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Grimnoir, by ProP

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Well-done noir homage that plays with noir's tropes in interesting ways, March 12, 2019
Dark background. Sweet jazzy opening music. First person narration. Rain pounding on the windows. Early entrance by a femme fatale… who is actually your business partner, not to mention (Spoiler - click to show)a succubus - the ultimate femme fatale! - and who totally calls your bluff on pretending to be asleep. With all of this, plus the title, I’m thinking that Grimnoir is going to be a noir detective story that nevertheless plays with noir’s usual tropes. And, sure enough, that’s what it is.

One major aspect of the game perhaps takes noir in a different direction rather than playing with its tropes. This is the fact that (Spoiler - click to show)the PC specializes in the supernatural - particularly tracking down various undead spirits. There are probably other works that feature this as well, but I was reminded of Jonathan Stroud's Lockwood & Co. series of novels.

A second aspect is truly playing with noir’s tropes. As you slowly come to realize over the course of the game, (Spoiler - click to show)the detective PC is gay. This affects the story and gameplay some, as it makes him immune to the charms of his succubus partner, while leaving him susceptible to an incubus in one of the mid-to-late-game cases.

Gameplay involves solving a series of cases. You're given three cases initially that you can investigate in any order. After you complete those you're given three more cases that you can investigate in any order, followed by the endgame case(s). (It's kind of like Detectiveland doubled, in that respect.) Three cases at a time gives the player some choice without it feeling overwhelming in the way six or seven cases might.

The player also has access to the Grimnoir, which contains a list of monsters and their powers. This was fun and reminded me of a miniature Dungeons & Dragons monster manual.

The cases feature some interesting narrative and investigate variations. For example, (Spoiler - click to show)in one case you play as the succubus partner, which was fun partly for variety and partly because she has cool powers. In addition, another case involves two spirits rather than one.

My one gameplay critique has to do with your selection of the monster that you think is causing the crime. After you've completed your investigation, the game gives you a list of three monsters to choose from. With only three names it’s easy (if you remembered to save just before the monster encounter) to try all of them and then reload if you’re wrong.

Also, from a narrative standpoint I’m not sure why naming a monster would cause it to freeze, although from a gameplay standpoint I can understand this: The game needs some way for the selection of the monster type to be decisive in terms of the investigation, and having the monster freeze when named accomplishes that.

The final case is a nice wrap-up of the PC's storyline and series of investigations.

Overall, I enjoyed Grimnoir. It's a well-done noir homage that nevertheless plays with its tropes in interesting ways.

Polish the Glass , by Keltie Wright
Dynamic fiction with strong, spare writing, March 11, 2019
Polish the Glass is a medium-length choice-based game with an unusual story. The PC’s mother can’t stop herself from (Spoiler - click to show)polishing the glass in the Bar (it’s always capitalized) down the street. This leads to a breakdown in the PC's parents’ relationship and eventually the dissolution of their marriage. However, as the PC grows up, she eventually takes a job working at the Bar, just like her mum. She finds herself drawn to the Bar, continuing to polish the glass, and slowly cutting herself off from relationships with other people, again like her mum.

There aren’t too many choices in the game. The vast majority of your clicks are to advance the text a sentence or three. At first I didn’t care much for that, but the more I read of Polish the Glass the more I came to appreciate this mechanic: It forced me to slow down and actually read every sentence. I couldn’t as easily skim the text and only carefully read the parts just before my next choice. So, even though I didn’t have many choices, the story actually did feel interactive to me - and more so than some other choice-based games I’ve played that also give you few choices but have much larger chunks of text between successive clicks.

The writing is good. It’s spare in a way that works with having to click to advance the text every couple of sentences.

I feel like the events in the game are a metaphor for something, but I can’t decide what. Here are some ideas I’ve had: (Spoiler - click to show)Alcohol addiction. Addiction in general. Aging and death. Depression. Perfectionism. Giving yourself too much to other people and having that suck the life out of you.

It might also just be a story, with nothing particularly metaphorical about it. I think it’s fair to say, though, that I feel like I didn’t really “get” Polish the Glass. For some works you’re on the author’s wavelength, and for some you’re not. Or perhaps dynamic fiction is just not my thing.

Again, though, I thought the writing was strong, and if you like dynamic fiction you may very well appreciate Polish the Glass.

