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Reviews by MathBrush

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Lost and Found, by Felicity Drake
An intriguing short story about a missing woman in Japan, September 19, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I played this game because it has been one of the most-rated games this year. It's a short-to-mid-length Twine game set in Japan with three endings.

I gave this game/story 5 stars based on my criteria:

-Polish. The writing is smooth, the images add to the story, and the structure seems thought-out.
-Interactivity. I wanted to pursue the main thread of the story but feel like I had some investment. This game is fairly linear and branches in some "do you want to win or not win?" kind of ways. But it worked for me.
-Descriptive writing. This story is vivid and very descriptive.
-Emotional impact. I found the story effective from two angles: one about a man showing concern for a fellow human, and another angle where the protagonist is a deeply concerning example of a man believing that he has the privilege to become obsessed with and interfere with a woman's life.
-I would play this again.

Escape from the Crazy Place, by J. J. Guest, Loz Etheridge and friends

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A sprawling absurd Twine game with a tangled and deep backstory, August 20, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Escape from the Crazy Place is a sprawling, labyrinthine Twine game with significantly more content than games such as Birdland. It's absurdist, surreal, dreamlike, and ridiculous.

It's history is almost more absurd (parts of this may be inaccurate; play the TADS version to see more). It began as a physical handwritten CYOA book in school over 30 years ago, passed around by students and added to over time. That copy was lost, rewritten from memory.

It became an online html game before anyone was doing much CYOA html, then it became TADS in 2006. Now, years later, it's been redone in Twine.

It has dozens of authors. It has parts that are clever and exciting.

But it also has parts that are less exciting. One reason passing around a physical CYOA book in school is thrilling is because you can see the heft and size of it and think, "oh man, this puppy is huge!". Flipping through can give you an idea of its contents.

Escape from the Crazy Place is online, though, so you don't really know what you're getting. And the first passages are the oldest, by those with the least experience, referencing 80's and adolescents. The first about also loops around itself somewhat, making it even harder to get a grip on the size of the game.

I kept pushing through (playing with my 6 year old son) and we found a lot of really great content. That experience made me think that this is a good game to play collaboratively, just as it was written.

With Those We Love Alive, by Porpentine and Brenda Neotenomie

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A dreamlike dark fantasy in service to the empress, June 10, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is one of Porpentine's best games, by her own admission and the acclaim of others.

It has music and takes the unusual tack of having you draw symbols on your skin as the game progresses. I chose not to do so, but many who have played have done so, and you can search for some of their images.

The game casts you as an artificer for a massive, insectoid alien queen. Isolation and body change are themes, as you wander a city and castle and spend time on yourselves.

The game has music and interesting styling. The story includes friendship and love and bizarre, alien history.

White House Crisis, by Death To Moochie
An illustrated multi-stage game about controlling information to Trump, May 7, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a Twine game that features a number of people surrounding Trump, especially John Kelly, Stephen Miller, and Jared Kushner.

The game makes use of multimedia, with links to real-life articles, various illustrations, scrolling text aimations, and sounds.

The plot is fairly simple: you play as an intern thrust into the role of providing positive information for trump. Different factions try to tell you what to pass on, but you must choose between them.

The game has a few bugs listed below that should be easily fixed. Also, I felt like something was off with the links. I found myself frequently scrolling up and down to read the text after clicking a link, and had some trouble when coming back from aside-text (as everything became reset on the original page when I returned).

I was glad I played, as it was amusing. On a personal note not factored into my rating, I don't agree with its demonization of Stephen Miller as the evil behind the throne. Many people have been posited as the true evil behind the throne for some time in the Trump administration, and I think that shifts responsibility away from the President.

One bug report for the author:

(Spoiler - click to show)On the page near the end referencing constitutional crisis and WWIII:

The (link-reveal:) command should be assigned to a variable or attached to a hook

Also, the very last page seemed to have an error, as it showed a 'fire mueller' tweet as a graphic, while having a written text that said:

(Tweet text: "After hearing the words of my celestial grandchild, I have decided to rescind my order to fire Robert Mueller and will be resigning from the Presidency. I hope that once I am gone, we can begin to heal.)


