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Reviews by MathBrush

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Charlie The Robot, by Fernando Contreras
A massive Twine game with a tangled web of themes, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
There should be a name for the genre of 'biting commentary on society that is self-aware and occasionally dips to crudity, with hints of cheerful ideals always tinged by irony, using an overload of text as literary device.' Such games include Spy Intrigue and Dr. Sourpuss Is Not A Choice-Based Game. It seems increasingly common.

Charlie the Robot is gorgeous visually, and is innovative in its sheer variety of input methods and looks. There are 5 chapters accessible at any time, like Birdland.

The themes include surface themes of humans vs. robots, a lower layer of the mindlessness of modern office life, a lower layer of individualism, and so on.

But it was just too much filler for me to enjoy. The packing on and on and on of text is a literary device that doesn't work for me. I appreciate the themes in the game, and its cleverness, but the overall feel is just overwhelming.

Alice Aforethought, by Hanon Ondricek
One of the best puzzly web games out there. Surreal Alice., November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I beta tested this game.

This is an intense puzzle game, and it has some small graphics, background sounds/music, and timed responses.

This is a tricky, tricky puzzle game. You have to redeem yourself after destroying your father's pocket watch. The game sends you on a journey with several axes: time, space, size, etc.

I like it quite a bit, even writing down a walkthrough for it.

I only give it 4 stars because timed text delays drive me crazy. But not everyone may feel that way.

Word of the Day, by Richard Otter
A complicated hard sci-fi game with money system, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game kind of threw me off at first; I used the walkthrough, which seemed super unmotivated, and some large pieces of occasionally-awkward text made me not like it as much.

But then lglasser said she loved it on her twitch stream, as did an Italian IFComp judge, so I gave it another shot, walkthrough-free.

This time around, I liked it. All reasonable commands seemed to be accepted. The game allowed a great deal of flexible exploration and a money system that worked. Exploration was all that was needed to trigger the story, and the hint system was just strong enough to get me through and just vague enough to make it a challenge.

It seemed oddly fixated an alien mating systems, but it was more National Geographic than anything else.

The Wizard Sniffer, by Buster Hudson
A limited parser castle comedy involving mistaken identities, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This is a very funny, long limited parser game about being a pig. A hero follows you, and believes you to be able to smell a polymorphing wizard. Anything you sniff, he smashes.

The first part of the game plays out in the tradition established by Arthur DiBianca, where a few key verbs are used in unusual ways to accomplish your goals. Later on, the game branches out, allowing you to switch between certain 'tools' to accomplish various goals.

This game is unusual among limited parser games in that it has quite a few large text dumps, often spanning more than a screen on a laptop computer with maximized window. The writing is good, the story is strong, but it can be a bit much, especially on a second playthrough.

This game also touches on several social issues (not least the annoying habit of young men singing Wonderwall).

What Once Was, by Luke A. Jones
An expansive time travel quest game, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game is by Luke Jones, who also wrote the interesting Bony King of Nowhere for Spring Thing in 2017.

This game is a treasure hunt puzzle fest type game, but it's kind of spare and with some hard-to-guess puzzles. The puzzles mostly revolve around finding the item or items that will induce NPCs to do things for you.

The game has a large cast of characters, many of which have multiple versions of themselves over 3 time periods. It has also has many rooms over the same time period. But much of it is under implemented. A porter is present in each time period, but has very little description or conversation in any, except for one short paragraph once. However, the author was explicitly inspired by Robin Johnson's minimalist games, so it is likely intentional.

The game has good bones, though, with a pleasant run through campus history and future. If the author switched to Inform 7, like Steph Cherrywell did, and budgeted more time for beta testing and polishing, they could build on the success they already have.

VR Gambler, by Robert DeFord
A treasure-finding RPG, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game is a fairly traditional RPG, where you find better and better weapons/armor and equip them, and gain gold. It's framed as a VR story in a casino to better explain why items disappear in a puff of smoke and why all treasures get converted to their cash values.

I found the game enjoyable, and fairly long, although I bug kept me from going from the novice half to the expert half. I would recommend it for fans of RPGs.

TextCraft: Alpha Island, by Fabrizio Polo

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A live-action parser survival crafting game, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I beta tested this game.

This is an interesting concept: a Java game (just like minecraft!) which is a parser game with a real-time timer.

You find resources, and craft materials with them.

As it is, the game is difficult; however, a Wiki is provided that is especially helpful.

However, the difficulty was tuned just a bit too hard for me, and that made it hard for me to get sucked in.

The Silver Gauntlets, by Jean-Paul Peschard
A standard fantasy RPG gamebook, in PDF form, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game is written in PDF form, and you read along yourself, jumping to different pages.

I can't help but compare this game to Trapped in Time, another PDF gamebook entered into IFComp in a previous year. In that game, you had a tight series of events that were played over and over, and it allowed 'parser-like' actions where you would add 10 or 20 to an entry's number to do things like examining or using a card.

This game, however, relies more on randomized combat, and the largest parts of the game are two mazes.

It has some interesting storyline near the end, but I feel like it could have been tested out more by some experienced beta testers to help find out what works and what doesn't.

Run of the place, by WDx1F479K
A bizarre text which prints out one character at a time, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game uses the obscure Floo text system. It has a 2-hour timer (that resets once it finishes). As you push any key, characters show up one at a time, revealing some text that seems procedurally generated, but not by the Floo engine; it seems like it was pre-generated and put into the floo interpreter, ready to be revealed one character at a time.

The Owl Consults, by Thomas Mack, Nick Mathewson, and Cidney Hamilton

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An over-the-top super villain game with multiple protagonists, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I enjoyed this 2017 IFComp game. You play as a consultant for super villains who answers their questions for money. The parser becomes a phone line, of which you have 2, and your commands are commands to the villains themselves.

Each villain has unique powers. The writing for the radioactive man grated on me a bit, but overall I found it clever. This game had the most traditional gameplay of the top games of the competition, with no limited parser commands.

I recommend it, and hope that everyone reading this will take the time to try it.

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