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Ratings and Reviews by Clare Parker

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Violet, by Jeremy Freese
Clare Parker's Rating:

Snowblind Aces, by C.E.J. Pacian
Clare Parker's Rating:

Gun Mute, by C.E.J. Pacian

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful:
A futuristic western fable, July 15, 2008
by Clare Parker (Portland, OR)
Mute Lawton, the tongueless sharpshootin' hero of "Gun Mute" ploughs through his post-apocalyptic hometown with the ruthless persistence of the Man With No Name. Mute is driven by the love of one man, Elias, doomed to hang at noon, and no pistol-packing, shotgun-toting, laser-eyed, mutant posse members will stop him.

"Gun Mute" offers a fantastic little glimpse at a grimly strange future world. The characters that Mute must defeat are all stereotypes from western and sci-fi pulps, but the twisted character types make for interesting targets/allies. All the enemies have names prefaced by adjectives, my favorite being Glow-in-the-Dark Earl.

None of the puzzles are too difficult, although there are a number of learn-by-dying puzzles. Some puzzles require extremely tight timing. (Spoiler - click to show)I can't imagine anyone getting past Atomic Alice without being crushed at least once. I never found this frustrating, however. Even the best gunman gets outshot sometimes. Given the situation, this serves as an effective tension builder, not as a pointless irritant. The game mechanics in general create a feeling of urgency and a need to continue on. "Gun Mute" uses only "forward" and "backward" instead of the usual compass directions. I found this inspired a powerful urge to go onward, ever onward, even when I realized that I had forgotten to do something in a previous level. Although the game itself is not timed, I could still practically feel that clock ticking towards noon.

There are one or two minor changes that, in a perfect world, I would like to see in "Gun Mute". A counter of how much ammo I had left at the top of the screen would have been quite handy (Spoiler - click to show)and would have spared Mute a couple of needless deaths. My other quibble involves the plot. Although I have no doubt that Elias is innocent and Mute's mission just, I cannot help but wonder what Elias's alleged crime is. So far as I can tell, no explanation is given for his death sentence. However, these are minor points in an otherwise wonderful and original game.

Best of Three, by Emily Short

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Engaging and refreshing, despite realistically irritating NPC, June 16, 2008
by Clare Parker (Portland, OR)
Grant Stern, the main NPC in Best of Three, is more than a little irritating. His academic pretensions make me grit my teeth and if someone I was dining with ever ordered a cup of tea the way he does, I would probably die of embarrassment. I know men like this. Smart men who have only recently broken out of high school into the world of academia are prone to becoming self-centered and obnoxious. However, because I know men like this, I understand the PC's infatuation with him. It is easy to fall for smart guys, particularly if they are good-looking, and most especially if an underlying current of sweetness can be detected.

The whole of Best of Three involves a conversation between our PC, a young woman struggling with family issues and a growing post-high school malaise, and Grant. The PC, upon seeing Grant again, finds that she has not quite rid herself of the crush she holds for him. It is quite easy to direct the conversation to either end their "romance" or begin it. For the most part, the conversation flows smoothly. Grant comes up with things to talk about even if you fail to think of anything to ask him. There were a few points where the conversation options were rather out of the blue and a few other points where I misinterpreted the tone of the available options. The non sequiturs and unexpected replies to my statements could be mimesis breaking, but were the exception to the otherwise seamless conversation structure.

Best of Three, like all of Emily Short's work, is well programmed and implemented. However, it is not her best work. Some actions that should have been implemented were not. Attempting to say goodbye to Grant at any point yields the message "You terminate your conversation with Grant." Said conversation continues without any sign of having been interrupted. Furthermore, although you are quite plainly sitting in a booth in a cafe, getting up is not implemented. Alas.

Overall, this is quite a charming and interesting game. It can't be called difficult at all, but the prose is quite excellent and the characters have real depth. It isn't Emily Short's best work, but it is certainly worth a playthrough, and then another playthrough to pick up all the conversation options you missed and change the course of the burgeoning (or failing to burgeon) relationship.

And the Waves Choke the Wind, by Gunther Schmidl
Clare Parker's Rating:

Exhibition, by Ian Finley
Clare Parker's Rating:

Only After Dark, by Gunther Schmidl

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
I like werewolves but..., May 22, 2008
by Clare Parker (Portland, OR)
"Only After Dark" is a short game that deals with werewolves, a theme I am rather partial to, but unfortunately I found it to be tragically flawed. Although it could make a nice little work, it was under-implemented and allowed for very minimal interaction. The plot unrolls without much input from the player. After a bit, I began to enjoy the story, but sadly, weird tics of the prose kept popping up that completely broke my immersion, such as it was, in the plot. For example, at one point, you are confronted with a pack of wolves "howling and hissing." Cats hiss. Snakes hiss. Wolves don't hiss.

If the gameworld was expanded to allow for more exploration and perhaps a modicum of influence on the plot, this could perhaps be a brief and gripping little game. Sadly, it is not.

Six Stories, by Neil K. Guy
Clare Parker's Rating:

Guess the Verb!, by Leonard Richardson
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Rameses, by Stephen Bond
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