Lawn of Love, by Santoonie Corporation
A fairly polished joke game by Santoonie Corporation, May 2, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Santoonie Corporation was a group that sprang up in the early 2000's promising a very advanced game called Amissville that never materialized in completed form. They went on to release a series of games, including Delvyn and Zero, and, finally, Lawn of Love.

Each of these games has an ambitious opening scenario that is mildly under-implemented and contains some sort of offensive or bizarre standard responses before eventually petering out in a section that cannot be finished.

This game is no exception. This game has an opening picture, a preface, an introduction, and a prelude. It features an opening scenario with conversation and detailed rooms, but with basic features missing (like when moving in an unavailable direction, where no text is printed. Apparently a sound was supposed to ping).

The story involves you meeting a pair of interesting young women, neighbors, one of whom plays a game with you. The game peters out shortly after.

If you find this interesting, try Delvyn, Zero, and the TADS Amissville.

The Bean Stalker, by Jack Welch

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short mini-game about Jack and the Beanstalk using ZIL, April 28, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game was written as a learning sample of the ZIL language. It was written over just a few days.

As such, it is small and lean. But Welch has managed to put a few clever puzzles in.

I was unable to solve this without a walkthrough the first time I tried it. After the walkthrough, which is very detailed, I felt like the game required a number of fairly mean actions, but with suitable rewards.

I find this game most interesting as an example of the ZILF language. I wonder how many of the standard responses were hand-coded, and how many part of the language.

Maze of Madness, by Lurkio/Ant

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A cruel puzzle of a maze and an unusual one, too, April 28, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is highly unusual. It is a text adventure maze implemented on an emulator of an old type of computer.

The setup is fairly simple: a maze that reveals its shape to you once you fail to complete it, and which regenerates randomly each time. A single item, of questionable utility, is found in the maze each time.

The solution to the maze uses a trick I have never seen before in interactive fiction, and which is very cruel.

Jump into a hole and never go back, by grublet stavarnoop
A mid-sized Twine puzzler with color-coordinated puzzles, April 27, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you have jumped down a hole into a central hub-like room with multiple color coordinated rooms branching off.

Puzzles follow a sort of game-logic, where mysterious machines and illogical creatures and locations abound.

Parts of it seem forced and/or rough. The machine that merges birds with items is fun to tinker with but some of the results seem hard to guess.

The writing takes a major downturn during the whale segment, where it begins insulting the player and taking a negative and small view of life. This is isolated, and weird.

Overall, I can say with Dwight from the Office: "A lot of the evidence seemed to be based on puns."

Recursion., by Adrian Belmes
Love and pain in an endless world, April 18, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I love reading creepy stories and sci-fi stories, and one subgenre of both of those that I like is the time loop story. While such stories can be played just as a puzzler (get this sequence right to fix the machine, like Fingertips:Fingertips), I especially appreciate the ones that focus on human thought and feeling.

This game is well-written and focuses on character and depth. It is, as far as I can tell, completely linear (or completely cyclical, I guess I could say). It's like an endless roundabout with occasional exits that lead to the same roundabout. But it does have an overall narrative arc.

It contains some dark themes, and isn't really appropriate for children, I would say. I found it meaningful and well-done.

This uses slow text, which I usually dislike but found appropriate here (and not too slow). It also used music which I didn't listen to.

House, by Karona

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An intricate conversation about family, history, relationship, and love, April 11, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta tested this game. This is an ambitious conversational game with a parser that recognizes sentences in addition to keywords.

This increases the complexity of possible inputs to a great extent; just typing in topics isn't enough, you have to add extra words.

I beta tested this 2 or 3 times, but I never beat it until after it was released. When I beat it, I was shocked and surprised at what I hadn't seen before.

This is a well-written and interesting game, but I found the complexity of the possible inputs overwhelming.


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