomp Ludum Dare melancholic melancholy parser phlegmatic Ren'Py sanguine Spring Thing 2015 Spring Thing 2016 sub-Q Tiny Utopias
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Eat Me, by Chandler Groover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Visceral, lush, a grotesque escape game, July 17, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric
Chandler Groover’s work often mixes the decadent with the grotesque, the macabre with the picturesque. Think rotting roses; mouldering filigree.

Here, bound in a prison made of food, your only way out is by eating.

Who knew that eating could be so visceral? This is not just simple eating, it is consumption for consumption’s sake, for pleasure, for satiation. This is not going to be a game for everyone: the descriptions are so detailed as to be cloying, and there is heavy use of cutscenes to denote scene transitions.

This game is generous in allowing the player to backtrack and figure out what to do. As the name suggests, the range of actions available for the player are limited to eating, with the occasional exception clearly signalled - similar, then, to Arthur DiBianca’s games, such as Grandma Bethlinda’s Variety Box and Inside the Facility.

Eat Me resembles Groover’s Bring Me A Head, both in setting and in grotesquerie: both set in crumbling castles, each compartment holding just one singular occupant, doomed, it seems, to pursue their one occupation for the rest of time. Eat Me is not for the faint-hearted, definitely, but well worth playing, perhaps alongside other games with a similar setting.

For a lighter version of an eating-oriented game, try Jenni Polodna’s Dinner Bell; for more of the same, Bring Me a Head and Open That Vein by the same author.

Honeysuckle, by Cat Manning

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A mid length Texture game about escaping an abusive relationship , July 10, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
[Mentions abusive relationships. Time to completion: 15-20 minutes]

Being the wife of an august wizard brings its own dangers.

The PC is wife to the wizard who is now her husband. They were, if not colleagues, then teacher and student, yet he dismisses her own “unruly” research, allowing her to continue only because “it seems to please her”. This echoes sexist assumptions of skill common to numerous other fields - from game development to medicine - which often casts women as the amateurs, forever the apprentice to their male counterparts. And, most notably, she plays into this as well, describing herself as an amateur.

The use of the verb ‘consider’ turns an invasion of privacy into something more like observing, but it quickly becomes clear that the PC’s husband is not who he says he is, that the PC is not /safe/, that prying is the only way to survival. Unusually for Texture games, Honeysuckle is strongly location-based.

What I most enjoyed - if one may call it ‘enjoyed’ - was the subversion of the traditional player as the chosen one, the powerful one, the one with the gifts. In Honeysuckle, the PC is, initially, utterly disempowered. She is the apprentice, the junior one, the amateur. She is the humble one - the /humbled/ one - who does not speak up because she knows few will listen.

Honeysuckle stands up as a modern retelling of Blackbeard: a predatory husband; the PC just one in a line of victims. The difference, of course, being the outcome. In the same way, this game has similar themes to Sara Dee’s Tough Beans. Both have female PCs who are babied by their male partners, and both find their salvation in his destruction. But where Tough Beans is unambiguous in its outcome, Honeysuckle is a little more ominous: each of its ending branches is wracked with uncertainty.

Honeysuckle is a game about alchemy and escaping domestic peril, and it is straightforward in that front. Several aspects of the story, however, are far from fantasy for a significant part of the population. Although its ending is ambiguous, Honeysuckle envisions the possibility - with both means and opportunity intact - of escape.

Murder on the Big Nothing, by Tony Pisculli

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Surreal vignette-driven Western, July 10, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: phlegmatic
[Time to completion: 5-10 minutes]
[This game contains descriptions of gun violence.]

You’re on a boxcar, but something’s not quite right… You need to figure out why you’re here.

Murder on the Big Nothing is told through a series of vignettes, each described with enough visual detail to suggest cinematic inspirations. Indeed, there is a bit of the classic Western of it, from the storyline to the setting.

This game feels a little rough around the edges, and it felt like it ended before I had seen all the story has to offer. There was an implied puzzle (i.e. an obstacle stopping you from seeing everything there was to see), but no way I could figure out to solve it. It’s interesting enough though, and calls the reader to draw their own conclusions.

If you enjoyed this, you might like Niney, another surreal game set on a train (well, boxcars, trains… moving boxes on rails, right?).

SCP-3939 [NUMBER RESERVED; AWAITING RESEARCHER], by Croquembouche

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Monster-investigating CYOA given a self-aware twist, July 8, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: phlegmatic
[Time to completion: 10-15 minutes]

An SCP - standing either for “Secure, Contain, Protect” or “Secure Containment Procedures“, depending on who you ask - is also a weird phenomenon or creature; an aberration. Known only by a number, SCPs are governed and classified by a generically-named Foundation which is as much bureaucracy and

The majority of the SCP wiki is much as you might expect from an encyclopaedia.

