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Reviews by verityvirtue

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View this member's reviews by tag: 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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All Your Time-Tossed Selves, by Porpentine
An exploration of an unlikely medium, January 23, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
[Time to completion: 5-10 minutes]

This game uses Google Forms, and why not? It sets up your own website for you, it allows you to make choices in various ways, it even can display text conditionally. Itís a blunt tool, obviously not suited for the task, but itÖ kinda works?

It is primarily dialogue-focused, taking on the feeling of an interrogation, an interrogation one who has brought on some unnamed catastrophe on the city. There is gentle, devastating rhythm in the prose.

All Your Time-Tossed Selves explores the various ways there are to make choices, with a little surprise at the end.

Victorian Detective, by Peter Carlson
Mildly entertaining detective romp, January 22, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
Time to completion: 45 mins - 1 hour

One of the top-rated games on textadventures.co.uk, Victorian Detective has you take on the persona of a distinctly Sherlockian police detective to solve a murder.

The structure of the game is, intentionally or not, very similar to the Conan Doyle stories, in that the titular detective makes an impressive but slightly far-fetched inference about some tiny observation, which determines the entire course of the investigation. Victorian Detective rewards detailed reading by carefully firing Chekhov's guns, even if the clues given are sometimes frankly esoteric (Spoiler - click to show)(I don't know, but can you identify the smell of haddock compared to other fish? This isn't Toby's Nose!).

Although this game predates Toby's Nose, the way both games get the reader to come to their own conclusions is quite similar, and indeed constructing a web of clues for the reader to pick apart is no mean feat.

This game is relatively well thought out. Occasional illustrations add a whimsical tone to the story, and in at least one point serves as a plot point. Not the most solid mystery, but mildly entertaining.

MINUTEMAN, by nebulaictoaster

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short, tense game about nuclear-era relics, January 22, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric
Youíre exploring a nuclear shelter - alone - on a dare. Itís not entirely clear what era this is set in, but itís almost unnecessary, partly because the threat of powerful men doing rash things is ever present, partly because I suspect that was the intention - what matters is that nuclear shelters are a thing of the past, decommissioned, relics, ancientÖ but safe? Are they safe?

Itís hard to describe this without spoiling it, because the twist is one of the main things that holds this game together. Cutting out the spoilers makes it a very short piece of text, so Iíd say you could safely go off, play it - itís not long - and come back. Iíll wait. Minuteman is a bit of a mood piece, a piece of dynamic fiction, because of its linearity. It is more a relived memory than an adventure. I couldnít quite follow the logic of the thing, but I certainly caught the mood, and its brevity gives it the intensity of a fever dream.

(Spoiler - click to show)By your actions - born of ignorance, but that is no excuse - you doom a whole town. You never see the havoc you wreak directly, but only ever observe it from a position of relative safety, which adds to the feeling of feverish detachment - like those dreams where you see disaster coming, but cannot move a muscle, cannot say a word. Text effects transform the piece from passive interaction with a static, dead place to one bristling with imminent threat, and while I donít usually appreciate Harloweís default text effects, here I imagined them as different voices in a spoken performance.

Wedding Day, by E. Joyce

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Not an unfamiliar wedding story, January 22, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
An Ectocomp game with the name of what is usually a joyous occasion is quite the juxtaposition. In this short game, you are preparing for your wedding day, and everything about the preamble suggests reluctance, hesitance; it is immediately clear that this is no consensual union. The wedding is a matter of practicality, as many are, and this affair was the best you were going to get.

The authorís light touch with world-building is not unlike watching a theatre backdrop: sketched out with just enough details for the readerís imagination to fill in the gaps. Of course, this treads the line between minimalism and under-implementation, and one might argue for the description of this or that.

Like The Unstoppable Vengeance of Doctor Bonesaw (to compare ECTOCOMP to ECTOCOMP), Wedding Day seems at first to have a single path laid out, waiting for you to walk it. But the parser effectively masks the second ending hinted at in the ABOUT text, which gave it satisfying depth for a game with a carefully limited scope.

Off the Rails, by Katie Benson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Going down a familiar route, January 19, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine, IFComp 2017
You're on the train to meet your family for the weekend, and the thought fills you with dread.

