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Reviews by MathBrush

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Tribute: Return to the City of Secrets, by Kenneth Pedersen

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A heartfelt tribute to an Emily Short game, May 25, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Emily Short's game City of Secrets is a relatively-hidden gem. Started as a commercial project for a band, it's a sprawling city-based game that has much of the liveliness and intrigue of her later Counterfeit Monkey.

This game takes that same layout and room descriptions, but includes an 'Easter Egg Hunt' where you have to find 10 gems (and 1 super gem I didn't find) scattered throughout the layout of the game.

It does what it set out to well: encourage people to see and appreciate Short's setting and descriptions.

I had some difficulty guessing words (I'm used to Inform's synonyms like SEARCH being the same as LOOK IN), but the game had several hint systems, which was very useful.

Don't Push The Mailbox 2 And Aisle, by Ralfe Rich

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short one-move tribute game with some entertaining responses, May 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game was entered in the Emily Short Anniversary Contest.

It's a sequel of sorts to Pick Up the Phone Booth and Die, Aisle, and Pick up the Phone Booth and Aisle.

Like those games, this game is centered on having silly or weird responses to individual actions you can choose. These games usually require a ton of different actions to see all of the content, but this game isn't quite as expansive as the others. There are a few references to Emily Short and the contest.

Monk by the Sea, by Elizabeth Decoste

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A great first parser game that needs a lot more polish to be a finished work, April 16, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is an introspective parser game set in the world of the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich, one of my favorite artists. It revolves around exploration and small, one-item puzzles in the classic Zorklike mode.

I've seen many first parser games (including my own, a game I never released), and they are almost uniformly buggy and unfinishable.

This game has surprisingly few, if any bugs, which is a welcome surprise. However, it is lacking a lot of polish. I had to decompile the game to find the ending. Some suggestions for the next game:

1. Having one or more beta testers can alleviate almost all problems, if you implement their feedback. Intfiction.org is a good place to find some.
2. Room exits should be listed in every room unless finding the exit is a (hinted) puzzle, like a maze.
3. It's good to have either everything have a description or nothing to have a description. It takes a long time to describe everything, but it's often worth it.
4. Some puzzles may need cluing (like the magpie puzzle). Having a beta tester or two can help here.
5. Having instant deaths and disabling UNDO is a pretty frustrating combo. There's been a lot of debate over the years on whether disabling UNDO is worth it, but it's worth knowing that some interpreters have built-in UNDO that works even if you try to disable it, so some players will always have UNDO.

Overall, I think the author is capable of creating truly great parser games given enough tester support. I'd love to see more!

So Are the Days, by Dawn Sueoka
A clever and complicated collection of poems in interactive form, April 14, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This twine fiction has 4 poems presented in different ways.

One offers choices that don't seem to change the story, instead indicating how you personally feel about your choices.

Another uses some kind of randomization to present a series of tiny vignettes with random names. You can move backwards and forwards in time during the vignettes.

The third uses a grid of text, and you can reveal more or less of the grid.

The fourth is my favorite, with a physical space you can move through and some interaction.

The writing has evocative moments, but the choices of interactivity distance me from the text more than drawing me in. I felt more alienated than invested.

This reminds me of a lot of early works by people who are now well-known/professional IF authors, so I'd love to see where this author goes next.

Braincase, by Dan Lance

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An in-depth and fancy-looking cyberpunk crime game, April 7, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
There are two cyberpunk mystery games in this Spring Thing, and there were at least three last year in IFComp. It's a good genre; Delusions did it back in the 90s, and there have been some other good games in this field.

This game is definitely creative and unique, though. It features some really nice retro-looking UI and some flashing graphics.

The story is about investigating the memories of a deceased individual who had a bionic bow implant on their arm. You're working for the police department.

It focuses on the experience of surveillance and on the way that humanity can be degraded by a police state.

I didn't find deep emotional fulfillment in it, but it gave me a lot to think about.

Quest for the Homeland, by Nikita Veselov

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An Ink game about managing a group of 100 people, April 7, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is written in Ink, always a smooth-looking choice for an engine. The styling is good.

Some of the language could admittedly be more polished. The author admits that English is not their first language, and it shows.

The interactivity is fairly satisfying but not all the way there for me. The same actions might save you or not in different playthroughs. Is it random or stat-tracking? It's hard to say.

Overall, it's interesting.

Khellsphree, by Ralfe Rich

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A young orphan gets tangled up in a fairytale amid a difficult life, April 6, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a long Twine game entered into Spring Thing. It has a long storyline about a boy who's orphaned and ends up taking care of a younger child while older friends take care of him. He gets involved in a fairy story in a way. The game has long linear stretches with some 'dynamic text choices' and a few binary choices that do seem to affect the storyline.

I grade on a 5 star scale:

-Polish: This game is not polished. There are many typos and other grammatical errors, due most likely to the author being a non-native speaker.

-Descriptiveness: This game is very descriptive, with characters having distinct personalities and voices.

-Emotional impact: I got into the story, so I'm giving a star here as well.

-Interactivity: It was hard to know how much I affected the game, but I affected it somewhat and didn't feel locked out.

-Would I play again? Probably not.

So I would give this 2.5, rounded up to 3.

Shades of Yesterday, by Gavin Inglis, Failbetter Games
A slightly confusing Exceptional Story about the colors of the neath, April 5, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I found this exceptional story rather confusing. It seems to mostly relate around an elaborate pen show. You begin to discover that the seller is using the colors of the neathbow, a set of colors used throughout the game and featured prominently in Sunless Seas. Colors like Irrigo, which brings forgetfulness, or Violant, which fixes things in memory.

There is a love story and a confrontation, but this story never really gelled in my mind. It was my first exceptional story in years, so perhaps I had just forgotten how to read them, but it's hard to say. The rewards were good, though.

Go Tell the King of Cats, by James Chew, Failbetter Games
A cute exceptional story about a cat reviewing a life ill-lived, April 5, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I recently started up my Exceptional Friendship at Fallen London again, and this is the second story I played.

You discover a cat that wants a new start on life, but to do so, you must provide character statements from their old friends. The cat wasn't that great of a person before, so the statements are fairly offensive, and you have to decide whether to share what you learn with the cat or not.

Overall, this was charming for an exceptional story, with some good lore here on Parabola and the King of Cats.

JELLY, by Tom Lento, Chandler Groover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Food-based horror, love and rituals and an ASCII map, April 4, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a twine-based game with an ASCII map where you leave little footprints as you travel across the map.

This is food-based horror, a theme that occurs fairly regularly in Groover's repertoire. But it's a bit different this time. This time, you are food: you're jelly, and you're crossing the landscape, trying to get ready for a picnic, and trying to understand what was lost.

It's a live-die-repeat game, where you have limited turns to accomplish your goal. Surprisingly, your actions before death linger, letting you make lasting changes to the landscape.

It's gross, with flayings, immolations, and a lot of devouring, but it's definitely not the grossest Groover game you've ever played.

The final puzzle was beyond me (I didn't realize a certain ordering was different than I thought), but the copious hints smoothed that over.

Weird, and fun.

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.

Quite Queer Night Near, by Andrew Schultz

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Schultz's second rhyming pair game, this time with a spooky theme, November 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Like Very Vile Fairy File, this is a game about rhyming pairs, where you must type in the correct rhyming pair to progress forward.

Like the main game, I found this one enjoyable. The map is short, with 5 or 6 rooms. Some of the rhyming pairs were hard to guess, but unlike the main game, the constrained atmosphere kept guessing from getting tedious.

The Halloween theme was also appropriate, and I feel like the rhymes all made sense.

The use of the word 'queer' in the title would seem to indicate some kind of connection with queer sexuality, but seems to be used in its older sense here of 'unusual'.

A Journey to Omega Station, by DWaM

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Haunting sci-fi horror involving plunging into a new world, November 24, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
There's a specific kind of story I really enjoy, where people travel to an alternate, darker version of our reality. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the Dragonlance Test of the Twins, the IF game My Evil Twin, Stranger Things, etc.

In this well-developed Twine game (which has nice styling and graphics), you play as a Diver who enters various breaks in reality, trying to reach a specific location that will allow you to rescue a real-life runaway.

It's not too long, about 15-30 minutes. Most of the choices seem flavor-based, which was just fine with me.

Day of the Dead--One Soul's All Souls Procession, by Shadowdrake27

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A branching short story about returning on the Day of the Dead, November 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This ChooseYourStory game is short but offers real consequences to actions. You play as a recently dead teen who comes back on the Day of the Dead and discovers the truth about their death.

There are 7 endings advertised, of which I found 2. I would consider both of my endings failures, but they were interesting failures.

The writing seems a little off here and there but it's descriptive enough to make up for it. Overall, I found it to be a compelling tale.

Pumpkin Pie for your soul, by Nils Fagerburg

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A difficult pie cooking game with a gorgeous aesthetic, November 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Visually, this game is a treat. It does for a parser game what has been increasingly common for high-end Twine games over the last few years: custom fonts, background images, special styling (here marginal notes). I love it, and, having tried for a long time to style my Quixe games, I know how hard it can be.

Gameplay-wise, this is polished for an Ectocomp game. You have a ghost that randomly curses things, and a big recipe sheet that tells you how to cook things.

I didn't do too hot, getting 42 on my first attempt and then (undoing for more chances but messing up) getting a 0.

Untitled Nopperabou Game, by Stewart C Baker

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A clever ghost game with good Twine programming, November 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is the kind of thing I really like to see in Ectocomp: an experiment that stretches the boundaries of IF in interesting ways.

In this game, you play a Japanese ghost who frightens people by removing its face. There is an expansive map with different locations to visit and numerous NPCs.

What is clever here (and which I like) is that you have a to-do list you can visit at any time that tells you what your next steps are (without telling you how to accomplish them) and gives hints of what else lies in the game (with obfuscated 'Bonus' achievements).

It also includes a text-entry puzzle, which seems to be case-dependent (since an answer I tried with lowercase turned out to be the right answer when written in uppercase). The game does provide progressive hints, though.

I think the concepts in this game are interesting and worth trying out in a larger Twine game.

Once upon a winter night, the ragman came singing under your window, by Expio

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A very descriptive speed-IF game with a timer and pretty gross ending, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
My reaction to this game was "Wow!" followed by frustrated noises followed by "Ewwww".

This is a speed-IF, so programming and grammar bugs are here, but I was so impressed with the vivid writing and setting as the game began. A mysterious ragman comes into your house and gives you 5 heartbeats (or game moves) to give him what he wants.

But it doesn't tell you what he wants. I spent a long time guessing many different things, and I was frustrated.

The solution was, frankly, gross. Not that I think (Spoiler - click to show)breastfeeding is gross, but the fact that (Spoiler - click to show)the monster would desire it. It's written fairly similar to rape, in the sense that a man is demanding use of a woman's organs.

Witch Beyond the Woods, by Bitter Karella
A unique way of telling a horror story, November 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I think this story (and the generally similar piece The Curious Incident at Blackrock Township) shows Bitter Karella's range. Most Karella games are light-hearted dark humor Quest games with characters that are exaggerated, sometimes even caricatures.

This Twine game goes to the opposite end: it uses stately language, academic and poetic, and is built around mimesis. The game is framed as a translation of a German poem, with academic footnotes attached. (Spoiler - click to show)I was unable to find any of the references in real life (i.e. outside of the game). But it was so convincing that I felt I had to find something on some of them. The 'translated folk poetry' bit was really convincing, too. Overall, it gave me a better idea of Karella's range.

The academic process of hunting through footnotes is close to lawnmowering, but I found that it really helped the main idea of the game ((Spoiler - click to show)presenting the narrative as real).

As for the content of the poem itself, I found it really well-done. It reminded me of Gawain and the Green Knight or Der Freischutz.

When He Died, by O Bluefoot

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A Halloween first game based on a song. , November 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This parser game is surprisingly well-done for an author's first game. It's basically an implementation of a world based on the song "When He Died" by Neil Cicierega. You are a forensic photographer, and the gameplay is actually very similar to Hanon Ondricek's underrated game Transparent, where you take photos of supernatural events in a mansion.

Here is my ratings scale, one star per category:

Polish: This is the star I'm not giving. There are some issues, like repeating the description of the staircase in the first room, and it could overall use some more beta testing to find synonyms and things to implement. Overall, though, the implementation of a camera is impressive, and the game handles several complex commands and interactions in a smooth manner.

Descriptiveness: This is lovely. Many of the good ideas are taken directly from the song, but I've learned from experience that turning good material into a good game is not trivial. Nice background for the PC.

Interactivity: I turned to the hints once, but otherwise I was pleased with my agency in this game and felt like my actions mattered.

Emotional Impact: Again, the best parts come from the song, but they hit home for me. Had a lot of fun here.

Would I play again?: I'd be interested in revisiting this in the future.

If this is the author's first game, I can only imagine what a longer, heavily-beta tested IFComp game might be like. Very good!

Randomized Escape, by Yvan Uh
A very randomized glulx game that invites you to peak into its code, October 11, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game consists of a randomized layout of areas, each containing random pieces of decor, some of which benefits you, and randomized deadly encounters.

As a straight-up game, it has flaws. The text has many grammatical errors, the scenery can become repetitive, and it's hard to know how to strategize.

But an an experiment, I like it. Like many people, I've thought of writing a randomized game, but I've never really gotten around to it. This game shows how it could be done, and I think it would be worthwhile to tinker with the code here. I appreciate the author letting us see the code!

Flygskam Simulator, by Katie Benson
A short slice-of-life travelling from UK to Germany, October 11, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Katie Benson has a specific style to her games. They are always kind of low-key and chill, focused on a specific aspect of life, with a 'main' path and one or more side paths, and a lot of little exploration choices in the middle for flavor.

I'm always happy to see one, and I find it pleasant. This one isn't quite as developed as her others, but still gives the same enjoyable vibe. 'Flygskam' (or shame of flying) refers to the movement that tries to avoid the use of airplanes to avoid pollution and energy wastage.

This game adds a new feature where at times you restart the whole game. It would have been tedious, but the game is short enough that clicking quickly takes care of it.

The Mysterious Stories of Caroline, by Soham S
A dramatic game about your past and a public trial. Great music, October 10, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game attempts to pull off something big: to take an extremely serious topic (pedophilia) and to say something deep about it.

This is hard. People that try to deal with heavy topics often veer into extreme heavyhandedness ("Do you suppress freedom, or give people liberty?") or into almost celebrating the issue at hand (as sometimes happens with self-harm).

This game manages to have strong writing and good pacing. While pedophilia is constantly portrayed as bad (good!) It doesn't make it super clear how we're supposed to feel and act when someone we once knew is accused. The choice here isn't between 'support pedophilia or not', it's between 'seeking punishment vs seeking truth', and 'retreating within oneself vs exposing yourself to harm).

Still, it can get very heavy, but the music is a definite bonus here. There is a credits section, and I tried watching it a few times (it slowly fades in), but I kept missing the music section, so I don't know who did it.

There's a lot of slow text here but it's manageable. Give yourself a good 30-40 minutes to play it, though.

I'm not planning on playing again. The game is good, but it's not enjoyable in the literal sense.

Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir, by Damon L. Wakes

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A highly branching funny Twine game with pencil and paper activity, October 10, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is fantasy game where you, Lord of a torture dungeon that is not serving its original purpose, must go on a quest to unsee terrible things.

There are many branches, and many variables. Instead of the game tracking the variables, you need to write down on a personal Adventure Sheet. It's possible to cheat, but the game does a good job of checking!

This is a funny game. It has some raunchy humor, but more in a 'nudge nudge wink wink' way than anything explicit. I found it enjoyable, if a bit silly and short.

Arram's Tomb, by James Beck

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A D&D-esque party plunder a tomb, October 9, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is strongly D&D-inspired (possibly through intermediate inspirations like Diablo or CRPGs).

You're in a party with a mage, a barbarian, a cleric and a thief. You're plundering a tomb, and you have to choose which of three paths to take. Taking them in the right order with the right strategy can grant you success!

The formatting could use work. All the paragraphs run together, and they need more line breaks (I think you can do that in Twine by adding a completely blank line between paragraphs).

The only woman in the party exists only to be an object of affection, which is disappointing.

This game isn't really trying to push any boundaries or grow beyond its sources, but it it has many of the essentials of a good D&D adventure.

De Novo, by cyb3rmen
A lovely-looking game that falls apart logically, October 9, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
The programmers and artists did a great job on this game. We have a smooth interface with lush, hand-drawn designs.

The story is not really salvageable, though. You play a judge in death-penalty-era England, and you are asked to review death row cases. The following facts are true in this game:
-You can only appeal one case
-The ones you don't appeal are executed
-You have no choice about these rules
-Your wife acts like you are killing people

and...

-The people you free (Spoiler - click to show)are sent back so that all but 1 die.

So much of this doesn't make sense. And the text is very trope-y and short, almost like a distilled ideal version of truth. The entire courtroom transcript is boiled down to two paragraphs, including "The defendant said 'I didn't do it!'".

The tension with your spouse is not reasonable. These people were all going to die. Your job lets you save at most one. If you didn't do your job, they would all die. So you're literally doing the opposite of what she says; you're not killing anyone at all.

I think games focused on political issues can be amazing, but I feel like this one doesn't quite reach the goal its hitting at. Love the interface, though.

Each-uisge, by Jac Colvin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A Scottish horror story in the days of horse-drawn carts, October 9, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game satisfies my criteria for 5 stars:

Polish: This game has been well-tested, includes achievements and stats, has a pleasing choice structure.

