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Reviews by MathBrush

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View this member's reviews by tag: 15-30 minutes 2-10 hours about 1 hour about 2 hours IF Comp 2015 Infocom less than 15 minutes more than 10 hours Spring Thing 2016
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Hansel et Gretel - La Revanche, by Corax

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
More combat innovation from Corax. A long battle game, January 17, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
After seeing several gritty fantasy choice RPGs this last IFComp that were just okay, it's great to see a complicated and balanced combat system where you have to make real choices.

In this game, you take the role of Hansel and Gretel, in a more modern setting, as they track down and kill sorceresses one at a time. Over several chapters, you have to solve difficult puzzles in an exploration segment (which also unlocks 'fragments' or powers you can activate in later chapters), followed by one or more combat segments.

Combat has a relative positioning system where enemies are different steps in front or behind you. You can turn around, advance, use weapons of different ranges and effectiveness, make use of cover, focus and dodge, etc.

It's of similar complexity to Kerkerkruip. It's written using Vorple, so that helps the complexity, but it prohibits saving. The author has found a clever way past this using a password system, which transported me to the 90's and my time playing Willow and Punch-Out! on the NES.

It was very long; the challenge of the puzzles, complex combat, and playing in a non-native language made me take 2 hours for the first 5 chapters, and I don't have time to finish it right now, but a look through the walkthrough shows that it has a complex plot. This is a high-quality game.

Cryptozookeeper, by Robb Sherwin
A massive game with a modern setting, battling monsters and humor, December 3, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
Cryptozookeeper is an XYZZY Award winner, and is one of the biggest games out there in terms of content, especially in terms of NPC content.

You play as a character who is sucked into a world where you can blend together DNA and create new monsters, who then fight each other in a pokemon-like system.

The system takes center stage story-wise, but not mechanically. The game is structured in a series of 'episodes', each of which results in new DNA for your devices.

The game has a ton of characters, many of whom constantly follow you around and talk and joke.

The implementation is selective; some parts are extremely detailed, while many synonyms and scenery descriptions are omitted.

This game is truly monumental. It also has a great deal of profanity and suggestive language.

Lost in time, by Gerardo Adesso

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
An incredibly hard puzzle twine game with complicated inventory and riddles, November 19, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
Some people really enjoy difficult puzzle games, like Fish! or Praser 5 or System's Twilight.

This is the first time I've seen such a game done well in Twine. It is very hard; it has been given a 'nasty' forgiveness rating by the author, and that is completely appropriate.

There are frequent deaths and ways to lock yourself out of victory, but there is a multi-save feature which helps.

The first part of the game is an escape the room puzzle. I thought it itself was one of the hardest twine puzzle I had seen, and I thought it was the whole game, and a longish one at that. Once I escaped, I realized the main game was much, much, much bigger. In fact, the next area was huge, and I thought that was the whole game, and then it opened up into the real game! And there's an epilogue about as long as the first complex.

I couldn't finish, even looking at the source code. This is unfair, difficult, and crazy, so if you're in the mood for something like that, you've found it.

The Castle of Vourtram, by Alexandre Torres
A fun big RPG with nice styling but some bugs, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This RPG in Quest is just gorgeous. I loved the font and coloring.

You can choose a class, then do a preliminary quest, then a bigger quest, then maybe another one, then the final quest.

It held up better than just about any of the web RPGs in this comp. I couldn't finish it because it was really, really long.

I'd give it more stars, but there were some typos and some minor bugs. If they were fixed up, it would be great.

A Beauty Cold and Austere, by Mike Spivey
A large mathematical journey of a puzzlefest, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
I beta tested this game several times, and work with the author.

This is one of the best big games released in recent years. It's a mathematical puzzlefest, and it's huge; I'm a math professor, and I used the walkthrough, and it still took me 4 hours.

You travel through the history of mathematics, or more over a mind-map of theoretical concepts: the number line, arithmetic, algebra, all the way up to fractals.

The game is completable by non-math majors, according to several reviewers.

This is an old-school game; puzzles are unabashedly complex, each room is its own set-piece, NPCs don't engage in deep puzzle trees. I liked it, and I especially like that people are still making 'big games'.

