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Reviews by Stian

Spring Thing 2019

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

2 of 2 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!

Founder's Mercy, by Thomas Insel

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Minimalistic sci-fi, May 13, 2019
by Stian
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2019
This is a relatively short and easy game, though not really too easy.

Founderís Mercy is strikingly minimalistic; descriptions are kept to a minimum and the command set is very limited. While this fits the alone-on-a-space-station setting and the nondescript protagonist (is he/she/it even human?) very well, it does leave a lot of question marks with regards to the story. You do get a bit of the back history by (Spoiler - click to show)activating the hologram in the school, but I would have loved to hear more, to understand more. As it is, I was more motivated to solve the puzzles because they were puzzles than in order to advance the story.

The puzzles are all on the easy side, partly due to the limited inventory and command set, but generally not too obvious.

I guess I had hoped for some mind-blowing revelations or mind-boggling mysteries that never came, but still, I had an enjoyable two hours with Founderís Mercy.

Oh, and I really loved the feelies PDF!

Porter Cave Adventure, by Cam Miller
Not really a game, May 13, 2019
by Stian
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2019
This felt less as a game, and more like a pedagogical exercise. The way through it is linear and underway, the player is met with quotes relevant to game theory that shines light on the purpose of what they are doing or just did. As such, there are no real puzzles here, though Iím sure many will appreciate the IF meta-perspectives laid out in this manner.

The mechanics were a bit too unpolished for my taste. Most things listed cannot be examined, and some of the verbs needed to advance were impossible for me to guess. However, in this case, using the walkthrough didnít really spoil anything.

Porter Cave Adventure is a neat way of explaining game concepts, but donít expect an immersive game experience.


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