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Ratings and Reviews by Joey Jones

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Anchorhead, by Michael Gentry
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Cragne Manor, by Ryan Veeder, Jenni Polodna, Adam Whybray, Adri, Andrew Plotkin, Andy Holloway, Austin Auclair, Baldur Brückner, Ben Collins-Sussman, Bill Maya, Brian Rushton, Buster Hudson, Caleb Wilson, Carl Muckenhoupt, Chandler Groover, Chris Jones, Christopher Conley, Damon L. Wakes, Daniel Ravipinto, Daniel Stelzer, David Jose, David Petrocco, David Sturgis, Drew Mochak, Edward B, Emily Short, Erica Newman, Feneric, Finn Rosenløv, Gary Butterfield, Gavin Inglis, Greg Frost, Hanon Ondricek, Harkness Munt, Harrison Gerard, Ian Holmes, Ivan Roth, Jack Welch, Jacqueline Ashwell, James Eagle, Jason Dyer, Jason Lautzenheiser, Jason Love, Jeremy Freese, Joey Jones, Joshua Porch, Justin de Vesine, Justin Melvin, Katherine Morayati, Kenneth Pedersen, Lane Puetz, Llew Mason, Lucian Smith, Marco Innocenti, Marius Müller, Mark Britton, Mark Sample, Marshal Tenner Winter, Matt Schneider, Matt Weiner, Matthew Korson, Michael Fessler, Michael Gentry, Michael Hilborn, Michael Lin, Mike Spivey, Molly Ying, Monique Padelis, Naomi Hinchen, Nate Edwards, Petter Sjölund, Q Pheevr, Rachel Spitler, Reed Lockwood, Reina Adair, Riff Conner, Roberto Colnaghi, Rowan Lipkovits, Sam Kabo Ashwell, Scott Hammack, Sean M. Shore, Wade Clarke, Zach Hodgens, Zack Johnson

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Ambitious syncretism!, December 8, 2018
by Joey Jones (UK)
84 rooms, each written by a different author, but co-ordinated into a structure and based around a tight enough theme that it all hangs together though often with intriguing incongruities.

Roughly, you can split the rooms into two different sorts: rooms which function as typical text-adventure rooms (a key might be hidden somewhere, there might be a short puzzle to get it); and rooms which are short games in themselves, which immerse you in their own unique stories, force you to learn a new set of interacting systems and so forth. As such, the game is constantly confounding your expectations.

Some of the rooms are genuinely horrifying, others are laugh-out-loud funny, more still are challenging and satisfying to work through. I recommend to anyone who likes text adventures especially its inspiration, Anchorhead. Expect to need hints!

(I contributed to this game, so per my own policy I've omitted my rating from the average.)

Metamorphoses, by Emily Short
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Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!, by Steph Cherrywell
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Photopia, by Adam Cadre
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The Gostak, by Carl Muckenhoupt
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Violet, by Jeremy Freese
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Lost Pig, by Admiral Jota
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Creatures Such As We, by Lynnea Glasser
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Hunger Daemon, by Sean M. Shore
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With Those We Love Alive, by Porpentine and Brenda Neotenomie
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Birdland, by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
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The Wizard Sniffer, by Buster Hudson
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The Wand, by Arthur DiBianca
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Human Errors, by Katherine Morayati
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Suveh Nux, by David Fisher
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Yes, my mother is..., by Skarn
Intriguing World Building, May 21, 2017
by Joey Jones (UK)
The game is near-future, social sci-fi, focusing on a therapist and their relationship with their own mother. It's an unusual topic explored through a visual-novel structure. In game documents can be unlocked but need not be reread each time, which is a nice touch for replayability (and the small mysteries and alternative endings encourage replaying).

T-Shirt Blanket, by Rhetta Lynnea

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short slice of t-shirts, February 6, 2017
by Joey Jones (UK)
A short reflective piece. Texture really aids this sort of thing because the dragging forces you to slow down and consider, prevents you from steaming through links.

Play time 5 mins. Recommended.

Roberta Williams Eats a Sandwich, by Bitter Karella
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Hana Feels, by Gavin Inglis
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Fallen 落葉 Leaves, by Adam Bredenberg and Danial Mohammed Khan-Yousufzai
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Cinnamon Tea, by Daffs O'Dill
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Thaxted Havershill And the Golden Wombat, by Andrew Brown
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You are standing in a cave..., by Caroline Berg
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Steam and Sacrilege, by Phil McGrail
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Theatre People, by Michael Kielstra
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Ventilator, by Peregrine Wade
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Tentaculon, by Ned Vole
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Zigamus: Zombies at Vigamus, by Marco Vallarino
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Black Rock City, by Jim Munroe
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This is My Memory of First Heartbreak, Which I Can't Quite Piece Back Together, by Jenny Goldstick, Stephen Betts, Owen Roberts
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Letters, by Madison Evans
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Take, by Katherine Morayati (as Amelia Pinnolla)
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A Time of Tungsten, by Devin Raposo
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To The Wolves, by Els White
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Pogoman GO!, by Jack Welch and Ben Collins-Sussman
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16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonalds, by Abigail Corfman
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Cactus Blue Motel, by Astrid Dalmady
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Toiletworld, by Chet Rocketfrak
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The Game of Worlds TOURNAMENT!, by Ade
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Mustard, Music, and Murder, by Christopher Huang

