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Reviews by Hanon Ondricek

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Unmaking, Unmade, by G.C. "Grim" Baccaris (as Grim Curio)
A short combo, February 6, 2019
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
Using both Twine and Bitsy. A neat idea that I'd like to see expanded.

The Amusement Park, by Ryan Dolner
This link does not appear valid., December 9, 2018
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
Is this a bogus entry?

Four, by R_Kasahara
This game is dysfunctional..., December 8, 2018
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
And that's part of the fun. Worth 10-15 minutes - I was smiling the entire time.

Monster Fucker One: Vampire, by Kristan X

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Nontoxic Vampire AIF, October 20, 2018
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
"Monster Fucker One: Vampire is the first in a series of text-based interactive fictions in which you attempt to seduce various beings of myth and legend." I only played the demo. For $2 on itch.io you get "seven different encounters, more than a dozen unique endings, and about 23,000 words of text."

This is a decent choice-based adult story about a protagonist who is horny to get bit by a vampire. The game offers a binary choice of gender (anything more nuanced may be outside the scope of what the author is doing here) and gets right to the hookup process without futtering around too much with an atmosphere or description beyond the surface anatomy of potential paramours. This is fine - it's not trying too hard to be much more than vampire fanfic. I appreciate the gender choice and that the game doesn't lock out your partner's gender based on that. As far as I can see here, consent is observed and the protagonist desires to be bitten, so it's a bit of harmless smut.

The writing is fine. There's no conflict except finding which vampire is DTF; some are skittish, some are haughty, one is just right. You choose whether to take the lead or be passive in a quick hotel room encounter and the deed is done. There's nothing special about vampire sex either and no discovery or surprise - they have sex just like everyone else, save the extra penetration one might expect at the end. The comments on itch.io seem to be positive so this might be what some people are looking for. There's no suggestion that as a vampire the protagonist might gain any "superpower" sexual prowess based on what's here, but I might be wrong.

Understudied, by Jonathan Laury

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
The Actor's Nightmare, August 28, 2018
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
This is a Twine game where you have three hours to learn the lead role in the Scottish play...only it's a wacky heavy-metal musical version with pyrotechnics and a flying harness.

Thus ensues budgeting the time you have to learn as much of the show as you can before the curtain goes up. You can't choose everything, so there are decisions to be made: Should you polish the lines, should you learn the music, do you talk to other actors in the show, should you make sure you eat or is it really important to make sure your costume fits?

Then the show begins. The choices you did and didn't make help or hinder you to fumble through the entire production. This is accomplished with some nice text effects and timing. The game assists you with the stuff you rehearsed and leaves you flailing for what you didn't. You can learn the show by memory a bit on repeated plays, and it's possible to get a standing ovation - or be taken out in an ambulance.

This is a great use of Twine, a lot of fun all around. The author has obviously been through this before, and a lot of the situations ring true. When an understudy is thrown onstage at the last minute, there really is a lot of triage: "Just stand on the side instead of learning the dance, because it's more important we take this time to teach you how not die by getting eaten alive under the turntable during the set change in this blackout..."

Having actually lived through similar theatrical shenanigans, including being part of a concept recording for a Macbeth rock musical, I can tell you Understudied is an absolute blast.

Ultramarine: A Seapunk Adventure, by Seven Submarines
Less talk, more action, sexy mer-peeps..., April 21, 2018
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
...I appreciated ULTRAMARINE, and though I think I made only two or three actual choices, I got a numbered unsatisfactory ending, so it appears I could go through again and try for another ending using the SKIP function (I didn't bother to save) but I think I can infer the other branches of plot I didn't discover. Though this is listed as a "full length" game - mostly due to the expository water-treading - I felt like I was being somehow hastily brought up to speed on a much more expansive story in a bigger world than shown here. I'd love to see at least some of this happen over some still art or kinetic concept drawings to break up the characters just do-si-do-ing their positions while facing the audience and describing the off-stage action.

Confessions of an NPC, by Charles Hans Huang

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
I feel like I missed Act One..., April 16, 2018
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
I appreciate the effort here and the writing and thought behind these characters studies which feel very "now" - but these are the kinds of revelations that are usually justified in turning us on our head after sucking the player into a "fun" fantasy world where we already have formed a worldview and have a basis of uninformed choices to build upon. Here, it feels we've skipped the revelatory turn (No! This fantasy world is our own!!!...!) and the game just handwaves all that.

Best Gopher Ever, by Arthur DiBianca

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
FETCH QUEST!: THE GAME, April 16, 2018
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
But not in a bad way! After I rolled my eyes, I enjoyed the busy-work, almost IF Sudoku vibe of this. The STATUS command is helpful as a quest-log and was it not for an extremely helpful graphical MAP, I might not have seen this through to the end.

Text Quest, by Chris Ingerson, Sleepy Owl Software

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
firefirefiresmokesmokesmokesmoke, November 28, 2017
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
UPDATE - This game is apparently still in development. See comment below. This appears to be an "abandoned" game concept. It was greenlit on Steam in 2015 and hasn't been updated since. The steam page says it's being "retired" which is unfortunate.

This is a 3D adventure made in Unity, but the novel utilization of words and typing in a cleverly old-school presentation will likely interest a lot of people in the IF Community, at least on a conceptual level.

This game cheats a bit with its gimmick. Words make up the entire world, but it also uses surfaces to build the environment, and the surfaces declare what they are "stone" "wall" "torch" with "firefirefire" glimmering out of it. This gives a bit of feel that it is a pre-render with temporary textures, but after exploring a bit, this is surprisingly intuitive and tactile. I had to approach a surface to read what it was made of. It's almost what playing an ASCII roguelike in 3D would be.

The player can sprint, jump and crouch, and (at least in the demo) this wasn't too challenging. So far the game does not seem to want to overwhelm you by requiring twitchy reflexes.

Getting close to an item lets the player interact, and gives a description. Walking near a chest, pressing E or enter to interact, and typing OPEN reveals "stuff". The text tells you there is a scepter, then you can TAKE SCEPTER.

Combat has a "typing of the dead" feel that I really appreciated, and was very clever.

The Rats in the Bulkheads, by Bruno Dias

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
The Real Deal, a bitter injection of sweet horror, November 11, 2017
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
I bounced off this a couple of times because it does things I don't usually care for - I had to download a thing for my specific system, the text types out - in full words at least instead of letter by letter.

But I finally got time to sit down and relax with this and treat it as an almost cinematic experience, and I was not disappointed.

At first, I thought I was looking at a fancy background movie, but I think the game text plays over a live rendered 3D environment and that's why you download a thing. I could be wrong, but if so I was fooled expertly. I watched the sparks and they never seemed to repeat, bouncing off the floor and drifting in antigravity.

The sound design is oppressive at first and it took me several tries to get along with it. The text and choices are displayed with different metallic banging sounds that pace the work and create a background texture along with the smoky popping of that aforementioned wire. And other sounds.

The story (Spoiler - click to show)combines the loneliness of vast space with existential dread and oppressive hopelessness of inhabiting an environment you aren't built to survive long in. Then there are rats. I'm not really afraid of rats. I've never had a bad experience with them. There are no actual pictures of rats in the game (and, respectfully, no jumpscares).

But you will remember
the rats.

This is a quiet, nonlinear, brooding horror with a diegetic, musique-concrete background score that builds and works its way into your psyche along with the words. And other things.

At first, I was critiquing as a designer and thought, "Why did I need to download a thing to look at one room?" By the end, I was convinced. Meticulously and thoroughly designed with words and multimedia, this is what Bruno Dias excels at. It even earns the Dutch angle.


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