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Reviews by Danielle

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Dolores and the Cave, by Magda Knight

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
There's one memorable and creepy villain down in that hole!, February 12, 2018
by Danielle (The Wild West)
The dialogue is on point, and a variety of replies are offered. And as a bonus, the game's beautifully formatted.
If you like your horror on the tense, bad-choice-worse-choice Freaky McCreeperson side, you'll get a kick out of this.

self-care for wizards, by Kayla Bashe
Gentle, reminder of self-care techniques--made whimsical!, November 15, 2017
by Danielle (The Wild West)
Related reviews: quiz
You step into the shoes of a defeated wizard and go through various rituals to revitalize yourself.

I enjoyed this. Although there's no active story, I felt like the intro about the rival wizard was a well done little setup-slash-metaphor.

It reminded me of this interactive self-care guide at philome.la, but instead of being a linear quiz, the fairy-tale calm vignettes of "self-care for wizards" acts as a gentle reminder of some things one can do to recharge one's batteries. The descriptions also made me smile.

This is a nice place to escape to. I hate to say that it's a "safe space," but let's think of it as comfort food, or a quick dip into a book like "Winnie the Pooh"--no drama or challenge. And that's not what this piece wants to be. Rather, it's a place to just be zen and breathe.

(And if you like this you might also like the free graphical Steam platformer MANDAGON.)

SLAMMED!, by Paolo Chikiamco

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
ENGROSSING. FUN. , June 24, 2017
by Danielle (The Wild West)
Related reviews: choice of games
SLAMMED! is top-of-the-line CYOA/commercial Interactive Fiction, well-written and well worth the price of admission!

I know next to nothing about pro wrestling, but am enjoying every second of SLAMMED!, from the very cool, over-the-top characters I'm meeting to the backstage machinations of the industry. I am SO invested in my character, Alanna Roundhouse, and the journey she's making in this story!

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! The only thing I could wish for would be an option to adjust the font size!

Runt of the Litter, by Kelly Sandoval

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Never takes flight, June 24, 2017
by Danielle (The Wild West)
Related reviews: choice of games
I guess I'm going to write a review about this game.

First off, the marketing arrowed me in the heart like a professional Robin Hood.

The blurb read: "Steal and raise a baby war gryphon!" and I couldn't hit "BUY" fast enough. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

But unlike CoG's "SLAMMED!", which sucked me into the story to the point where I *lived through it, mannnn!* (and you should really buy SLAMMED! immediately), I just couldn't get my head into this game (and I really wanted to, see para. 2). I had a really hard time keeping track of who was who and what everybody's different griffin looked like (which is, I think, kind of important when visualizing the story).

In short, The writing just didn't generate strong enough mental pictures for me and I couldn't stay engaged. But I kept on, thinking it would get better as I went.

Then I died before (I think) any real adventure started. So I hung it up, meaning to try another day and...I just haven't.

So it is with heavy heart I say that I can't recommend this game even though you get to raise a baby griffin. But ifever I give it another try and it turns out better for me, I will update this review.

Bill Belichick Offseason Simulator, by Jon Bois

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
JON BOIS INVADES IF, August 13, 2016
by Danielle (The Wild West)
I once had to shut down my laptop in the middle of a Jon Bois BREAKING MADDEN column, because if I continued reading one more word I was going to die suffocating from laughter. And now he's made an IF?!?!?

I know next to nothing about sports (sports people, sports rules, sports politics), yet I cherish each and every Bois column that he produces. (He also films a great off-topic video series, PRETTY GOOD, which is viewable on YouTube. I like the one about poker.). Yes, I'm a fan, and it thrills me to no end that he has deigned to sprinkle our obscure game genre with his hilarifying, absurdist, cosmic wit.

If lines like: "Crafting a receiver is most consistent with the Bill Belichick system. after all, you found Wes Welker in a pile of leaves, and you built Julian Edelman with a pottery wheel" occur to you as funny, even though you don't know who these people are, you will probably enjoy THE BILL BELICHICK OFFSEASON SIMULATOR. I know I am!

(Rating omitted because of fanlove.)

Grandma Bethlinda's Variety Box, by Arthur DiBianca

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Made me exclaim aloud in wonder, June 24, 2016
by Danielle (The Wild West)
Haven't finished this game yet, but I keep laughing aloud and clapping with delight as I play with it, so I'mma give it five stars.

Others have noted how well-written it is. Being a writer myself, I marvel at the craftsmanship! Writing clear descriptions is a hard trick for some of us to pull off, but the writing in GBVB's practically invisible, a window into the world of the box. Add in the ingenious use of "U" and you get all the delights of physical puzzle-solving minus the annoying fiddly bits.

