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Reviews by verityvirtue


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View this member's reviews by tag: 15-20 minutes choleric ECTOCOMP ECTOCOMP 2016 IFComp 2015 IFComp 2016 Introcomp Ludum Dare melancholic melancholic phlegmatic melancholy parser phlegmatic Ren'Py sanguine Shufflecomp Spring Thing 2015 Spring Thing 2016 sub-Q Tiny Utopias
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Secret Agent Cinder, by Emily Ryan
A tongue-in-cheek historical fiction/adventure hybrid, August 21, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine, 15-20 minutes
You are Cinderella, and you must infiltrate the ball to steal the King's secret military plans - and fret not, it's all in aid of the revolution!

The visual novel-style illustrations define the tone of the story and, in parts, deliver information relevant to the story. You, intrepid reader, will need to pay attention to detail, and, like me, you may get imprisoned a few times before figuring out how to escape in one piece.

The directions were my main stumbling block; I had trouble correlating compass directions, map and directional arrows. Otherwise, though, this is a fun one.

Taking about fifteen minutes' playtime for a runthrough, Secret Agent Cinder would make a great lunchtime game - mischievous, well-executed and often surprising.

KING OF BEES IN FANTASY LAND, by Brendan Patrick Hennessy

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
[Time to completion: 15-20 minutes]

You are a space knight. Earth has been laid to waste, and you are one of many setting out to discover new inhabitable planets. This planet on which your space pod has crashed seems ideal - if it weren't for the evil bees!!

This is a pastiche-y work by Hennessy similar to You Will Select a Decision by the same author, both featuring consciously imitated writing styles/speech patterns and a delight in subverting and lampshading tropes.

Conscious effort has been made with the styling. 8 bit fonts shout retro; typos and awkward sentence structures suggest a non-native English writer - a similar tactic used in You Will Select a Decision. (Spoiler - click to show)The plot twist is reflected in a major change in style - which is reflected even in details like the number of choices.

A bite-size game - ideal for a lunch break, maybe - in a cheerfully weird sci-fi setting.

The Unstoppable Vengeance of Doctor Bonesaw, by Caleb Wilson (as Lewis Blanco)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A artfully crafted toy box with some hidden depths, July 23, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
In what is essentially a one-move game, you play the unfortunately-named Doctor Bonesaw, who has finally uncovered the names and locations of the four people who have ruined his life. Finally, vengeance is his! (or even !!)

The writing leans toward the absurd, but never gets a chance to be over-the-top. In the spirit of The Northnorth Passage, there is really only one thing you can do; the parser's illusion of choice is just that - an illusion. (Spoiler - click to show)Mostly. Even the illusion of space is an illusion. It would have been fun if more objects in the starting location were implemented. If you think simply and act simply, it feels just too short to make the final move, however inevitable, feel satisfying.

There are, however, hidden depths to this compact game.(Spoiler - click to show)It's pretty well-hinted textually, so if might be worth going back to it a few times to see if you can, in fact, stop the inevitable.

The Little Lifeform That Could, by Fade Manley

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An affectionate take on the evolution/building sim genre, July 20, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
You start as a single-celled organism, wriggling in primordial ooze, but by making decisions on your approach to other cells and what to eat, you slowly build up an organism, then a population, then a civilisation. A game with a similar premise is Epitaph, although that approaches the evolution of civilisations from an outsider's perspective, while this is very much an insider's view.

Systems-wise, it might be the most similar to Evolve; both use quality-gated choices. It's a good fit for the platform. While Evolve aims to be educational and brings the reader through the actual nuts and bolts of evolution and other concepts, The Little Lifeform takes a much looser view of the science, with a whimsical touch. Hats feature greatly.

A polished, simple game - could make a longish lunch break game.

Space Princess Coronation, by Marie Vibbert
A irreverent sci-fi/fantasy vignette, July 16, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
You're a space princess, and today's your coronation... or it was, until the Borgons started attacking! This is a light-hearted story about subverting your destiny. Your weapon: your knowledge of ceremonial rituals. Your awfully comprehensive knowledge.

I found the mix of sci-fi and high fantasy-style rituals novel, and the style has shades of Douglas Adams in its irreverence. Given that, consequences such as defending your people against invaders or a fiery death dwindle to an incidental outcome. Because, hey, you got to do what you wanted, right?

I would liked to do more with the setting. The choices in the game are mostly a binary choice between doing what is expected of you and not doing it; although the choices presented suggested vastly different personalities, there seemed to be little consequence to this.

Maybe I overthink. Space Princess Coronation is obviously lighthearted; this is a game that wants you to have fun. And it is fun, kinda: the PC is snarky and spirited; the protocol droid threatens to kick butt if you refuse to do what you're told. So if you're in the mood for very short, lighthearted sci-fi, then Space Princess Coronation might meet your needs.

Flash in the Pan: ADHD Simulator, by Thom Simonson

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A procrastination simulation , May 17, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
This game captures the experience of continually getting distracted: there are countless detours that one might take en route to completing a necessary task.