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Charming Deduction , July 4, 2016
by Joey Jones (UK)
Smoothly implemented closed house crime story. You assemble all the clues, then work out the alibis. The artificiality of the setup is made up for by the neatness of the solution and pleasingly bizarre but self consistent plot. The format lends itself to serialisation.

The in-game chalkboard system is good at collating all the clues for you, but a having a paper and pen handy is recommended for putting it all together.

An Escape To Remember, by Sean Barrett, Tom Blawgus, Roger Carbol, John Cater, Ricardo Dague, Jeremy Douglass, Josh Giesbrecht, N. B. Horvath, Carl Muckenhoupt, Mark Musante, Karl Parakenings, Mordechai Shinefield, Dan Shiovitz, Lucian Smith
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Eidolon, by A.D. Jansen
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Hefty Seamstress, by George Buckenham, Jonathan Whiting
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Everything We Do Is Games, by Doug Orleans
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Room Serial, by merricart

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting experiment in limited verb-set , May 14, 2016
by Joey Jones (UK)
In the game you proceed through a series of rooms, gaining new verbs as you go. It works as a metaphor for someone gaining confidence after a controlling relationship.

The puzzles themselves are quite arbitrary, somewhat alleviated by the in-built walkthrough. The game also falls into the common trap of having a lot of similarly named objects to disambiguate between. All in all, it's an interesting idea let down a little by the implementation.

Ms. Lojka or: In Despair to Will to Be Oneself, by Jordan Magnuson
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Oppositely Opal, by Buster Hudson
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Enchanted, by Felicity Banks

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Instant Supernatural Social Life, April 15, 2016
by Joey Jones (UK)

First off: this game is hilarious and engrossing even if you're not among its intended teenage audience. Unlike other interaction fiction formats that excel at simulating places or actions, the chat medium is excellent at simulating friendships with all the back-and-forth free flowing camaraderie and gossip.

There were a bunch of genuine laugh out loud moments: (Spoiler - click to show)the running weasel gag was great and I almost fell off my chair at the option to say 'YOLO, bloodsucker' to my soon-to-be-vampire friend. It was a perfectly pitched moment.

The medium of chat messages is a challenging sphere to write for: in a story comprised of dialogue all descriptions have to be naturalistic, all exposition has to fit into what a person would report. Felicity makes excellent use of images to show people and places that the characters wouldn't describe in words.

The setting sports an intriguing (and sometimes slightly twisted) reimagining of werewolves, sorcerers and vampires. The supernatural world is learned about through steady immersion and by the 3rd day more and more of its secrets click into place.



Fallen London, by Failbetter Games
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You Are Not the Author, by Soda51

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent Dadaist Haiku Generator, December 29, 2015
by Joey Jones (UK)
You create a haiku word-by-word from a limited randomised list. It helpfully lists words grouped by syllable length and only generates words of an appropriate length. Definitely worth a play around.

Olivia's Orphanorium, by Sam Kabo Ashwell
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The Speaker, by Norbez
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The Problems Compound, by Andrew Schultz
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The Baker of Shireton, by Hanon Ondricek
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Midnight. Swordfight., by Chandler Groover
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Duel, by piato
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Pilgrimage, by Víctor Ojuel
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Kane County, by Michael Sterling, Tia Orisney
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Gotomomi, by Arno von Borries
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Pit of the Condemned, by Matthew Holland
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Inventory, by Joey Fu
Surprisingly effective, November 7, 2015
by Joey Jones (UK)
It gradually won me over with its minimalist charms. It successfully carries the style of many of the older dungeoncrawlers filled with thematic discontinuities (i.e. a mismash of whatever thing the developer thought of next), and so I was initially unimpressed but the stinger at the end made the journey worthwhile.

tiny tarot, by Chelsea Stearns
Minimalist Tarot, November 5, 2015
by Joey Jones (UK)
Neat use of the constraint, gives appropriate advice for each draw, draws seem appropriately random, pictures are a nice addition. A small concept expertly realised.

The Ritual, by Ed Turner

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Combinatorial Storytelling, October 29, 2015
by Joey Jones (UK)
This is bathetic Lovecraftian horror-comedy in much the same register as Hunger Daemon. The replay-to-get-all-the-endings structure isn't as tedious as in some games as the work is very short. Ideally, the different section's text would be dependent on the order of selection so that the acts more organically lead up to the various endings. But for what it is, it's competently written and the different endings were all about equally engaging. (Spoiler - click to show)I liked the conceit of the ritual being so unclear as to have wildly different results depending on how its performed.

