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Reviews by MathBrush

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Flint, by Alexis Kennedy, Failbetter Games
The premier fate-locked story of Fallen London, September 24, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I had played Fallen London for over a year before I purchased Flint. It is the most expensive story of Fallen London, one of the older ones, and most likely the longest.

Flint is split into two portions. The first ended faster than I thought it would. It mostly consisted of preparing for a trip. However, despite the fast-ish ending (which was still long; the first half felt as long as some exceptional stories), many interesting things happened. The game plunges into deep lore that explains so much of the game (including the prison), nets you cool items/people, and has some exciting action sequences.

The second sequence was longer, and had several lucrative opportunities, and ended in some highly unusual and unique interactions that I found poignant and touching, and which feels like one of the most important events possible in the life of a character.

The story ends with both strong lore rewards and strong in-game monetarial awards.

The Pyxis Memo: On Resurrecting the Free Web, by Lyle Skains
A post-apocalyptic take on current American politics, January 12, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This is an ePub game with hyperlinks. It consists of a series of articles with footnotes and cross references.

The idea is that a viral outbreak has caused the collapse of America, combined with Trumpís actions. As you dig deeper, though you find a greater truth.

Itís coever, but the chosen format is slow paced and sometimes dull in the name of realism, like when it had a largely standard ten page blank medical form. Many critical moments are hidden in transcripts emulating Reddit and 4chan, and the author took painstaking care to recreate the racism, homophobia and misogyny of these forums. This didnít really suit me.

This was a creative format, and represents a great deal of work. The writing is detailed and feels authentic.

Excelsior, by Arthur DiBianca
An early example of the limited-parser genre, December 3, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
Arthur DiBianca has made several popular limited parser games, including Grandma Bethlinda's Variety Box, Inside the Facility and The Wand.

Excelsior was their first attempt, and its player respons/reviews influenced the later games.

Excelsior restricts all action verbs to movement and 'USE'. Your goal is to reach the top of a tall tower.

I thought I had played through this whole game before, but I played through with the walkthrough, and I was surprised at how much there was. I think this game does not measure up to DiBianca's later games, as there is a great deal of "something changes somewhere that you can't see" devices here, that makes the game very complicated.

Labyrinth, by Samantha Casanova Preuninger
An Escher-esque maze of smells and riddles and puzzles, November 17, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This is a mid-length IFComp game from 2006. It's a surreal afterlife/coma type game where you've been in a car crash and must travel through your mind to escape back to reality, hopefully with your wife.

It has a maze of rooms, inaccessible at first due to the fact that doors and archways are placed on ceilings and high walls, willy-nilly. You eventually learn to control the maze.

Much of the game revolves around smells. There is a Nim game and also a difficult cryptographic puzzle. I found it under-clued and somewhat unfair.

Charlie The Robot, by Fernando Contreras

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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.


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