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Reviews by MathBrush

15-30 minutes

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View this member's reviews by tag: 15-20 minutes 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 Land of Breakfast and Lunch, by Daniel Talsky

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A first parser game with a surreal world and vivid imagery, April 3, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is made by 1/2 of the team that made the excellent rabbit-based game Ürs a couple of years ago. It's a first try at making a parser game.

Programming-wise, it has a lot of things covered: edible food, rideable vehicles, conversation, active animals, devices, untouchable objects and other things difficult to program.

I was looking for more cohesiveness in the story or setting, though. I felt like the individual elements were interesting, but as a whole it didn't gel together. Its sparse, linear, fantasy setting reminded me of the Bony King of Nowhere, but it didn't have the common thematic elements that tied that game together.

There is one puzzle in the game which I only discovered by decompiling the source code. The author mentioned how no beta testers discovered it, but that the solution should have made sense.

This is an interesting point. The puzzle involves selecting one object out of many and using it in a location far from where it was found with little indication of any connection.

I've found that 'good puzzles' typically come from either:
-learning a complicated system with learning tasks followed by complex tasks
-setting up expectations and then subverting them, or
-providing a set of rules that players can strategize with.

The author framed this as a kind of learning exercise, and has shown great skill in programming. I believe that with practice, they could create truly great parser games, and look forward to any games they create in the future.

A Murder In Engrams, by Noah Lemelson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A good first-effort murder cyberpunk murder mystery in Twine, April 3, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I love a good mystery in Interactive Fiction, and I was excited to see how this one would play out.

There a lot of ways to do mystery in IF: have the mystery play out linearly or as a results of puzzles (so the gameplay doesn't involve the actual mystery); hunting for specific clues; and actual deductions by either the player or the character.

All versions can be made into very engaging games. This game does pretty well, but it didn't quite reach the level of pure satisfaction.

This game, according to the author, is "a small project I made to learn Twine and experiment with Interactive Fiction in general", and it's much better made than many other first efforts.

Story-wise, it's a cyberpunk mystery where you have to search people's memories (or engrams) on the 'net. Gameplay-wise, you're hunting for a motive, means, and murderer.

The Hive Abroad, by Laura Michet

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A well-written sci-fi tale about belonging with non-linear narrative, March 22, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
When I was a kid, my dad had tons of sci-fi books from the 50s and 60s, and my grandmother had huge boxes of Star Trek books. I read Asimov and Clarke and all the others.

This story reminds me of a lot of sci-fi from that era: humans and aliens trying to understand each other. I guess that's always been a huge genre, even now with shows like Steven Universe exploring the same thing.

In this story, you play a human in a future version of the universe where aliens have established diplomatic relations with earth. You have tried to renounce your identity and become an alien, and humans are in an uproar over it.

The story is presented non-linearly, with custom-made graphics to take you from section to section. Generally, you can choose to see another cutscene before or after the one you're in. However, going forward and then back doesn't bring you back to where you were; it seems like you always see new material.

I enjoyed the story, and found it polished, descriptive, and emotionally satisfying, but I don't feel an urge to play again. I'm satisfied with the story I found.

La Malédiction dont vous êtes le héros, by Nighten
By repetition, gain the power to change the story, March 12, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this French IFComp game, you see (in a linear hyperlink format) a teenage couple who are checking out the moon with a telescope.

After one playthrough, you earn 10 points that can be used to go back and change the story at 4 critical points, for a total of 16 possible endings.

The writing is well-done, but as another reviewer noted, it is repetitive, especially since you only get 10 pts per playthrough and any choice you make spends that 10 pts. You'd basically have to play the game 4 times with no choices in order to play the ending that uses all 4 point spending opportunities.

Sétanta - Au Cœur Du Labyrinthe, by Luigi June
An intriguing take on Celtic mythology (in French), March 5, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I love the story of Cuchulainn. I remember learning about it in college, how he can get enraged and have his feet turn backwards and his face puff up with only one eyeball and all sorts of weird things. Then he appeared in FF12, which was cool.

This is a game about Cuchulainn, and it's also a game that largely consists of an unfair labyrinth. Basically, you can go left/right, etc. and it doesn't give you any hints about what's coming up. I would take off a star for that, but Cuchulainn adds it back, so there you are.

I only played to one ending, because it's in fairly complicated French (harder for me to understand than the other French games in this comp). I might try it again though. Interesting game, and I think it's in Ink (plays like it, at least).

Une affaire rondement menée, by Dunin
A truly clever concept with some rocky implementation, March 2, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This murder mystery is fairly compact and has some intriguing characters. It also has extra-fancy design. It's written in Ink, and works by clicking text (with links not receiving any special formatting).

It has lovely images of the murder suspects, whom you can learn about one at a time. You play a police commissioner (I think?) attending the 'big reveal' of a professional detective.

Slow-text didn't really work for me (and I never really like to see it), although it contributes in a minor way to the overall puzzle. I was also confused by the fact that sometimes the same action would result in me being called an 'imbecile' while at later times in the same playthrough it would work. After seeing the solution, I think I get it, but I'm not sure that was a good design decision.

Overall, the French IFComp continues to lead the IF world in technical innovation. I'm excited to see what comes out next year.

Karma Manager, by Jérémie Pardou

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A game about getting points in the cycle of Karma, February 6, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I like the idea of this French IFComp game. You have different stats, and you are constantly reborn, changing your stats. You try to gain Karma during each lifetime, eventually ending the cycle.

I found it a bit opaque (although it was not my native tongue!) Each binary choice would affect your stats, and sometimes you'd have big non-interactive sections affected by those stats, some of which would give you karma.

It was pleasant, and I enjoyed the writing, but I didn't feel like I could strategize despite the UI heavily suggesting strategizing.

Dungeons & Deadlines, by Miles Matrix

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Daily grind as an RPG-can you survive 62 days? I couldn't, January 28, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is kind of a blend between micro-text RPGs (like the Twinyjam game 'RPG-ish') and Fallen London (except instead of random cards you get fixed cards with random-ish effects).

It has some actually pretty good 8-bit music and a custom display. You are trying to survive 62 days, keeping your esteem, family, health, and stress at healthy levels.

I liked the conceit, but 62 days is really long. I died around round 39, and had seen a lot of repeated text. Maybe that's the point? Maybe you're meant to die?

I had two different encounters with sexual content, roughly as explicit as a PG-13 comedy in the US.

Edit: The game has been updated, including trimming the timeframe down substantially. Check it out!

Virgin Space, by Billy Y. Fernández

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A media-rich space exploration game, January 14, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I really enjoyed the presentation of this game. It has background music, and an animated star background.

It has a different emphasis then most space sci-fi, almost like a space retelling of some fairy tale. The worldbuilding is good, with weird creatures. The writing was evocative and clear, although there were a few tonal decisions that I think might have come from the translation. I got stuck on the main puzzle for longer than I had thought I would, but I finished the game in about 15 or 20 minutes.

There's an itch version and an e-reader version, which is nice for people looking for more interactivity on the Kindle.

Be There!, by William Dooling

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A SpeedIF ADRIFT game made in 4 hours. Make your meeting, or explore a city, November 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has a lot of good writing and layout, but it suffers from the 4 hour time limit. Very few actions are implemented, even ones close to correct. ADRIFT is especially poor at using responses to incorrect commands to guide the player toward correct commands, and this is no exception. Even consulting those who've won, I haven't been able to complete it, only getting to the (Spoiler - click to show)Runic Doorway in the icy plains while holding the book and wearing the costume. Then I'm stuck.

I enjoyed the writing, but much of the game is difficult to discover. Well-done for a speed-IF, though.

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