If you think this might be your cup of tea, then it's definitely worth playing.

Escape The Room, by George Vicarey
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Secret Agent Cinder, by Emily Ryan
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PataNoir, by Simon Christiansen

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Patanoir: Like Chocolate Wine, September 22, 2015
by Joey Jones (UK)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2011
The following review was for the original competition game. I replayed the later release and it easily deserves 4 stars (4.5 even?) and so I've adjusted my rating up accordingly.

Patanoir is like chocolate flavoured wine: interesting, unique, not to everyone's tastes and too much of it is likely to give you a headache. But either way you'll be pleased you tried it.

I probably played PataNoir for more than two hours on and off. It was good enough for me to bother finishing but not good enough for me not to resort to using the walkthrough a few times. The name 'PataNoir' is taken from the word 'pataphor'. Some people might object that a pataphor is a metaphor but the game deals in similes, but my contention after studying the various philosophy of language arguments about metaphor is that a metaphor is just a truncated simile. So I approve of the name.

I love the concept of the game: similes coming to life such that they can be manipulated to solve puzzles. There were some issues in the implementation. A lot of it made me smile. The writing is very sparse, similes aside, but sometimes it works. Simon is obviously going for the Chandler style patter and occasionally he gets it right.

The game was blessedly free of typos and grammar mistakes. My overall impression of PataNoir was that it's a neat idea, mostly well implemented- with some puzzles overhinted at and some nearing impossible without the (mostly excellent) in-game hint mechanism. This is surely a sign that the puzzles were hard to hint for as they weren't very naturalistic, which I suppose is an inherent danger in a surreal game. I'm glad the game was made, and it's exactly the sort of game that lends itself to non-IF players as a good example of the possibilities of IF. I wouldn't recommend it first, but then I wouldn't recommend it last.


Ghost Highland Way, by Harry Giles
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Trapped in Time, by Simon Christiansen
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Fallout: Vault 17, by Snoother
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Horse Master, by Tom McHenry
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Door Simulator, by Giggling_Kiste
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ULTRA BUSINESS TYCOON III, by Porpentine
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KING OF BEES IN FANTASY LAND, by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
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The Test is Now READY, by Jim Warrenfeltz
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CRY$TAL WARRIOR KE$HA, by Porpentine
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ALL I WANT IS FOR ALL OF MY FRIENDS TO BECOME INSANELY POWERFUL, by Porpentine
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The Book of Living Magic, by Jonas Kyratzes

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Charming-- sometimes too charming, January 30, 2013
by Joey Jones (UK)
The Book of Living Magic is a short and easy graphical point-and-click adventure game with a zany fantasy setting, aimed at a younger audience. It's chief draw is the wealth of examinable discrete scenery objects, rewarding exploration. The over-arching plot is sweet, if a tad ham-fisted at times. The conversation system could do with being more organic: typically, you can talk about most things before knowing why they're relevant. The tone of the piece wavers around the zany/sentimental border, with slight nods to the macabre (especially with the cat). I don't regret playing it.

Downtown Tokyo, Present Day, by John Kean
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Alien Research Centre, by Ian Smith and Sean McClure
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Delicious Breakfast, by Molly G.
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Myriad, by Porpentine

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
More Branches Than a Shrub, August 7, 2012
Myriad steps towards the kind of branching story I always wanted to read: to hell with merging nodes, I want full bifurcation, 24/7; and Porpentine obviously also heard the sirens of unreasonable work-load calling and dove into the pools of unending possibilities and dragged out this strangle-weeded narrative, a pocket of infinities. The quality is high, mostly consistently so; for most of it I was thinking 'Yeah, this is pretty good, I can see what she's doing here, blah blah, blah,' but then I played the scorpion queen section, which borders on being a puzzle, and it was okay; BUT THEN, then afterwards the denouement hit me like the well crafted metaphor that it was and I felt compelled to give it a write up pronto-like.

[So uh, don't waste time not reading Myriad when you could be reading Myriad. For me, (and I love-hate star ratings) this would have been a five star experience if my jaw hadn't taken four play-throughs to drop.]

Home Sweetie-Bot Home, by Jacques Frechet
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Inventory, by Christopher Armstrong
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Sloth on a Stroller, by Juhana Leinonen
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Bee, by Emily Short
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Andromeda Awakening - The Final Cut, by Marco Innocenti
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The Algophilists' Penury, by Jon Stall

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Florid, Baroque, Masochistic, June 2, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
The Algophilists' Penury must take the award as the most arcane and prolix of interactive fictions, and I've played a bit of Gamlet. Jon Stall has a vocabulary almost equal to the greatest of verbose authors (Mary Shelley and her perquisitions and purlieues comes to mind) and he employs it in the most prevaricatory of stories. The protagonist of his tale is a strange collective who are looking back (possibly from beyond the grave) on their time when they were woefully poor and engaged in depravities.

