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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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Haywire, by Wade
verityvirtue's Rating:

The Forgotten Tavern, by Peter M.J. Gross
verityvirtue's Rating:

Careless Talk, by Diana Rider
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Bogeyman, by Elizabeth Smyth

3 of 3 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.

Bloody Raoul, by Caleb Wilson (as Ian Cowsbell)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Comic violence with an ornate edge, September 12, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric
The game world suggests one accustomed to sudden, almost comic violence, where one’s weapons are identity. The comic aspect, however, takes some of the edge (ahem, mind the pun) off: to aid surgery, for instance, the PC comes with a “pectoral zipper”.

The world described here is festering and disgusting, but with the embellished, ornate language, the terse phrasing, we readers are, at least, one step away from all that.

(Spoiler - click to show)It is striking that there are no completely happy endings here. There is no escape to a less violent future - not without relinquishing your identity as a knife punk. As much as I would love to see more in the same universe, I get the feel that this universe is most intriguing in small snippets.

Bloody Raoul is brutish and short, but not nasty at all. If you liked this, you might like The Unstoppable Vengeance of Doctor Bonesaw, from the same author.

Hexteria Skaxis Qiameth, by Gabriel Floriano
Some ideas about language untethered to story, September 9, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: phlegmatic
This is a game about forming words and the nature of language. You can flick through clusters of syllables to form nigh unpronounceable words which later form the names of languages and places.

It calls to mind, for me, Emily Short’s procedurally generated almanac, The Annals of the Parrigues, as well as the style of 500 Apocalypses. The style is slightly formal, as one might find in a Borges short story. Polysyllabic words dot the prose like raisins in a bagel. HSQ includes the phrase “it's [sic] decipherment like a feverish hallucination”; the same applies to reading this game sometimes.

HSQ will probably make more sense if you’re familiar with linguistics concepts. Languages can be formed with different “basic units of thought”, and so on. And all this would be fascinating if there was a chance to use this knowledge practically.

Dear reader, there was not.

HSQ presents some rather interesting and original ideas, but without a narrative arc to bind everything together, remains an idea - an interesting one, but not quite a story.

Missive, by Joey Fu

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A large Twine game with optional word puzzles, September 9, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Missive starts with the familiar my-grubby-apartment setting, but really it's about a murder mystery wrapped in word puzzles - armchair detective work at its finest. An alternative headline for this would naturally be "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."

The puzzles are optional, not connected, and of the cryptic crossword type. A phrase in the text might prompt the reader to look for, say, every third letter of each word. These were pretty fun, even if most of the puzzles were completely unintelligible to me.

Good if you like cryptic crosswords and lots of wordplay loosely connected to plot.

Yesterday, You Saved the World, by Astrid Dalmady
A subverted magical girl story with surprising parallels, September 9, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: choleric, sanguine
[Time to completion: 15-20 minutes]

Yesterday explores what happens when the excitement over and the gilt is peeling. You are Lucy Newman, in eighth grade, but yesterday you were a Stellar Warrior. You had to face off The Void alone. And today, you have to wake up and go to school.

Two groups came to mind, reading this, who would probably identify with the PC strongly.

The first: those labelled as “gifted” in childhood. The burden of expectation from family, school, society lies on you, but you get all the wrong support. All the support to develop your abilities - to win all the competitions, ace all the exams - and too little to equip you emotionally and psychologically.

The second: those who do jobs that require them to run towards danger - emergency services, healthcare, mental health services, social work. You are the help that people call for. Sometimes you face things that terrify you, absolute disasters on a scale big or small, and you run out of resources, knowledge and wits. Yet, you can’t abscond from your responsibilities, and when you go back into the “normal world”, you have no words to explain to your friends outside this line

Structurally, Yesterday flashes back and forth between the PC’s life as a schoolgirl and her previous magical girl life. This is further set off by a parallel choice structure. Yesterday also uses the limited choices afforded by the CYOA format to illustrate character development.

Amongst many other things - a vivid protagonist, thoughtful design, a subversion on the magical girl narrative - Yesterday is a really good example of how a choice-based narrative can play with choices to reinforce the story.

Relic, by Caelyn Sandel
A strange little artifact indeed, September 9, 2018
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
[Briefly mentions a nearly abusive relationship. Time to completion: 15-20 mins]

Relic is a largely linear piece of interactive fiction about a salvage collector who chances upon an incredibly valuable figurine - but there appears to be something wrong with it…

Relic is set in a universe that melds cyberpunk technology - think handsets and novel plastics - and earthy magic, but the technology and even the magic merely forms the backdrop. The world building details are more of a focus and filter for social issues and tensions that also exist in our current world. What matters, then, is the people, and the story.

Sandel’s conception of the lore and traditions around the salvage community will doubtless be familiar to anyone who has even dabbled in such interests as stamp collecting and comic books - those interests commonly relegated to “hobby” status, but which attract lots of gatekeeping. In particular, those who purport to maintain quality within the community disproportionately exclude minorities.

Relic may look plain at first glance, but this would be to overlook a cracking good story.


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