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Ratings and Reviews by Stian

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Tethered, by Linus Åkesson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A slightly unique masterpiece, May 18, 2019
Wow! Tethered was good on so many levels. It's short, but exactly as long as it needs to be. I spent roughly an hour with it and was left both impressed and emotionally affected. Every obstacle felt like a necessary part of the story, while the player's progression was usually slightly different than expected, resulting in an experience both familiar and unique.

There are several things for the player to figure out. In most cases, I would probably refer to them as puzzles. Here, it felt like the wrong term; they're so intertwined with the story (a story that is deep and serious but never in a way that feels didactic or overly dramatic) that I hardly noticed them. It's not often (with any medium) that my experience is so immersive.

Although I expect that the author could have made a more or less equally good story in any IF language, the several little things that were unique in Tethered made me think of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativity. While it in general would be silly to apply such thoughts to most programming languages (their differences being so well-defined), this is obviously not the case for IF authoring languages. Some things are more difficult in Inform 7 and therefore rarely done, something that fundamentally affects the story. A new language, such as the author's Dialog, represents an opportunity to do new things in old ways and old things in new, something Åkesson succeeded with rather perfectly.

The Temple of Shorgil, by Arthur DiBianca
Stian's Rating:

Tales from Castle Balderstone, by Ryan Veeder
Stian's Rating:

Moon Goon, by Caleb Wilson
Stian's Rating:

Bloody Raoul, by Caleb Wilson (as Ian Cowsbell)
Stian's Rating:

Grandma Bethlinda's Variety Box, by Arthur DiBianca
Stian's Rating:

Best Gopher Ever, by Arthur DiBianca
Stian's Rating:

Robin & Orchid, by Ryan Veeder and Emily Boegheim
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Junior Arithmancer, by Mike Spivey
Stian's Rating:

The Empty Chamber: A Celia Swift Mystery, by Tom Sykes

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Great premise, too short, May 13, 2019
by Stian
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2019
I was seriously disappointed with this game; it was over far to quickly!

Already from the opening introduction I was feeling very hopeful, anticipating some properly stimulating problem solving. Typing the recommended help command only served to intrigue me further:

This is a story set inside one room, which you can regard by typing look (or simply l). There's no need to move around, but there are plenty of things to examine (x), to touch, and even to smell, and various fixtures to open or close. You won't find any items to pick up - this is a crime scene, after all - but Celia always carries her lockpick, just in case she needs to unlock something.

Typing map (m) will show you the room layout, while deduce will trigger the ending sequence - note that you can do this at any time. You may also want to ask land about relevant topics, such as the victim, or Celia herself.

I really enjoy one-room puzzlefests, and this was almost one of the better ones, had it only been longer. The protagonist is cool (and played in third, not second, person!) and while the two side characters are stereotypes, they work really well in this setting. Speaking of the setting, it's lovely too, though limited by the constraints of the game.

After about one hour of fun, intensively looking for clues and connecting dots, I was feeling properly stuck. I decided then to try the deduce command, which triggers the ending, and discovered that I had, well, discovered everything and solved the game. (Spoiler - click to show)I hadn't even found the bullet (I assume it went out the window, but couldn't see where it ended up), let alone understood why Hackett decided to end his life.

I really hope we'll see a longer version of this game, or more parser IF from the author!

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