For a game ostensibly about masochism, it does a very job of punishing the player. Foremost, there is the viciously opaque language that forces all but the most erudite of players to struggle to put together meaning. And then what little of the scant gameplay there is pushes the player to fully embrace the role of the algophilists. In the end, they are a collective formed by all those that play the game.

Unfortunately, the game as it is is very short with low implementation. It leans heavily on the novel default past tense first person plural responses offered by Ron Newcomb's custom library messages extension. Also, where it says 'soubriquets' in the text (a just about acceptable variant), the game actually only understands 'sobriquets'. Jon has released the game into the public domain along with its source, so perhaps we'll see some Algophilist remixes in the future.

The Extricator, by Peter Hoar, Catherine Lamb, David Hater, and Sean
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Everybody Dies, by Jim Munroe
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Being There, by Jordan Magnuson
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Alabaster, by John Cater, Rob Dubbin, Eric Eve, Elizabeth Heller, Jayzee, Kazuki Mishima, Sarah Morayati, Mark Musante, Emily Short, Adam Thornton, Ziv Wities
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Shrapnel, by Adam Cadre
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Arthur, by Bob Bates
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A Minimum Wage Job, by John Cater

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Charming Exection (for a Speed-IF), May 12, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
A Minimum Wag Job is charmingly executed for a game probably written in less than two hours. The game sort of presumes that you clear each room in an east to west order- and lays down clues to help you build a picture of what to do at the game's conclusion. As such, given the sparsity of possible successful actions in the game, it does a good job of signalling what sort of thing would be successful.

This is a Speed IF in which you may well die several times before completion, and the nature of the death is such that you have to restart the game each time. This is no great hardship as the successful solution can be achieved in less than a minute.

As a game qua game, I couldn't give it more than 2 stars, but as an example of the Speed IF genre it's a solid 3, especially in its clever integration of the conceits of the Speed IF challenge.

Also, I'm definitely using the word 'flugulate' in my everyday speech!

(''flugulate'' (floo-gyu-layt), v.i.: To run about wildly in an attempt to catch a piece of paper that has been caught up in a breeze)

baby tree, by Lester Galin

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Creepy, May 12, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
The text is consistently sparse, which creates an arid environment in which every word has fuller resonance. The game layers its unpleasantness, so that when the eponymous baby tree arrives it has a much creepier effect. Unfortunately, the ending in its comparative wordiness(Spoiler - click to show) and the less-than-compelling 'you die' message, somewhat undermines the effect of the rest of the short piece by pushing it beyond the narrow boundary between the unsettling and the ridiculous.

Framed, by Richard Bayliss
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Fingertips: Fingertips, by Michael D. Hilborn
Great Little Puzzler, May 5, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
Fingertips: Fingertips is a first class little multi-layered cryptographical puzzler with a richly evoked science fiction setting that neatly makes the one move requirement make sense.

It's the kind of game that you need to write notes on (or uh, at least I did), and has different solutions such that when you find the better solution, the work involved getting there has made it that much more satisfying.

Road That Goes East Forever, by The Pony
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Virtuality, by Mark

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A Game for the Status Bar, April 16, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
The best part of the game is the fun riff it has with casual gaming themes like achievements, meters and bars for all sorts of things. There are great jokes here. I recommend playing the game for a half dozen turns and just look at the status bar.

The game itself is difficult in unsatisfying ways: it's often thinly implemented and it requires arbitrarily trying out commands from a long list of possible commands. Despite it being an escape-the-room game, the set up fails to give any particular motivation or direction for doing so.

The only npc exists only to annoy you, in which it is fairly successful, and what with its constant jabbering and the swarm of useless info on the status bar and humongous text dumps all over the place, the game feels very claustrophobic and cluttered. Which you'd think would be good for an escape-the-room game, but as the whole thing is so unmotivated, the clutter doesn't serve any narrative or thematic purpose. It's just sort of painful.

That all said, the creative use of the status bar throughout is inspired, and it's possible that there's a compelling game underneath all the clutter. Maybe it would appeal more to those well steeped in the conventions of escape-the-room games.

when i was shot by elephants, by no m3rcy
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when i was shot by elephants 2 super elephants, by no m3rcy
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Bed Time, by Charlie the Spiffy
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Taco Fiction, by Ryan Veeder
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Zombie Exodus, by Jim Dattilo
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Hypnotist of Ladies, by David Cornelson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Unfortunately Uncompelling, April 2, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
You've got to give the author some credit for taking part and producing a game for the amazing Apollo 18 tribute album. Without noble folk stepping forward and taking on responsibilities, all the game slots wouldn't have been taken. He gets an honorary star for that. Unfortunately, Hypnotist of Ladies isn't a very good game. In fact, in terms of implementation or lack thereof, Hypnotist of Ladies reaches almost MST3K-worthy depths.