Eunice, by Gita Ryaboy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Explore ideas from positive psychology, March 8, 2019
Eunice is a short, parser-based game with a rather unusual purpose: As it states in the intro text, Eunice is “an introduction to research-based Positive Psychology tools.” The research-based jumps out at me there; I assume it’s because “positive psychology” sounds like “self-help,” and the latter doesn’t have all that great a reputation. However, positive psychology is a legitimate branch of psychology, and it’s clear that the author has some knowledge of the latest research in this field. The ABOUT section says, “Data shows that some simple actions can improve mood, perspective, and resilience.” Eunice is intended to introduce us to some of these actions, such as gratitude, connection, mindfulness, flexibility, and hope. Aiming to give others a deeper understanding of a particular branch of human knowledge may be an unusual motivation for writing a parser-based game, but it’s one I’m certainly sympathetic to, as I’ve done it myself with A Beauty Cold and Austere. Eunice is aiming for something more than just understanding and appreciation, though; it’s also hoping that players will incorporate into their lives (even if just a little) the insights about positive psychology learned from playing the game. I can’t help but admire the author’s goal here.

In terms of the story, you’re in the land of Eunice, where everything is in a state of neglect. In order to win the game, you have to perform, as the PC, acts of gratitude, connection, mindfulness, and flexibility in order to release hope and heal the land. The game world and characters aren’t deeply fleshed out, but that’s the intent: Everything is supposed to be understood metaphorically. For example, in one location you (Spoiler - click to show)encounter a group of people frozen as statues. To free them, you must LOOSEN YOUR LIMBS, thereby demonstrating flexibility.

I think the metaphors could be a little tighter, but overall I think they do work.

The solutions to some of the puzzles require unusual verbs, as in the example I just gave. However, the text (with one exception, given below) always tells you exactly what the right phrasing is; you just have to pay careful attention. For example, in the scenario described above, if you first (Spoiler - click to show)EXAMINE STATUES, the response includes the sentence "Looking at them life-like and lifeless, frozen in various pretzel positions, makes you want to loosen your limbs."

This is a good way to incorporate atypical verbs in your game without introducing awful guess-the-verb problems.

There was only one puzzle I really had trouble with, (Spoiler - click to show)unfreezing the troll. If there was a clue in the text for the right approach to solving this puzzle, I missed it.

Overall, how well does Eunice succeed? As a pure parser game, it would be more fun with more attention to some details: stronger puzzles with better cluing, setting and characters that are more richly described, directions the player can travel to in each location mentioned in the location descriptions, and corrections to several punctuation mistakes.

But, again, Eunice’s goal isn’t to be the latest and greatest parser game. Rather, it’s to get these psychology concepts in people’s heads. How well does it succeed at that? The answer probably depends on the player. In general, though, interacting with a concept is going to make you remember it far more easily than if you just read about it or hear someone explain it. For myself, I think the concepts would stick with me better if (as I mentioned earlier) the metaphor choices were somewhat stronger. But I do think the value of gratitude, of connection, of mindfulness, of flexibility, and of hope will remain with me more now that I’ve played Eunice.

Bi Lines, by Naomi Z (as Norbez)
Complex and multilayered, March 4, 2019
A powerful, choice-based work, Bi Lines manages to weave together multiple hard-hitting issues in just three short acts - and do so pretty much seamlessly, in my opinion. Like a few other works in IFComp 2018, it's hard to say much without giving a great deal away. I’ll start with a few technical comments.

Bi Lines uses an old typewriter font to present the text. Mousing over text indicating a choice blurs the text, although not so much that it becomes illegible. Also, if you leave the mouse in the right spot for some of the choice texts they will switch back and forth rapidly between the unblurred and blurred versions. These are all interesting presentation choices that underline the story, since (Spoiler - click to show)the PC is a reporter who can see and interact with ghosts.

Also, the title is a nice pun.

As I said, it's really hard to discuss Bi Lines without giving much away. Minor spoiler: Bi Lines presents a complex portrayal of the experience of (Spoiler - click to show)coping with sexual assault, particularly the problem of trying to get other people to believe you.

Long, major spoiler, which tries to unpack some of the layers Bi Lines uses to present this experience:

(Spoiler - click to show)It hits hard from the very beginning. The first page of text lays out a difficult scenario: You're a guy on a date with a woman. She's confessing her love to you. Your first choice: Do you trust her with your secret? Do you respond with, "I also like guys. I think."? Or do you hide that?

Then you learn that it’s 1981, not 2018, and this raises the stakes on the PC’s choice here even more.

