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Reviews by Felix Pleșoianu

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View this member's reviews by tag: French IFComp 2008 IF Comp 2015
1-8 of 8


Nootropic Wonderland, by Sasha Lea Griffin

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Twinkle, twinkle, little LED, April 2, 2017
by Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania)
For some reason, Alice in Wonderland tends to inspire dark, gritty reinterpretations, like Tim Burton's film adaptation, or the acclaimed Alice is Dead series of room escape games. Perhaps it's what people read between the lines of the original -- and perhaps it's better that way, because straight adaptations have been historically just bizarre and/or bland.

Nootropic Wonderland is a linear (and seemingly unfinished) Twine that needs another round of proofreading, but these are minor quibbles. More importantly, it's a cyberpunk take on the story, which could be great if it was either less generic or else took itself less seriously. I'm afraid simply rehashing 35-year-old tropes doesn't quite cut it in 2017, especially when there's no substance to back them up. Why are people so afraid of the patrolling drones with their searchlights? Is police brutal? Is there supposed to be a curfew at night? Or maybe they're just a symbol of the uncaring rich people living atop those silvery spires while the street crumbles? At least a gang beating up on anyone passing by, human or android, could be explained as a show of force that announces bigger trouble -- as the ending, such as it is, in fact seems to suggest.

But that's very little to go by. The story needs to be seriously fleshed out, and could use a little interactivity as well. Even just being able to click on things and get progressively detailed descriptions before moving on would help a lot. Luckily it seems to be a work in progress, so that's not out of the question, hopefully. Until then, take with a grain of salt.



Click Faggot, by Christopher Kinniburgh

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A harsh reality, April 19, 2016
by Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania)
Personal games have become increasingly popular as of late, due to a couple of factors: one, the democratization of accessible authoring tools, and two -- an increasing awareness throughout society of the fact that issues like bullying and depression are real, serious and all too widespread. These are exactly the issues Click Faggot is dealing with, as a slice of life covering a few years of a young man's struggle. It can be painful to play through; these aren't fun things to read about. But I forced myself to finish (once), because these are things we have to face.

Technically, the game is fine -- a custom browser-based engine that works on a principle similar to Undum -- and the author makes good use of single continuation options for pacing. It doesn't have any frills, and doesn't need them. Just give this short game a try; there's little else to be said.



Dragon Fate, by Kris Schnee

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A blast from the past, April 11, 2016
by Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania)
You know, people who grew up with gamebooks, like I did, often wax nostalgic about the medium. It's not as common to see someone try and bring those simple pleasures back to life, even for a glimpse. That's why I was excited to hear that Kris was working on Dragon Fate -- a good old-fashioned fantasy adventure where you, an adventurer, investigate claims of a dragon sighting off a small mountain village, hopefully getting rich in the process. But there's more up there than you bargained for...

Briefly put, Dragon Fate does everything right. The writing is to the point, but pleasant (Kris is a writer, and it shows). You can choose what kind of character you play. There's a diceless rule system that allows for freedom in how to tackle the various challenges, and you even get to decide the meaning of the mysteries you uncover, which will have an impact on certain endings. (The story features transformation themes.) The game is non-linear; you can explore in any order, and you'll want to visit everywhere multiple times to catch everything as you level up. The game also boasts no less than 14 endings (not counting death from injuries), but isn't judgemental about them -- you decide whether they're good or bad. All in all, a very replayable game.

All that makes the game more of an RPG than some titles actually claiming to belong in the genre. And to think it's made in plain old Twine! It's not exactly some deep meaningful story, either, but still entertaining, definitely head and shoulders over most of the classic gamebooks it reminds me of. Even the size is just right -- not so large as to require multiple play sessions, but neither so small as to leave the reader disappointed. There are places where there's nothing to suggest that coming back later might be fruitful, but that hardly impacts the enjoyment. So, enjoy!



Untold Riches, by Jason Ermer
Simple pleasures, November 17, 2015
by Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2015
A deceptively small and simple game, Untold Riches is an old-school puzzlefest with a backstory that seems to run on the Second-Hand Storytelling trope (appropriately given the set-up). The map is nice and tight, with mercifully simple puzzles -- though I did need the hints in a couple of places, simply for failing to realize there was hidden detail to examine. Also I found a couple of places where the text seems to assume I'll have encountered things in a particular order, but I'd have to replay to be sure. If I had to nitpick, the parrot could have been more entertaining, rather than a vending-machine NPC, but fluff by definition isn't essential.