I quote:(Spoiler - click to show)
>talk to ladies
The ladies beam in heartfelt appreciation and eagerly await your next move....which is to hypnotise them.

[Your score has just gone up by one point.]

>hypnotise ladies
That's not a verb I recognise.


On the bright side, it's not very long, and if you also play every single other Apollo 18 game you'll have a wonderful sense of achievement.

Fingertips: Come On and Wreck My Car, by Paul Laroquod
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Nautilisia, by Ryan Veeder

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
I know, I know, it's serious, April 2, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
I finished Nautilisia in no time at all really. It's an achingly self-aware little romp through someone's dream world. The puzzles are just simple pacing devices and the story is almost nonexistent, what motivates the player to completion is the quality of the writing, which remains consistently witty throughout, and the extra little 'amusing' things that reward light experimentation.

Fingertips: What's That Blue Thing Doing Here?, by Ruth Alfasso

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A Multiverse of Possibility, April 2, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
The parser is a promise that is often broken. It offers you a chance to try anything. It bristles with possibility. Every game has a relationship with this promise, and most go something like this: You can try anything! Oh great, I'll try '[this]!', That's not a verb I recognise. The path of the text adventurer is one fraught with great disappointment, but also great excitement and glee when one's wishes are understood. And the more our wishes are understood, the more we trust the game and invest in its story.

What's The Blue doesn't have a consistent story, but rather dozens and dozens of different stories. With its breadth it comes a long way to fulfilling the promise of the parser. It isn't as complete as the multi-authored pick up the phone booth and aisle, but given that there is only one of Ruth it is impressive.

Fingertips: Leave Me Alone, by Kevin Jackson-Mead
Imagistic and imaginative, April 2, 2012
Leave Me Alone, like many fingertips games, isn't really a game that is played to be won. I got the 'winning' move on the first playthrough. Rather, it is a game to be explored. In many ways it is similar to What's That Blue Thing Doing Here?, if a little more limited. Each successful response is inventive and paints a vivid moment. It hasn't the breadth of some other one move games, but for what it is, it's good.

Fingertips: Who's Knockin' On The Wall?, by Melvin Rangasamy
A Perfect Logic Puzzle Generator, April 1, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
Who's Knockin' is a logic puzzle (or set of possible puzzles) with the same form as the (probably apocryphal) Einstein Puzzle, also known as the Zebra Puzzle. It's a fun and challenging puzzle to solve even if you don't have a degree in predicate logic. The trouble is, if you've solved it once, you always know what the answer is. Not so any more!

If Who's Knockin' merely randomised the names of all elements in the puzzle, then you'd always be able to guess the answer just by looking at the form of the clues: if, for instance, the woodworker is always the person that lives in the second house, you could guess it every time just by looking at the clue saying who lives in the second house. What the game engine does is randomly pick one of five possible puzzle structures (all sharing some identically structured clues), and then it randomises the order in which the clues are listed. This essentially means the game can't be 'gamed', you have to figure it out afresh each time.

While it lacks literary qualities and breadth of response, the game more than achieves what it sets out to achieve: a challenging and unique puzzle with every play. And that's not something many games can boast, let alone one move games.

Muggle Studies, by M. Flourish Klink

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A game with a touch of magic, April 1, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
Muggle Studies is essentially a treasure hunt game, with a few puzzles and riddles. Fortunately, it is not just a treasure hunt game: the faithful and imaginative rendering of Hogwarts, and the protagonist's personal journey both pull the game up from its less than auspicious structure.

Muggle Studies, like other works of fan fiction, requires some knowledge of the original works to be fully appreciated. Like many people my age, I grew up reading Harry Potter books with each new one being devoured a day or two after release. A lot of my friends were into Harry Potter fan fiction, but it's never been my cup of tea. That said, the exploring of Hogwarts and the discovery of the world of magic is more compelling in interactive fiction. The use of the second person lends immediacy and intimacy with the environs that is lacking in a typical graphical Harry Potter game where you play out someone else's troubles from the distance of a third person perspective.

Though it is written in the second person, you play as a very concrete individual with their own history; and the weaving in of Alice's personal story through reminiscences and flashbacks adds both another layer of mystery to the story and gives greater emotional depth to the exploration and subsequent discoveries of the game.

If you're a fan of the Harry Potter series then playing the game is a must.

Don't Go, by Anonymous
Another Gordebak Moment, January 23, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
The game is a sort of imagist moment. It feels very static, though it does become apparent why. The writing could be a bit sharper: some of the formulations and grammar seemed a little off. While you can examine things, it doesn't give any extra information that isn't already in the room description. The error messages were weird as well, like it would say that objects weren't there when trying to interact with it one way, but those same objects could be examined. I don't expect much, as it's only flash fiction, and it's exactly through such experiments that one's craft improves.

