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Reviews by MathBrush

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View this member's reviews by tag: 15-30 minutes 2-10 hours about 1 hour about 2 hours IF Comp 2015 Infocom less than 15 minutes more than 10 hours Spring Thing 2016
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The Village, by Helene Vitting
A story about a terrifying small town, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game has you travelling to live in a small village where electronics are banned, church is every night and the rules must be enforced.

This is a common theme in horror (like Midsommar), and this pursues a lot of those tropes.

I found the story interesting and exciting. The formatting threw me off, since the paragraphs sort of ran together. All in all, though, it was a fun short horror experience.

Sugarlawn, by Mike Spivey

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An excellent optimization-based treasure hunt with good humor, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
I beta tested this game, and I love it.

You play as a contestant on a reality show that apparently involves finding antiques while wearing a chicken suit (?).

You run around a mansion gathering items while a timer ticks down each turn. Some items are easy to find, while others require a great deal of ingenuity.

Knowledge is the key in this game, player knowledge and not character knowledge. You can learn secret codes that help you succeed. There are secret bonuses. On top of all of this, all of the items have an 'optimal placement location' that gives you even more money.

This game has more narrative than most shameless treasure hunts, and a lot of funny lines, but the focus here is on getting the best prize. Your host comments on your score each time, and you are able to replay as much as you want in-game, with it being interpreted as re-takes of the show.

Love it, think it's great, and I think people will be playing this one for years. I play IF for many reasons: love of stories, love of characters. This game satisfies my itch of 'take/drop/N/E/S/W', which is the same reason I love the original IF game Adventure.

This game takes about 30 minutes to finish the first time but hours to get a good score.

Summer Night City, by ghoti
A challenging Twine game about dystopia and intrigue, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
I beta tested this game.

Visually, this game is nice and polished, and the text is free from typos and bugs.

You play as a man blinded by the government and sent to work. While at work, you encounter a cast of characters entangled in a web of intrigue, and must make your own decisions and what to investigate and who to help. There are 6 different endings, some of which can happen unexpectedly, which makes this game pretty difficult (especially with no undo feature I saw.)

The first chapter's text is incredibly dense, with a lot of big words and long sentences. Once other characters are thrown into the mix, the pace picks up, and the dialogue especially is fresh and well-written.

I would love to see a dialogue-only game by this author (like the very popular games Birdland and Hana Feels). As for this game, I was interested enough to play to several different endings, and felt satisfaction at reaching a good one.

Gone Out For Gruyere, by B F Lindsay

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A 'cheesy', compact puzzler, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I beta tested this game.

In this game, you are bullied by cheese. In a bizarre twist, you find yourself in a sort of pocket-dimension blocked by an enormous, rude wheel of Gruyere cheese.

There are eight corridors leading from the cheese, each heading to a different area containing useful items.

Some of the puzzles can be pretty tricky in this game, and some of the concepts can be very difficult to puzzle out (like what exactly is the nature of the (Spoiler - click to show)'hole' you find). But it's compact nature means that there are only so many things you can try before finding the solution. I found this game to be pretty amusing!

Skies Above, by Arthur DiBianca
If you want to fly higher you gotta train harder!, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
I beta tested this game, and was delighted to do so.

This is a big game, DiBianca's largest (except perhaps for The Wand). I played it for well over 2 hours (maybe 4 or 5) while beta testing, although I was trying to be exceptionally thorough.

Basically, the game is full of little minigames which give you better and better rewards as you understand them better and as they synergize. Your airship captain gives you goals to hit and you do them. There's an economy that grows in scope over time, and a lot of little lovely surprises.

There are puzzles here, but not in the traditional sense. It's technically possible to win just by doing the simplest of tasks over and over and over. The real joy here is in optimization, similar to Sugarlawn from this year's comp.

Strongly recommended, and lots of fun!

Frenemies; or, I Won An Andy Phillips Game!, by B F Lindsay

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A loving tribute to/light parody of Andy Phillips in a single room, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
Andy Phillips is a figure in the IF community known for occasionally releasing massive IF games that generally feature science fiction of some sort, large maps with a few puzzles available at a time, and deadly women.

In this game, you're a super-fan of Andy Phillips who has been locked in by his roommates. You're wearing a jumpsuit from an Andy Phillips game and you have tons of memorabilia around the rooms, all of which is directly based off of the games.

There are a few start puzzles and then one main one, getting out of the room. I found the starter puzzles not too hard, but the main puzzle requires few leaps of intuition. Given the constrained size of the game, however, it's possible to suss out the solution after time, and there is a great help system.

Language Arts, by Jared Jackson
Pure puzzle with a moving interface. Programming local movement, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
I beta-tested this game, but only got to the first part/tutorial.

Now that I've seen the rest, I'm really amazed. I love it!

I don't know if I can recommend it to the general IF populace. In this game, you have a very restricted programming language that moves a block one tile at a time based on conditions that only detect the block near it. This is very similar to my PhD research in almost convex groups and subdivision rules (which were also determined locally by rules), so I have a soft spot for this kind of thing anyway.

The framing story is very light. There might be a big reveal at the end for all I know, but everything else is just sort of fluff to introduce the puzzles. The puzzles are quite hard, and require a great deal of trial and error and a little bit of praying for success or cursing at failure.

Pas De Deux, by Linus Åkesson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A daring experiment and a taxing challenge, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I beta-tested this game.

Åkesson is one of the most successful creators of new parser languages in the last few years. His new A-machine and Dialog language have proven to be powerful and smooth, and its default messages are, perhaps, more appropriate than Inform's default messages.

This game is a great departure from usual parser fare, and a bold choice for IFComp. You are a conductor, and you must follow a real-life score (from the Nutcracker Suite) and cue everyone at the right time. The real score is contained in the game, as well.

This is like no other game I've seen before, and playing it is extremely taxing. I felt like I was burning calories as I played this game. Even slight errors can cause havoc in the orchestra. And if you play perfectly, a problem arises that is outside the scope of the score, providing a 'lousy last point' puzzle.

Is this well-done? Yes. Is it innovative? Definitely. Is it a great display of the Dialog language's capabilities? Absolutely. But is it fun? For me, playing felt frustrating, but winning was truly enjoyable. So if you're going to play it, try to schedule time to finish it!

For the Moon Never Beams, by J. Michael

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A compact teen horror game with difficult puzzles , November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I beta-tested this game.

This game is is a horror story that effectively borrows elements of both games and pop-culture from the 80s. This is a monster-focused horror game set with two kids driving the boy's car to prom, with the date wearing the boy's ring. It brings to mind the music video for Thriller or parts of Back to the Future.

Gameplay-wise, this has elements from older games as well. There are numerous timers on the game (including one that killed me off at 70 points as I was playing the competition version), a maze, and a complex machinery.

I like this game, both as a tester and as a player. It can get frustrating at times, though. I recommend playing past the first scene and seeing if you like the overall feel of the game or not.

Additional Tales from Castle Balderstone, by Ryan Veeder

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short horror parser games connected with a backstory, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
Like the original Balderstone (which you don't have to play to understand this), you are at a gathering of horror writers who tell 'stories' which are minigames. The order of the stories is randomised.

The games are coded well, and the tone varies a lot, sometimes dramatic, sometimes silly, sometimes frightening, all sort of tongue in cheek. Many of them have twists, whether geographical or as a meta-narrative etc.

I came, I saw, I had fun, the stories aren't really related, so why don't you just go try it out and see for yourself?


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