Descriptive: The mother, Macleod, the protagonist, and especially the horse were vivid characters.

Interactivity: I felt like I had real choices that could affect the game, and saw the effect of some of those choices.

Emotional impact: I was drawn into the story and could identify with the protagonist.

Would I play again?: I would definitely revisit this. Lovely game.

In this game, you play a young girl who suspects that there is something unusual about her neighbors new horse. She's drawn into a web of tales and choices, and has to decide whether to obey her mother or follow her own mind.

The Sweetest Honey, by Mauro Couto
A Groundhog's day scenario with a troubled man, October 9, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is translated from Spanish, and has some definite language issues.

But the underlying story shines through, and I think it's a fine example of the time loop tale.

Your friend Beto has recently passed away, and you don't feel very good. Nervous and fearful, you are convinced you will die.

The story ends up taking some loops, and doesn't last too long, but I found it to be effective and enjoyed some of the symbolism. It painted a strong picture of the protagonist.

The final link is broken, but it's just supposed to reload the index.html file.

The Island, by Ann Hugo

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A not-quite-there game about a magical girl on an island, October 8, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This Twine game places you in the position of a young witch-girl that gets marooned on an island with an interesting cast of characters.

The beginning of this young fantasy game is pretty promising, but the conflicts begin and end fairly quickly. I found the ending abrupt. In my playthrough, I (Spoiler - click to show)openly defied a powerful wizard with a tiger pet and just found a boat, and the game was over.

I found a passage that was completely blank ((Spoiler - click to show)offering to let Corbin live with you).

I think all of the issues could be addressed by increasing the game length and a little bit more beta testing.

Planet C, by Mark Carew

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A space colony simulator in Ink, October 8, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This games is pushing a bit higher than 4 stars, maybe 4.1 or 4.2.

When you put effort into an Ink game, it looks good. This game has nice crisp scrolling and nicely-chosen images from Unsplash. It looks good!

Structure-wise, it seems like it's written by someone with no real IFComp experience, and so it's a sort of new thing not tied down to overused IFComp tropes. This is a good thing; if anything, it reminds me of Ayliff's Seedship game.

You have a growing colony with a lot of stats (resource use, pollution, etc.). The major decision you make is which technologies to import from the earth first. You also have occasional binary decisions to make regarding strategy.

The story is about two people who love each other very much sending letters and images back and forth. There names are of Arab origin and the images seem to be from Africa, so the setting seems to be somewhere in North Africa.

The game has a few problems. I swear I saw a few typos like stray punctuation. The science in the game is grossly oversimplified (a colony of 400 people can create enough incidental pollution to affect the entire planet's climate over a few months) and the 'check stats' link can be overwhelming.

But it was fun, and the story made me think about life. I believe the author achieved the goals he had when making this game.

The Chieftain, by LeSUTHU

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A tribe simulation game with a recursive nature, October 6, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
One star may seem harsh for a game, but here are my five criteria:

Polish: This game has visible error messages every few screens. This is probably all the same error, but it could have been caught. Links to images are everywhere, but are deleted because of copyright. If the author is reading this, try Pexels! Plenty of free images in their public domain section.

Descriptiveness: Everything in this game is bare-bones, functional writing.

Emotion: I didn't really feel a connection to the chieftain or the tribe

Interactivity: The game is very slow in its accretion of resources, and bugs made my choices not work

Play again: Without more bug testing, I wouldn't play it again.

The Shadow Witch, by Healy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A cute and wicked RPGmaker game about a bad witch, with multiple endings, October 6, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Is this Healy's first full-length game? I know Healy best for the many years of starting IFComp prediction threads, so it's fun to see them in action.

This game is in stark contrast to Turandot, the last IFComp game I played. That game was very self-aware, while this game just oozes sincerity. Turandot overturned tropes and cliches, while this game leans on them somewhat.

This game uses RPG maker, so it's very graphic heavy, but that doesn't take away the 'interactive fiction' aspect for me. RPG maker is fairly generic, so the grpahics melt into the background and let the choices and text take front stage.

Basically, you're trying to be bad. So you do bad things. If you get enough bad things, hopefully you can impress your boss. There is one strong profanity in the game (fitting for a bad, bad witch). There are nice little knowledge puzzles.

And there are choices. This game is short (which is the biggest reason for 3 stars out of 5, I don't think it explored its themes enough), but even in that short time, you have true agency. You can have two walkthroughs to two different endings that share almost no text between the two of them and which represent diametrically opposed choices. And that's pretty rare in a text game!

I like this kind of game. Papillon made a game like this decades ago, but it was buggier. If only RPG maker had been there back then! Hopefully, Healy will continue to write. I look forward to more!

Night Guard / Morning Star, by Astrid Dalmady

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A mother/daughter relationship told through paintings and pain, October 4, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I'll admit, I'm a big Astrid Dalmady fan. From her earliest games like You Are Standing at a Crossroads, I've found her writing comforting and cathartic.

So this game, I ate it up. It's not big on traditional interactivity. You just explore everything, then move on to the next step (on the surface, at least. In truth, the game tracks state and has many endings, but it doesn't appear like it).

What I like about it is the story. The label I'd like to apply is 'magical realism', although that's a subject I'm not an expert in, so I might be using it wrong. A day to day story with fantastic elements brought in that are treated matter-of-factly, for the most part.

What happens is you are the night guard for your mother's paintings, and (Spoiler - click to show)they begin to come to life. You must gather items for a ritual to summon back a lost painting.

You have options. Some choices cause you pain, and others cause you sadness. There are many endings.

Overall, I found it almost like a cleansing for the mind. The deep discussion of the mother-daughter relationship helped me think about my own relationships, and the ritualistic structure was like a form of meditation.

Meeting Robb Sherwin, by Jizaboz

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short and earnest real-life tale in parser format, October 4, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Okay, this game is not a comp-killer. It's short, the puzzles are very easy, the plot is linear.

But it's just brimming with honesty and earnestness. This is a real-life tale of friendship and tribute. The protagonist doesn't sound like me; grabbing a 24% THC stash in Colorado and downing draft beers with buds isn't me. But that's okay; the thing I like about this game is that it's a window into another life, a window into a period of bonding and experience. The author has put his real self on the page (or at least made it look like that!) and it's so rare to find something like that.

And the simple game design makes for less bugs. There are some rough spots, but it wasn't too hard to get out of.

Here's to friendship!

Under the Sea, by Heike Borchers
A mid-length light and carefree parser game under the ocean, October 4, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is pleasant, and has a simple map and friendly, talking animals.

You are exploring an island and its surrounding reef, looking for treasure. Along the way, you solve some riddles and help out some new friends.

It's all very pleasant, and it boasts numerous testers, but I feel like the design has some issues. Some puzzles (like Morse code) work great.

But others have trouble. One that comes to mind is the shovel. When we use it, we're asked where we want to use it. It turns out the answer has the form DIG PREPOSITION NOUN. This is a really big space to get the answer right in. Do you dig NEXT TO THE SEA? IN FRONT OF THE TRUNK? When you open up the parser to three-word puzzles, it makes things more difficult.

This happened later for me with the flat stone. You need to use one thing with another thing to affect a third thing. There are just so many ways of typing it, and I had to turn to the walkthrough.

There were a few other things that were similarly open-ended (like the riddle), and so I kind of bounced off that portion of the game and didn't become invested.

Overall, I found this fun, with wonderful imagery.

Dull Grey, by Provodnik Games

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A beautifully illustrated and orchestrated game with only one choice-or is it?, October 3, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I think I would give this 4.5 stars, but I am rounding up.

Provodnik Games made their debut last year with Railways of Love, a sci-fi game set in a future Russia where you were locked into one path which later opened.

This game is somewhat similar. It is set in the same future (both feature 'spikeheads', robot transmitters). Both games are illustrated, the former in 8-bit pixel art, and this one in gorgeous, smoothly animated black and white art.

The writing is good, with some English hiccups here and there. A son in a lonely outpost needs to enter the real world by choosing a job. There are two job choices, and the choice gets made over and over.

Near the end, you finally break free, but it's tricky to find. The final screen, interestingly enough, shows a breakdown of what final choices people made. Only 15% of people made my choice, which was a partially hidden ending, but apparently there's an even better ending that 1% of people found.

I'm not afraid of choice-deficient games (I loved last year's very linear Polish the Glass), but I feel a bit odd giving this 5 stars when it's more of a computerized book. However, the constrained interactivity does serve a purpose, and reflects the constrained options of the protagonist. On the other hand, this kind of constraint-as-story as been done many times before. On the other hand, just because something isn't new doesn't mean it's bad. So I go back and forth between 4 stars and 5, which is why I've given it a score of 4.5. I'd love to see more from Provodnik!

Old Jim's Convenience Store, by Anssi Räisänen

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A small nugget of a puzzle game, October 2, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This author has been writing for almost two decades now. His games are compact, with small settings allowing for experimentation.

This game is no exception. We have a very constrained situation at first, which opens up into a somewhat larger area. We're investigating our uncle's abandoned gas station which we have now inherited.

It took me a while to get the gist of the game. I missed the big twist because I tried (Spoiler - click to show)look under newspapers instead of (Spoiler - click to show)look under cardboard, but a peek at the walkthrough sent me on my way.

The writing is brief, reminiscent of Adventure and other mainframe games. The programming is mostly polished, my favorite feature being that the game remembers your past solutions to transversal puzzles and repeats them for you after you've done it once, like Hadean lands.

There's nothing bad here, I just wish it was more exciting and longer.

The Ouroboros Trap, by Chad Ordway

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A cyclical, surreal twine game with many bad endings and one good, October 2, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
"Stop me if you've heard this one before," the game says. Well, I have heard this one before. The game replies, "Oh, you have heard that one? Well, okay. Well, I guess you'll just have to trust me on this one. After all, what's the worse that could happen?"

Well, the worst that can happen is that I can have a bit of fun doodling around with this cyclical game before finding the 'good ending'.

The game is very aware of its reliance on tropes. The 'you are in a room, escape and weird branchy stuff happen' is an old one, perhaps best expressed in J.J. Guest's enormous, decades-in-the-making Escape From the Crazy Place. This game is much smaller, possibly created in response to a school assignment (a credit thanks a professor).

None of it is bad, but it doesn't push the boundaries at all. All of the links work correctly, but the styling of the text is standard. There is some timed text, done better than most. The branching interactivity works well with the small, cyclical nature.

I'm a fan of soothing, small, cyclical surreal games (like Astrid Dalmady's early work). If you are too, I recommend this.

Saint City Sinners, by dgallagher

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An amusing over-the-top noir story about solving a mystery, October 2, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game emulates the Clickhole type of games, which I haven't played very much, but they are generally very over the top, the kind of writing you'd see in Mad Magazine twenty years ago.

You are a hard-bitten detective trying to solve the mystery of the mayor's death. You have three suspects to investigate to discover the murder.

This game and the clickhole games borrow more from CYOA books than from the overall Twine genre. This means a moderate amount of instant deaths, encouragement to back up an option, and one right path hidden among many others. It's not my favorite organizational style, but at least it does it well.

The writing is funny. It's very wink-wink fourth-wall-breaking stuff, so I found it amusing but difficult to become invested in.

Mental Entertainment, by Thomas Hvizdos

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A sci-fi game about VR that guides you in thinking about political issues, October 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a conversational game, a difficult genre to do well. I was pleased at how this game handled the difficulties.

The game puts you in the role of a 'dependency evaulator' who must decide if people are unhealthily addicted to VR or not.

Each of the three people you discuss has strong opinions on political issues that are important to us and exacerbated in their future. Climate change, privatization of police and military, and war have made their mark on this world.

You are not required to feel any particular way yourself. If you hear someone go off on an opinion you don't think is justified, you can put their file in the 'bad' bin. The game doesn't judge you. It doesn't comment.

I liked it. Parser needed some touching up, especially dealing with names and their possessives (for instance, "Brian" wouldn't be a synonym of "Brian's file").

Conversation is usually hard because its either too linear or the state space grows too quickly. This game restricts the state space by telling you what to start with and that all new topics will be nouns in previous replies. Wonderful! Similar to Galatea in that respect.

Limerick Heist, by Pace Smith
A clever and witty crime game based entirely on limericks, October 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a crime game where you assemble a team to pull off a heist. Absolutely everything is in limerick form, even the choices, which are all first lines of limericks.

I give stars in 5 criteria: polish, interactivity, emotion, descriptiveness, and if I would play again.

This game is both very polished and very descriptive. The limericks are clever, and the game uses color very effectively.

It's funny, I'll admit, but the sheer number of limericks was wearying by the end. I often feel this way with poetry (I've never finished Paradise Lost), so I didn't feel very emotionally invested.

The interactivity was a sort of gauntlet style where you could lose at any point in the story making the wrong choice. It makes for less writing (which makes sense with so many constraints!), but I wasn't really into the overall structure. There are some paths that do branch and recombine, though.

And overall, I would play again, and I would recommend it to people looking for something quirky.

Flight of the Code Monkeys, by Mark C. Marino

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Collaborative coding mixed with computer dystopia, October 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is clever. It is a python notebook with code that you can run. You are assigned tasks to do, altering the code and running it.

The code is obfuscated, with a large portion of it hidden in a huge string array. Making the code changes suggested in the text portions reveals 'secrets' in the code. Some secrets are a lot simpler than others.

This game is complex and creative, but I found it a bit confusing near the end. The first 'subversive' instruction was difficult for me to follow (especially 'put it in the parenthesis'. Put what in which parenthesis?)

Overall, I was glad I played and love the innovation happening here.

Ombre, by Andrew Plotkin

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Effective in any language. Chilling., August 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is the French translation (by Hugo Labrande and Monsieur Bouc) of Shade. I found it very useful to use Emily Short's French IF manual (translated by Eric Forgeot).

The translation is implemented very well, with many synonyms and verbs allowed. Due to my difficulty in completely understanding the French, I appreciated having the to-do list; it made completion much better (I had never used it in English; some of the lines made me chuckle).

A worthwhile play, both for Francophones and for others trying to learn French.

Three More Visitors , by Paul Stanley
A speed-IF based on A Christmas Carol, August 25, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game takes place ten years after the original Christmas Carol story. Scrooge is very happy now, and things seem to be going well.

But then a wrench is thrown into things, a murder plot is brewing, and you have to speak with the ghosts again.

The game is descriptive for a speed-IF, but it suffers from the usual speed-IF implementation flaws. I liked the story, though it was on rails. A fun little Christmas snack.

Gardening for Beginners, by Juhana Leinonen
A short little 'what could go wrong' game about gardening, August 23, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a speed IF, so it has a lot of rough edges, but the mid-game is pretty fun.

You are a gardener who just can't handle all of the problems going on. You start out with a nice checklist of things to do, but it soon dissolves into chaos.

A lot more synonyms and actions could be implemented. But that sort of thing is exactly what separates Speed-IF from regular IF, isn't it?

Little Falls, by Alessandro Schillaci, Roberto Grassi, Simonato Enrico

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short drama parser game with sounds and images., August 22, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has good production values. Background colors, images, sounds, real-time text, etc.

It's a drama. You play a police officer involved in a dramatic incident years in the past. Now a disturbed individual is on the loose and you have to stop them.

The story is very drama-heavy, with flashbacks, dread implications, and so forth.

The effort is here, but some of it could have been redirected in other areas. More synonyms, better hinting. And the emotions are kind of hammered in, something I've had trouble with in my own writing.

Detritus, by Mary Hamilton
A variety of mechanics involving possessions, August 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game began as an experiment in different Twine mechanics. It is a game in five parts, with backgrounds and sometimes sounds.

Each part deals with your possessions, which are similar through the five parts. The people you play as seem quite different, though, unless your character is interested in both men and women and has numerous relationships, swinging back and forth between pessimism and optimism. It's possible, of course, but unlikely.

I enjoyed the game, but it felt a bit bloodless. All of the characters seemed kind of distant emotionally. But all of the scenarios are ones in which characters themselves are removed emotionally from their immediate surroundings, whether through shock or relief.

Finally, some of the background images made the text hard to read. But there is certainly something appealing about the game.

A Crimson Spring, by Robb Sherwin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A gritty and vulgar but descriptive superhero game with battle system , July 30, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This was Sherwin’s second IFComp game. It toned down the sexuality, but there are still quite a few inventive vulgar descriptions throughout the game.

This is an intense story (using a menu based conversational system) about superheroes in love and revenge. There are quite a few superheroes in this game, including some old familiar ones (an ice-guy) and also some innovative ones.

Outside of the vulgarity, the story is intriguing and even touching.

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.

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.

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.

The Sealed Room, by Robert DeFord
A very small game with extensive conversation, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has two characters in locked room. You have a few items around and you can talk to them. There is one puzzle, with multiple stages.

It’s not a bad concept. A problem that arises is that the number of topics is large, and they are all dumped on you at the same time (well, most of them are). If it was gated at the beginning more, I’d give this another star.

But the whole game is bloodless. What makes it all tie together? Nothing, as far as I can see.

I believe the author went on to make some other, great games.

Caroline, by Kristian Kronstrand
A dark religious romance game with constrained parser, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is completely CYOA. However, to make your choice, you must type it in.

This is obnoxious and wasteful. But, on the other hand, it makes choices more meaningful as you must type them out.