What Happens in Vagueness, by Sam Kabo Ashwell, Tom Blawgus, N.B. Horvath, Justin Larue, Jacqueline A. Lott, Michael Martin, Carl Muckenhoupt, Marius Müller, Mark Musante, and Brian Rapp
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A Reading in May, by Anonymous
Definitely a *slice* of life, January 8, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
This is a one-verb implemented story. It's only a game insofar as the act of trying to read the book implicates you in your/the protagonist's continued failure to do so. It's a short vignette and just that. Worth playing for the writing and the moment. I'll not rate it, because it's not trying to be a game of the type that receives ratings. Quantitatively, it's poorer than almost all other games I've played, though qualitatively it's richer than many.

Six, by Wade Clarke

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A Complete Experience, January 2, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2011, amaaaaaaaaazing
I thought I'd give it a little time before I reviewed Six. Enough time to work out whether it really was worth the five stars I initially gave it. And oh how it is worth it! Just thinking about the game physically fills my heart with joy. As in, I experience a genuine biological sensation of warmth just in the recollection of the game. That's how amazing it is.

In Six you play a girl on her sixth birthday playing a tag/hide-and-seek hybrid game in a park. This nice little premise is unpacked into a deeply immerse experience that positively oozes with infectious charm and the joy of play. And like a game in which you play a game should be, it is so fun! And when it ends, you can play it again with different and interesting permutations. Oh, and there's clever use of sound, cute visuals and all round excellent production values.

If I could give Wade Clark a high five through the internet, I would.

Kerkerkruip, by Victor Gijsbers

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Rogue-tastic!, January 2, 2012
by Joey Jones (UK)
When I first played this game, I played it six times. That's how hard it is. That's how addictive it is. Kerkerkruip is a rogue-like text adventure, in which you travel about a randomly generated dungeon, killing enemies, picking up equipment, employing tactics and dying. A lot.

The game isn't a perfectly smooth interactive story where you play out complex motivations while unveiling a carefully crafted plot. It's not trying to do that. So of course the writing is sparse, and the synonyms sparser. That's goes with the territory. If I was making the game, I would have added an additional layer of randomisation to the monsters- giving named characters a different name and apparel each time and so on. As it was, there were enough antagonists that the game remained fresh through six play-throughs, and I was pleased that some enemies (like the Reaper) changed their weapons. The real joy of the game is that it's more than a complex dungeon-crawl simulator, it's a puzzle. Figuring out which enemies to fight, how, and in which order are vital to successfully completing the game.

Every time I played Kerkerkruip I discovered something new, died in an interesting way and wanted to go back for more. All in all, a great roguelike! Two thumbs up!


Glik I, by Logan Edwards

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Fails to live up to the concept, December 29, 2011
by Joey Jones (UK)
I wanted to like Glik. I enjoy post-apocalyptic settings, and the idea of playing a future archaeologist is appealing. The broad concept was pretty solid. But the execution leaves much to be desired. There's a basic level of competence present that gives the player false hope that the game will reward them, (like the addition of a help menu) but ultimately it fails to deliver.

The player is tasked with looking for their friend who's gone missing (a solid hook), but then is placed at a camp without any clue as to which way their friend might, surrounded by a pretty generic wilderness replete with darkness filled rooms and repetitive meaning-to-be-ominous message.

On top of all this is a highly generic HP+XP 'RPG' system tacked on on top (there were hints of enemies but I didn't meet any). In the end, after lengthy battle with myself and my axe*, I managed to commit suicide. And that's when it got really weird. After opening and exiting the unlit closed 'spirit-realm' container (a cosmic wardrobe?) that I was stuck in post-death, I found myself again in darkness. Having -3 hit points and with no way of telling which way to go, I hit a run-time error and that's when I gave up on Glik.

My advice to the author would be to get rid of the empty RPG-trappings and focus on unpacking the ideas that look so promising in the opening section.


*Apparently, I had an exclusive choice between an axe, hammer or sword. I said 'take all from the chest' and got the first weapon by default.

(Game deserves 1.5 for effort, but I don't currently recommend playing it.)

Love, Hate and the Mysterious Ocean Tower, by C.E.J. Pacian
Joey Jones's Rating:

Robot Finds Kitten, by David Griffith, Leonard Richardson
Joey Jones's Rating:

Playing Games, by Kevin Jackson-Mead

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Competent, If Disappointing, December 7, 2011
by Joey Jones (UK)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2011, short game
The initial setup seemed promising, and I envisioned a game based around secret societies and the playing of complex games. It didn't exactly pan out as I first hoped it would. The opening section hinted at a game more interesting than this one.

Playing Games is easy (i.e., I wouldn't have dreamt of using a walkthrough), and mostly well clued. I had a little trouble with one of the puzzles (Spoiler - click to show)(setting the watch), because it involved performing a general action on an item immediately after mechanically interacting with the item (so you're falsely led to believe that you should mechanically interact with the item in a different way). There was some nice comedic touches, but there really wasn't much descriptively or story-wise to the game. The point of the game was the game boards rendered in ascii art, which was competently done.