The cover suggests a cutesy story aimed at younger readers; the blurb suggests something deeper, with a hint of unhappy family life.

Vague allusions to emotional baggage (at least in the branches that I played through) and a mundane beginning taps on a common urge in IF, though not necessarily the most attention-grabbing. Infrequent binary choices are sprinkled in the midst of linear text. The sheer amount of linearity actually hides the broad branching, and players might be put off from replaying by the verbosity. Conciseness would have helped this game, but at least one of the branches is weird enough to warrant all this.

Off the Rails has some good ideas, but could be more compellingly presented.

a partial list of things for which i am grateful, by Devon Guinn
A tiny, story-less ramble through things one might be grateful for, January 18, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
ďPartialĒ may be in its title, but its length is pretty much unknowable. Links nest in links, and upon replaying, one is likely to find something completely new, suggesting a cobwebby tangle of links from idea to idea.

A short, easily overlooked interactive, more meditative practice than game.

Black Marker, by Michael Kielstra

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Running familiar ground, January 8, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: phlegmatic, IFComp 2017
Black Marker is a game about censorship in an authoritarian regime. In this case, though, the redaction masks a mystery, and you can choose the types of information to censor.

This game is not the first of its kind. Other notable examples include Blackbar and Redactor. In Blackbar, you have to guess the redactor word - you play an anti-censor, where you must create meaning from what was eradicated by government censors. Redactor is probably closest in implementation, but with the added pressure of a time limit. Black Marker, however, grounds the material in its own universe, with a coherent storyline across pieces of material.

Select one piece of information, and all the phrases in the passage relating to that piece of information will be censored for you. The game penalises both censoring too much or too little, and so requires a little more thought than just clicking phrases at random. Where the game could have been stronger, though, is the emotional heart - the player character is little more than a faceless actor, and having some in-universe intrinsic motivation to do oneís job - or not do oneís job - would have heightened the tension in Black Marker.

little mermaids, by Prynnette
A grim retelling, January 1, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
This is a Twiny Jam game (hence, a short Twine) in which you are a mermaid - think sirens. But instead of luring sailors to their death for seductionís sake, youíre doing it for your sister and your survival.

This game casts the sirensí song as performative: born not out of a desire to seduce, but of necessity. Each attempt to lure a ship to its doom is built on the backs of your sisters. No one can win: either they die, or you perish.

Although tiny, little mermaids reveals just enough about the universe to form a thought-provoking retelling of the mythology surrounding sirens.

The Elevator Game, by Owlor
An enjoyable take on the urban legend, November 7, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric
Trapper is a private detective of the equine variety, and heís been called in to assist the police in investigating the mysterious death of the mare Serene Lotus, who was seen to be behaving oddly before her deathÖ

Like Owlorís other games, this game borrows the anthropomorphised pony aesthetic of My Little Pony, but really itís a neat noir/horror mix based on the urban legend of the Elevator Game, and evidently by the stories surrounding Elisa Lamís death.

If youíre familiar with the urban legend, then it will perhaps be the implementation rather than the reveal of the core mystery that draws you in. If you arenít: look past the benign-looking illustrations to the weird and horrifying amongst the mundane. Owlorís line illustrations are used to great effect here (note, though, that the illustrations are not described in the text), and the screenplay-like format gives the sense of distance, of watching in from a CCTV ourselves.

The Elevator Game is a satisfyingly creepy implementation of an urban legend/creepy story that has made its rounds in certain corners of popular media.

Something, by Linus Lekander
Vague exploration of a state of mind, November 6, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
This game is something like All I Do is Dream by Megan Stevens from last yearís IFComp. The insomniac PC must decide whether to get out of bed, because of a lingering urge to wash themselves - despite having already done so. This game is a bit vague, but itís an attempt to describe a particular state of mind. It ended, though, before it could get into the meat of the matter.

That said, short, one-topic games like this make up the IF ecosystem, even if most of the IFComp games tend to be more ambitious. I am grateful they exist. I am glad the tools exist to allow people to create games without any expectations of form or substance.

Something is much smaller in scope than the typical IFComp game, and a little forthrightness could have turned it into a sharp, glittering small thing.


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