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Ratings and Reviews by MathBrush

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View this member's reviews by tag: 15-30 minutes 2-10 hours about 1 hour about 1 hours about 2 hours IF Comp 2015 Infocom less than 15 minutes more than 10 hours Spring Thing 2016
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Grimnoir, by ProP
A solid and enjoyable Twine mystery game with a fantasy noir setting, March 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
I love this game. I'm a big fan of mystery games in general, but they tend to have a common problem: how do you model the investigative process?

Some games have you collect physical evidence until you have enough to convict (the Infocom mysteries, for instance). Other games represent knowledge as individual clues that can be combined or traded (like some of my games and the excellent Erstwhile). Some games have you just guess who did it after you collect enough information (like Toby's Nose).

This game follows the latter path, and does it well. You're given quite a few cases (this is a big Twine game), and in each one, you read information about a monster causing trouble. You have a big encyclopedia listing different monsters' characteristics. Your job, as the player, is to read the encyclopedia, compare it to the monster's characteristics, and guess which monster it is, as well as its motivations.

This game wouldn't be nearly as good without its slick presentation. Beautiful intro, nice transitions and classy color use.

I beta tested this game, but it got a lot of work done after I did so. Very pleased with the outcome here.

smooch.click, by Devon Guinn
A short game about kissing with great design obscured by the execution, March 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This is a simple game. It's a random kissing simulator. Input gender, then make some atmospheric real-time twine choices about your feelings, then kiss. Over in 5 minutes.

Reading the documentation and looking at the game structure, though, it's clear there's a bit more here. The game does some state tracking and the best endings are hard to find. Reading the source code, I find the worst endings (found by (Spoiler - click to show)Making choices that increase anxiety) highly amusing.

But finding these endings isn't even possible sometimes due to RNG, and the game doesn't do a stellar job of giving you feedback on your choices.

But perhaps this is an intentional choice? A way to model the inherent uncertainty in romantic relationships?

In any case, this is a fun game to poke around with, especially if you look under the hood. Good styling, too.

Charming, by Kaylah Facey
A sometimes-tedious spell-based parser game with a nice setting, March 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I had an earlier review for this game that I deleted on accident.

Charming uses a spell system similar to the Enchanter series. In the long tradition of spell-based parser games, you must use a series of more and more complicated magical spells and techniques to recover from a series of magical mishaps that occurred before play began.

The one problem I had with this game was its gating of information. After a short but repetitive opening puzzle, you are given 4 books, some with ten or fifteen or more entries. It's absolutely overwhelming.

This could have been overcome by using the system in Curses (where you have books without indices and must look up names which lead to other names) or the even better version found in Zarf's room in Cragne Manor (where there is an index that only lists pages you've already discovered).

If this info dump could be ameliorated, this is actually a lovely game with some intricate puzzles and descriptive writing. Recommended for the patient and thorough.

Dead Man's Fiesta, by Ed Sibley

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A quirky Twine game about self-reflection and death, March 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hours
This is an IFComp game that had some standout moments. Overall, it's a quirky game about death. A car you receive turns out to be haunted, and dealing with the issue requires you to think about your life and the life of the ghosts.

I enjoyed one particular moment of this game a lot, when it discussed how the human fondness for randomness is associated with us trying to prepare for the unfairness and randomness of death.

I had some weird formatting issues both times I played, even with full screen, and the story as a whole was a bit uneven. But for people trying to find quality Twine games I'd give this a go.

+ = x, by Chandler Groover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A twisted Texture tale. Short and obscure, a sci fi story, March 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This was a controversial IFComp game. Chandler Groover, known for writing well-received games with dense, descriptive writing, released a short and cryptic game for IFComp.

After listening to the author talk, and playing it myself, I now think I know what it's all about.

The clear part is that there is a fortune telling machine. People are 'added', which summons them to the machine. There, they are either equalized or multiplied.

After finding the easter egg, I realized on my most recent playthrough:

(Spoiler - click to show)The fortune telling machine is the engine for a spaceship/planet. Each person who is 'multiplied' is erased from existence. The energy from erasing them is used to rewrite the timeline to one where the planet is in another space. Movement by not moving, just changing the timestream.

Figuring this out made me like it more, otherwise I'd give it a 3. Nice presentation and good use of the Texture format.

I still don't know what being Equalized means.

The Temple of Shorgil, by Arthur DiBianca
A beautiful limited parser example of minimalism and abstraction, March 5, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This is a fairly lengthy game (including bonus material) that uses the limited parser format. The majority of the game involves compass movement and TAKE-ing and PUT-ing.

The overarching theme of the game is that you are in a temple filled with stories, each of the stories relating to a puzzle. The puzzles are all based of a single simple mechanic, probably simpler than anything DiBianca has used before. However, it quickly becomes more complicated.

It's almost like a testament to the power of binary. TAKE/PUT, like 0 and 1, can become anything in combination, including language, numbers, etc.

The only thing keeping it from being a perfect game to me is the way that the game is so divorced from emotional investment. This is a game for philosophical and logical contemplation.

Within a circle of water and sand, by Romain

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A text-heavy gamebook with an innovative polynesian setting, March 5, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has some beautiful styling and good mechanics.

You play as a Polynesian woman on a quest or rite of passage. You meet a strange group of islanders hiding secrets of their own. You have to investigate, with gamebook-style gameplay (finding inventory items, exploring with some time-progress elements).

The biggest obstruction to full enjoyment for me was the huge chunks of text, especially near the beginning. But, if you have time for the reading, and are a fan of gamebooks or Polynesian culture, this is a good read.

Has several well-done illustrations.

Lux, by Agnieszka Trzaska
A long sci-fi Twine game with rich world model and puzzles, March 5, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This game is one of the most complex Twine games I've seen.

Rather than focusing on conversation and emotional choices as many Twine games do, this game focuses on inventory management and movement around an extensive map, similar to typical parser gameplay.

This allows for some truly clever puzzles, including a major twist that only occurs in some playthroughs.

Strongly recommended for people looking for old-school puzzles and fans of sci-fi stories about artificial intelligence.

The Forgotten Tavern, by Peter M.J. Gross

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Smash vicious vegetables in a high fantasy setting, February 24, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This is an interesting game; I had a ton of fun, but felt a bit deflated by my own ending (in hindsight, I should have saved!)

It's a homey game. You are on the run, but taken in by a sweet couple who run a tavern. They have odd chores for you...this game primarily consists of beating animate vegetables to death with a hammer. I found this very satisfying, and it even had an RPG-like element.

I got the ending faster than I thought I would, and I was specifically told I had picked the dullest ending, so I wish I had saved right before that or had an undo button.

Overall, it was an innovative concept and a game I enjoyed playing.

Basilica de Sangre, by Bitter Karella

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A Quest comedy about possessing nuns to rescue your mother, February 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This is a fairly hefty Quest game in Bitter Karella's characteristic style: goofy characters, classic TAKE/DROP/LOOK gameplay, vivid settings.

You play as a "level 2 succubus" from the pits of tartarus, trying to find your mother who has been kidnapped by nuns.

The twist to this game is that you can possess all of the characters, each granting you different abilities and sometimes even changing the appearance of the game itself.

Quest always has some problems that make it not quite as responsive as inform, but Bitter Karella handles it well. I strongly recommend downloading for offline play, as the servers can get tied up.


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