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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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Anchorhead, by Michael Gentry

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
One of the best text adventures of all time, even better in Steam version., July 6, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
Review for Steam Edition:

Anchorhead is a masterpiece of interactive fiction. In this well-illustrated Lovecraftian game, you have to piece together the history of your husband's family as you move to a new town with a dark history.

This edition fixes a lot of the worst puzzles from the first edition, especially the very difficult mill section. It adds some new puzzles, too, some of which I found quite difficult (such as the dinghy), and others less so (the new opening sequence).

The illustrations are very well done, and go a long way to making this worth the purchase price. I love this game, and I'm glad to see it in such good form. I also appreciated the change in the orderly's magazine, which made me laugh. Some of the older texts in the game contain echoes of Lovecraft's racism, and they seem to be written new for the game, not old texts quoted, so I thought I'd mention that.

Earlier Review:

Anchorhead can completely draw you into its world. The writing and atmosphere are classic Lovecraftian horror, beginning as merely dismal and developing slowly into madness. Early scenes take on far different meanings on a second playthrough.

That said, this is a very hard game. I'm not sure how anyone could solve the (Spoiler - click to show)telescope lens puzzle on their own.

However, the depth of the game and the quality of the writing is such that it is still enjoyable even if you have to resort to hints from time to time. Many of the best moments are also the easiest puzzles.

Sirens in the Distance, by Astrid Dalmady
A short mermaid story with layers of duality, July 2, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game only lasts for about 1000 words, so it's a quick read.

It was made for MerMay, so it makes sense it would be about mermaids. But the title has multiple meanings, and the game itself deals with ambiguity and feeling.

This is a slight snack of a game, but it left a good feeling. It reminded me of my time living in Hawaii, in many ways, although I imagine it more as a cold Atlantic ocean than the Pacific.

Chicks Dig Jerks, by Robb Sherwin

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Sherwin's earliest IFComp game. Sordid shallow life simulator, June 30, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
According to my rating system, I'm giving this game 2 stars. Here are my criteria:

-Polish. This game has several holes in implementation, enough to be annoying.

-Descriptive. This is where this game (and all of Sherwin's games) really shines. The game puts as a shallow gravedigger who only thinks about picking up women and digging up graves. You are extremely shallow and the game depicts that well.

-Interactivity. I think the game does well here. I felt like I hide control.

-Emotional impact. I didn't like all of the sex, and it made it harder to enjoy the rest of the game.

-Replay. I don't intend on replaying.

Kicker, by Pippin Barr

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Intentional boredom simulator--football edition, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game shows the life of a football kicker. Which is super boring. You are on the sidelines for about 120 turns, and you are called on to kick a few times. In the mean time, no one wants to talk to you and you can't do much.

It's supposed to be that way, but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable. The game is really well polished, though, which makes sense given its constrained play area.

Heated, by Timothy Peers

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A frustrating game about frustration, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
I usually take a star off of most annoying games precisely because they are annoying. But this is a game about a man where anything at all can set him off.

The game makes UNDO act differently, and tricks people who thought of other solutions to puzzles. Its puzzle solutions become increasingly unfair, although some of the most unfair ones are optional.

Sort of like 9:05 played straight, you wake up before work, worried about getting their on time, and have to go through your daily tasks before work starts.

I found it more frustrating than enjoyable. But isn't that the point?

Desert Heat, by Papillon
An early CYOA dealing with a medieval Arabic setting and femininity, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game contains erotic themes, but you’re told you can avoid anything explicit. I found that to be true, and played to two pleasing endings without encountering anything shocking.

Papillon was a prolific author around this time, producing several excellent games before moving on to visual novels.

This game involves you, an Arabic noblewoman, experiencing violence and oppression in the city. You are required to enter a brothel in the game (although one early ending doesn’t require this), providing most of the opportunities for erotic choices (which, again, you need to choose).

The main drawback I felt was that the game felt like it could have developed more. It would have done better as a Choice of Games novel, but such tools were limited or unavailable at the turn of the millennium.

Irvine Quik & the Search for the Fish of Traglea, by Duncan Bowsman
A fun but buggy space cat sci-fi adventure, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This game is big and complex, with 6 chapters (albeit some very short), real-time sequences, and a special helper robot.

But in all of its complicatedness, the game frequently falls short. Too many interacting states go unchecked. I couldn't progress past the challenge to the champion, and others have reported many other bugs (although several have played to completion).

You are the last human, a mouse-like man named Irvine. You have to help the cat-aliens (who have a system that reminds me of Star Trek), and prove yourself to them.

Living Will, by Mark Marino
A will that can change in real-time. Short choice game, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game features an old man who made a fortune in the Congo. It's set in the near-future, with a variety of corporations mentioned.

It is a short game, with the bulk of interactions taking place near the end of the game. Basically, you can pick which character you are, and raid the shares of the others.

It reacts quite pleasingly. But I noticed that the interactivity was fairly opaque, and the story hard to grasp. Marino's later games feature detailed and exciting stories with clear interactivity, which is a development I'm very happy with!

The Myothian Falcon, by Andy Joel

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A detective game with a great story but a few unfortunate bugs, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game was actually pretty good. You are on a different planet, but in a very grungy-noir city. I didn't think of it at the time, but the aliens take the place of non-white races or transgender individuals or any other minority you want to think of.

A murder has occurred, and soon enough the mysterious artifact known as the Myothian Falcon (a direct nod to the Maltese Falcon) shows up missing as well.

Two things make this game problematic: guessing conversation topics (often impossible feeling!) and a few bugs. I asked out an encryptionist on a date, didn't do so hot, was told not to bother again, but when I talked to her, she acted like she was still on the date.

Beating without restarting or using a walkthrough seemed impossible for me, but otherwise this was a great game.

The Bible Retold: The Lost Sheep, by Ben Pennington
A small comedy biblical game about a sheep, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you experience a biblical scenario: one of your sheep has escaped.

The game consists entirely of chasing the sheep, with a couple of puzzles.

The map is small, with 5 or so important rooms and then a sequence of minor rooms. The main puzzle is pretty hard to guess, even if you think of the old-testament related clue.


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