I was sort of looking forward to a series of logical solitaire-esque games*, but they were really all just invisible maze puzzles. Perhaps other people find these challenging, but my spatial memory is good enough for them not to pose a challenge. The main benefit of the game was rather that it showed the possibility of rendering game boards visually in an IF game (perhaps that's already been done before, but I haven't seen it). All in all, it seemed to be an amusing if not particularly awe-inspiring game. UNTIL, I learned about the metapuzzle, and then its awesome factor (along with the other three games) ever so slightly went up a notch.

*I have a history of disappointment with logic puzzles that don't turn out to be logic puzzles.


A Comedy of Error Messages, by Adam Le Doux

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A Comedy With Some Error Messages , December 7, 2011
by Joey Jones (UK)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2011
In A Comedy of Error Messages, you play an avid gamer's loving computer, and it is your task to stop a disastrous blind date from happening. The idea is great and it was mostly well implemented. The puzzles were pretty easy but even so the time limit was very harsh.

The game does a good job of imaginatively realising virtual environments, even if it does lead to some head scratching moments when you consider the metaphysics of what's going on.

As a comedy game it was fairly amusing, especially if you get the references. The humour for the most part relies on an familiarity with internet-culture. A lot of things people generally find funny aren't really funny per se, but are just shorthand for shared experiences. I think my favourite line was (Spoiler - click to show)'The bird looks as if it wants to give you the bird. But it can't, since it's a bird.'

I liked the ability to choose your gender, race and sexuality at the start- and how it affected the shape of the things, even if it was essentially the same plot. I can see how this is an improvement from what I understand to have been the old 'Elfen Maiden' default; when I played the unwanted date played an Orc princess. There were a few moments where this wasn't completely implemented, and the text assumed incorrectly that my master was a man.

I didn't complete the game on the first run through as the time limit ran out. This wasn't because I was particularly stuck, I had a good idea what I should be doing at any given time, but I must have wasted time along the way. I could see the reason for having a time limit but it doesn't gel well with my usual playing style: I like to examine everything and talk to everyone and try to see if things work that I think should work.

The fact that I wasn't as effective at playing a time-based game as I could have been is no real criticism of the game, but I did I think there were game design elements that didn't help. I would certainly have completed the game first off if it weren't for the fact that errors and mistakes increase the turn count. Every time I tried to go up when there wasn't an up, or tried to examine something that I misspelt or the author hadn't implemented, the minutes crept inexorably onwards. In the end, every time I did something that didn't work, or had a look around the room to remind myself of exits, I'd undo immediately afterwards.

But the game was interesting enough to motivate me to finish it and I was pleased it all worked out in the end.


The Binary, by Bloomengine

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A Little Sketchy, But A Solid Idea, December 7, 2011
by Joey Jones (UK)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2011, short game, hypertext
The basic concept of The Binary is that you replay the same few minutes over and over until you get the right change in the time-line. You use things you learned from earlier play-throughs to proceed. Because the pace is moving so quickly, you barely have time to take stock of your surroundings before the time loops back again. But that's okay, because the time is always going to loop back again. This works well because when you want to get things done, there's a great sense of urgency and economy of action. When you don't need to get things done, you can look at things free in the knowledge that you can look at other things in the next go around.

Despite the non-linear timeline aspect of it, the plot itself is pretty linear, though there is one real and difficult choice to make near the end (I only played to completion once so I don't know if the other ending proves fatal). Like all of these non-parser games, figuring out what to do next is easy because you just exhaust all of your remaining limited options. The Binary had the additional time element (some actions would only work at certain times etc.) but even still I wouldn't have needed any hints or a walkthrough. Not to say that the game was a walk in the park: I'd say the challenge was on the lower end of well pitched.

The substance of the plot (working for a strange group of time travellers on an island with a man in your head interspersed with memories of your father and a dash of mysticism) was a little hit and miss. I liked the dual-narrative aspect of it, but the nature of the time travelling group and their motives seemed a little wooly. I suppose there is only so much I can ask for in a game this short.

Though not as smooth as The Play, The Binary works very well visually, refreshing what you can see each round. Ultimately, hyper-link games are limited in comparison to parser-based IF and so it's hard to compare. Compared to earlier hyper-text games, it's pretty swish.


Dead Hotel, by Comazombie

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Dead Boring Hotel, December 7, 2011
by Joey Jones (UK)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2011, short game
Mr C. Zombie gets full marks for taking time off between eating brains to write his very own program, with old-school type-sets and everything. Also, the in-built release of secrets after the competition had ended was an interesting if a little unfathomable game design choice.

Unfortunately, that's where the pros end, and the cons begin. After some easy pick-an-option-from-the-list-style gameplay, the game ends saying:

"Somehow you got the feeling that this is just the beginning of a zombie apocalypse in New York City."

