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Reviews by MathBrush

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View this member's reviews by tag: 10+ hours 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 Addicott Manor, by Intudia
A classic CYOA-style online game book about a haunted mansion, November 15, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This IFComp 2018 game features a professional thief protagonist who is exploring an old, haunted mansion with the intent of finding treasure.

The style is unique to the company, Intudia, with numerical choices listed in the text and buttons with numbers on them lined up below.

The game itself has an intricate backstory, with the mansion having many levels and many ghosts and villains.

There are numerous problems, however. The text is overly long at times, with scattered grammatical errors (like 'to' instead of 'too). The numbers on the bottom are often in a strange pattern with one number far to the side of the others. Instead of tracking state, it seems as if the game relies on you to remember what actions you took in the past.

Still, the story is compelling, and a fun read for fans of horror.

Border Reivers, by Vivienne Dunstan
A murder mystery set in Old Scotland, November 15, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
I helped to beta test this game.

This is a fairly big conversational game set in medieval Scotland. The player must converse with over a dozen characters to figure out who is planning a murder.

The ambitious game design makes this feel epic, and it's exciting to get tangled up in the web of deceit. However, the large number of characters and the many topics makes for a combinatorial explosion, and it becomes easy to get lost in a forest of information.

The author has an Introcomp game that is also set in medieval times that is worth checking out.

Abbess Otilia's Life and Death, by Arno von Borries
A gorgeously illustrated medieval-looking cybertext game about an abbess, November 15, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is lavish, with a medieval-looking font and scattered illustrations and capitals.

Presented like a book, interactivity is done by either turning the page or by selecting between binary choices.

There are quite a few paths in this game that you can take, and I found it overall impressive. My 3 stars is because I didn't feel an emotional involvement in the game, being put more at a distance by the elaborate presentation. I also didn't feel an inclination to play again, due to the energy required in poring through the text.

Birmingham IV, by Peter Emery

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A time capsule from the 80's. A sprawling, difficult fantasy game., November 9, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This game was created over a period of 30 years, using a variety of design systems.

You play a natural philosopher in medieval times, nicknamed Phil. There are a ton of puzzles and a magic system.

However, this game could use some thorough beta testing by six or more people familiar with modern IF conventions. Directions are omitted from room descriptions, puzzles are undervalued, and there's an inventory limit which doesn't really seem to do much in-game.

For people who enjoy struggling with the parser in old school games (I'm in that group, and intend to play this one again!)

Awake, by Soham Sevak
Part 1 of an AI sci-fi story, November 9, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This is a short, incomplete science fiction story.

This game has excellent worldbuilding, you can really get a feeling for the kind of place that you're in. It's a high-tech sci-fi scenario.

However, it feels more like a good first effort than anything else. Formatting is kind of off, with no spaces between paragraphs. The clinical tone isn't quite nailed, with first names being used for researchers (like Dr. Sarah and so on).

I believe a further game by this author, with practice and polish, will turn out great.

Ailihphilia, by N. Y. Llewellyn

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Great for wordplay fans, November 9, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I read a review once saying that Counterfeit Monkey had killed off the wordplay genre because you couldn't get any better than that.

I think that's silly; that's like saying that Jimi Hendrix killed the guitar solo or Betty Crocker killed the recipe. When there's something good out there, you want more of it, and this game delivers.

Many of Schultz's games involve puzzles too hard to compute on your own (Ugly Oafs come to mind). The best games, like Threediopolis or Shuffling Around, give you just enough freedom and hints that you can figure it out on your own.

This game is palindrome-based. The palindromes are mostly spread into the background, although there are a bunch of puzzle solutions that require a puzzle-based answer. The dedicated wordplay fan will love this game, and casual fans will as well.

Santa Carcossa Nights, by Bitter karella
A big, fairly serious horror game by bitterkarella, November 8, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
bitterkarella is known for making horror-themed games in Quest, both serious and humorous.

This game has more styling than most, with hand-chosen fonts and neon colors.

The storyline seems well thought-out, and the setting is evocative. It all feels like an intense and overwhelming dream, the kind you wake from gasping for air. It starts out light-hearted but gets more intense.

This game has the usual problems Quest does, which I think are inevitable given the platform. Of all bitterkarella's games, this is the one I'd most like to see polished up in Inform or TADS 3.

my own paper walls, by fia glas
A horror game set in an abandoned school, November 6, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I was impressed and a bit frustrated by this game.

The bad: the text is a bit hard to read. I had to bulk up the page size a bunch before being able to see the fancy-font white on black text. Also, possibly due to the font, I felt weirdly discombobulated while playing and had trouble focusing.

The good: this is a genuinely engaging tale about a girl and her friend meeting up with three guys to explore a haunted school. The true horror is in the relationships here; I had several honestly surprising and unsettling experiences with people in the game that wasn't based on supernatural horror at all.

I actually feel like I love this game, but I wish it were easier to read and didn't have that sort of vague procedurally generated feel (it's not actually procedurally generated, but it has multiple paths, so some of the text is vague to suit several scenarios). I want to play this again.

Dance in Blood, by Intudia
A short branching teenage camp horror game, November 6, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game is in the Intudia system, which was also used for Addicott Manor in IFComp.

This game is quite short, as is appropriate for the Ectocomp competition. It's also a widely branching game. You are a counselor on a bus trip to a camp. You have about 2-5 choices on any branch.

The story is about murder, supernatural violence, etc. and relies on several stereotypes and tropes of teenage slasher films.

The Magistrate's Chambers, by Stewart C Baker
A Chinese literature-inspired short Halloween story, November 5, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This fairly short Twine story has us playing as a magistrate's assistant, reviewing three different accounts of ghosts by three different characters.

The characters are inspired by the Chinese novel Di Gong An.

I found the setting interesting and the writing well-done. The only real choice was the order of the stories, but there was a bit of a puzzle at the end which I was pleased with.


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