All in all, a silly game with no depth that's nevertheless worth playing. I'd say it's nothing to write home about, but I just did, and that means more than the words themselves. Enjoy.

The Hunt for the Gay Planet, by Anna Anthropy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Rushed but not pointless, April 7, 2013
by Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania)
Having read Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space, I expected this game to be the poor man's version thereof, judging solely by the title. And it is... kind of. The ending in particular, with all the revelations and the choices, reminded me of the webcomic. Too bad the first segment of the story feels tacked on. But even rushed as it is, it does help drive home the point. Because it has a point, for all the faults. So try it out if you have a few minutes.

A Martian Odyssey, by Horatiu Romosan
A game that's flawed in interesting ways, December 6, 2012
by Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania)
I wanted to play A Martian Odyssey ever since I noticed it was apparently written by another Romanian author. Stupid reason, but there you have it.

Unfortunately, the game suffers from misplaced priorities. The 50-megabyte download is all due to a long ambient/electronica soundtrack, which is nice, but hardly essential. Worse, it can't be turned off in-game, and it gets loud at some point. No offense, but I don't want to turn off my speakers because of a single application. Give me a sound-less version and I'll be sure to play it further. A few more verbs wouldn't hurt either. Did no-one think to try "radio Harrison" in beta?

On to the good parts: retro sci-fi is sufficiently rare that it feels fresh here, and I'd like to see that angle developed. Terse writing doesn't bother me either, and there's a cast of characters who actually feel alive and interesting, at least initially. (I didn't get far at all.) And while it was jarring to find unimplemented nouns, that at least told me what wasn't important; in more polished games, it's all too easy to waste countless turns poking and prodding at irrelevant scenery. Though on second thought that's arguably a part of the fun.

No, I can't give the game as it stands more than two stars. But I think it does have some potential, if only the aforementioned annoyances were fixed.

P.S. I'd like to know more about the author. Is he also the composer? Did the soundtrack inspire the game? It does help create mood...

Les lettres volées, by Eric Forgeot

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Lettres Volées as played during the French IFComp 2008, March 19, 2011
by Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania)
Related reviews: French IFComp 2008

Lettres Volées ("Stolen Letters") is the kind of game you can't write much about without giving spoilers. Let's just say it's a game in which you're not moving in space but in time. That's very rare in IF, despite the fact that time tracking is well-supported by Inform, at the very least.

Essentially, we're talking about a one-room game where descriptions change constantly. As time passes, you remember more relevant information about the surrounding objects, and you're offered more things to do with them. As a nice touch, the location itself is only described indirectly, through said objects. Artistically speaking, this works very well. Lettres volées does a great job of setting a mood and making an indirectly-discovered world come to life.

On the minus side, what I'm supposed to do in the game is despicable. I had to turn to the solution to even realize what was expected of me, and I still don't understand why I should be interested in doing it. And what's with all the waiting? I know there's a reason for it, but the third or fourth time it's no longer funny. Either I'm not on the author's wavelength, or else Lettres... needs a lot more clues. And I mean in-game, not in the hint system!

I could not reach the end in time for the voting deadline, (or afterwards, for that matter) but I hope to return to it someday, if only to see what other surprises the game has in store.



Brume, by Rémi Verschelde (Akien)

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Brume as played in the French IFComp 2008, March 19, 2011
by Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania)
Related reviews: French IFComp 2008

While the English interactive fiction community regards long, elaborate works as an ideal, French authors seem to prefer small but well-made games (Ekphrasis being the exception that strengthens the rule). Brume is an escape-the-locked-room puzzle, very simple, but almost flawless. Except for a couple of unimplemented objects and an overwrought blurb, I have no complaint.

The game is made to convey a particular mood, and it does so with a carefully designed environment and short, well-written descriptions. The timed mood messages and occasional sudden deaths (they're undoable...) help, too. The puzzles are very basic, which is just the way I like them, but since the game is so small, more red herrings would not have been out of place. The author has clearly mastered the basics of text adventure authoring. I recommend just a little more ambition next time.




1-8 of 8