I went through 5 chapters, and reached some white text that faded out after a fairly-explicit romantic scene. My game didn't work after that.

I didn't really connect with this game, and the interactivity left something to be desired.

Nowhere Near Single, by kaleidofish
An in-depth look at entertainment life and multiple relationships, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I avoided this game for a while because I thought it was just a polyamorous sex simulator. But, trying it, I found that sexuality played a very small role in it, and even less if you chose not to.

Instead, it depicts what life would be like in a polyamorous lesbian relationship. I can honestly say that it made me feel like that kind of relationship would be a ton of work and not worth the intense cross-connections.

Secondly, it was very satisfying dealing with the work-related portion of the game. I spent the first half as a workaholic obsessed with my career, and eventually realized that fame as a singer was crushing my life, so I purposely torpedoed my job to find freedom from the old ball and chain.

Polished overall. A lot of pages in linear order, but mixed in with enough choices that it didn't feel overwhelming. I don't plan on playing again, as I'm satisfied with my choices.

The War of the Willows, by Adam Bredenberg
A poem combined with a combat simulator, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is an odd little game, and the lowest-ranking game of IFComp 2015. In its own sphere, it's great and wonderful, but it's just not what most people are looking for.

What it is is epic, obscure and symbolic poetry about trees planted over ancestor's graves coming to life to take revenge on their descendants for blasphemy. There is an intentional emotional distance between the listener and the author.

The battle system is similarly opaque. You can attack. You can pray. What do these do? Is not knowing an essential part of the experience?

It starts with Choice of Games-style choices establishing stats before diving in.

Interesting game. To get it to run in modern python 3, open all the python files and change raw_input to input.

Vampyre Cross, by Paul Allen Panks
Standard Panks game, got disqualified from IFComp, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is just a regular Panks game: a village with a central well, with a two-story tavern and a cross-shaped church with altar in a different direction, forest and monsters outside of town.

It's a commodore 64 game, so you'll need an emulator.

This one was disqualified from IFComp due to being released early.

Requiem, by David Whyld
A harboiled occult detective story with a CYOA/parser hybrid structure, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is very similar in theme to David Whyld's previous IFComp game, as they both involve a tough guy with a beautiful blonde who conspire against the woman's necromantic former partner.

Again, this game focuses for some time on the male gaze towards the woman, although there is no explicit sex or too much gore. It relies pretty heavily on the 'people can get knocked unconscious frequently without any adverse consequences).

The storyline, that of a detective having a client who comes in requesting an investigation of her own murder, works well. I didn't reach a perfect ending, but the third or fourth ending I got was good enough for me.

It's mostly CYOA with occasional parser-focused segments.

The Initial State, by Matt Barton
A thoroughly depressing grimdark space amnesia homebrew parser game, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This homebrew parser game from 2006 works a little better than others. It has easily readable source, which helps, especially when divining what verbs are allowed. It doesn't do disambiguation well, but everything else is passable.

You wake up in a space station with amnesia, discovering logs and evidence of what has come before.

This is a grimdark game, with mentions of topics like (Spoiler - click to show)frequent contemplation of suicide and enforced rape. It's pessimistic and sad.

Ariadne in Aeaea, by Victor Ojuel
A short, polished adventure through a segment of Greek mythology, June 23, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I put off playing this game for a couple of years because I thought it was a sexual game. It mentions a few things here and there, but is quite a bit tamer than I expected, with almost all salacious material at the beginning. If Shakespeare is acceptable, this has about the same level, or Don Quijote.

Anyway, this fun adventure puts you in the role of Ariadne (THE Ariadne from mythology), engaged in a wasteful and promiscuous lifestyle, who receives a wake-up call from her aunt Circe (THE Circe). Most of the game is fairly linear, with TALK TO being the main interaction, but its well-oiled and polished. This is a great little game.

Mortality, by David Whyld

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A long CYOA/parser hybrid about a torrid affair, gritty violence, and mortality, June 22, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game definitely is not written for children. From the opening few paragraphs:

"I've slept with high class dames and drug-snorting whores; professional models (even a couple of top shelf centrefolds); nurses and secretaries; yet none of them, even one, came close to Stephanie Gamble in terms of sheer physical beauty."

to the scattering of heavy profanity, this game is adult-oriented, which isn't really my thing.

But the interactivity and story work well. It's about 75% a CYOA game with numbered selections, kind of like Choice of Games, with an emphasis on conversations and making plans. The rest is limited parser, with most actions being movement, looking, or talking.

The story is about a plot you have to off the old, rich husband of your girlfriend.

Amissville II, by William A. Tilli

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A slightly better sequel to the broken original game, June 22, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Santoonie Corp. was an interesting group in the early days of IF, and there are debates about whether the games released under their name are really there's or not. Suffice it to say, the games released under their name are poor quality.

This one is better than the other Amissville's, but still dreadful. There are TADS errors I've never even seen before for trivial actions. There is a fairly expansive map with some interesting scenes, but the scenes are built into the text description, so typing 'look' will repeat large chunks of action.

The story is nonsensical, something about hiding out in the woods and looking for weapons for your friend while being on run from the cops. Half of items are portable, the other half (often identical things to the ones you can carry) are 'too burdensome to carry'.

This is not the worst game I've ever played.

xkcd: Right Click, by Randall Munroe
A highly polished game hidden in menus with wild branching, June 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a clever concept. You right click on a picture, and the menus are huge, with enormous branching.

Some do relatively nothing, or are just dumb jokes taking advantage of the menu structure. Others have functionality: turning off the whole system, or allowing editing.

An interesting feature is a text adventure in the 'games' section with nods to Leather Goddesses of Phobos and to Adventure. It tracks state and allows revisiting locations, but it is easy to lose your spot.

Overall, it's funny as an idea, but too tedious to explore fully, and tedious even in medium exploration.

Lies & Cigars, by Katherine Morayati

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A complex, innovative multimedia work about NYC mediaites , June 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This hypertext work uses Undum and Raconteur to create a relatively rare system for IF (I can’t really think of any parallels to it). The premise of the game is technology allowing you to interact with memories of the past. (Bizarre corporate emotio-tech is a theme in a few Morayati games, like Laid Off at the Synesthesia Factory and Take). The mechanics of the game are selecting from a frequently-refreshed menu of questions followed by curating everyone’s responses (asking for clarification or rejecting the comment).

These mechanics are opaque, and intentionally so. You are meant to get a feel for the game through experimentation. I’m still not sure quite how it works after several playthroughs, but rejecting everything vs rejecting nothing certainly has an impact. Certain characters take on strong personalities once you begin picking them out.

The story is a sort of decadent ironic self-gazing thing, something you could imagine bored aristocrats writing about their hobbies a few weeks before a brutal revolution toppled them. Wealthy New Yorkers (here meaning ‘people who actually have somewhere to live in NYC due to their job) have a party where they trash a historical(ish?) building, are cruel and vapid to each other, and basically act like upper class jerks.

It gives a glimpse into another world. But I vaguely bounced off the interaction and setting, as I always felt like an outsider. Although that may be the whole point.

Into the Lair, by Kenna
Essentially a twine version of a vampire table top RPG module, June 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has all the hallmarks of a D&D or Vampire: the Masquerade boxed adventure. A short backstory about why you’re seeking revenge, a quest giver, a maze-like dungeon, NPCs for battling and talking with, a vampire boss, traps, treasure and magical items.

This isn’t typical of most IFComp games, but it’s what I played around with a lot growing up, so I had a nostalgia factor while playing this.

Going back to the same parts over and over again was a bit frustrating, and it can be difficult to strategize. Death and failure are easy, while success is not.

Overall, I see this as a successful game.

Re: Dragon, by Jack Welch
A self-referential game that is choice-based. Made with Vorple. Urban fantasy., May 27, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a response to the 2017 game The Dragon Will Tell Your Future Now, a sort of troll game that promised an ending that never came, despite it's clever writing.

This current game, Re: Dragon, an unauthorized sequel, purports to tell the true story behind the earlier game. Like the first game, it dabbles with a blend of modern-day language and esoteric magical and astrological terms.

It is presented in a novel format using Vorple to create a false e-mail inbox. Other games have used other methods to do this, both before and after Re: Dragon (including Alethicorp and Human Errors). This is a particularly complex version, with several inboxes, timed messages, and mutating formats, as well as some pictures and sounds.

Overall, the one area I found a bit lacking in the game was emotional investment. It was presented with such irony, absurdity, and complex language that I felt more like an outside observer than an earnest participant.

En Garde, by Jack Welch

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A funny and drama-filled zombie parser game with innovative mechanics, May 27, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta-tested the French version of this game, and played the English version during IFComp and now.

This is a funny game in a very particular genre: the 'gain powers by eating' genre. Other games in this genre include portions of Spore and the Adrift game Mangiasaur.

Using Vorple, En Garde replaces the parser command line with colored buttons. These buttons are, at first, unlabeled. This represents your mental state. You begin this game as a weak, unintelligent creature, but quickly become more intelligent and powerful, and your options change accordingly.

This game is short and not too complex, puzzle- and story-wise. However, it's value is boosted by its amusing dialog between various species and people., which elevates it from a 4 star game to a 5 star game for me.

The King of the World, by G.A. Millsteed
A story cobbled from great pieces but lacking in cohesion and pacing, May 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This story is an interesting mix. So many of the concepts it has are great: how do men and women with power like Gods of different elements find a way to defeat someone who is almost impossible to reach in their domain?

Betrayal, love, power, it's all here. A mysterious library, a maze to navigate.

But there are a few key flaws that I believe the author could improve on for the next game. If they fix these kinds of things, I think they could make truly awesome stories.

First, the pacing is off. The things that break up a story are compelling plot twists and choices. The most boring part of the game is first, and it's marked by a single choice in a sea of 'continue' style links. Incredibly momentous events are marked and gone in a moment, but a long march with stats and a maze search take up a large chunk of the game.

Second, cohesion. Are you a tender romantic or a ruthless conqueror? Both. Do you seek the favor of your partner or destroy their world? Both. Is your brother a power-hungry madman or a gentle friend willing to step aside for you? Both.

I feel like these problems could be solved simultaneously by adding significantly more choices. These choices wouldn't have to branch the game; the author has already showed the capability of writing such choices (like flavoring your brother's personality, affecting stats, or navigating). You could even have meaningless choices that have a small paragraph in response but don't affect anything else. Then you could react to crazy stuff and make those moments longer.

Ostrich, by Jonathan Laury

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A political game about censorship and dystopia, May 2, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I'm giving this 4.5 stars, rounding up to 5 on IFDB.

Ostrich is a multi-day Twine game set in a country similar to modern-day America.

In this story, you play the role of government censor, deciding what does and doesn't pass into the news (and later, branching out into further works).

The interactivity has a nice pattern to it: an ongoing saga in your daily commute, with choices remembered over time; your actual job which is graded and performance mentioned; and your evening rituals, which gain importance as the game progresses.

The first few times I played this game, I had the impression that it was fairly linear, but after multiple replays, I've realized that it has quite a bit of freedom. I felt like it did a good job of balancing hard choices in some bits.

There was something just a bit missing from this, though, that would would have made it a classic. I can't identify what it is.

I recommend this author's other games, as well.

Terminal Interface for Models RCM301-303, by Victor Gijsbers

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An excellently polished short sci fi game with multiple endings , April 25, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game by Victor Gijsbers contains many of the best elements from his former games, including an examination of player agency and strong NPCs.

You play as the commander of a mech, complete with manual and custom parser messages. Unfortunately, your visual components are damaged, so the on-scene pilot Lemmy has to do the talking for you. But Lemmy's quite the character, making life pretty difficult.

The parser is constrained to those verbs recognized by the mech, and even by the nouns which Lemmy 'tags'.

This game is shorter than I would like, but it's pretty good when my main critique is that I want more of it.

Contains some strong profanity in some paths.

69105 More Keys, by Andrew Schultz
Complicated puzzle game involving combinatorics, April 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is similar to David Welbourn's classic 69105 keys. You search through piles of keys divided by adjectives, trying to find a unique key. It includes some innovations over the previous game, including multiple game modes, a different kind of randomization, and an anti-game for finding the 'worst' key.

There seems to be a bug with the second half of the game that lets you instantly win, but otherwise this is a nice to game that goes from 'banging your head' to 'oh I see'.

Porter Cave Adventure, by Cam Miller
A game designed to explore academic writing concepts in game form, April 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game was designed as part of a class in game history. It's one of the most successful games I've seen done as part of a course, since most such games are very timid in their scope. This one is decently-sized.

The author decided to feature game history and critique heavily. Something happens in the game, and then you get a quote relevant to what you just experienced.

I found that an enjoyable premise. It did suffer from implementation issues, which are the bugbear of parser games in general. For instance, there is a telephone which cannot be referred to at at all.

Overall, it's a valuable addition to the niche of 'games about games'.

San Francisco, 2118, by Leah Case

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A complex relationship sci-fi Twine game with heavy themes , April 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I can't tell if this game is genius or just confusing. But I like it.

It's a pretty hefty Twine game at around 30K words, with much of this tied up in different relationship tracks.

You play a worker in a futuristic San Francisco that seems to be on the edge of apocalypse. You've suffered intense losses, including the recent passing of your mother, and most of the game deals with reflection on your relationship with her.

The game has excellent media usage, including a skyscraper that scrolls up and down as the player moves, and heavy usage of a beeping watch alarm.

The writing style makes heavy use of inference and allusion, making for a confusing read. It also employs non-linear narrative, so this is a pretty complex game.

Founder's Mercy, by Thomas Insel

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A completely smooth but sparse space puzzler, April 11, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is pretty interesting. It reminds me structurally of Infocom's first sci-fi game, Starcross. Both deal with cylindrical space stations with a variety of components and pieces that must be dealt with. Both are highly polished in terms of implementation and bugs.

Those interested in parser games primarily for puzzle-based reasons or for the 'parser feel' will certainly enjoy this game, and I found enjoyment in this area.

Writing-wise, it's very sparse. Every message is custom, but the custom messages are sterile and non-descriptive. This aids in the abandoned space-station feel of the game, but I felt emotionally detached from the game. Starcross had alluring alien ecosystems and evocative descriptions of strange technology. This game doesn't have to be starcross, but I wished for something exciting or unusual in space.

tl;dr Solid small puzzle game with top-tier implementation but standoffish story.

Among the Seasons, by Kieran Green

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A shortish Twine game about a bird's life throughout the season's, April 9, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has an interesting structure: part stat-based, part poetry, and part dynamic fiction.

You play as a bird who has suffered a violent attack, and must make several choices over the next year or so.

The writing is lovely and descriptive of the various seasons.

You make about one choice per season, with one text-entry choice and all others binary. The binary choices have various effects later on.

After your choice, each page is just a sentence or two that you click through to get to the next season. This is the poetic/dynamic part I referred to earlier.

The game was overall enjoyable, but the format just seemed spread thin. Being stat-based but only making 1 or 2 stat choices seemed odd, and more of a 'win by remembering what you did' sort of thing.

I'd like to see more games by this author, and will keep an eye out.

The Devil and the Mayor, by Jonathan Laury

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A nice mid-sized Twine demon simulator with stat tracking , April 5, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
The author bills this as a 'small' game, but it's pretty hefty (about 20K words). Most of that is in branching paths.

The writing is witty and on-point. You are a demon in hell, and you are given the opportunity to tempt mortals. Each character is painted with distinct personalities and mannerisms, and there are numerous jokes (I enjoyed being paid in 'exposure' at one point).

You have six chances to influence mortals with various conversations. Your conversational choices impact the deals you can make. Each conversation ends in a deal of some time.

Your stated goal is to obtain a ton of power, although there are other paths in the game. This game is pretty tough, but fair. I definitely would like to play again to try out other strategies.

Overall, this is excellent. The interaction was a little bit finicky from time to time, where it seemed like a some lawnmowering was necessary, but I couldn't really tell. Fun game.

Do I Date?, by Aurora Kakizaki

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An incomplete demo of a dating game related to mental illness, April 5, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is incomplete, which is why I've given it a lower rating for now.

This is a dating simulator visual novel. This is a genre which I'm not very familiar with, but this game seems to follow many of the tropes.

You play an office worker who encounters five women, each with differente mental disorders. You have the choice to date any of them and learn more about them.

Only one of the women is implemented right now, and that one is incomplete.

The writing was fairly descriptive and the women are all very different. I was surprised by the heavy focus on physical appearance (the male gaze, or lesbian gaze, depending on how you think of your main character). The one path we see has the character eager to please us, and us eager to comment on them.

I think this is normal for dating games (as far as I know), so the main content of interest is the mental illness. It's hard to tell how exactly this will be handled in the full game, but so far it seems to be trying to raise awareness of mental illness in healthy ways. As long as it doesn't end up with the character 'curing' one of the women I think it will be okay!

They Will Not Return, by John Ayliff
A Bradbury-esque robot story about independence and free will, March 31, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game involves a series of vignettes that can only be completed in one way, followed by a long open sequence of puzzles and choices with consequences.

You play as a robot managing a household for 3 humans. You learn about the humans and the world in general over time.

Nearer the end, you gain the power to significantly affect your world and the world of others.

I feel like the choice structure was a bit weak in this game, with the majority of the game (including a late puzzle sequence) solvable by lawnmowering. I think it could have benefited from more tradeoff-style choices and delayed effects.

However, the lovely worldbuilding and vivid descriptions make this a worthwhile game to play.