The next big twist comes when you discover that the PC can see and hear ghosts. Not only that, the PC has inherited this ability from his mother. Mother spent her life helping ghosts find and complete that one more task (different for each ghost) that was preventing them from moving on from this world. This was her mission in life. As Mom would say, "Always bear the weight of love on your shoulders. No matter how much it costs you." It cost Mom her life. However, even in death (she's still a ghost) this is her motto, and she expects you to uphold it as well.

In the first act you meet a ghost at a party. He kisses you, without your consent. Then he fondles you and grabs your now-erect penis. A desire for this experience must have been what was holding him to this plane of existence, because after he grabs you he fades away, satisfied.

Acts 2 and 3 work out the consequences of this setup. First, there are your feelings about being sexually assaulted: It’s a violation of your physical self, and it leaves you so shaken that you have trouble going about your life for the next couple of days (and beyond). On the other hand, the text indicates that you found this arousing on at least some level. After all, your desire to be with other men isn't something you can be very open about.

Then there are others' reactions to this episode. It's not like you can easily explain to people why you're so upset: You were fondled by a ghost! Who is another male! It's a great dramatization of the frustration and fear of (I presume) many people who have been sexually assaulted: Who’s going to believe me?

There's also your relationship with Mom (and, now, Mom's ghost). You love her and want to honor her memory, but she does not approve of your attraction to other men. In fact, she says the assault would never have happened if it weren't for your (in her words) "unnatural love" for men. There's another aspect of the sexual assault survivor’s predicament: Being blamed for the assault. But it's given additional emotional heft by being said by someone you love and who actually uses the episode as justification for her disapproval of a part of you she does not like.

Not only that, there are your conflicting feelings about helping these ghosts move on. You’re the only one who can, and so you feel some responsibility to assist them. And you do want to help them. But it's also a burden, one that you didn't choose and that feels kind of like something your mother forced on you. Do your responsibility and desire to help them extend to letting them take advantage of you? Even to the point of allowing them to violate you physically and sexually?

Finally, there's Gregor, the ghost who assaulted you. It's clear that Gregor was attracted to men as well, and I don't think it's reading too much into the story to draw the conclusion that what was holding him back from moving on from this earth was a probably never-fulfilled desire to touch another man sexually. So his assault and violation of you itself came from the same source of much of your anguish as the PC: same-sex attraction in a society that does not accept it. From another angle: How else was Gregor going to move on if he hadn’t forced himself on you? In his mind, what if he had asked and you said "No"? Would he have been stuck here forever? This line of thinking is heading toward the very uncomfortable conclusion that, in his mind, maybe he felt like he didn't have any choice other than to sexually assault you (!).


All of this is to say that I'm amazed at the degree to which Bi Lines manages to dramatize several anguishing issues in a relatively short work.

In the blurb the author mentions that Bi Lines was inspired by the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lest some readers misunderstand this, let me emphasize that Bi Lines is not an attempt to rehash those hearings. Rather, Bi Lines stands on its own as a powerful dramatic work without explicit reference to anything external.

The Mouse Who Woke Up For Christmas, by Luke A. Jones

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Cute Christmas-themed game, March 2, 2019
The Mouse Who Woke Up For Christmas is a parser game written with the Quest design system. It starts off really cute: You’re a mouse, and it’s Christmas Eve. You have a few more things to do to get ready for Christmas, including finding a present for your young daughter (endearingly represented on the cover art). It turns out that all she wants is (Spoiler - click to show)to have her mother back. Mom went out to the garden months ago and never returned. Nobody knows where she is.

I had fun playing as a mouse. Actions that a human wouldn’t think twice of performing aren’t so easy for a mouse, some of which the author has turned into features of the game. For example, (Spoiler - click to show)you can’t take the spade in the garden; it’s too heavy. Also, you can’t carry anything else if you pick up the cricket ball.

I do think the size aspect of the PC could have been exploited for a few more interesting puzzles, though.


My critiques of The Mouse Who Woke Up For Christmas are the same issues that so often bedevil us parser authors: a few underclued puzzles, like (Spoiler - click to show)wetting the rock to create a "whetstone" (it's a nice pun, but really hard to come up with on your own) and knocking out the weasel with the cricket ball; some guess-the-verb problems like (Spoiler - click to show)FILL BUCKET, when PUT WATER IN BUCKET and GET WATER don't work, LIGHT/BURN something isn't understood when you clearly need a fire for something, and THROW HOOK to get in the pet shop; as well as not enough feedback when you try something close to the solution, like (Spoiler - click to show)how the text says, "You can’t use it that way" when you try to use the match on the lump of charcoal before pouring lighter fluid on it. It would clue the player that they’re on the right track if the text response was something like, "You try, but the lump of charcoal won’t catch fire. It’s too dry."

