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Reviews by verityvirtue

melancholic

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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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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.

Map, by Ade McT

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Space as metaphor, April 1, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
[Time to completion: >1 hour]

[Content warnings for mentions of abortion, child death]

In Map, you play a fed-up housewife in a subtly mutating house. Space, here, is used to reveal memories. As the reader learns more about the PC, the more the house expands to accommodate that, and each new room offers a chance at atonement. Just as space moves non-linearly, time creeps strangely. If you know Pratchett’s metaphor of the Trousers of Time, or think of decision-making as creating forks in a timeline - it’s very much like that. Just as the PC can enter new rooms in the house,

The themes in this game reminded me of Sara Dee’s Tough Beans, or, a more recent example, Cat Manning’s Honeysuckle. All of these feature female protagonists who have been dutiful and responsible doing what was expected of them until they were all but forgotten, until some catalytic event drives them to change.

In Map, the protagonist is much less involved, on the micro level. The rooms you discover let the player relive key decision-making moments in the PC’s life, but once you enter a moment, you can simply wait for it to get to the only choice you have: a binary yes/no choice. Without this, though, the game might have swollen to an unmanageable size, so the limited agency is more strategy than anything else, and on a conceptual level, this does work - how many times have you wondered what would have happened if you’d made a different decision?

The scope of this game is narrow and deep, delving into the emotions underpinning life-changing moments and distilling these moments into a fork in a very personal timeline. Some bits went way over my head (the rubber plant, for instance), but overall it was an ambitious, thoughtful piece.

The World Turned Upside Down, by Bruno Dias
A cosy, gritty New Year's vignette, March 23, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
[Time to completion: 10-15 mins]

A New Year's Eve offering from Bruno Dias, set in the same world as Cape and Mere Anarchy.

When I played this for the first time, I had barely played the games referenced here, so why did it appeal so much to me? It's something about being a refuge from chaos, a safe place where those who put things right can rest - for now. The characters are weary, but at peace.

Its size and scope are kept deliberately small: the verb set is pared down to three verbs; the setting, to one room. But that one room suggests an entire world - one the player gets to know through its people rather than its locations. For a New Year’s Eve story, The World Turned Upside Down doesn’t point so much to hope for the year ahead, as it does to the fixing of past wrongs.

Disclaimer: I identify, to a frightening extent, with one of the characters.

Heretic Dreams, by Hannah Powell-Smith
Survival and betrayal in a frozen wasteland, March 23, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
You are a pathfinder, responsible for the survival of this ragtag group by determining where they should go next. But this ability, this gift - it threatens to tear you apart as well, because you aren’t quite what people think you are.

In Heretic Dreams, you must challenge your changing nature, and decide whether humanity is a source of strength or a necessary obstacle. Heretic Dreams is not quite survival story, not quite horror, although there are elements of both. It feels like distant footsteps on freshly fallen snow; like dark clouds congealing on the horizon promising thunder.

Do you lure trouble away with yourself or stick together? Is it possible to get out of this unscathed? It’s hard to tell. Nonetheless, the narrator’s position within their community and their proximity to the leader gives your choices a sense of impact.

A well-written, grim story about leading your community to the promise of a better land.

Fabricationist DeWit Remakes the World, by Jedediah Berry

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Hope after the apocalypse, March 22, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
You are a Fabricationist, and you are the last of your kind. And now, you have awoken from your centuries-long slumber… and you have a visitor.

This game looks and sounds beautiful. Its soundscape is vaguely industrial, all hollow metal booms and gratings and the squeal of an untuned radio; the backgrounds are swimming watercolours.

This post-apocalyptic salvation story has an emotional heft that transcends the usual stakes implied by a post-apocalyptic story (the loss of life as we know it), thanks to the interactions - the give and take, really - between the narrator and an unexpected companion. Alone, who would have mourned the Fabricationist’s passing, or celebrate his achievement?

This remains one of my favourite games, for its message of hope in the midst of apocalypse is sorely needed these days.

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. It’s a blunt tool, obviously not suited for the task, but it… 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.

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 author’s light touch with world-building is not unlike watching a theatre backdrop: sketched out with just enough details for the reader’s 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.

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.


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