Within a circle of water and sand, by Romain

2 of 2 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.

Bogeyman, by Elizabeth Smyth

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A gut-wrenching horror game with flawless execution, February 18, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
It's rare when an IF game is presented exactly right, every portion designed perfectly well to give a uniform presentation. Liza Daly's Harmonia is sort of the standard for this type of presentation.

I think Bogeyman has achieved that level of quality. The layout, fonts, sound, and color scheme give gravitas and a haunting sense of dread to the story.

And the storyline fits the presentation, with interactions that lead you to believe that you can identify with your character, followed up with choices that pit your beliefs against themselves.

An effect, but disturbing, game. One of my go-to games when introducing IF to people.

Dungeon Detective, by Wonaglot, Caitlin Mulvihill

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A fun high fantasy mystery romp, February 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has a lot going for it. Fun images, a strong character voice, and nice, descriptive writing.

The setting is similar to D&D, with gnolls and dragons. The main character gnoll has caveman-like speech despite his intense intelligence, kind of like the narrator in Lost Pig and exactly opposite of the birds in Birdland.

It's a mystery game, and relies on the 'notice clues then pick the correct answer at then end' method of mystery writing. This isn't my favorite method, but the game's writing suits this style really well, as the clues are all based on worldbuilding.

The greatest flaw for me was how short it is. I wish that this game had been significantly longer.

A Woman's Choice, by Katie Benson
A shortish, well-polished series of vignettes related to women's choices, February 3, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I found this game touching. A short game (5 chapters or so, each with 5-10 choices), it moves you through different phases of life and talks about women's reproductive choices, the expectations of society, and the consequences of these actions.

The styling is well-done and understated, a good backdrop to the ongoing storyline. As a man, it gave me a lot to think about.

Tower, by Ryan Tan
A meditative twine game with some puzzles, February 3, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta tested this game.

This is a visually well-polished Twine game, with images, colors, and fonts used to enhance the presentation.

The game itself consists in a vertical tower. The player spends some time in each of the rooms, which are described in rich prose. Some rooms have puzzles, others are more poetic.

There is also an overall puzzle that ties everything together.

Stone of Wisdom, by Kenneth Pedersen

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An old-school (in a good way) compact ADRIFT game, February 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta-tested this game. This is the best ADRIFT game I've seen in a while. It feels like a nice little slice taken from a Zork-like universe, with lamps and stone dungeons and a troll and little people and so on. There's conversation, treasure, and a satisfying map.

A lot of time Adrift games seem to be trying to get you to do something specific but won't let you actually do it without struggling for the right command. Thankfully, that didn't happen here!

It's like a nice-sized slice of old-fashioned game, not too hard, not too easy. Worth downloading ADRIFT for.

Murder at the Manor, by Obter9
A classic-style murder mystery in Twine, January 30, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a straightforward implementation of classic Golden Age-style murder mystery. Each page has several paragraphs of text. You investigate 3-4 locations, 3-4 murder weapons, and 3-4 people, then guess the murderer.

The details are generic enough that they could fit in any detective story from Holmes to Poirot. If you like murder mysteries, it's worth playing, but I wish it had more spice to it. The author has proven they can make a complete and coherent game, and I'd be interested in seeing more work from them in the future.

Nightmare Adventure, by Laurence Emms, Vibha Laljani
A small game with a custom parser about magical dreams, January 6, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Despite my low star rating,this game succeeds in (what I believe is) it’s authors’ goal. It seems like their intent was to write a complete parser game from scratch that had an interesting storyline, and they’ve done so.

This game is pure fantasy, with mysterious ailments and amulets. It’s very short. The parser lacks almost all conveniences of modern parsers, such as standard actions and abbreviations and robust keyword detection.

The game is short, but has some puzzles I personally found enjoyable, as well as some nice dream/star imagery.

For the IF player used to playing Inform games, I would not recommend this. But as someone who has tinkered around with parser programming, I know how hard this was to make, so the authors did a good job.

DEVOTIONALIA, by G.C. "Grim" Baccaris (as G. Grimoire)
A short dark fantasy game about an ancient religion, December 24, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta tested this game.

Devotionalia is a shortish but replayable fantasy game that is all about atmosphere and contemplation. It is a choice-based game, but not immediately recognizable as Twine, due to the extreme customization: graphics, music, many variants of link types, and more.

The game comes with a helpful instruction page. Essentially, you are a priest of an ancient religion, the gods almost forgotten. You wish to learn from them, and thus you make your devotions.

There's not an action-driven story or a big cast of characters. It's a somber reflection on life. If you've ever seen the painting "The Monk by the Sea" by Caspar David Friedrich, this game is essentially the interactive fiction version of that painting.

Conjuring and Prophecy Unit, by Eric Gallagher and Acacia Gallagher

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A gauntlet-style illustrated game about troubleshooting magical tech, December 20, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is listed as educational, but I found it to be amusing and well-written as well.

You play as a character being asked to repair a sort of magical computer, with a crystal ball instead of a screen and an abacus and magic soup as part of the internal units.

The style seems more like old CYOA books, with most paths leading off to death. I think a 'back-up' button or more cluing could make this less frustrating. As it was, I was put off by the frequent deaths and didn't finish the game. But the writing was enjoyable, and the illustrations were very well done.

Dream Pieces 2, by Iam Curio
A word-puzzle game involving breaking a word up into syllables, December 18, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a sequel to an earlier IFComp game, Dream Pieces.

Both games consists of rooms where you are given a few highlighted objects. These highlighted objects are words that can be broken up into their syllables and recombined.

This game centers on creating and using doors and other exits. I found it clever and interesting. The Quest engine was a little blocky and chunky (for its own reasons, not the game's) and I didn't feel emotionally invested in the game, but as a puzzle game it was effective and fun.

Intelmission, by Martyna "Lisza" Wasiluk
A complex conversational game about spies and relationships , November 30, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Intelmission is primarily a long conversation, with an introductory segment.

You and another spy are captured together and have to talk. The game features many many topics, and makes you aware at the end of how many you explored. You can choose what to discuss, or allow the game to choose for you after a certain time.

In a way, this game reminded me of Mirror and Queen. Both are conversational games with a ton of work behind-scenes to provide many topics and allow for user flexibility. But in both games, that flexibility gets communicated to the user more as mirroring what you choose rather than gaining new information. There were few surprises, narrative twists and turns.

I did enjoy this one though, and Mirror and Queen.

Shackles of Control, by Sly Merc
A riff on the Stanley Parable, set in a school, November 24, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is based off of the Stanley Parable, which I've never played. This version is set in a school.

It's short, and deals with ideas of autonomy, player/author relationship, and meta narratives. I don't know if the enjoyment is higher or lower for those not familiar with the Stanley Parable.

It seems, though, like someone thought, "I like this popular game, so I'm going to adjust it to my circumstances and make a Twine version of it." The writing and structure of this game make me think that if the author tried a new game after this based on their own ideas, that it would be pretty great. I hope you write again!

H.M.S. Spaceman, by Nat Quayle Nelson, Diane Cai
A racy space comedy, November 24, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This reminds me in an odd way of a more optimistic and gender-swapped version of In The Friend Zone from a few comps back. In that game, you explored a world that was a giant woman.

In this, you are aboard a giant male-shaped spaceship. It is a riff on Star Trek and general science fiction tropes. In style, it reminds me of 80's college humor movie.

The level of explicitness is similar to Leather Goddesses of Phobos on Safe Mode.

It's polished, descriptive, and amusing, although I didn't personally care for the subject matter.

The Broken Bottle, by The Affinity Forge team, Josh Irvin
An illustrated book-like game set in a fantasy circus, November 21, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is by (I think) a commercial team that had a different approach to IF than most of the authors in the competition.

This game is lavishly decorated as a book, with occasional beautiful illustrations.

You play as a wolf who is friends with a young child.

It has essentially one choice per 'chapter', with the later chapters having the strongest effects. This is in contrast to most twine-style games, which encourage frequent irrelevant choices or gradual choices. This game's style is exactly what I would expect Netflix's choose your own adventure shows to be like: long segments punctuated with individual, large-effect choices.

Railways of Love, by Provodnik Games

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A complex many-variable bilingual game about love, November 17, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game was featured in IFComp 2018. It has a beautiful custom interface featuring pixel-art animations, and includes sound.

Basically, love goes wrong on a train. The sequence of events just interrupts everything.

But, you have a chance to go back and change that sequence!

This is a wonderful premise. By going back and changing the order of things, you can unlock 7 preliminary endings and then a final ending.

However, I found the choices opaque. Instead of being able to strategize, it came down to more or less random guessing. There are some hints in the text (changing options, for one thing), but even with the walkthrough, I never reached the final ending on my own. I saw what it said, though, and I thought it was beautiful.

Because I struggled with the interactivity, I didn't receive the full emotional impact of the game. Other than that, I enjoyed it.

Edit: With help from the forums, I finished this, and I loved the ending.

Where I got stuck was (Spoiler - click to show)Forgetting to confess for the 'love' ending.

Polish the Glass , by Keltie Wright
Dynamic fiction about the perils of obsession and family secrets, November 17, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This was an IFComp game that I liked quite a bit more than, it seems, many of the other IFComp reviewers did.

This is almost purely dynamic fiction, a style of interactive fiction where you mostly read a linear narrative, with different special effects adding to the atmosphere and some scattered choices. "My Father's Long Long Legs" is a classic example of the genre.

This story is about a woman whose mother tended a bar and was obsessed with 'polishing the glass'. It's a story about growing up in a broken household, coming to grips with our parents' problems, and the spiral of obsession and addiction.

There's probably a metaphor here, but it's abstract enough not to be clear on what the metaphor is, which makes this game much more effective for me.

Abbess Otilia's Life and Death, by Arno von Borries (as A.B.)
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.

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.

Wretch!, by Josh Labelle
A long exploratory Twine game about a Frankenstein scenario, November 4, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you play a patched-up person made up of different people's parts.

It comes in three acts, two of which are exploratory, and the third of which is mostly a coda.

In the first act, you explore the house of yourself and your master, spending several days or weeks in-game exploring, thinking, learning, and solving some puzzles.

In the second act, you have the chance to interact more with the real world.

The styling was nice here, with Harmonia-like spacing and margins. Options are greyed out to indicate places you should explore more.

This really worked well on a lot of levels. I found the exploration tedious at times, but I don't think that there's an easy fix, and the game is good as-is. My ending was touching.

Death By Powerpoint, by Jack Welch

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Frankly amazing story about trying to give a powerpoint presentation, November 4, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Sometimes Twine games just click for me, and sometimes they don't.

Two ways they can fail is to either encourage/require you to just click everything, or to have trivial choices that clearly don't effect the story.

This gave really gave me the feeling of strategy. Even if it was an illusion, I felt like I could play a specific kind of character and have it matter.

The game contains some highly unusual events, part of which gets explained near the end of the game. I don't think everyone will love this game, but I know many others who also like it. For me, this is the kind of Twine writing that very few people get right: Hennessay, Dalmady, Corfman, Lutz and Porpentine, a few others. Welch can write with the best!

Walk Among Us, by Roberto Colnaghi

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short horror romp, like a music video, November 3, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Playing this game felt like being in the video for Thriller or some other sort of famous creepy song.

It's largely linear, with a series of obstacles and strong hints on what to do (except at one point where I completely failed multiple times in a row at what turned out to be the last two puzzles of the game).

Some of the content of the game wasn't really up my alley (you follow a girl out of a bar because she's so attractive), but it was coherent, and everything meshed well with the opening.

The Voodoo You Do 3, by Marshal Tenner Winter

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
The third in a voodoo-based parser series, November 3, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this Inform game, you are a private investigator who is haunted by strange phenomena. It has a large cast of characters and expansive geometry.

However, due to its nature as a fairly quickly written game (for Ectocomp), it suffers from a lack of implementation that makes it difficult to play without the walkthrough. I took my time, examining things, in the opening scene, and missed out on all the triggers that would have led me to discover more.

Best experienced with a walkthrough.

Night of Nights, by Grim
This game gave me rabies and leprosy, November 3, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this Ectocomp Grand Guignol game, you play as a masked reveler in a sort of grim fantasy realm.

This is a substantial game, bigger than most IFComp Twine games (though I think this is a proprietary system, not Twine). There are at least 13 locations, an inventory system and economy, various sicknesses you can acquire.

It seems like an Italian horror version of Carneval, with decadent displays by comedians, dancing, buffets, etc.

I found a satisfying ending after exploring about half the map, and felt content. Styling was rich and gorgeous. I think this is even better than Devotionalia, the author's IFComp game.

Tales from Castle Balderstone, by Ryan Veeder

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A humorous and horrifying collection of short Halloween games, November 3, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is framed as a collection of friends sharing tales. After an intimidating wall of opening text, you begin playing the mini-games in random order.

You can, at any time, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom to skip a tale, which opens up a small segment of the game.

The stories were fun, and in a wide range. One was essentially a one-note joke; one was a deeply disturbing exploration in three parts that was frankly horrifying; another was like a fairy tale; and the fourth is a fun riff on metaphorical games.

I found this game truly enjoyable. Its one defect for me was the difficulty in finding the right actions/verbs on a regular basis. However, that may be part of the charm. But when I saw a pattern on the wallpaper and couldn't X PATTERN, or couldn't get a response for cutting it with one of two items present in the game, I got frustrated. SHOUT could work more often, TALK TO isn't implemented. But I don't know if it's worth it going back to spruce this game up, since the fun's already there.

Restless, by Emily Short
A debut for a part of Spirit AI's new character engine, November 1, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
First, it's fun that Spirit AI is putting out a Halloween game.

This is a unity game, and it's big: 140+ mb. It has graphics, courtesy of Tea Powered Games, and text, courtesy of Emily Short.

The basic framework is a nice wallpaper-y background with a visual novel-style character you're speaking with.

You have three forms of interaction:
-selecting a topic (I found 3 topics in my playthroughs). Different topics allow different conversation options.
-selecting emotions (up to 6 or 8 or so, each an on/off button). These are independent of each other, so I could, for instance, choose to be curious, open, angry, sad and hungry. These alter the conversational options in a procedural way, sometimes unlocking more.
-the conversational options themselves. Some, with an exclamation mark, have a greater effect on the game.

You play a ghost who is haunting an old house. At first, you have great difficulty in speaking, but that is gradually relieved (unless you mess up like I did on my first play-through.)

This game has many endings and quite a few topics.

Overall, I was impressed by the flexibility of the engine. I could see this being integrated with 3d Unity games, with physical location or costumes being a fourth way of influencing topics or replacing one of the methods above.

The procedural text had pros and cons.

At its least enjoyable: clicking a radio button on and off rapidly would cycle through the options, changing words like 'abject' to 'inconsolable', for instance, exposing the guts of the game.

At its best: when used as intended, the proceduralness lets the game respond to your intentions in a pleasing way that would be horrible to write as an author.

So you only really see it when lawnmowering or experimenting. But in this game, I found it easy to get lost, as I frequently had trouble guessing what the effect of my actions would be. So I ended up seeing a lot of the 'guts'.

As a demo of the system, it worked very well. As a story, I found it interesting and worth playing several times. I'm glad this was in the competition, and I hope a lot of people sign up to try out the engine (I know I'm interested, if I can find the time!)

Deliver Until Dawn, by roboman
A quest game written for EctoComp with multiple paths and riddles, October 31, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a Quest hyperlink game written for Ectocomp. It was written in less than 4 hours.

You play as a vampire masquerading as a newspaper delivery girl, visiting different areas in the city.

The game had nice styling and art, and I appreciated the apparent depth. But there were some translation issues that made the puzzly parts of the game hard for me to understand, and several typos.

Whoah Cubs Woe, by Andrew Schultz
Tricky location-based puzzle, October 31, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This Ectocomp Petite Mort is a tricky little pentagram puzzle.

It took me a while to understand what I needed to do. The game had a fairly entertaining framing story which (especially the latter portion) elevated the game in my opinion. Even though I didn't necessarily agree with its message, I respected it.

The main puzzle consists in placing objects on a pentagram (with both inner and outer pentagons). I thought for half of the game that I could only walk on pentagram lines themselves. Certain objects repel each other, and the game encourages experimentation.

Curse of the Garden Isle, by Ryan Veeder

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short, rocking Hawaiian game, September 25, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game drew my attention when I discovered that the 'provided map' is just google maps centered on the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian islands.

This is not my favorite Veeder game, but it was enjoyable, both when I played on my own and then later at an IF meetup.

The game as-played seems to have two phases: an exploration phase, and an action phase. I found it necessary to google some locations in the game at different points, and google provided information that helped in some puzzles.

The game offers several methods of interaction, including one that may be time-limited.

If you like this game, I recommend Crocodracula. If you hate this game, I recommend An Evening At Ransom Woodingdean House. If you haven't played this game yet, I recommend Taco Fiction and this game.

Lost and Found, by Felicity Drake
An intriguing short story about a missing woman in Japan, September 19, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I played this game because it has been one of the most-rated games this year. It's a short-to-mid-length Twine game set in Japan with three endings.

I gave this game/story 5 stars based on my criteria:

-Polish. The writing is smooth, the images add to the story, and the structure seems thought-out.
-Interactivity. I wanted to pursue the main thread of the story but feel like I had some investment. This game is fairly linear and branches in some "do you want to win or not win?" kind of ways. But it worked for me.
-Descriptive writing. This story is vivid and very descriptive.
-Emotional impact. I found the story effective from two angles: one about a man showing concern for a fellow human, and another angle where the protagonist is a deeply concerning example of a man believing that he has the privilege to become obsessed with and interfere with a woman's life.
-I would play this again.