Flash in the Pan uses its medium well: hovering over nouns gives a tangential thought, and this mechanism is used for a tiny easter egg at the end.

It reads a bit as a "normal workday simulator", though some of the choices at which one could detour - stopping to help at a road traffic accident, for example - are not exactly routine. This game is very clear, though, about how it impacts the PC's everyday life, which is perhaps the most important point.

Games in this vein are not exactly uncommon, and while there's a spark of mischievousness in some of the side remarks, little translates to the rest of the writing. This game also lacked a sense of urgency - I got a feeling overall that even if the PC was late, it wasn't really going to matter, so why should I conscientiously avoid distraction? The opportunity cost of distractions, here, was low enough that choosing tempting distraction over boring duty was a trivial one.

A more colourful take on procrastination and the lengths to which one can go to avoid responsibilities is the now-classic Violet.

Li You's Secret Admirer, by Mrs. Pollard

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A generic romance using basic Mandarin Chinese vocabulary, January 25, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
This is a deliberately simple romance story between a Chinese and an American student, intended for learners. The branching in this story branches and bottlenecks very quickly - it's a largely linear story. Is it good for learners? Hard to say.

The good: parallel sentence structures might allow readers to infer the meaning of similar sentences. Sentences are kept short and straightforward.

The bad: I saw the brevity and blandness of the writing as a missed opportunity to expand a reader's vocabulary, as well as showing a reader what lively Chinese prose can look like. For example, in the beginning, the reader can choose what impression one character has of the other. If the reader decides that they have a poor impression of each other, the resulting text simply repeats that, without explaining why.

The... questionable, maybe: I spotted at least one grammatical error. There was another which may be regionally idiomatic, translating "asking for his telephone number" as "asking how much his telephone number is" (the original: "她问王朋的妹妹, 王红, 王朋的电话号码是多少"). It's a minor point, but raises an interesting thought as to the extent to which teaching Chinese (presumably non-native) learners strongly idiomatic expressions would be helpful, if those same idioms would be considered grammatically wrong in other regional variants of the language.

There is scant intercommunication between the Chinese IF community and the English, and even putting in on IFDB is already a form of outreach. The intent of this project certainly fills up a void - few IF projects appear to be created for Chinese learners, one of which includes Wordswing (https://wordswing.com) - but the execution is distinctly lacking. With a stronger story and more natural, vivid prose, this could be a notable work indeed.

Masks, by lioninthetrees

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Fairy tale-like story about a greedy magpie, with illustrations, January 10, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
Masks tells a charming, fairy tale-like story of a magpie who encounters various woodland creatures (all with alliterative names - Margaret the mouse, Owen the owl...) who have some problem or another. The story is linear, with branching via binary choices: to help, or not? As befits a fairy tale, of course, the morals are simple - ignore people in need at your own peril, with potentially terrible consequences; as befits a fairy tale, too, the 'right' action is equally simple.

Most of the story text is integrated into the illustrations, while choices are in text-only screens, which struck me a being a bit jarring. It would have been lovely if the layout was more responsive: removing the sidebar, for instance, or allowing resizing.

Nonetheless, Masks is worth clicking through if you're looking for a fairy tale told straight, with pastel-hued illustrations.

Cat Simulator 2016, by helado de brownie

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
You are a cat. Find a place to nap., December 28, 2016
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine
[Time to completion: 5-10 minutes]

Fun fact: in the past two years, there have been at least one game with 'cat simulator' in its title. What's not to like? It's certainly fun to speculate on cats' motivation for their inscrutable behaviour, and since domestic cats live in such proximity to humans, it does make one wonder what they think of us, as a species.

In this cat sim, the titular cat is a lazy domestic cat looking for a spot to nap. It's broadly branching, largely relaxing and self-aware: 'good' and 'bad' endings are indicated as such (although is there really a bad ending, if you're still a cat at the end of it?); there is even a list of AMUSING things to do, as in some parser games. A short, pleasant diversion.

Spellbound, by Adam Perry

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Changing reality with spelling, December 27, 2016
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sanguine, Introcomp
In this wordplay-based game reminiscent of Counterfeit Monkey, you have been tasked with retrieving the 23 letters of the alphabet not currently known to man. In this world, spelling takes on a much more concrete role. 

It's a good premise, supported by enough puzzles to showcase the author's ingenuity and reflect the depth of imagination. Importantly for a potentially sandboxy game, Spellbound handles error messages pretty well, though in some cases the solutions to the puzzles were not as informative as it should have been. The game, though, feels complete: there's a path to the ending, and the proposed expansions involve making the game comprehensive. 

It's an impressive effort, and while some of the locations feel like a bunch of narratively-relevant objects just rained down on them, I imagine it would be good if you liked Emily Short's Counterfeit Monkey or Dubbin and Parrish's Earl Grey, and are a Scrabble fan. This is one game that I would love to see finished.

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