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Reviews by verityvirtue

choleric

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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 Spring Thing 2015 Spring Thing 2016 sub-Q Tiny Utopias
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1-8 of 8


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 he’s 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 death…

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

If you’re 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 aren’t: look past the benign-looking illustrations to the weird and horrifying amongst the mundane. Owlor’s 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.

Krypteia, by Kateri

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A neon-tinged allegory , September 13, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic, choleric
[Time to completion: 15 minutes. This game mentions violence and harassment.]

You leave the village, defying the wills of the "wise men", in search for the heart of the forest. You have nothing, and danger presses in all around.

Krypteia sounds like an allegory, using both the language of adventures and quests, and the familiar language of the "monsters" and the "wise men" will likely be familiar to femme-presenting folk, who are, for instance, so often told not to dress a certain way, lest they invite trouble ("You can't go out dressed like that, the wise men told you. The monsters will tear you apart.").

The theme of metamorphosis suffuses Krypteia. This game diverts based on a single dichotomy: stealth or fierceness. Do you blend in, or do you confront? I found it striking that despite the approach you choose, the PC still loses her identity.

The language used here blends imagery of the wilderness with that of the night-time city, filled with leering men and streetlights. This is also interpreted literally in the ever-moving graphics. Building on that, symbols usually associated with femininity were, here, weapons.

With its purposeful text styling, graphics and sound effects, it is no surprise that Krypteia was nominated for a XYZZY in Best Multimedia, but it is also allegory, social commentary, kinda-fairy tale and a story of personal growth.

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.

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.

The Curious Incident at Blackrock Township, by Bitter Karella
A witchhunt narrated entirely through secondhand accounts, November 12, 2016
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric
The Curious Incident is a witch-hunting incident narrated entirely through secondhand accounts. One might draw an obvious parallel between this and Arthur Miller's play The Crucible, but where the play puts the reader (or viewer) right in the action of the moment, here we dip in and out, switching between narration and secondhand research. Historical records are interspersed with academic accounts, and branching points are incorporated similar to how The Domovoi did it. This indirect style works well, especially when one of the branches imply that the nature of the main character is ambiguous.

As another reviewer has commented, it is particularly ironic that the reader gets to choose how the story goes. Who's to say what happened? Who's to say who was truly to blame? In the end, does that really matter, if the outcome remains unchanged?

(Spoiler - click to show)One thing I feel would improve this game is pacing. There was scant buildup to the manifestation of the curse itself (not just the context of it) that the ending felt premature; I would have liked more detail on how the curse started manifesting, but this may be at odds at the matter of fact style of the rest of the game.

ENGINE MACHINE: The Deities of Time and Space, by Adam Bredenberg

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Bewildering existential poetry, September 22, 2016
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric
[Contains occasional profanity. Time to completion: 5-10 minutes]

This Twine poem is about human suffering and the inevitability of death, at least according to the blurb. I have difficulty understanding all but the most concrete poetry even at the best of times, and I did not understand this piece. It slams out metaphors and images and rhythms in what is sometimes wordy verse. It grabs references and images from cultures from antiquity to modernity. It's quite the wild ride.

If you like lines like "ancient archaeopteryx of crews and heathens/mollusks, plagues/black bastard symphonies, thousand talons/
lice and the lance of doomed reverberations," then you might like this.

School 4, by GRMMXI

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short "my grubby apartment" game with interesting platform, September 13, 2016
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric
This game opens on two well-worn tropes of IF: the school deadline (so favoured by games such as Violet) and the grubby apartment (which also featured, most famously, in Shade). You're in the throes of inertia for your assignment. Of course it's due tomorrow. Of course what you do is everything but actually do the thing.

The story is a little light on actual events or decisions. It isn't particularly introspective. Neither does it have much of a unifying story arc. If, however, it was read as a prototype, then it does work, and it's a working demonstration of an interesting system.

The platform here deserves some mention - it's a home-brew choice-based platform, and it gives the impression of laying out each passage in a grid on a giant field. It's like Prezi, basically. It's worth playing, if at least to check out the interface.

Boogle, by Buster Hudson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A very short game about a strange search engine, June 3, 2016
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric
Time to completion: 5-10 minutes

[This game contains a large, unannounced picture of a certain animal - see image files included with the download]

Boogle riffs on Google default messages and online ads to create a creeping sense of dread. The eponymous search engine is an NPC in its own right, which directs your search results to serve its own purposes. It's a mood piece more than a game, really; the story is not particularly fleshed out, but the idea is so very creepy.

This game deserves a mention of multimedia, because it makes ingenious use of otherwise basic Twine functions to replicate familiar sights.


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