Escape from the Crazy Place, by J. J. Guest, Loz Etheridge and friends

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A sprawling absurd Twine game with a tangled and deep backstory, August 20, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Escape from the Crazy Place is a sprawling, labyrinthine Twine game with significantly more content than games such as Birdland. It's absurdist, surreal, dreamlike, and ridiculous.

It's history is almost more absurd (parts of this may be inaccurate; play the TADS version to see more). It began as a physical handwritten CYOA book in school over 30 years ago, passed around by students and added to over time. That copy was lost, rewritten from memory.

It became an online html game before anyone was doing much CYOA html, then it became TADS in 2006. Now, years later, it's been redone in Twine.

It has dozens of authors. It has parts that are clever and exciting.

But it also has parts that are less exciting. One reason passing around a physical CYOA book in school is thrilling is because you can see the heft and size of it and think, "oh man, this puppy is huge!". Flipping through can give you an idea of its contents.

Escape from the Crazy Place is online, though, so you don't really know what you're getting. And the first passages are the oldest, by those with the least experience, referencing 80's and adolescents. The first about also loops around itself somewhat, making it even harder to get a grip on the size of the game.

I kept pushing through (playing with my 6 year old son) and we found a lot of really great content. That experience made me think that this is a good game to play collaboratively, just as it was written.

With Those We Love Alive, by Porpentine and Brenda Neotenomie

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A dreamlike dark fantasy in service to the empress, June 10, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is one of Porpentine's best games, by her own admission and the acclaim of others.

It has music and takes the unusual tack of having you draw symbols on your skin as the game progresses. I chose not to do so, but many who have played have done so, and you can search for some of their images.

The game casts you as an artificer for a massive, insectoid alien queen. Isolation and body change are themes, as you wander a city and castle and spend time on yourselves.

The game has music and interesting styling. The story includes friendship and love and bizarre, alien history.

White House Crisis, by Death To Moochie
An illustrated multi-stage game about controlling information to Trump, May 7, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a Twine game that features a number of people surrounding Trump, especially John Kelly, Stephen Miller, and Jared Kushner.

The game makes use of multimedia, with links to real-life articles, various illustrations, scrolling text aimations, and sounds.

The plot is fairly simple: you play as an intern thrust into the role of providing positive information for trump. Different factions try to tell you what to pass on, but you must choose between them.

The game has a few bugs listed below that should be easily fixed. Also, I felt like something was off with the links. I found myself frequently scrolling up and down to read the text after clicking a link, and had some trouble when coming back from aside-text (as everything became reset on the original page when I returned).

I was glad I played, as it was amusing. On a personal note not factored into my rating, I don't agree with its demonization of Stephen Miller as the evil behind the throne. Many people have been posited as the true evil behind the throne for some time in the Trump administration, and I think that shifts responsibility away from the President.

One bug report for the author:

(Spoiler - click to show)On the page near the end referencing constitutional crisis and WWIII:

The (link-reveal:) command should be assigned to a variable or attached to a hook

Also, the very last page seemed to have an error, as it showed a 'fire mueller' tweet as a graphic, while having a written text that said:

(Tweet text: "After hearing the words of my celestial grandchild, I have decided to rescind my order to fire Robert Mueller and will be resigning from the Presidency. I hope that once I am gone, we can begin to heal.)


Lawn of Love, by Santoonie Corporation
A fairly polished joke game by Santoonie Corporation, May 2, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Santoonie Corporation was a group that sprang up in the early 2000's promising a very advanced game called Amissville that never materialized in completed form. They went on to release a series of games, including Delvyn and Zero, and, finally, Lawn of Love.

Each of these games has an ambitious opening scenario that is mildly under-implemented and contains some sort of offensive or bizarre standard responses before eventually petering out in a section that cannot be finished.

This game is no exception. This game has an opening picture, a preface, an introduction, and a prelude. It features an opening scenario with conversation and detailed rooms, but with basic features missing (like when moving in an unavailable direction, where no text is printed. Apparently a sound was supposed to ping).

The story involves you meeting a pair of interesting young women, neighbors, one of whom plays a game with you. The game peters out shortly after.

If you find this interesting, try Delvyn, Zero, and the TADS Amissville.

The Bean Stalker, by Jack Welch

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short mini-game about Jack and the Beanstalk using ZIL, April 28, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game was written as a learning sample of the ZIL language. It was written over just a few days.

As such, it is small and lean. But Welch has managed to put a few clever puzzles in.

I was unable to solve this without a walkthrough the first time I tried it. After the walkthrough, which is very detailed, I felt like the game required a number of fairly mean actions, but with suitable rewards.

I find this game most interesting as an example of the ZILF language. I wonder how many of the standard responses were hand-coded, and how many part of the language.

Maze of Madness, by Lurkio/Ant

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A cruel puzzle of a maze and an unusual one, too, April 28, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is highly unusual. It is a text adventure maze implemented on an emulator of an old type of computer.

The setup is fairly simple: a maze that reveals its shape to you once you fail to complete it, and which regenerates randomly each time. A single item, of questionable utility, is found in the maze each time.

The solution to the maze uses a trick I have never seen before in interactive fiction, and which is very cruel.

Jump into a hole and never go back, by grublet stavarnoop
A mid-sized Twine puzzler with color-coordinated puzzles, April 27, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you have jumped down a hole into a central hub-like room with multiple color coordinated rooms branching off.

Puzzles follow a sort of game-logic, where mysterious machines and illogical creatures and locations abound.

Parts of it seem forced and/or rough. The machine that merges birds with items is fun to tinker with but some of the results seem hard to guess.

The writing takes a major downturn during the whale segment, where it begins insulting the player and taking a negative and small view of life. This is isolated, and weird.

Overall, I can say with Dwight from the Office: "A lot of the evidence seemed to be based on puns."

Recursion., by Adrian Belmes
Love and pain in an endless world, April 18, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I love reading creepy stories and sci-fi stories, and one subgenre of both of those that I like is the time loop story. While such stories can be played just as a puzzler (get this sequence right to fix the machine, like Fingertips:Fingertips), I especially appreciate the ones that focus on human thought and feeling.

This game is well-written and focuses on character and depth. It is, as far as I can tell, completely linear (or completely cyclical, I guess I could say). It's like an endless roundabout with occasional exits that lead to the same roundabout. But it does have an overall narrative arc.

It contains some dark themes, and isn't really appropriate for children, I would say. I found it meaningful and well-done.

This uses slow text, which I usually dislike but found appropriate here (and not too slow). It also used music which I didn't listen to.

House, by Karona

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An intricate conversation about family, history, relationship, and love, April 11, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta tested this game. This is an ambitious conversational game with a parser that recognizes sentences in addition to keywords.

This increases the complexity of possible inputs to a great extent; just typing in topics isn't enough, you have to add extra words.

I beta tested this 2 or 3 times, but I never beat it until after it was released. When I beat it, I was shocked and surprised at what I hadn't seen before.

This is a well-written and interesting game, but I found the complexity of the possible inputs overwhelming.

Roads in Tempest, by Adam Bredenberg
A meandering, symbolic tale in poetry, April 10, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Adam Brendenberg has written several interesting poetic games in the past, including War of the Willows (a fighting game in poem form) and Fallen Leaves (a procedural poem generator).

This game has a sort of puzzling aspect. You wander a physical space, including what seems to be a labyrinth with mysterious controls. It's all written in Twine. The topics of the poetry include the game itself, a meditation on video games in general, and Donald Trump in a boat.

Confessions of an NPC, by Charles Hans Huang
A sort of confessional or mirror or personality test in fantasy form, April 10, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has you read through 5 sort of interviews in Twine. Each one has a background character from a fantasy (or science-fi or both) tale explain to you how they feel about life while you react.

Each ends with a choice, which you must explain via text entry.

Reading all 5 stories unlocks a sixth story.

I liked the interactivity of it, the text entry and so on. But because the game seems designed to be a mirror for the reader, a lot of the text was bloodless and generic, designed to apply to as many situations at possible.

It covers some fairly controversial topics, including a dedication to a notorious American criminal.

Spy EYE, by The Marino Family
Another Tangerine House Undum game with two views, April 9, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
The Marino family has released several Mrs. Wobbles games over the years. This one is fairly long, and features two different protagonists.

All of these games feature a heavily costumized and illustrated Undum interface, like Twine but with a single, unbroken page of scroll. Text appears and disappears, stats are tracked, and there are several images.

This game seemed to have more depth than the other Tangerine House games; it offers two paths through the game, and a complicated inventory and even an economy.

The Ngah Angah School of Forbidden Wisdom, by Anssi Räisänen

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short and difficult eastern monastery game, April 6, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I'm a fan of Anssi Raisanen's games, and this one in particular was interesting, but it lacked a few key features that other games from this author have.

It had one particularly clever puzzle involving an extra image included with the game, one maddening guess-the-verb puzzle, and one short and sweet puzzle. Overall, it was shorter than most Raisanen games, and with somewhat less good implementation.

But if you're playing through the author's whole collection, I wouldn't skip out.

Beam, by Madrone Eddy
A short, lonely Quest game in a futuristic setting, April 6, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is an odd little game with some major implementation problems.

You start out in a room with a tree and a mysterious force. Exiting this room proved too difficult for many IFComp reviewers in 2006. Evidently, it requires an action that is explicity denied by the GUI. This seems to be an oversight, and not a puzzle.

The rest of the game involves exploring a series of generic rooms. There is a minimal walkthrough, but it seems to leave out several interesting portions of the game. I was intrigued, but unable to discover more than a few hidden set pieces.

Surface, by Geoff Moore

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A compelling twine game with two worlds, one Porpentine-esque, April 2, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a surprisingly good Twine game from Spring Thing a few years back. I say surprisingly, because I never hear anyone talk about it.

It uses graphics and background colors to distinguish between two different worlds: one, a porpentine-like world with beings of slime and technology, and the other the human world, where a father is struggling with mental illness.

It has puzzles; at one point, there is a long sequence involving the food chain. I found bits of this fiddly, but interesting enough that I was happy when it was done.

The overall storyline was great, and that's what I like best about games. So I recommend this one.

Recess At Last, by Gerald Aungst
A short doing-homework simulation, March 31, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is an odd game. The author coded up a little puzzle where you find answer to homework questions and then type them in, together with one or two little fetch quests.

They then spent a great deal of time polishing that game and adding extra frills. But the core game is brief, and the means of completing it are clunky.

This is certainly a unique game.

The Day we got a pet, by Marius Müller

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An unplished made game about visiting exotic locations, March 21, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game purports to be the eleventh in a long series, which is a clever gimmick. The game has several clever parts.

However, it has a lot of little bugs that add up to a good deal. It's self-aware about it (the game's most accurate line is "Oh boy, you sure hope these generic messages don't mean this puzzle is bugged!").

Overall, it was interesting, but I wasn't able to complete one of the three core puzzles, the one belonging to the error message above. I did read the ending after decompiling, though.

Quickfire, by Sean M. Shore

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A polished and complex short cooking-based game, March 20, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta tested this game.

This is a unique concept for a text adventure. You are pitted in a Chopped-style cooking challenge against three other chefs. Your goal is to cook a certain recipe in twenty minutes.

Unfortunately, your competitors have their own ideas, and you have some trouble on your own.

This reminded me of Varicella, both in the numerous autonomous actions of others, and in the time constraint. It also left me feeling like there was more for me to discover that I hadn't figured out.

The Relief of Impact, by Ghoulnoise

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A media-heavy short terror story about sleep paralysis, March 16, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This story uses media in unusually good ways. It has audio, graphics, animation and text effects.

The game is creepy on two levels. On the first level, it has overtly 'horror'-type text, almost over-the-top. On the second level, it serves to illustrate what something experiencing sleep paralysis could encounter, and I found that much more disturbing.

The story had a narrative twist that I found lessened my enjoyment of it as a game, but heightened my appreciation of it as a piece of art or a means of communicating thoughts. Because I think the artist intended it more as a story or art, I've considered it as such and given it 5 stars

Uses slow text, but in an appropriate way. I usually hate slow text, but it makes sense here. The whole piece is well-considered and designed as a whole.

Fox, Fowl and Feed, by Chris Conroy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A tricky take on the classic logic problem, March 8, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I expected this game to just be a straightforward implementation of the classic logic puzzles (involving getting a fox, a duck, and some grain across a river. Other versions have a wolf, a goat, and some cabbage, and so on).

However, the author assumes that everyone already knows this puzzle. Instead, each step of the classic solution is hampered by a different difficulty.

I felt that most of the solutions were of the moon logic variety, or like late Sierra point and click games. Also, the implementation was at times spotty with the rope, which is a notoriously difficult thing to code.

Polendina, by Christopher Lewis

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An old, short IFComp game about science fiction, amnesia, and families, March 8, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a fairly short science fiction game with 5 or 6 puzzles.

As the other reviewer noted, it was under implemented, with several locations having no description at all. There were other things that were strangely over implemented, such as a certain action in the first room having more than a dozen responses.

The idea was clever, overall, but the game has a real penchant for attacking the character with strong profanity and insulting many things that you do. It has a narrative purpose, but it seems like the sort of thing a young author thinks is intense and meaningful before they begin to get more experience.

I would have given 2 stars, but the puzzle bits were satisfying, so I gave it 3.

Half-Life 3 Confirmed, by Anssi Räisänen
A chain of disconnected, silly events, February 5, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a sequence of surreal puzzles. You've woken up in a world where Half-Life 3 has been confirmed, and this is a clear indicator that reality has been warped.

The setting is goofy and charming, but this quick game doesn't have the author's usual polish and guidance. Puzzles, including the very first puzzle, rely on some very unusual logic, making the game more difficult in somewhat unfair ways.

The character descriptions were good, though.

The Lurking Horror II: The Lurkening, by Ryan Veeder

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A try-die-repeat game with oddball knowledge-based puzzles, January 26, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
The original Lurking Horror was one of my favorite Infocom games, so I was interested in seeing Veeder's take on it.

This game is closer to Captain Verdeterre's Plunder than to any of Ryan's other games. Like Verdeterre, this game has a tight timer that sends you to your death, and you must play over and over to beat it.

This game exploits that structure for the story in amusing ways, though. You pick up in G.U.E. Tech (from Lurking Horror, itself inspired by M.I.T.), stuck in a time loop caused by the awakening of an Elder God. You are very aware of your previous iterations.

Progress is similar to Hadean Lands, in that you progress by gaining knowledge that your later iterations use. But instead of being tracked in-game, the knowledge is stored in password-like spells. The spell names include mangled versions of the author's name and a scrambled name of a D&D slime demon.

I enjoyed this game quite a bit; the solutions were generally very reasonable, and there was a nice 'power boost' or two near the middle of the game, with the end requiring you to tie everything together. I got impatient with one puzzle in the middle, when I had half a dozen unused spells and the same number of unsolved rooms and I couldn't figure out which ones went together. I decompiled to get past that stage, and didn't have any trouble after that.

Old Man's Tale, by Hugo Bourbon, Ludovic Moge, Gabrielle Cluzeau, Drice Siamer, Enzo Carleo

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An innovative drag-drop game with a cyclic structure, January 20, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game seems like an advance upon the simple structure of Texture. In both game systems, you drag keywords onto other words. But in this game, you find the keywords, drag them into an inventory, and can pull them out whenever you like. A four-item inventory limit causes pressure in the game.

I like the system. The story is generic hack-and-slash, but I like generic hack-and-slash, so it wasn't bad. It was deeply implemented for all reasonable responses, though.

With a larger inventory, this could support a long and complicated game. The interactivity in this particular game though wasn't quite what I enjoy; it was mostly a try-repeat-again game, and it was frustrating losing at the end due to choices I made at the very beginning.

A Bathroom Myth, by Anya Johanna DeNiro

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A current issue repainted in a fantasy world in Twine, January 12, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game was inspired by the debates in America surrounding the law passed in North Carolina restricting transgender individuals from using bathrooms besides those of their biological gender.

This game isn't really an allegory, as exactly the same things are happening in this world as in ours. Rather, it reframes the discussion using fantasy techniques to give events a greater emotional impact.

I played through one branch to the end, and rewound a bit to get three different endings. The Twine styling and coding was beautiful, with links represented by +'s for links that furthered the study and *'s used for asides.

It took less than 25 minutes for me. The interactivity was interesting, because it spells out the consequences of your choices in an in-game way.

Fans of DeNiro's other works or of topical commentary will appreciate this game.

Off the Trolley, by Krisztian Kaldi
An intriguing slice of life game with troubled implementation, December 4, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has a great premise: you are a trolley driver on a monotonous route who has a plan which is only slowly revealed to the player.

This has all sorts of potential, and the game throws in some interesting characters and narrative twists.

But it has two main issues: one is a lack of synonyms and other implementation errors; and the other is a lack of in-game guidance.

Other than that, I found it a pleasant game, with a surprising ending.

A Broken Man, by Geoff Fortytwo
A revenge murder story like Taken, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is mid-length; it has you play as an assassin infiltrating a house to avenge their daughter's death.

I have to wonder if this is a troll game. It is over-the-top, and includes a random adult scene (in metaphor form), and involves toilets and superglue as weapons of death.

There were several bugs and the writing wasn't especially polished.

