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Reviews by namekuseijin

IF Comp 2016

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To The Wolves, by Els White

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
hypertexter outcast gets revenge on her text-adventure elder pursuers, October 22, 2016
by namekuseijin (anywhere but home)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2016
As much as I hate to give this thoughtful piece of a fiction just 3-stars, I can't reason how it could be any different: it's not quite interactive, but its fine prose and imaginative setting deserves something. Actually, by the end it turns out to be pretty evident that some kind of metacommentary on the IF community is at the heart of it all and that kinda ruined it to me.

(Spoiler - click to show)A girl is outcast from her village. The eldars actually wanted her dead, but she flees and survives her pursuers, eventually settling on an abandoned hut in the forest. Day after day she lives the miserable life expected from freedom: hunting for food (actually, choosing this or that link), customizing her hut (choosing this or that irrelevant link) and surviving some random encounters with past acquaintances who want her dead and either killing them or fleeing. She also finds a pack of wolves who were supposed to eat her, but don't feel like it and learns not much from it. Then some inevitable day one such encounter with villagers get her nearly killed, but she's helped by some ancient being and cast as some kind of undead. She now can hear spirits and have her vengeance on the village, by destroying the token of their traditions. She's really shown them how not to mess with sacrificial women, bastard eldars. oh, I got end 1, but no achievements unlocked, too bad.

anyway, I really liked the beginning and I liked the prose. Good writing is always scant in IF these days all with twitter fiction fans and all. But I felt that second person singular did nothing to me here. I was never under the illusion I could actually do anything, it didn't engage me into it. And while prose is good, there's not enough of a story there. The prose goes all about into trying to set the mood, to set you in the shoes of the character by lots of sensations, smells, tactile feedback thrown at you. It was almost like text VR! unfortunately, did little to me. Which is weird to say because I took quite some time with this one, so in a way, I was pretty engaged.

But now I've seen most of it and felt like I accomplished little here. I did have 2 parallel playthroughs with it, so I know there's lots of text you only see one way or the other, if one enjoys multibranching hypertext.

BTW, I truly loved the visual style of it. gorgeous and mood setting typography. at least that twine gets right. or is it plain css? anyway...

Cactus Blue Motel, by Astrid Dalmady

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
roadtrip, conspirations, twilight zone, October 7, 2016
by namekuseijin (anywhere but home)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2016
3 girls on a roadtrip stop by an old motel in the middle of the desert to spend the night. Once the neon flower is lit, the hotel comes to life with a plethora of eccentric characters reeking of nostalgic times. Should the girls move ahead, should they stay? Do they even have reasons to go on? What's going on? I thought it might hide some horror behind it, but instead it treads along a Twilight Zone path.

You know, the setting and writing are pretty solid and really captivated me, despite being a bit too much of the short prose style and link-exhausting side. But then, as I kept playing to see where it leads, there it comes, tucked away in the literal middle of the road, blunt as a slap on the face: (Spoiler - click to show)the scene where they're walking to the phonebooth and they pretty much SCREAM OUT LOUD THAT ALL THIS FANTASY SETTING IS REALLY JUST AN EXCUSE FOR YET ANOTHER GAY COMING OUT SIMULATOR. just like Birdland last year and the myriads of twine output that make up most of IF these days. guess this is what we get for decades of puerile dungeon spelunking abuse...

5 stars despite it, thanks to gripping, vivid setting, lush presentation with fine typography and color schemes, some memorable characters, fine dialogues and storytelling, good dosage of drama, comedy and conspiracy... I don't know what to tell without giving out much, only that this is a must-play and well worth it.

Black Rock City, by Jim Munroe

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
wanders off in many directions and goes nowhere, October 6, 2016
by namekuseijin (anywhere but home)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2016
Many sightseeing and characters and paths in a deeply unfulfilling experience. You read a paragraph or two of text, drag your verb into the relevant word, rinse, repeat. There seems to be no narrative arc whatsoever and the whole thing plays like a rushed marijuana-fueled egotrip without purpose and no two elements ever adding to each other.


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