My ten-year-old son played through the endgame with me. He really liked (Spoiler - click to show)the ninja outfit, as did I.

The story is sweet in a way that’s endearing rather than annoying (as opposed to certain children’s television programs). The ending is (Spoiler - click to show)predictable but still moving. Meeting Santa Claus and having his elves help save the day was a nice touch as well, storywise.

Overall, a cute Christmas-themed game.

Shackles of Control, by Sly Merc

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Too heavy-handed with its theme, February 28, 2019
In Shackles of Control, a short, choice-based game, you find yourself in a hallway of your high school. However, nobody is there, and so you have to figure out what happened to them and what is going on.

Given the game's title, it's perhaps not surprising that the whole thing turns out to be a metaphor for letting go of the strictures placed on you (your memories, say, or others' expectations).

To achieve this, you must (Spoiler - click to show)find the secret passage in the teachers’ lounge, discover the machine that holds everyone’s memories, and turn it off so that you can, as the best ending text says, find

"a place where you would never be corrupted by others, a place where you could make your own unique memories, a place where you could find out who you really were.

A place where you could be genuinely you."


My thoughts on this theme: (Spoiler - click to show)I do think we need to get away by ourselves from time to time, for self-reflection and self-understanding. And I do think that others’ expectations on us can feel like “shackles of control.” It is important to find out who we are.

But I disagree that becoming genuinely you requires shrugging off the influence of everyone around you. A large part of who we are as individual humans exists in terms of our relationships with others. Identities we have like “father,” “wife,” “brother,” “grandmother,” “daughter,” “boyfriend,” “student,” “employee,” “boss,” etc., all exist only in relation to other people.

I suppose that, to many people - and particularly teenagers like the protagonist of Shackles of Control - these relationships can often feel oppressive. People just have so many expectations, and they can feel like shackles. But part of growing up is figuring out how to hold fast to (or perhaps create) your own identity - your own sense of who you are - while still embracing those relationships that help make us human. It’s often not an easy thing to do, and it may take years, but it is part of growing up.


There are some unfortunate spelling mistakes. I’m thinking of “alegebra” and “econimics” on the first page, but there are others, including two that give somewhat humorous unintended meanings to their phrases: "last year’s plaque of radioactive raccoons" and "your character arch was supposed to end on a high note."

A few technical comments: Mainly, I think the game pushes the player too much to achieve a particular ending. I played through multiple times, and many of your choices end up routing you in a certain direction, sometimes with odd narrative explanations as to why. I’m thinking in particular of the game telling you that (Spoiler - click to show)"You could have not known that that innocent coffee marker [sic] is hiding a terrible truth that none of the faculty wanted to be revealed," followed by explicit instructions to turn it (for no reason that's foreshadowed earlier in the game) 17 degrees to the left.

Shackles of Control also kind of mocks you if you don’t finish the game with a specific ending (or, possibly, one of a few specific endings). I think the game would be stronger if it explored the consequences of players choosing poorly (in terms of the game’s theme) by laying out a natural set of outcomes of those choices rather than the text just telling you that those are bad choices.

So, ironically, I think that the way Shackles of Control pushes the player to achieve a particular ending kind of serves as its own form of “shackles of control.”

Exploring the theme of how others' expectations can feel like a prison could make for an interesting and thought-provoking game, but I don't think this one succeeds at that.

StupidRPG, by Steven Richards

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Rather clever, actually, February 27, 2019
StupidRPG is a mid-to-longer-length parser game that simulates a session of a role-playing game like Dungeons & Dragons, complete with a not fully competent Game Master. As far as I can tell, the author has written the parser and interface. It’s somewhat Quest-like, in that you not only have a parser but you can also click on a hyperlinked object, which then gives you a short menu of ways to interact with the object. If both the parser and interface were actually created by the author, they alone constitute an impressive piece of work.

The game itself is a comedy. The GM makes several humorous mistakes, most notably (Spoiler - click to show)failing to load the correct module for Act 2. Instead, he loads a backup from when the story was a different genre altogether (!). The font and background color in this older module... oh, my eyes!

