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Ratings and Reviews by verityvirtue

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View this member's reviews by tag: 2018 choleric ECTOCOMP ECTOCOMP 2016 IFComp 2015 IFComp 2016 IFComp 2017 Introcomp Ludum Dare melancholic melancholic phlegmatic melancholy parser phlegmatic Ren'Py sanguine Spring Thing 2015 Spring Thing 2016 sub-Q Tiny Utopias
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Earl Grey, by Rob Dubbin and Allison Parrish
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Nightfall, by Eric Eve

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Slightly generic espionage work in an unnamed town against an unnamed enemy, June 30, 2019
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
Premise: You're one of the last people in the town. Everyone else has fled on the government's orders, on threat of an unknown Enemy (yes, capital E).

Nightfall is technically proficient, featuring several good examples of parser conveniences. The player can use the "GO TO" command to navigate the substantial map, and there is an impressive amount of content to explore.

I found the sheer number of memories available slightly overwhelming, even if most of them appear almost… trivial. Memories sparked by visiting certain places for the first time are indexed for future reference, though not all of the memories turn out to be important for progressing in the story.

The swelling inventory is disambiguated, but in a way that shows off the underlying skeleton of the parser format. Items of the same kind are colour-coded, like one might find in a point-and-click game (does anyone even remember those any more?!), whose artificiality becomes more obvious the more time one spends with non-parser or more modern, naturalistic games.

I found it hard to suspend disbelief starting from the premise. The town in Nightfall has the air of an unimportant town caught in the thrall of international politics, a little like Salisbury was to UK politics in 2018. The game remains infuriatingly vague about specifics, though, and do not offer too much information payoff for following a lead. If anything, the character motivations struck me as being a bit threadbare. The player character appears to be motivated mostly by an obsession with the unnamed female character, whose motivations we never understand - we cannot even infer it from the PC's memories of her - until the ending.

Nightfall is a large and mostly well-constructed game. The espionage setting will be familiar to denizens of the parser format, and despite everything I could still enjoy the game. Recommended.

(This review was based on the IFComp version on IFDB.)

Reference and Representation: An Approach to First-Order Semantics, by Ryan Veeder
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The Ghosts of Christmas ______, by Laika Fawkes
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Don't Look Twice, by GriffEn
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Haywire, by Peregrine Wade
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The Forgotten Tavern, by Peter M.J. Gross
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Careless Talk, by Diana Rider
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Bogeyman, by Elizabeth Smyth

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A horrifying story told with fairytale elements, November 6, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic phlegmatic
(Warning: This review might contain spoilers. Click to show the full review.)[Abduction, violence against children, abuse]

Although the titular character is framed as the bogeymen of children’s stories, to another eye - an adult eye, probably - he is a more quotidian, though no less terrifying variety of criminal. Fairytale elements meld easily with real-life methods of cruelty and control: the strange food and drink; the deserted cabin in the middle of the woods; turning frightened people on each other.

Bogyeman is largely linear, but where there are choices, they are difficult - emotional dilemmas most of them, choices between self-gain and protecting your fellow captives.

In other aspects, it’s simply a good game. Its slick design reminds me of A Good Wick, though much more readable. The layout of choices, especially where they concern exploring a space, are laid out to reflect that space. This has been one of the things that I found difficult when building a map of the story world during choice-based games. The directions I can explore are almost always laid out in lines of text, which I must translate in my head to how they would look on a diagram.

Bogeyman is certainly not an easy-going read, but grim and focused and well worth playing.


Phone in Mouth, by Leon Arnott

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Surreal cyberpunk-esque thought experiment/cautionary tale, September 13, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric
This is a surreal story about… having your phone in your mouth. It’s more cyberpunk than it sounds, promise, and delivers a complete narrative arc in not very many words at all.

Arnott captures the craving for that rush of neurotransmitters that social media is designed to deliver, but transforms it into something a bit more insidious. (Spoiler - click to show)The titular phenomenon (yes) forms a whole subculture by itself, into something meshed into the fabric of society.

Phone in Mouth is less of a fully-formed dystopian story, but almost more like a thought experiment. It ponders what wearable technologies could possibly look like, then what it might look like when it all goes wrong. It is a little on the nose as a cautionary tale, with shades of 1984 - but then again, looking behind the scenes at companies like Amazon seems to suggest that whatever you can imagine, there’s probably a company doing worse.


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