The Dream Self, by Florencia Minuzzi
A thoughtful game with use of graphic backgrounds/animations, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta tested this game.

This is a unity/Ink game which takes place over several weeks in an apartment as the main character deals with life and with dreams.

Most of the choices are about how you interact with others and your view on life. The story is very malleable; your choices have strong effects on the outcome.

It turns out that the story is based on (and is an implementation of)(Spoiler - click to show)a personality test. Finding this out tied the whole game together for me. But I felt disconnected during the game, and I wish I had more idea of where my choices would take me.

Deshaun Steven's Ship Log, by Marie L. Vibbert

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A sci-fi culture clash game in journal form, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is one that I changed my opinion of over time. When I first played it, I skimmed it quickly, and I sort of dismissed it. I liked the sentence-shortening puzzles, but the text was confusing.

After reading several good reviews over the course of the competition, I'll admit, I revised my opinion due to popular opinion. In this case, I went through, and re-examined the writing, and I realized that it was a good depiction of a character that I disliked, rather than dislikable writing about a bland character as I had initially assumed.

For me, this places the game in the same category as Savoir-Faire, which had a similar roguish protagonist.

This is a high quality game; I'm giving it 3 stars only because I didn't connect on an emotional level. I feel like others will enjoy it even more than I did.

Day of the Djinn, by paperyowl
A cheerful fantasy game with dark undertones, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game strongly reminds me of Owlor's pony-based games, even though the game never says that the protagonists are ponies (or humans, for that matter).

Your sister has sent a curse at you, and you have to cancel it out somehow. This is a navigation-based Twine game, and you have an inventory of sorts (you can pick different birds to follow you, and so on).

This game was pretty enjoyable; I would give it 4 stars, but it has some glaring errors, like Twine 'if' errors that post big messages on pages that occur in every playthrough. If those were fixed up, I'd bump up the score.

The Cube in the Cavern, by Andrew Schultz
A fun little color-based mathematical puzzle, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is one of my favorite Andrew Schultz games. It has you in a world where pseudoscience is real and real science is pseudoscience.

You play on a giant colored cube, and have to manipulate some transponders using a mood ring.

There's a second puzzle later that I did have trouble with, but overall, I liked the concept, and the game.

Bookmoss, by Devon Guinn
A trip through time at a magical library, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has you play as a father and daughter travelling to a real-life library (in Harvard, I think?)

You meet a goofy pair of twins that are mysterious and magical. And you discover a special moss that allows you to visit other times.

I felt like the game could have done more with the premise. But what's there is fun; I felt like I learned something interesting.

Behind the Door, by eejitlikeme
A short quest game in a magical house, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This short Quest game has you go into a mysterious house. In that house, you have to solve a few short puzzles and meet a stranger.

This game felt insubstantial to me; I wished for more: more puzzles, more backstory, more descriptions, more conversation.

This feels like the seed of a bigger and better game. I could see a 2.0 version of this game being very enjoyable.

Antiquest, by Anton Lastochkin
A funny short TADS game where you seek out a dozen or so endings, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta tested this game.

This is a TADS game where you are on a spaceship, and anything you do (for long enough) results in a different wacky ending.

The author keeps you from meeting too many error messages; if you try to do something usually not allowed (like going down when you shouldn't) it justs adapts the game (like having you burrow through the metal). It even includes a battle-ship type game.

It made me laugh, it is pretty descriptive, but it's not polished in some sense that I have trouble grabbing hold of; and I felt confused without the hints.

8 Shoes on the Shelves, by Marc Duane
An odd mix of underimplementation and clever ideas, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This was a strange game. It has some great ideas: extricate yourself from a pile of rubble (which reminds me of an old comp game where you start in a pile of dead bodies and have to crawl out). You then explore a small underground complex with a Lovecraftian vibe.

But the game has a lot of implementation problems, leading to numerous judges missing out on big chunks of the game.

I didn't have too much trouble getting out of the pile, like some judges did, but I didn't even so the cabinets or the slicing machine.

Worth trying. I wish it were expanded.

A Walk In The Park, by Extra Mayonnaise
A literal walk in the park, with some teenager-ish issues and few goals, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is pretty aimless; you are on a bus that runs into something on the street, then you go around the park.

I think this part of what 'slice is life' is defined to be; there are no real goals. You can buy soda, talk to an old man, take Tylenol (which has very different effects than the Tylenol I'm used to. Unless it's Tylenol pm; maybe that makes more sense).

I found two different endings.

Unit 322 (Disambiguation), by Jonny Muir

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A blend of creepy pasta, wikipedia, and detective work, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This well-done game presents a murder mystery/creepypasta through a series of faux Wikipedia pages.

By clicking on link after link, you slowly come to realize the scope and depth of a deep plot. Unlike a normal murder mystery, this one has creepy pasta vibes, similar to SCP or the Russian Sleep Experiment, except more grounded in reality.

I found it interesting and compelling, although I felt it was a bit pulpy, and occasionally became tedious finding the links. It's the kind of game I wish I would have thought of.

Tuuli, by Daurmith and Ruber Eaglenest

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A haunting Finnish tale of a young witch, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is chock full of atmosphere, with compelling story and writing. Many 2017 IFComp judges found it compelling, and I predict it will receive at least one and probably several XYZZY nominations.

You play as a young witch in a Finnish village whose mistress has died. A dream has haunted everyone in town: a fighting force of strangers is coming in boats.

The game is fairly short, but well-done. There were a few guess-the verb spots, though. Overall, I recommend it.

The skinny one., by Annie Z.
A longish Twine game about anorexia with a few bugs, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is purposely modeled after Depression Quest. Instead of Depression, it models Anorexia, and was constructed as part of an academic sort of study.

This game is fairly long; if you load it up in Twinery, it has a huge amount of nodes and more than 5 endings.

However, the game often felt detached to me, and I ran into several broken pages that I had to back out of.

Salt, by Gareth Damian Martin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A rhythm-game interactive fiction in the magical realism genre, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has you tapping the space bar in rhythm to simulate swimming. As you continue to swim, the game's story progresses. If you stop swimming, you get an alternate version of the story. By progressing between swimming and not swimming, you finish the story.

It's a magical realism story centered on one moment in time, as you swim from one beach to another. I found it effective, but the interactivity wasn't quite what I liked.

The Richard Mines, by Evan Wright
A history-based game about exploring an underground WWII factory, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has you exploring a fairly minimalist underground factory. Each room has one thing in it (except for a complicated office with several things), and most things are undescribed.

There are 3 or 4 puzzles, which are pretty good, but could use significantly more synonyms programmed in.

I liked it in general, but found it frustrating. The release notes were good.

Rainbow Bridge, by John Demeter
A short, polished game with angels and a Christmasy feel, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is about a relationship between you (the angel Gabriel) and Demeter, a human man.

It’s a 2-room game, and the main object is to find objects of various colors to complete a rainbow. The game cheats a little by hiding colors in meta ways, but I found the color hint reasonably fair, well implemented, and fun.

Rage Quest: Disciple of Peace, by John Ayliff
A mid-length cybertext game about orcs, rage, and peace, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta tested this game.

In this game, you play as an orc monk who has sworn off violence. However, your monastery has been attacked, and you are the sole survivor.

The game tracks several stats, including rage and health, and you have the chance to visit three different locations on your way to the grand finale. There are several endings.

I enjoyed this game, but I wished it were longer. I felt like there wasn't enough material to grab into a story with as much background information as this one. What was there, was good though.

Queer In Public: A Brief Essay, by Norbez

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A hyperlinked essay on Christianity and the LGBTQ community, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a lengthy essay in 4 or 5 parts about what it means to be Christian and LGBTQ.

The author describes their coming to grips with being a non binary person.

I found it interesting, and it was polished and descriptive. But I felt like it didn't benefit from its interactivity.

One way out, by Story by Steffen Görzig, Cover by Oliver Lindau

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A clever premise involving source code, with mixed execution, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has you open up the source in the infirm compiler, so that you can see the source and the compiled game simultaneously. The source becomes a short story, with comments, and is a companion piece to the game.

It’s a clever idea, and I enjoyed the melodramatic story the game had. But the constraints needed to make th source code readable made the game overly simplistic and under implemented.

My night, by Ivsaez
A home-brew parser horror game with graphic sexual violence, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game was entered into the 2017 IFComp. It is plagued by bugs and translation errors, and it uses a home-brew parser that is missing some of the capability of a standard parser.

The story has you searching the house to make sure your friends and family are all right after a ghost haunts the house. It has several graphic depictions of sexual violence in a crude sort of way.

The Murder in the Fog, by Xiao Ru
A graphics-and-image heavy game with few choices about murder, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game was one of three translations of Qiaobooks games entered into IFComp 2017. I helped organize people to test this game.

It has a really interesting technical concept: text is typed out on timed intervals with changing backgrounds and timed sound effects/music.

However, some of the execution falls down; the translation, even after a few revisions, is off, as is the typesetting (apostrophes especially have problems). The graphics render the text difficult to read.

More troubling for me is the storyline of this game, which features a fairly sexist protagonist.

I enjoyed the other two Qiaobook games entered in the competition more, although this one was the longest.

Measureless to Man, by Ivan R.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A shortish Lovecraftian horror game set on an airplane, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta tested this game.

This is a short parser game in the Lovecraftian tradition. It takes place mostly on an airplane.

The game is interesting both story-wise and mechanically. Story-wise, it features a protagonist that isn't just a standard anglo-saxon. Mechanically, it features 3-dimensional movement in multiple environments. 3d movement is something I worked on in my game Ether, and I think this game handled it well.

However, the interactivity was iffy, as it was difficult to know what commands would work.

Land of the Mountain King, by Kenneth Pedersen

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A fun compact RPG game written in ADRIFT, with music, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I helped beta test this game.

This game meets my niche interests well. It is a combat random combat RPG in a fantasy setting, where it's mostly puzzle-based; most monsters are extremely difficult to defeat until you solve another puzzle, than become generally easy. It allows for some variability, though, as you can sequence break or die in an easy fight due to randomness.

I thought this was fun. A couple of times I felt thwarted by not knowing what to do, though.

Just Get the Treasure v0.9.1, by Ray B.
A short but branchy self-aware Twine game in a fantasy setting, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a short Twine game where there are many branches (around 60 endings), but each play through is very short.

There is no distinctive CSS styling, but the game is written in a consistent voice.

I downloaded the file and opened it up in Twinery to see the code, and I think I know what happened with the development of this game. It seems to be a classic case of "What's fun for the author isn't what's fun for the player."

The Twine code is lovingly organized and garnished, with little extras here and there, either private jokes or Easter eggs for code-readers. The code branches all over, and has little Easter egg chunks like a map of the author's house, a little section on self-harm, asides, the chance to fight the narrator, etc.

The problem with this structure is that the player never sees it. As is common in this author-centered style, the cool content is hidden in branches the player is unlikely to take. The most normal branches are the shortest and the most straightforward. An author tends to think, 'Ah-ha! The player will try the first few branches, realize that something is off, and try the elaborate branches!'

But what tends to happen is, the player thinks, 'I've seen a lot of short, under implemented fantasy twine games. I've played through twice, and that's what this seems like, so I'm out of here', never seeing what lies beneath.

Another issue is that, because each play through is so short, most of the work is on content the player will never see. Cat Manning had the same issue with Crossroads in the 2015 IFComp, and later worked to retool her style with Invasion, which had longer playthroughs.

So, this is a lovingly-crafted, well-written game, but if you want to see all of it, you need to put in a lot of work.

Into The Dark, by Byron Kiernan
A three-act Twine game with inventory management and maps, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a mid-length Twine game (30,000 words in 214 passages).

It's about a rough, one-eyed monster hunter named Jacobi. He's carrying out various tasks for the king in return for help for his loved one.

The game has you face three challenges, each with a map and combat. They become darker as you progress, with the title referring to thematic darkness.

I actually liked this game's interactivity (moving, fighting, buying and selling), but there were several typos, and I was turned off by the 'grizzled unhappy war hero make dark choices' theme. I like those themes in general, but only lightened by a great deal of heart. This game has some (with Elias and Cassandra), but for my personal tastes, I would have liked more balance. This is definitely a personal thing, and others may wish it even darker.

Insignificant Little Vermin, by Filip Hracek

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
'Skyrim in text'; a demo of a combat engine in an rpg game, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta tested this game.

This is an ambitious concept debuted here in a demo game. It is an rpg game with procedurally generated text and spinning wheels indicating combat.

I liked the system quite a bit; the styling was good, and the graphics nice. I felt a bit dissociated from the story; like real RPGs, the story was in service to the puzzles.

There is hidden material here; despite beta testing and playing again later, I didn't find the sword or defeat the giant monster. Worth checking it out to see the system.

Harbinger, by Kenna
A compelling fantasy tale with a few minor issues, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I enjoyed the story in this game quite a bit, more than just about any other game in the competition.

You play as a magical crow who is fleeing a destructive sentient firestorm. You have to hop from town to town, trying to warn everyone while fighting a bad reputation.

I enjoyed the characters and setting; it was generic fantasy, but not swords and sorcery generic fantasy, more of Diana Wynn Jones or fairy tales.

There were some noticeable typos, though, which detracted from the experience.

The Fifth Sunday, by Tom Broccoli
A short murder mystery translated from Chinese, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I helped to beta test this game, which is one of the three Qiaobook translation entries.

In this game, you play as a young man who wakes up in bed with a dead body.

You have to play through a few times to identify the killer.

The game is developed with background images and sound.

I like the general 'find the killer' concept, but I found it difficult to wait for the typewritten text.

Fake News, by Mike Sousa

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A humorous collection of vignettes based on fake news, November 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I beta tested this game, and I found it very funny.

Mike Sousa has written many past IF games, and the polish of this game is testament to his experience.

This game is tied together by various real-life newspaper headlines. You are having a pretty crazy day, and you hop from sequence to sequence trying to deal with mistaken identities and rogue celebrities.

There isn't a lot of direct interactivity in the traditional sense, but there's a lot of room to play around in each scene, with plenty of coded actions.

Crocodracula: What Happened to Calvin, by Ryan Veeder

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
The most Ryan Veeder game yet. A short mystery., November 7, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
It's hard to conceive of a game that is more Ryan Veeder-y than this one. This is most likely due to the support from his Patreon, which was started (according to its home page) because he wanted more reasons to include complex irrelevant subsystems in this game.

And this game has them. There's not that much you have to do in this game, but a lot you can do. Random mini quests and red herrings abound. I spent around 2 hours on this game, but the main pathway can be finished in 20 minutes or less.

There are two characters to pick from, but the choice is inconsequential...sort of. And sort of not. I felt rewarded for playing through with both.

I read a paper on humor theory once that talked about the 'incongruity-resolution' theory, which is that we laugh when we experience something out of the ordinary, that doesn't make sense, and then have it resolved suddenly. This game is built on nothing but incongruity-resolution. Everything in the game is a mix of useless and semi-useful.

I liked this a lot more than the Roscovian Palladium, or any other of the short random games that he makes every few months. A nice game to play if you just want to burn time and fiddle around with stuff.

Revenge, by forta

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A very clever game engine with an unpolished horror game, November 5, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game engine is creative; it's like Detectiveland, in that you click on nouns and then verbs. It's multiplayer, and even allows different players to simultaneously play in different languages, with chat.

I wasn't as impressed with the game. It has a certain sort of forward crassness, reminiscent of Trump's 'locker room talk'. The story revolves around your deceased wife and your new girlfriend.

Due to the 3 hour time constraint, this game has some problems with grammar and typos.

Overall, I like the engine, but would prefer to see a different sort of game to show off the engine.

Uxmulbrufyuz, by Andrew Schultz
A fun little wordplay game about constraints, November 5, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is the second Schultz game I played this Ectocomp, and I like it quite a bit!

There are four rooms, and you have to do something special in each one. The language is constrained, in a way reminiscent of Ad Verbum.

This was implemented impressively well for an Ectocomp game. There were a few verbs I thought should work, like (Spoiler - click to show)attack, amass, and insist, but this could be fixed later. A nice little snack.

The Boot-Scraper, by Caleb Wilson (as Lionel Schwob)
A worthy successor to Lime Ergot with a bit of fiddliness, November 4, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is ingenious, as creative as Lime Ergot was, with a touch reminiscent of Midnight. Swordfight.

You play as a washed-up seaman who has escaped a wreck and ended up on a plantation.

The navigation system is deeply unusual.

I had one big of trouble, with the game's only locked door. I had tried the correct action in different rooms, and discovered it didn't work, so I didn't try it in the right room. I ended up decompiling to find the answer (as the game has some speed-IF bits, like no hint system, so I didn't trust it completely), but I could have figured it out with more experimentation. I felt like it drew me out of the story, though. Otherwise, this is a wonderful game.

Fog Lights and Foul Deeds, by Tom Sykes
A mid-length horror game with stats and challenges, November 4, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is actually quite extensive for an ectocomp game.

Written with Ink (I think), it has you travelling up a river that is completely infested with monsters of various kinds, mostly zombie-like creatures and ghosts. You are in a sort of alternate Victorian era, with enormous factories and electrical equipment and such.

The game heavily advertises its stats-based nature, with money, fuel, tea, and health being tracked. It took me around 30 minutes, and I played to a non-satisfactory ending. Recommended if you're looking for a more stats-based approach to Ectocomp.

dripping with the waters of SHEOL, by Lady Isak Grozny

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A Russian-influenced transgender ghost tale, November 4, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Grozny has some of the best writing in this ectocomp so far, with 'dripping with the waters of SHEOL' standing as a good description of the text itself.