The GM also dialogues with some of the characters in the story. In addition, one of your items takes you aside to make some comments about the GM’s “ignorance.” There are puns galore - groan-worthy puns that still elicit a chuckle even while you’re enduring the pun-ishment. The text itself takes a tone that can come across as silly, amusing, or hilarious, depending on your mood and tastes in comedy. In fact, I can see people having lots of different reactions to the humor in StupidRPG. For me, it worked most of the time.

Also, StupidRPG features multiple levels of awareness of itself: You’re playing a game mediated through the voice of the parser, and that game is itself a simulation of another game mediated through the voice of the GM. Who is not entirely competent. All the different ways that these levels of awareness interacted with each other in StupidRPG was my favorite part of playing it.

The RPG elements don’t seem to figure into the story much. I had a choice between several races - and, later, several professions - but these didn’t seem to affect gameplay a lot. I only saw one very minor place where my race affected the text (I don’t think it affected the gameplay at all). There was one important place where my profession mattered, though: (Spoiler - click to show)In the final boss battle, where my attempt to use my wizardly skills to cast a cantrip failed spectacularly and turned the final boss into a toad.

There are several monsters, but (Spoiler - click to show)you generally don't fight them. I even walked right past a troglodyte once and never interacted with him again. The exception was the endgame, where you do have a final boss to defeat.

All of this turns the experience of playing StupidRPG into something closer to a parser comedy than an RPG (which I’m sure is the intent). As a parser game, it feels fairly linear, and the puzzles tend to be straightforward. The one exception was (Spoiler - click to show)hugging the wyrmling. I'm thinking I missed a clue somewhere, but if not, I don't know how I would have ever gotten that without the walkthrough.

Overall, StupidRPG is a much cleverer game than the title would indicate - with a great deal of content and multiple levels of awareness of itself.

Six Silver Bullets, by William Dooling

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Immersive, addictive spy-themed game with some implementation problems, February 23, 2019
I spent more time playing Six Silver Bullets than I did any of the other IFComp 2018 games during the competition period. Its immersive, addictive gameplay kept me engaged for hours.

The game itself is parser-based and written with ADRIFT. You wake up in a hotel room with your memories gone, a locked safe, a mysterious note, a silver gun, and six silver bullets. It turns out you're "Silver," one of several secret agents with colored code names.

The story is written in a noir-like style, complete with six-shooter, a femme fatale you meet early on, and short, clipped sentences. Also, the locations are more like archetypes than they are locations in some real world. For example, there are The Restaurant, The Church, The Hamlet, The Library, etc.

As is usual for a game featuring amnesia, the goal is to figure out what's going on. The mysterious note may or may not be from someone you can trust, and the people that you meet may or may not be looking out for your best interests.

The gameplay, though, is what kept me sticking with Six Silver Bullets for hours. It is very easy to get killed in this game. But that's intended: On each playthrough you gain more information about what's going on, and you can use that information on subsequent playthroughs to uncover even more of the story. In this sense it's a lot like Ryan Veeder's game The Lurking Horror II: The Lurkening from last year. However, Six Silver Bullets is MUCH larger and has a much more complicated plot than The Lurkening. In fact, there are all kinds of plot twists and turns; I kept changing my mind about which of the characters were trustworthy and even what goals I wanted to pursue.

The endgame is satisfying, providing you with a narratively consistent explanation of the entire setting, as well as why you can continue to die and replay the story.

The only thing that kept Six Silver Bullets from being one of my very favorite IFComp 2018 games is its implementation. Some of this may be ADRIFT's parser, but there are lots and lots of issues here - ranging from minor to serious to very frustrating. For example, you often have to type the entire name of an object, even when it's quite long. I really got tired of typing (Spoiler - click to show)"the gray microfilm canister" over and over. Sometimes you can just type one or two of the words, though. Also, sometimes you have to include "the" in front of a dialogue option, and sometimes you don't. More serious problems include dialog options that characters don't respond to, as well as several guess-the-verb issues. There was even one instance where the parser only accepted a particular misspelling of a word, not its correct spelling!

Still, frustrations aside, I very much enjoyed Six Silver Bullets - enough to keep playing the game for many hours. If these implementation issues could be fixed I'd easily rate this game as five stars. Even with the parser frustrations, I'd call it a four-star game.


Space Punk Moon Tour, by J_J

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Needs more polish - but creative, original, and charming, February 22, 2019
Space Punk Moon Tour is a long parser game written using the Quest system. You play as nineteen-year-old Tina, who lives with her grandmother after the death of her mother and the disappearance of her father. Tina has just won tickets to the moon to see her favorite band in concert.