In short, this game is the philosophical opposite of Hard Puzzle.

INFECTION , by varshajay

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Mere Steps Away From Edutainment, March 5, 2014
by Danielle (The Wild West)
A solid little CYOA. While I never saw OSMOSIS JONES, the premise seems similar--play a police-style commander taking care of disease and other trouble in a human body. Though the writing may not be ueber professional-quality, the author has fun drawing the personalities of different immune response characters.

With some background info (pop-up profiles of the characters, perhaps? Or some clearly-written science facts about them?) this could make a fun addition to a kids' classroom health unit. I know it's something I would've enjoyed as a kid.

The Girl in the Haunted House, by Amanda Lange
Halloween Scares, Bite-Sized, March 5, 2014
by Danielle (The Wild West)
If you like scary (but not too gruesome) like I do, this game hits the spot. Though not very long, it effectively captures that creepy mood I like when I'm craving Halloween.

Think of it like a snack-sized Snickers bar...it's not gonna replace the amazing feast that is Halloween (or a creepy game like ANCHORHEAD), but it'll definitely tide you over!

Horse Master, by Tom McHenry

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Impeccable construction. Phenomenal debut. , July 12, 2013
by Danielle (The Wild West)
HORSE MASTER is a game executed to perfection.

Let me explain.

FILM CRIT HULK recently wrote an article talking about the current trend towards narrative convolution in summer blockbuster movies. As a champion of classically-told stories, he keeps bringing up the point that a work of entertainment doesn't have to be mysterious or epiphany-inducing to be successful, even enduring. Rather, it should be well-constructed, or, in his words, "functional." He says:

"YOU MAY LAUGH AT THAT WORD 'FUNCTIONAL,' BUT TO HULK IT'S ONE OF THE BEST WORDS IN ALL OF MOVIEDOM. IT MEANS THE FILM WORKS DAMMIT. IT MEANS IT IS ENGINEERED PROPERLY AND DOES EXACTLY WHAT IT SETS OUT TO DO."

I've come to the conclusion that HORSE MASTER is an excellent example of this concept.

I'm having a hard time expressing this, but here goes: Every aspect of HORSE MASTER is constructed with thoughtfulness and quality. These solidly executed bits then all come together to form a deeply satisfying experience.

For example, take the main display menu: in visual novels, the choice menus are there because you need a place to make your choice. They're well-organized and easy to read, and that's about as far as they go.

In HORSE MASTER, the display menu does some HEAVY narrative lifting. Through this little viewport, you get to see the squalor your character is surrounded by. Seeing it, you *get* why you're making the sacrifices and taking the risks that you are. You GET why this character wants this horse to succeed.

That viewport sits atop a menu that exemplifies the low-grade anxiety that builds when you have too many choices and not enough time to pick them all.

These things are then yoked together by terse narration which clearly defines the character's desires and attitudes even as it spouts bizarre, Porpentinesque jargon.

Before I played HORSE MASTER, I thought I was in for a freakpunky Western CYOA, like if Anna Anthropy's CALAMITY ANNIE and Porpentine's CYBERQUEEN had a baby. The game I got had those flavors, yes, but it's a different beast altogether.

HORSE MASTER is not a deep art game. But I don't want it to be: the deliberate choices of its author let me access the humanity at the core of this story--and as a result I had a really wonderful experience.

I salute the author and look forward to more from him!
* * *

(Fellow players, I must know what ending you got. (Spoiler - click to show)Because my ending crushed me. I was *so* close. And whatever went wrong, I have no idea how I could fix it the next time. IS there even a good ending??)

Starship Fabulous, by E. Joyce, Ayse Gursoy, and Chris Johnston

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
If Bruce Coville Coville Wrote Galactic Romances..., April 13, 2013
by Danielle (The Wild West)
...it might look something like STARSHIP FABULOUS. See, one thing I've always loved about Bruce Coville's alien books (which I encountered as a kid and still love as a grownup) was that the aliens were very much *alien*--though likeable and good, their sensibilities, customs, and expectations were always foreign. The characters you encounter in FABULOUS are written in a similar vein which I really enjoyed--Rain introducing themself, for instance, as a scent rather than a name. (I would have enjoyed seeing more interactions where they make mistaken assumptions about you might have been fun as well!)

I found some programming bugginess from time to time (I was given access to a character on Day 2 that I hadn't met on Day 1; some responses referred to Male Character X as a she), but I was happy to overlook them for the sake of the experience. I enjoyed my ride on the ship and look forward to replaying.

I would *not* be opposed to someone else trying their hand at this concept!


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