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Reviews by verityvirtue

melancholic

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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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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
“Partial” 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.

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 seduction’s sake, you’re doing it for your sister and your survival.

This game casts the sirens’ 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.

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 year’s 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 it’s 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.

last&final, by 1beetle
Fatigue opens the eyes, November 6, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
The student rushing a big project has been the subject of many a game. Perhaps it’s an extension of the My Grubby Apartment trope. Perhaps it reflects a certain IF-making demographic. It’s not always well-done, but last&final is a creditable contribution to this ‘genre’.

This genre often gives, at most, a vague nod to the actual content of the project, focusing rather on the peripherals, often procrastination. But here, describing the incremental steps required to create a facsimile of real life adds to the creepiness. When machines have a precision far beyond human perception, how do you know you’re imitating real life details? Where does the border between mimicry and wishful thinking stop? Might you spend all your life fiddling with tiny details, only to notice that you were creating something totally alien?

last&final uses deliberate choice placement to create a rhythm in the prose. Combined with the disorientation of being alone in a big building with its own rhythms and seeing a part of its life you never otherwise see, and personal experiences of fatigue-sharpened senses, last&final presented a creepily plausible horror story.

Corrupter of Dreams, by Robert Patten
Manipulating dreams for good or evil, November 6, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
You are a parasite. You manipulate dreams — no, you corrupt them. In this brief game, you have just one target, one dream. But although you bring corruption and fungal decay, your target’s circumstances make the decision to corrupt a bit more complex, both because the consequences of corruption are not initially clear, and you can stop the corruption at any time.

Corrupter of Dreams is succinct, but manages to establish the PC’s motivation and the key dilemma early on. Without this dilemma, this would have already been an interesting game; I enjoy one-verb or limited parser games because of its limitations and the subversion of parser conventions of offering as many synonyms to make it as player-friendly as possible. But introducing a reason not to go down the obvious route made the route that much stronger.

This is a short, simple concept executed well within its contraints.

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.

You are Standing at a Crossroads, by Astrid Dalmady
The ground shifts under your feet, August 20, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic, phlegmatic
You are standing at a crossroads. Wherever you go, you will end up at a crossroads.

The writing is memorable: evocative language, unsettling imagery. Visit a location twice, and it opens up. Enter. Participate. Maybe, finally, you'll discover where you are. Some locations recall childhood - a playground; a zoo - but all are deserted. There is a semblance of life, but you never get to see it for yourself.

Quiet piano music, links which set the pace and mutable text illustrate a place which changes only when you're not looking, which constantly keeps the ground uneven under your feet.

In the pattern of my father's long, long legs, Crossroads presents itself as an unsettling, low-interactivity twine. As dynamic fiction, one tends to ask, would this work as static fiction?

Perhaps not. Not without a way to set a reader's expectations, and let the reader discover how they might be broken.

Inventory, by Joey Fu

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A lesson in making do with what you have, August 17, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
You start out trapped in a dungeon - not an unfamiliar scenario - with a long list of possessions. Not all of them are tangible.

The basic idea behind this is simple enough: choose the right belonging, and you'll move on. The right object is not always obvious, however, and the error messages are unhelpful (probably due to the word count). The landscapes that this game traverses are often surreal non-sequiturs, leaving me to suspect that the inventory objects might have come before the story.

Inventory uses the aesthetic of old-school parser - monospace font, green words on black background, even a command prompt - but I think making it choice-based streamlined the actual process of using the objects.

(Spoiler - click to show)The heart of this game is escape, and it is elegantly brought out - yes, even in such a brief game as this. Escape is always in service of a goal, marks the start of a journey. But escape, here, demands a price: every time you escape from something new, you must give something up. (In this aspect it is tangentially reminiscent of Cat Manning's Invasion.) For what end? Is it worth it? For me, this made Inventory feel much more substantial than a 300-word game should be.

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.

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.


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