... and somehow I got the feeling that that was a very short and unsatisfactory ending. Somehow I got the feeling that it would have been interesting to know I was even in New York before the end of the game.

My impression is that this is just part of a much larger unfinished project. It kept asking me if I wanted to save, but as the game could be completed in five minutes (or 30 seconds if you knew what you were doing) I didn't see the point. The whole zombie idea is very cliché and no attempt was made to mollify this. About the most interesting thing you could do in the game was kick a zombie head.

The sad thing is, a lot of effort has obviously gone into the project, and writing the program from scratch must require some considerable skill. I just wish it were put to better use.

(I've rated it '2', because the game deserves a '1.5' average for effort.)


Last Day of Summer, by Doug Orleans (as Cameron Fox)

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Pleasant But Unsatisfying First Offering, December 7, 2011
by Joey Jones (UK)
Whatever effect the author was aiming for in Last Day of Summer, it wasn't realism. That's okay- from the set up I was expecting slightly sentimental magic-realism like in Dandelion Wine. This didn't exactly materialise.

(Spoiler - click to show)I first went east and found a boat that couldn't be untied. Aha! I thought, I will need a cutting tool. Went west and found a knife lying helpfully on the ground. A bit easier than I'd anticipated. Later I find myself in the town. My first playthrough of the game ended prematurely because I'd timed it out using the xyzzy command, so I restarted and did everything as before. An NPC is upset, but its all very vague. I do the rest of the puzzles, which are easy to work out but aren't very realistic (maybe that's the point?). The game ends happily enough and I wonder what the point in all that was. The writing was pleasant enough and everything obvious worked with no bugs (though I didn't really stretch it), but other than that there's not really much to say.

(I should note that to my knowledge this was the game the author used for learning Inform- and there was at least enough promise that I'd certainly play any future game he developed).


Tenth Plague, by Lynnea Dally

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
The deadliest IF protagonist?, December 7, 2011
by Joey Jones (UK)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2011, short game
Tenth Plague is a competently handled short game- each scenario (other than the final one) is slightly more trickier than the last. There's also a hidden commentary mode, which is a neat feature.

There are only a few problems in the implementation of incidental items that Lynnea probably didn't expect anyone to bother interacting with, and I struggled with finding the wording for at least one of the puzzles, though it was always clear what I needed to do to proceed.

I really liked the small visual elements like the dead locusts on the roof, that hinted at the plagues that had come before. The puzzles were simple enough that the game moved along at a fast pace, which worked well for evoking the swift inevitibility of the plague. One of the strengths of IF, seen clearly here, is that novel game and story premises can be explored.

(As far as ratings go- I take 3 as being 'good', '4' as 'great', and five 'transcendental'. In truth, it deserves at least a 3.5).


Squeaky on the Moon, by David Welbourn

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
En la foresto de bonaj esperantaj ludoj..., December 5, 2011
by Joey Jones (UK)
Related reviews: esperanto
This is a terrible game qua game. That's okay, because it was just a two hour competition game with mandatory competition elements shoehorned in. It's incredibly easy though I did have trouble with a 'guess the lack of a noun' problem with the last command (Spoiler - click to show)I tried all combinations of 'enter panel', 'crawl into computer', go in computer' etc. when 'enter' was all that was required.

However, if you're learning Esperanto you could do worse than give the translation a play. I played both version simultaneously, and with the simple repetitive language, my vocabulary definitely improved. Fajfeta literally means 'whistle-little-ish', which is a charming way of phrasing 'squeaky'.

Bizarrely enough, in the esperanto version, the last command was well clued and what I tried worked first time. Sadly, there's is no response for:
"Teodor, Saluton!"

The Nemean Lion, by Anonymous

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An amusing joke, November 27, 2011
by Joey Jones (UK)
This isn't really a game, but a pretty funny joke on automated actions. I laughed. I already knew, from a forum post (Spoiler - click to show)http://www.intfiction.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=3766&start=10 what the correct first command to try was. If I was playing it as if it were a proper game it might not have been so satisfying.

69,105 Keys, by David Welbourn

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
69,105 and almost all of them alike, November 25, 2011
by Joey Jones (UK)
I was all primed up for a logic puzzle. What I was faced with is a puzzle that (unless you know something I don't) logically only lends itself to brute force solutions. Logically, there was no reason why (Spoiler - click to show)the key had to be a key with the smallest of each of the properties, instead the game was about recognising a very simple (Spoiler - click to show)pattern in the distribution of the keys. I didn't expect much and so I wasn't too disappointed. The game was an interesting experiment and I'm pleased it exists.

As for ratings, I'm not sure they're very helpful in this case. If you want a quick puzzle and want to see what the parser can do, play the game. If you don't, then don't.

The Chicken Under the Window, by Lucian P. Smith
Joey Jones's Rating:

Don't Pee Yourself!, by Hulk Handsome
Joey Jones's Rating:


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