SCP-3939 - the game - follows a familiar choose-your-own-adventure style, making the stakes clear straight away. The wiki’s structure is part of the story, too, since the encyclopaedia entry appears above the game text. The more you find out about the SCP, the longer the article becomes.

What makes this more interesting is the interaction between the story and the game. Not to spoil anything, but the crux of the story hinges on the very self-aware SCP. Good fun, especially if you’re already a fan of the SCP wiki.

REALLY, IF / REALLY, ALWAYS, by Dawn Sueoka
A textual equivalent of the uncanny valley, April 17, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: phlegmatic
This game is described as an exercise in human-mediated computer-computer interaction - based on a chat programme meant to simulate a psychotherapist.

It’s… strange. This game has the disjointed feel of a b minus seven work. Common phrases twisted into unfamiliar shapes give the narrative not much more than a direction, but not any material details. This is the uncanny valley of natural language, and Really If, Really Always delights in it.

Of all the works focusing on singularity - this is one of the most polished… and I wonder what all these works say about our vision of artificial intelligence.

The Imposter, by Enrique Henestroza Anguiano
A short vignette of a man, bereft, wandering in Paris. , April 17, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
The Imposter uses Windrift’s mutable text to create a rhythm, and the prose flows with an easy rhythm. The distortion of the everyday added to the feeling of disorientation pervasive throughout this piece. The Imposter is dynamic fiction, and of a kind particularly well-suited to Windrift - a pleasure to read.

If you enjoyed this, you might like Patrick, by michael lutz.

Confessions of an NPC, by Charles Hans Huang

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
The people behind fantasy adventures, April 8, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
This game is split into several vignettes of the player-character talking with several characters. These are often the peripheral roles in your classical fantasy adventure story: the people that make the story possible, but who rarely get any other role in the story. Characters like the mother of a villain, speculating what made him become that way; or a commoner, who’s put his heroic days behind him.

Some might find this game preachy. It’s monologue-heavy and quite topical - some of the topics it mentions have been at the forefront of the public mind in recent months, and appropriate content warnings are provided at the start of each vignette. Given that the player must read through at least five of the initial six vignettes to progress, though, it seems a little contradictory though.

A point of interest - each vignette ends with a binary value judgment, and you must explain yourself. It could either be gimmicky or thought-provoking, depending on how you view it.

Confessions is very linear, with a mixed bag of a setting - there are hexes and monarchies, mechas and chatrooms. Although there are several points which could put off a player looking for polished games, Confessions does still take a slightly unusual approach to fantasy adventure.

Best Gopher Ever, by Arthur DiBianca

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Do a good deed for fun and (a small) profit!, April 8, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine, 2018
This is a pared-down parser game with an exceedingly straightforward premise - help the animals in the town for a small profit! The setting is pastel-colour simple, with friendly NPCs; the puzzles, relatively straightforward retrieval tasks.

This game has several player-friendly features which fans may be familiar with from DiBianca’s previous work: an ASCII map and a running summary of your progress.

Overall, an enjoyable, light game - possibly one you could play with a friend. If anything, possibly even a little frothy. If you liked this, you might like Foo Foo. Same talking-animal setting, but playing on noir tropes, and with crime at its heart.

AETERNAL, by massivebittrip

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A simple Twine exploration of ennui, April 2, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: phlegmatic
As you drift through time-space, you see sights that no mortal would ever imagine... yet, it's not enough. As a god-like being, you can go out to the depths of the universe, travel wherever you like, eat every kind of food, and yet you're bored.

Aeternal's prose is slightly purple (as is the background), and its circuitous structure drives home its point. It’s a good setup and could have been an interesting setting, were there - for lack of a better term - more human interest. Something to make the player curious. Something to make the player care.

This game branches prolifically, with more content that it might seem, but it never really leads to anything concrete, and it feels like the game could go on forever, and ever, unto eternity…

The Mayor and the Machine, by J. Marie

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A meta, self-aware not-quite parody, April 2, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
[Time to completion: 15-20 mins]

You are the mayor of the hilariously named Buttsville and, as you deal with the various problems (like the city breaking down around you), there’s a mysterious tool, left to you by your predecessor. A button that allows direct contact to… the Authority. How much will you rely on that omniscient, omnipotent force?

For such a jokey setup, most of the game is quite earnest in following through all the awful things that can happen to a city.

One playthrough is relatively short, but with frequent branching and checkpoints, it’s quite replayable.


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