The Wand, by Arthur DiBianca
An intense minimalist puzzlefest with magical color combinatorics, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This is one of the large puzzle fest games out there in recent years.

You play an adventurer entering a strange castle where all actions are performed by a wand: you set the wand to a color combination, then you go on.

It has a fun feel similar to Grandma Bethlinda's Variety Box, by the same author. Slowly, more and more combinations are revealed to you, often allowing you to go back and do things that you've been wanting to do for a while, but were unable to do.

HIghly recommended.

Escape from Terra, by Mike Gerwat

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An enormous scifi game with severe implementation problems, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
Escape from Terra is huge, with 3 or 4 or 5 acts, each act as large and complicated as an IFComp game.

You can pick from two different characters, including one who is deaf. You have to use weapons to battle your way to a safe space, before being take to outer space.

In outer space, you have to interact romantically with aliens, change bodies, use strange plants, etc. with many NPCs and companions.

It's also impossibly buggy. The walkthrough frequently doesn't work, and anything off the walkthrough doesn't work at all.

A Study in Steampunk: Choice by Gaslight, by Heather Albano

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Strength through length; a compelling and long Victorian pastiche, August 25, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
I played a Study in Steampunk after I had spent several months rereading the original Sherlock Holmes stories. I had discovered that Sherlock was very different from modern versions: no "elementary, dear Watson", a lot of strength and physical activity, minimal pipe use, etc.

So when I started this game as John Watson and my friend said 'the game's afoot', I rolled my eyes. I couldn't get into the storyline about dueling empires with mechs and soul-draining powers.

But I tried again two more times, and on the third time, it stuck. I think the first chapter just wasn't as strong as the later ones; the game began offering really intriguing role-playing choices, and ended up setting up several compelling life-and-death situations that were effective.

The decisions were effective, I believe, because the game is just so long. It has a lot of minor faults I would usually take off points for (like obvious choices between being good/being evil or by-the-numbers genre scenes), but the author clearly has a deep understanding of long-form game design that just makes it fun.

I enjoyed it more once I realized that it wasn't really a Sherlock Holmes knock-off; it was really the author's own vision, with some Sherlock-related elements. The author cites Dracula and Jack the Ripper as inspirations, too, and these are almost stronger; supernatural life-draining is one of the main game topics. It also suggests Jekyll and Hyde as an influence, but I saw nothing of this in my playthrough.

This game is effective because of how long it is, and is definitely worth its price.

La Tour d'Orastre, by Corax

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A very well-developed RPG with shops, battles, and a huge tower, August 6, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This is a big game. You have a long, opening sequence (very long!) that is entirely linear, then you begin the actual game, which is one of the best RPGs I've seen in text (Kerkerkruip is the other, and they're roughly equal in quality).

You are on a sort of elevator-like platform, and you ascend from level to level. To ascend requires 3 keys; each level has 8 doors with a variety of challenges. These challenges include trap-filled pathways, combat, mini-games of cards/fantasy chess, and occasionally some bizarre extra paths.

Everything is hyperlinks, making combat much more enjoyable than usual. Magic is simple. There is a complex money system, and most levels let you pick between seeing an armorer or an apothecary.

More than anything, it reminded me of Final Fantasy VII and Conan the Barbarian. The enemies start out as zombies and humanoid fungus, but you eventually find Guards of the Tower, Captains of the Tower, and Swordsmen of the Tower, much like Shinra Tower in FFVII.

I got to the 7th stage, but was unable to defeat the end guardian.

The story and writing is exactly the sort of thing TSR was putting out in the 90's. You're in a sort of dreamworld that is stable, and are hired out as an assassin, with the king as your target. The monsters are generally right out of a D&D handbook. There seems to be some mild racy parts, but my French vocabulary doesn't include that sort of thing, so it's easy to self-censor.

Domicile, by John Evans
A big, ambitious but buggy game about a magic house, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
Like all other John Evans games, this is a really big game that promises some cool stuff (being able to cast all sorts of spells and having a portable house), but is not able to deliver on its promises.

The walkthrough is interesting, though, and worth checking out.


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