This is an intrinsically transgender story; every detail of the game is about being transgender, living with a transgender partner, and reassuring each other about being transgender.

It's also a strong tale about disability, both mental and physical. Your character has left their alt-history 1800's house in shambles, with clothes and dishes all over, most likely due to depression. You have to take numerous pills, you have intrusive thoughts, your joints ache (I somehow imagine a combination of arthritis and fibromyalgia), and you are walking a narrow tightrope with regards to your faith.

The entire game (which does have a ghost story, but only in service to the overall themes) feels like a house of cards which has been delicately set up but is constantly on the verge of collapse.

The Rats in the Bulkheads, by Bruno Dias

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A semi-graphical horror game in space, November 3, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I actually had a rather frustrating experience with this game. In this year's IFComp, there were three games submitted that were download-only, had the text slowly spool out without an option to advance, and had white text on a light background photo. They were heavily criticized for these three things.

That's why it's surprising to see an experience IF author (with access to this information) make a download-only game with slowly-spooled out white text on a light background photo/animation. I had to increase the font size significantly to see the game. I also had to look away for something on the last screen, and the text faded away before I was sure what it said.

Despite that, I enjoyed the game. It has strong parallels to one of my favorite short stories, The Judge's House, as well as System Shock (which I've only experience filtered through Cyberqueen).

The game manages to develop a great deal of backstory without slowing down the game too much. The ending is strongly foreshadowed, but this only helps to build tension.

The non-linear presentation combined with image changes gave the game some more interactivity as it requires you to puzzle out how it all fits together.

The Elevator Game, by Owlor
A graphical pony-based horror game about creepypasta, November 3, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is the second elevator-game based Ectocomp game I've played this year. Both are effective in their own way, but while Going Down derived it's effectiveness from understatement, The Elevator Game is much more in-your-face.

Like Owlor's other games, this game is loosely based on My Little Pony (in the sense that the characters are ponies with a similar art style), but otherwise the mythology and other world building details are different.

The game is fully illustrated, with some of Owlor's best work here, particularly in a sequence when you watch the elevator game taking place through a security camera and 'pausing' the camera reveals hidden objects.

I think that, for what Owlor is going for, this is a real success. But I found the horror to be a bit too over-the-top to be really effective; I'd like more moments where things were left to my imagination.

Going Down, by Hanon Ondricek

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A creepy elevator game with great graphics and sound, November 2, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a game that should be enjoyed at a slow pace, even though it's not too long. The slow-burn is the point, and it's good! I also recommend sound.

A friend of yours wants to play the 'elevator game', a creepypasta-esque game where you have to go to different floors in different orders, and you are supposed to end up in an alternate universe.

The elevator is mimicked here with muzak, elevator bings, and gentle use of graphics. I liked it! But it's hard to rush through.

This is My Memory of First Heartbreak, Which I Can't Quite Piece Back Together, by Jenny Goldstick, Stephen Betts, Owen Roberts
A short dialogue-based game with incredible graphics, September 28, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game was entered in IFComp 2016, but disappeared shortly thereafter.

However, lglasser recorded multiple playthroughs, which completely shows the gameplay, as it is a disjoint collection of sequences/videos triggered by clicking on labelled items on a screen.

The game is graphics-heavy, with pure white silhouettes against hand-drawn backgrounds. It also comes with music.

After hearing good things about the game, I was surprised how angsty and profanity-laden the game was. There is a whole genre out there of shocking confessions, which isn't my style, but this story is well done in that genre.

Rox, by L. Ross Raszewski
A turn-based version of the arcade game Asteroids, September 14, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a variant of the arcade game Asteroids. It has a backstory, and then has you flying through a two-dimensional grid, letting you change your direction and fire at will.

I liked it, but it was too fussy. I think I encountered a bug, too; going off the edge of the grid said I was getting sent back, but the truth was that it didn't send me back.

An entertaining concept.

Centipede, by J. Robinson Wheeler
An intense alien war game, September 14, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I thought this IFArcade game was by Cadre, but i guess I was wrong. This is an intense alien war drama, copying numerous movies/books in that style (Aliens, Catch 22, Starship Troopers, etc.) It has violence and profanity.

It's based on the arcade game Centipede. You land in a swamp with several marines, and you are in a field of poisonous mushrooms with ticks, scorpions, and centipedes attacking you.

It's incredibly difficult to win.

Beythilda the Night Witch, by DCBSupafly
One of the better all-rhyming games; short Ectocomp story, September 14, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Most games written in rhyme have terrible poetry. This one was pretty fun; its poetry is utilitarian but entertaining.

However, it can be pretty hard to guess some of the commands.

This is an Ectocomp speed-IF game about a witch defending herself from angry villagers and searching for a lost friend.

The Evil Chicken of Doom 3D, by Mel S
A fairly buggy Ectocomp adrift game about an evil chicken, September 14, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I've heard rumors of the 3d in this game, but I have yet to find it. I haven't found anyone who's actually finished it. I was able to get to the end by the use of Adrift's Debugger.

It's a fairly amusing game, after a long text dump. You need to kill an evil chicken, but it's hard to find the right tool.

Parasites, by Marius Müller
Great small game for Ectocomp about brain-changing parasites, September 14, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has a great plot for a 3-hour ectocomp game.

You are one of the few remaining members of society after parasites from space have attacked everyone. At a SETI outpost, you try to survive with a friend.

The implementation was buggy, as could be expected from a Speed-IF game, but the writing and story were excellent; would make a good TV episode.

The Hunting Lodge, by Hulk Handsome

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A 'hunt the wumpus'-type game in Twine, September 14, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I actually played this game backwards on accident. There is a major event you're supposed to encounter early on in one of the first rooms, but that ended up being the last room I entered.

Most of this game is navigating a house while a mysterious being also does so. You have to avoid, destroy, and escape.

Over all, it was well done, but I never really got into it. The room descriptions were fairly amusing.

Bloodless on the Orient Express, by Hannes Schueller

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Agatha Christie meets Dracula, September 14, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is similar to both Murder on the Orient Express and Dracula.

You awake from your coffin on a train to discover that a passenger has had their blood drained--and not by you.

This game has many of the usual speed-IF problems (undercluing and underimplementation), but it is in the top 10% of all speed-IF, and quite enjoyable.

Lost My Mind, by Xavid
A clever Twine maze based on a They Might Be Giants song, September 14, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a sort of word maze based on the lyrics of the nanobots album song Lost My Mind.

Every word leads to other words, going around in a cycle. There is a secret to solving the maze, but it's fairly complicated to finish it even if you know the secret; but if you keep trying, it should work out. I thought it was fun.

Al Final del Recorrido, by Guillermo Crespi

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An eery slice of life Twine game with 5 endings and a non-trivial length, August 27, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game surprised me by its quality. I can't vouch for the writing quality; as Spanish is not my native language, anything written in it sounds nice to me. But the concepts were really beautiful.

You play as a young person on a bus home, when things take an unexpected turn. The situation you find yourself in is at once relatable and deeply uncomfortable.

The game made good use of text effects, switching colors of the background and text, using different font sizes, etc.

There was some overarching Thing which I didn't get because of my poor Spanish, something about (Spoiler - click to show)graduation and getting covered in floor and eggs?

It seemed fairly linear to me, but a second replay had about 40% new text, so I was impressed. I would have rated this game somewhere in the 7-9 range in IFComp. Well done. My only wish is that there was some more consistency in how mid-game links were handled, as it was hard to know what clicking on different texts would do. On the other hand, given the general feel of confusion the game evokes, it may have been an intentional design choice.

PTBAD 3, by Jonathan BERMAN
An intentionally poor surreal game, August 17, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game, according to the author, was intended to come in exactly second to last place, which required (he said) surreal puzzles, misspellings, and a barely interactive NPC.

This may be tongue in cheek, but they have truly created a terrible game here. It is bad on many levels, including dumb implementation errors, undercluing, and misspellings. The author has truly succeeded at their goal.

LAIR of the CyberCow, by Conrad Cook (as Harry Wilson)
A goofy game about an evil cow... or is it?, August 15, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is an ADRIFT game from 2008, and like most ADRIFT games (especially from that time), it has quite a few bugs.

It's not terrible; it has some fun moments as you wander around a bizarre, goofy landscape. But eventually, the bugs pile up and it gets too hard to play.

Solitary, by Kahlan
A small game about a student and about mourning, August 15, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a game of the same sort of Wrenlaw, but smaller and less well implemented. You try to examine a variety of objects in your college dorm to unlock memories about a former love

It is not polished, but I enjoyed playing it, and it didn't overstay its welcome. If you like On Optimism or A Moment of Hope, you'd like this.

Little Billy, by Okey Ikeako

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A minimalist moral tale of bullying told with the wrong engine, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a short, linear story in a windows executable file where you mostly just click 'next' over and over again, with one or two choices you can make.

It's about a young boy who is being sent to juvenile detention after killing someone. It is very short.

It is in an RPG engine with hit points and so on. The author has the hit points represent ages.

The Realm, by Michael Sheldon
A shortish fatasy game about giving people what they want, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a short fantasy game set in a castle. I thought it was building up to something bigger, but most of the game is just wandering around equipping yourself.

There were many missing synonyms, and the game implied a robust conversation system that just wasn't there.

It had one fairly funny NPC in the armorer, though.

Redeye, by John Pitchers
A crazy drug-and-violence story set in Australia, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This shortish TADS game has you framed for murder at a biker bar in Australia.

It uses garish colors and the writing is choppy and strewn with profanities.

It's an on-the-rails mystery that has a good base story but implementation issues.

Zero, by William A. Tilli
A typical Santoonie game about a goblin, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Santoonie was a fake game company that would make really obnoxious games, occasionally for IFComp.

This is one such game. Like the others, it gives just enough of a level of implementation and thought that you think it might actually work and be fun, and then it slaps you with an unfinished game. It's like the Charlie Brown and Lucy football routine, over and over.

Has a sidekick with strong profanity.

Zero One, by Edward Plant
A short, violent game with odd responses, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This short game has you escaping from a prison cell.

The walkthrough encourages you to do some very odd things.

The game is short, mostly about things like finding keys and opening doors.

I think it could have been better without the strange responses.

Getting Back to Sleep, by Patrick Evans
A homebrew parser game about fixing a broken spaceship, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has you waking up in a closet after some drastic event. You need to save yourself and the ship.

This is a homebrew parser, which is fine, but it is also a homebrew parser that tries to implement the trickier parts of parser like conversation, which is not as fine. Simple shortcuts like 'l' and 'i' don't work, either.

It's not too bad, in general, but the parser causes too many problems to ignore.

9Lives, by Bill Balistreri, Hal Hinderliter, Sean Klabough, Luke Michalski, Morgan Sokol
A buggy small game about six different lives, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a sort of metaphysical ladder.

You have different choices to do the right or wrong thing. Doing the right thing reincarnates you as something 'greater', and the wrong thing makes you lower.

The game is so buggy, though, that it is very hard to go 'down'.

Dream Pieces, by Iam Curio

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A fun game making and breaking words, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I played the most recent version of this game.

It's a fun wordplay game in Quest, where you click on different items to take and break them.

Breaking an item splits it up into different letters. You combine the letters to make new words.

It's fairly short, but I enjoyed it. There was some slowdown on textadventures.co.uk

Moquette, by Alex Warren
A fascinating journey through the London underground and memory, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game reminds me for some reason of Michael Ende's Momo.

In any case, this is a quest hyperlink game that has you travelling on trains. You are on a subway line, you can wait or get off at each station, then travel on a new line in a new directions.

There are a dozen or more lines, with quite a few stations.

As you play, very good text effects begin to show up. A metastory appears.

There is unnecessary strong profanity; however, on Chrome, profanity filters filter it out.

J'dal, by Ryan Kinsman
A DnD-influenced short game about fantasy racism, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a bit shaky but has a great storyline about fantasy racism. The main character is dark-skinned, female, and can see in the dark, and everyone hates them.

This game was startling in its originality. It was also fairly buggy, with big typos that were missed.

It contains some combat and puzzles, with the interactivity at times just too underimplemented.

Contains some strong profanity.

Awake the Mighty Dread, by Lyle Skains
A surreal game on a train about a foster child, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I liked this game, though it was cut short and was buggy near the very end.

You play as a foster child sent to another world, where they look for their brother Ben.

You explore a wild fantasy world, primarily inhabited by robots.

The game uses interesting cinematic techniques like intruding italics text from the real world.

I liked it, but it stops right in the middle.

The Guardian, by Lutein Hawthorne
A game with large geography about loss and memory, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is one of those games where you wander about, having recollections come to you (like Wrenlaw).

The game has a sprawling geography; outside of the first area, each movement can take you through different climates.

It is short, a bit buggy, and kind of quickly put together, but I enjoyed it. It has MIDI music that I did not hear.

Ted Paladin And The Case Of The Abandoned House, by Anssi Räisänen
A fun little spoof on adventure games with intriguing puzzles, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is very good, similar to Ad Verbum, although I found it underclued and a bit frustrating.

There are three rooms with three challenges (after a brief intro). In the first room,... well, it might be more fun to play through.

Suffice it to say, it's almost like a test for adventurers based on standard IF tropes such as room descriptions, object names, and so on.

There was a sequel in 2017 with similar puzzles, which were also good.

Trap Cave, by Emilian Kowalewski
An interesting multiple choice system, mostly in German, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is written in its own multiple choice system, which allows you to check inventory at any time.

This game is almost entirely in German. I like German games, so it's not so bad, but in my version of windows, the umlauts display poorly, making the German not as easy to read.

Overall, the game is not as well developed as the system is.

My First Stupid Game, by Dan McPherson
A short, purposely dumb game involving urination, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has a homebrew parser that doesn't recognize most commands. In this short game, you have to work very hard to keep from urinating yourself.

It has several bugs and overall just doesn't make much sense, except for the anti-Barney rhetoric.

The Role of Music in Your Life, by Five Dials
A survey game with a hook about childhood, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game starts out with you answering several survey questions about music and its role in your life.

Then it has a major shift, and ends up employing some interesting narrative techniques and text styling tricks to make some unusual points.

I like the trick, but I found it hard to pick choices that reflected the persona I wanted to put off.

Code Name Silver Steel, by SpecialAgent
A short spy thriller set in an office, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game, which I believe is the author's first published game, has you disguising yourself as a repairman to enter an office and steal some data.

The author went through several cycles of writing and revising this work, improving the puzzles considerably over the original. The result is a smooth, short work.

Jesus of Nazareth, by Paul Allen Panks

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
As Jesus, fight and convert disciples, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you play as Jesus. You wander around a map, converting disciples, and occasionally fighting centurions.

Part of the game is purposely blasphemous, which I didn't like. But somehow the game is more sincere than Jarod's Journey or The Bible Retold.

I kept being killed by the centurion, and didn't finish.

Space Horror I, by Jerry
An early web CYOA game about an alien invasion, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This was a good twinelike game before Twine was popular.

You go to the bathroom in a bar, and everyone is gone when you come out.

This game is mostly pure branching, but has a clever puzzle or two, several images, and some sounds.

It was a bit hard to install and get running, but it's very interesting, especially if you're in to IF history.

The Adventures of the President of the United States, by Mikko Vuorinen

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
As president, travel over the whole world, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you play as the president of the united states, and every room is a country of the world.

It was quite entertaining to see that I could travel to Mexico to the south and Canada to the north.

The writing and implementation was a bit spotty, though, and it was hard to guess what to do next.

Fusillade, by Mike Duncan
A mishmash of 20 different scenes, August 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game contains a wide variety of scenes that are not related to each other very much, except by a small thread at the end. It includes things as diverse as Dr Who and fantasy as well as American history.

Only the main thread of the game; anything else was not implemented (for instance, you can't PRAY at Mecca).

It was interesting, but ultimately incoherent.

Wrenlaw, by Ryan Veeder

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Moving and confusing, detailed and short. A memory game, July 22, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is my final review for the Official Ryan Vedder Weekend Review Contest with guaranteed prize, giving me a score of 8 (due to having reviewed the other games earlier). Due to lack of publicity, the contest has been extended until Monday night at midnight Moscow time. Just post your Veeder reviews on ifdb (the Veedercomp games also count). 2nd and 3rd place winners get something too.

This game confused me at first; I didn't Get the mechanic that advances the game until my second playthrough.

You are in a park, looking for a geocache. There is a satisfying trash minigame.

I found it touching; if it is a parody, they say that parodies of extremism are indistinguishable from extremism, so the extreme schmalziness is something I enjoyed.

I love this game, but it was too hard to figure out how to progress (it's probably my fault for not reading the text after a major hint in my first playthrough, but oh well).

The Roscovian Palladium, by Ryan Veeder

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A game about a tiny rat in a big world, with creepy museum things, July 22, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This review is part of the Official Ryan Veeder Weekend Review Exposium with Guaranteed Prize.

For some reason, when I saw this game, I didn't want to play it. Then many people reviewed it, and I still didn't want to play it. It seemed like it would be confusing with a lot of red herrings.

Then I tried it, and stopped, because I am overwhelmed by red herrings and use walkthroughs on every game.

