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Reviews by MathBrush

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American Angst, by m3g1dd0

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An ambitious amnesia horror RPG with some rough edges, April 21, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This game was not what I expected. With warnings about graphic violence and explicit language, the title 'American Angst', and the logo of an American flag-colored smily face, I expected something like a mix between 'The Purge' and 'Saw' and anti-Donald Trump revenge horror.

I got something else instead, and was pleasantly surprised. This game is an amnesia-based horror game that tells the story passively through set pieces, until the end when all is revealed.

It uses extensive styling, with special 'emphasis' boxes, an 8-bit looking battle interface, and special designs for links and devices. Profanity occurs about once or twice a screen, but my chrome extension blocked it easily.

The game saves automatically, and takes you back to checkpoints if you die.

I found the story compelling, and was surprised by the ending(s).

The game has rough patches, though. The credits don't list a single tester, and it shows. There are several mis-spellings (such as the word 'matrace' for mattress) and small grammatical errors (like 'the flashlight doubles for a nighstick' instead of 'doubles as').

Similarly, there are many game elements which should improve interactivity but end up not doing much. There is a panic stat which doesn't seem to do much besides letting you choose between having a panic attack or not. The battles are more random than strategy based. And choices aren't informed, some literally being 'left or right?' with no other information, making it feel like you don't have control.

Having had this game tested would have caught some of these issues. As it is, though, this is a well-done game and one of the best Twine games of 2017.

Game Producer!, by Jason Bergman

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A puzzle game with intentional and unintentional insights to game industry, April 2, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This game is a puzzle game with three difficulties (corresponding to more or less turns) and gender options.

You have to cram through a packed day of tasks to get a game produced.

I worked in the game industry in the early 2000's, and all of this was very familiar. The caffeine-fueled late nights testing bugs, the feuds, the wheeling and dealing, and the shiny, beautiful golden master CD. I was on the outside of it, but it was intense.

This game is really tricky, and not all solutions are coded for, even fairly reasonable ones.

This game also offers unintentional glimpses into game culture, which also ring true in an unpleasant way. The main puzzle involving a woman executive has her being embarrassed to ask you to open a box that she's struggling with. All women are assumed to have long hair, etc. The penknife you have is a Mexican penknife, about which the game says the following:

"* What's up with the "Mexican army knife"?

Again, no politics, I just needed something that could cut twine but still be flimsy enough to break off after one use. Given the comparatively small size and budget of the Mexican army, it seemed like an easy gag. Plus I got to put in a funny line about a hazy trip to Tijuana."

All of these things that I mentioned were fairly innocuous in the game culture when this is written, but don't hold up to modern scrutiny.

The Reluctant Resurrectee, by David Whyld

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An amusing game with a unique PC, April 1, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This game was influential on my own writing. In this game, you play as a disembodied eyeball which must solve various puzzles on a desk and on a fireplace mantel.

It's creative and its fun. However, I found the interactivity frustrating, and so I never completely engaged with the writing and the concept.

Unauthorized Termination, by Richard Otter

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An Adrift robot murder mystery, March 30, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This was a charming game, and in a genre I haven't seen too much of: a murder mystery set completely in a world of robots. Bad Machine and Suspended both give off the same vibe of this game, that of a purely mechanical society, but this game achieves a remarkable contrast between the impassiveness of the robots and the emotion of the investigation.

It suffers from ADRIFT's standard problems, but to a much smaller degree than usual. I did have some trouble guessing the later actions, but overall I found myself pleased by this game. I've been lucky enough to find a string of good games in a row this week.

The Big Scoop, by Johan Berntsson
A short murder mystery game with a mid-level of polish, March 30, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This game was entered in IFComp 2004. It has two PCs, one featured in the prologue, and one who is a main character detective.

The opening scene was clever, but I soon find myself frustrated by small bugs and a lack of implementation. Without proper feedback, it was hard to know if I was on the right track or not.

The game has several puzzles which are fairly hard to guess on your own, and which seemed somewhat unfair to me.

Overall, it was interesting, and had a nice cat character.

Final Selection, by Sam Gordon

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A wonderful one-room puzzle box with tons of items and layers of clues, March 27, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This is a great one-room puzzle game in the same vein as The Wand or Lord Bellwater's Secret.

You are placed in a room and tasked with finding a certain word. This is quite a difficult task. The room is split up into 9 different sub-locations, each with puzzles, usually several puzzles. There are experimentation puzzles, intuition puzzles, red herrings, crossword-style puzzles, math puzzles, etc.

I was able to solve it without hints, but I think I played it once 8 years ago, and it gave me a hint on a particularly tricky problem.

About half of my playtime was just going to each of the 9 sections of the room and examining everything. The other half was putting the clues together.

Faute De Servo, by Jack Welch

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An intriguing horror mystery with humor, January 20, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
I beta tested this game, so it's hard to be objective about it. I think I would give it a 4.5/5, so I rounded up.

Faute De Servo combines several game ideas that I love, including waking up in a lab-like environment with no clue what's going on (like Babel) and gaining powers by devouring random things (like the under-played Mangiasaur).

Much of the game consists of figuring out the action system, as well as the backstory of your location. I found this somewhat confusing (which is why I gave 4.5/5) but the presentation is so slick that it makes up for it.

There's also a good deal of humorous banter in the game, which I enjoyed. It is derivved from a cast of characters with distinct personalities and varying levels of intelligence.

This is definitely worth playing, both for the overall game concept and for the nifty implementation.

L'exil, by Benjamin Roux

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A fairly long fantasy CYOA game in Inform 6 with vivid characters, January 15, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This French game is in a CYOA format. Itís an adventure story, almost novella length, set on a fantasy world. It has a tone that is lighter and appropriate for young adult and middle school readers. In fact, it reminded me of Norbezís IFComp game If You Squint it Looks Like Christmas in its tone, genre, length, and choice structure (as a point of reference for ifcomp players).

I liked the story overall, even sharing parts of it with my wife. Itís a heartwarming and cheerful story, with vivid characters and moments of excitement.

The choice structure wasnít what Iím used to; many of the choices were ďdo something awesome or leaveĒ. I never tried leaving, because I wanted to see what would happen. Eventually, I become somewhat paranoid that the leaving choices were important, so it gave more weight to my decisions.

I would give it 4 stars if it had a save system. I couldnít find one, and this is very lengthy.

Alicio en la Kurioza Kongreso, by Ariel Bonkorpa

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An educational esperanto adventure in 5 chapters of Twine, January 11, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This game is, it seems, written in Esperanto. I thought it was Portuguese at first, but the game itself corrected me.

You are Alice, and, I believe, you are headed to an Esperanto-speaking conference, where you meet someone who tells you about Esperanto. I learned that Esperanto has between 100,000 and 1,000,000 speakers. Given that the number of Twine fans is probably somewhere in that range, too, and the intersection is fairly low, I don't think many people will be able to complete this game.

I only got through the first third of the first chapter. Looking through the code, it seems like there is a compelling fantasy element in the middle.

This is an intriguing game, and a great amount of work.

All Visitors Welcome, by Bitter Karella
A creepy but buggy tale about a state park , December 3, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This quest game has refreshingly original storybuilding. It includes a big pamphlet you can read which does a good job of displaying a 'descent into madness', although I think it could have done better if it left a bit more mystery in the last few pages.

The game has a layout (story-wise) similar to Karella's earlier Night House. You are alone in a building, and something is outside, and you have to figure out what it wants.

I was unable to complete this during Ectocomp. Afterwards, some people commented on intfiction with the solution.

Overall, this was a positive experience once I knew what to do.

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