I found the game a bit daunting at first. There are A LOT of objects in the first two rooms. In addition, I quickly discovered that the game needs more polish. There are several reasonable actions you can try that don't do anything, some objects aren't fully implemented, and I had guess-the-verb problems on multiple occasions.

I was on the verge of giving up (there's no walkthrough), and then I checked some of the other reviews. Ade McT indicated that he had (Spoiler - click to show)made it onto the spaceship within two hours, so I thought I would give it another try. And I'm glad I did. The story gets more interesting - particularly with the quirky characters. For instance, (Spoiler - click to show)there's Tina's former coworker she meets on the subway who is on his way to a job interview but who also, oddly, has had his shoes stolen. Then there's TJ, Tina's boss (I think) who wants her to meet him in a sketchy room in the Underground and deliver a mysterious package for him. These guys, Tina, and her friend Jantasha all know each other and have a history with each other.

There are also a couple of strange wire collectors in the subway, a woman with whom Tina bonds in the bathroom over feminine hygiene products, and an alien working the space flight information desk. Even Tina's grandmother, who won't let Tina touch her hot chocolate, was someone I found kind of endearing.

In addition, there's a subplot about a fire years ago in a factory owned by Cobri, a major corporation that seems to control everything. I'm wondering if this will tie in to the story behind Tina's father's disappearance
.

In general, the fact that Tina appears to be from a lower socioeconomic class than you normally get for an IF protagonist makes her more interesting to play.

In the end, I made it to (Spoiler - click to show)the second day on the spaceship before stopping. I hope sometime to return to the game and finish it.

The graphics are charming and remind me some of those in Sierra's 1980s graphics/parser hybrid games. (Space Punk Moon Tour is pure parser, though; the graphics are there to enhance the experience - not to interact with.)

You can also check your phone in each location, which is a neat feature. "Read News" checks your news feed for something new, "Check Calendar" summarizes your major goals for that location, and you can also text multiple people.

In addition, there are decisions you can make (or not make) in earlier locations that affect what you can do later or what happens later. I didn't play far enough to determine whether failing to do something would lock me out of victory, but it was interesting to see those events play out or not play out. For example, (Spoiler - click to show)if you don't text TJ on the subway then you can't meet him in the underground, which might change your options for the party on the spaceship. Also, I didn't say anything to my grandmother about the bad milk in the refrigerator before I left, and while I was on the spaceship Jantasha texted me to say that Grandma had gotten sick and had gone to the hospital. I wonder if that would not have happened if I had warned Grandma.

Overall, while Space Punk Moon Tour could have used a lot more testing and polish, I found it to be a creative, original, and charming work of IF.

H.M.S. Spaceman, by Nat Quayle Nelson, Diane Cai
A roller-coaster ride of a sex comedy, February 21, 2019
H.M.S. Spaceman is a ribald sex comedy, which is not one of my preferred comedy genres. And the first act dragged for me. However, I stayed with the game and slowly started to warm up to it. By the middle of the second act it had grabbed me, and from there on all I could do was hold on for dear life - between laughs, that is. It's kind of like the reaction I had the first time I read A Confederacy of Dunces. I kept thinking "The game is going there? And there?! And there!?!"

Like A Confederacy of Dunces, though, you can sense that there's more to H.M.S. Spaceman than just the outrageous bids for laughs. For one, while the game starts out with the male humans' point of view, it eventually switches to that of the aliens. And these humans are clueless - totally clueless. What you end up with is a lampooning of patriarchy and colonialism, right down to some William Shatner / Star Trek elements.

But it's the rollicking comedy that dominates. The part that made me laugh the hardest was (Spoiler - click to show)when Penumbra is trying to find a song to listen to on the radio. I finally settled on, "I hear you call my name." And then the game slowly gives you the next few lines:

---
"And it feels"

---
"like"

---
"home."

Me: "I think I recognize that. What is it?"

And then: "It's... it's... oh, right!"

So, an alien tentacle creature planning to seduce and deceive some clueless humans is listening to Madonna's "Like a Prayer." I laughed long and hard
.

Also, for some reason, (Spoiler - click to show)the whole sex scene told from Penumbra's - the alien tentacle creature's - point of view. Like how she remembers the need for humans to slow down and engage in "the fourth play." Just... wow.

Overall, an outrageously funny sex comedy - but with more going on underneath the surface.


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