Then I had to write a review for this exposium, and I played it. The writing is great. Unplugging the router was a joy in itself, despite its lack of gameplay effect. The juxtaposition of the wooden caterpillar with the other objects in its room frightened me (I think I thought it was on the bed?).

The combat was satisfying once I worked it out, and conversation was surprisingly good.

This is a good game, but it stressed me out due to my gaming style.

So, You've Never Played a Text Adventure Before, Huh?, by Ryan Veeder

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A Robin and Orchid spinoff as a tutorial, July 22, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This review is part of the Official Ryan Veeder Weekend Review Communal Effort with Guaranteed Prize.

This is a spin-off of Robin and Orchid. You are investigating a haunted house, and fall down a hole.

The best part of the game is the demonstration of the three main methods of conversation.

The least best part of the game is the hinting. While it is generally good, there were times where the hints just kind of kicked out at important moments. The inexperienced adventurer that I was playing as got frustrated at not, for instance, knowing how to get through the door.

I enjoyed the ending considerably, though.

Someone Keeps Moving My Chair, by Ryan Veeder
A short game with well-implemented NPCs and a layered story., July 22, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This review is for The Official Ryan Veeder Weekend Review Tournament with Guaranteed Prize.

This game is a prequel to The Statue Got Me High, but you don't need to have played the latter game.

It contains classic elements of the Veeder mythos, such as red herrings, consumable food, actions that seem simple but maybe take a little longer to type than the other anticipated but you never know, and NPCs whose tone of voice is in direct contrast to the content of their conversations.

This game makes a 5 on my scale, but only barely. According to my criteria, it is polished (no bugs here), descriptive (why not?), has an emotional investment (I hated Edward), the interactivity is okay (I had to decompile it once, but I wanted to decompile it, so that's something), and I would play it again.

But it just scraped by in each category, so it might not be as good as a 4 star game that did great in one category.

The Case of LeAnne's Missing Bunny, Wendy, by Ryan Veeder

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A briefly earnest parody of an earnest scary story about a bunny, July 21, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This review is part of the Official Ryan Veeder Weekend Review Competition with Guaranteed Prize.

In this game, entered in the Haunted House Jam, you play (in 3rd person) a (winsome) character named something with an SH that I forgot.

There is a small map, and a puzzle involving a stick (which was listed as a rope in the inventory) that failed to draw me in.

However, the quality of the writing was par, and the experience with the dark figure and the other experience with the empty bedroom were vaguely similar to experiences I've had. I would play it again.

Le butin du Capitaine Verdeterre, by Ryan Veeder

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Has substantially more French than the original, July 21, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This review is part of the Official Ryan Veeder Weekend Review Contest with Guaranteed Prize.

While I was alarmed by the 'vitesse alarmante' of the 'eau' entering my ship, I was able to escape towards 'la poupe'.

While the addition of extra French improved the game considerably, it had no effect on pre-existing French. I would have preferred seeing Capitaine Earthworm or some other variation thereof.

The Profile, by Mike Snyder
A chilling game that becomes an intriguing puzzle, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game was quite creepy and icky at first, until I realized my true purpose.

This game is a play-and-replay game that was brilliantly coded in 3 hours or less, and provides more gameplay than most Ectocomop speed IF. Recommended. I can't say much more without spoiling it.

Ghosterington Night, by Wade Clarke
A little combat simulator running around a house grabbing poetry, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you run around a 3x3 house filled with independent hostile NPCs who chase you. You need to evade or shoot them and find four treasures hidden in the house.

The randomized combat can be hard, but if you expect it coming in, it can be a lot of fun. I found 2 poems and ran, and I was satisfied with my ending.

Eclosion, by Buster Hudson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An intricate correct-sequence tiny horror puzzle, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This was a fun but frustrating little puzzle. You are a parasite in a human and you want to get out.

There are 7 steps to getting out, but you have to do them in exactly the correct order. Timing is essential. The game allows you to take several incorrect paths at first, so you can't just go through the options systematically, you have to read the failure text and respond.

I liked it.

King Arthur's Night Out, by Mikko Vuorinen
A small game about escaping your wife, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
You're King Arthur, and can't leave because Guinevere won't let you.

This is a short game, yet still frustrating. The many actions you have to do are hard to conceive of before doing them.

The author said on rec.arts.int-fiction that they wrote this game in 3 days, and it shows. It's not horrible, because the scope was small enough to allow for some polish, but it doesn't sparkle.

Spodgeville Murphy and the Jewelled Eye of Wossname, by David Fillmore
A tiny but tricky humorous parody of Indiana Jones+Zork, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a fairly entertaining parody of Indiana Jones that has some implementation problems. You are at the end of a long adventurer, and already have thousands of points, but you just need to get the jewel and go.

This game borrows some text from and parodies Francesco Bova's The Jewel of Knowledge, and credits that author.

I liked it, but it was annoying trying to figure out the correct syntax and logic of the three main puzzles.

Strangers in the Night, by Rich Pizor
A vampire hunting game with some bugginess, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a big grid of a city which you stalk as a vampire.

The game is winnable but the author ran out of time, making many of the locations underimplemented. I was able to complete the game, but only by asking the doorman about various things in the magazine.

It has some violence and sensuality, but both written so blandly as to have little effect.

Remembrance, by Casey Tait
A touching memory of WWI soldiers with very difficult interface, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a very touching game, whose ending gave me shivers.

You play a variety of characters, many of whom are (I believe) Canadians sent to fight in WWI.

The game jumps from character to character and situation to situation in an interesting way, likely influenced by the previous year's Photopia.

However, the interaction is given by choosing an action from a drop down menu of 3 to 4, and then guessing the exact words the game wants you to type. This is essentially impossible without the walkthrough.

And the Waves Choke the Wind, by Gunther Schmidl
An incomplete cinematic Lovecraftian horror game, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a well-written and programmed Lovecraftian horror game set in the time of slavery and wooden sailing ships.

You wake up, bound and gagged in a fascinating sequence, before landing on a mysterious island.

This game does a good job of being disorienting and horror-filling. It is grotesquely violent at some points, and has some non-consensual and non-explicit advances by one character.

The Big Mama, by Brendan Barnwell
A multilinear game about the ocean, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has you wandering around a beach, just exploring and experimenting with life.

This game has around 40 endings, some after a very short time, and some after a very long time. It has some fairly complex NPCs.

As a beach game, there are several references to babes and illicit activities under boardwalks, and some fairly non-explicit scenes involving such. There's also a touching scene with a toddler.

Prodly the Puffin, by Jim Crawford and Craig Timpany
A ridiculous small game based on a webcomic, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a wacky/goofy game with humor typical of the early 2000's (think Strongbad-era).

You are a penguin and have to do a variety of bizarre things. The game is a one-room-at-a-time game. You can experiment, but reading the hints is probably the best way to go.

The Isolato Incident, by Alan DeNiro

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An excellent, short surreal game by the author of deadline enchanter, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Deadline Enchanter was one of my first games I ever played, and still one of my favorites and a strong influence.

This game came before deadline enchanter, but shares its same feeling of utter bizzareness.

You are the ruler(s?) of a kingdom that has been ravaged by a ghost. There is wearable honey/history, and all sorts of other interesting things. I love this little game. It plays on gargoyle.

Mystery Manor, by Dana Crane
An old adrift game with spooky music but bad implementation, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a game with a big map but only 2 or 3 puzzles. You explore a creepy house (with some timed text effects at the beginning, creepy music/sound effects, and a popup image in the middle that's not supposed to be scary).

I ran this on Adrift 3.9. Like all adrift games, it has major problems. This game also has big text dumps.

The Cave of Morpheus, by Mark Silcox
An Adrift game dreaming about Will Crowther and Adventure, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, a female college friend gives you (a male) a disk of Advent 550 to help you over the blues.

You end up playing the game, and falling asleep with your friend on the couch. You have a trippy dream involving will crowther.

The Adrift parser isn't that great (I used 3.90), but the game pulled some clever tricks for the game-within-a-game. I actually enjoyed this, but I had to put it in the Adrift Generator to find all the necessary tasks.

The Test, by Matt Dark Baron
A purposely irritating short game with a bunch of tiny tests, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game uses the Adrift parser, which is inherently problematic.

It is a sequence of small rooms with really unclear puzzles, including a sound puzzle. The puzzles are really irritating.

However, this game did not come last in the competition. It's possible that hardcore puzzle fans may enjoy this game.

Lovesong, by Mihalis Georgostathis
The first IFComp Quest game; short and buggy quest for love, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is the first Quest game ever entered into IFComp.

You wandering in the first to give a flower to a girl. Then more stuff happens. It is really a teenagerish game (male, specifically), from the plotline to the poor spelling and bugginess.

At least the author was bold by going out on a limb, entering the first Quest game ever.

The Coast House, by Stephen Newton and Dan Newton
A competent TADS game about finding your past in an old town, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I like the atmosphere in this game. You're in a town on the Gulf Coast, exploring a town and an old wharf.

The game isn't large, so it doesn't take too long to finish. But it could be much better-clued. Without clues, this game is like playing monopoly for the first time without instructions.

There was one action required at the end that I found unusually gruesome, but somewhat logical in hindsight.

Shattered Memory, by Akbarr

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An intriguing game based on amnesia, waiting in a very long line, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a somewhat kafka-esque game which is translated from spanish. It was later retranslated as 'dead reckoning' (which can be found at the Olvida Mortal page, not the other game also titled Dead Reckoning

You wake from a sort of fugue in a very, very long line. You can't remember why you're there.

The game was essentially fair, and had great atmosphere, but it had one really, really bad 'guess the sentence' puzzle involving the SAY TO WOMAN "something something" type command.

Has some brief strong profanity.

Journey from an Islet, by Mario Becroft

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An illustrated TADS game reminiscent of The Little Prince, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has you exploring a little abandoned islet. It really reminds me of the little prince with its illustrations, especially a sheep, a snake, a desert, etc.

It has a music-based puzzle (without sound) that was nice. It was all very light, though, and had you take some actions that are rather unguessable. The pictures were pleasant, though.

SURREAL, by Matthew Lowe
A minimalist game made with a primitive parser. Locks and keys, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is just a light puzzle plus a series of locks and keys. The keys are bizarre; a weapon, a jar, they can all be keys.

This just seems quickly programmed in an old an bad language. I wonder if the author wrote it years before and spruced it up for the comp. It does have some nice Ascii art, and some fun ideas, but it needs a lot of work.

Begegnung am Fluss, by Florian Edlbauer
A short, enjoyable medieval German game, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has three main puzzles, and is a cinematic game with nice background descriptions.

I struggled a bit with the game, as I didn't speak german. But it is very short, and the medieval background was really fun.

I've provided a small walkthrough:
(Spoiler - click to show)To get over the wall, jump then pull yourself.

For the forest, stick sticks in the ground.

For the man, alternate fighting and talking, with a lot of talking.


Four Mile Island, by Chris Charla
A scott-adam's esque spy thriller, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you are in a facility that is wired to blow. Most rooms are empty, except for some with one item. Like Scott Adams, it has a two-word parser.

It was fairly fun, but it could have had a greater depth of implementation, and there was some 'guess the verb' stuff going on later. It also had an annoying maze.

Fun for those looking for a quick snack.

Blade Sentinel, by Mihalis Georgostathis
An early Quest superhero game, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
The early Quest engine had a number of issues, mainly that you had to define each action separately, and it didn't do synonyms well. So much of this game is 'guess the verb'. I downloaded an old version of quest to play it, as gargoyle was having some problems.

You play a woman who becomes a superhero after a mysterious hilt comes into her life. The game goes from scene to scene. I couldn't finish one scene due to a bug (I think I had the wrong interpreter yet again), but opening the quest file in Notepad++ revealed the ending, as the game is completely linear.

Eric's Gift, by Joao Mendes

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A well-written short story about a chance meeting in the future, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This was the first TADS 3 game entered into IFComp.

You are someone in the future who meets a woman at night, knowing she would be there.

You then have a flashback to how you got to that point.

I had trouble guessing one of the very first commands (pointed out in David Welbourn's walkthrough).

It's a fun game, but learning more about it is what makes it enjoyable.

The Granite Book, by James Mitchelhill

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A darkly atmospheric game that does interesting narrative tricks, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game casts you as an unusual 'we', with unusual descriptions of rooms and a bizarre atmosphere.

I am surprised this game is not discussed more; however, like most little-discussed games, this is likely due to the lack of cluing.

The game is reminiscent of some ancient dark ritual, of Beowulf or Peer Gynt.

Moonbase, by Mike Eckardt

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short, mostly bland but well-clued space game, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has you teleporting to a moon base to investigate a disappearance and stop a monster.

It has an instant death puzzle, but thankfully no mazes or light source puzzles. The game is well-clued, and its fairly easy to know what to do at all times (except right near the end).

The game has numerous spelling and grammar errors, but otherwise could be dressed up to be a fun game.

Jarod's Journey, by Tim Emmerich
An html-TADS Christian game that is perhaps a subtle parody, July 10, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game purports to be an exploration of the Christian faith. You are the son of the centurion who stood on Golgotha, and you are sent on a quest to explore various cities.

In each city, you explore different areas, and see NPCs, but you don't have to do anything.

As you leave each city, you are given a choice of three directions to go in corresponding to 3 beliefs. You have to choose the correct belief to progress.

The game seems to me to be a subtle parody. The graphics are at times ridiculous (the meditating shopkeeper); the character is very excited at how clean the angel is; your character ends up suffering quite a bit, but is grateful that thieves left him his shoes; it all seems a sort of fun-poking 'from the inside' the way that Jacek Pudlo troll RAIF 'from the inside' (where you pretend to be a fan of what you hate, and then say things that other fans are embarrassed by).

A Moment of Hope, by Simmon Keith
A game about an introvert interested in an extrovert, July 5, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is about a typical introverted boy with a long ponytail and an interest in computers and fantasy-type things who matches in an online dating program with a vivacious and popular girl.

This just kills (metaphorically) the boy, who can't handle the intense polar opposites of excitement and nervousness.

The game was well-written and pretty well-programmed, and it produces some real emotion with its intense, up-close-and-ugly examination of the young adult brain.

CC, by Mikko Vuorinen
A surrealist game about your inner self, July 5, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a shortish, underclued but interesting surreal game where you explore the inner workings of your own mind. It reminds me of Blue Chairs, but shorter and less humorous.

This game is has elements similar to Mikko's last game. Both games were written in a couple of weeks. It contains some juvenile bot non-explicit references to nudity.

I found it difficult to know what to do next, but the walkthrough was helpful. It has a very clever puzzle involving mutating words that accounts for many false attempts.

Spacestation, by David Ledgard

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An implementation of Planetfall's sample transcript, July 5, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a straightforward implementation of Planetfall's sample transcript. A few things are different, since the Inform and Infocom parsers have different responses.

The original transcript ends in a premature death. This game does not; however, the new ending sequence is barely there, a matter of a few moves.

It's well-done, but very small. The smallness is even smaller when the game informs you that portions are blocked off because its not finished by the author.

The Commute, by Kevin Copeland
A very hard-to-use homebrew parser with a bland game, July 5, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game uses a home-written parser for a story about travelling to work.

Hardly anything is implemented, like X or compass directions or inventory or disambiguation. You travel to work, passing several obstacles in the way.

The writing is really unusual, and I kind of like it and kind of don't. It's really, really overblown, something like "You stand here with your beautiful, gentle wife, basking in the happy glow of home life in your kitchen.."

The game's biggest merit is that must have been hard to program.

The Land Beyond the Picket Fence, by Martin Oehm

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A great little nugget of a homebrew parser. Small fantasy land, July 5, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is how homebrew parsers should be; and it makes sense, coming just 3 years after Inform was created and making new parsers was less intimidating.

This is a compact fantasy world, with only 7 or so locations. It has a gnome, a toadstool garden, and a mad scientist. It has good cluing, and fun, open mechanics including potions/chemicals you can try on things (nothing complicated).

The only thing I found difficult was that one important room exit was only mentioned once, in one event, with no way to read that text again once it scrolled back. So its important to read everything carefully.

The Abyss, by dacharya64
A breathy, heartfelt longish twine game about inner demons, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game reminds me a lot of creepypasta: intense writing with something of a neglect of proper writing techniques (such as grammar and some other things that careful testing could fix). However, it has an intensity of emotion that makes it more enjoyable than a polished, bloodless game.

You play someone who has a dark secret inside of them, which affects them throughout their life. Eventually, you must journey to your own psyche to confront this secret.

It's fairly long, with choices that felt mostly meaningful. It features combat. It has some profanity and violent sequences.

Down, by Kent Tessman
An early hugo game about survival after a catastrophe, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a short, loosely timed game about waking up after some sort of accident and then trying to help yourself and others before time runs out.

The writing is interesting, and the game feels fairly polished. However, it really suffers from 'guess what the author is thinking' syndrome. Some of the actions are completely unmotivated. However, playing around on my own was fairly fun.

Leaves, by Mikko Vuorinen
An intriguing little game that devolves into juvenilia, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game starts out pretty cool, and basically consists of a linear series of challenges in a surreal prison environment.

I would give it 3 or 4 stars, but it just gets dumb, involving marijuana quests and another interaction involving a statue that could only be conceived by a teenage boy.

Ritual of Purification, by Jarek Sobolewski
An intense, surreal game about becoming purified, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a short surreal game that swerves from scene to scene with intense emotion. You confront hell, satyrs and nymphs, and so on. There's extreme pain, and you can see your collection of spells by typing Spells.

Some of it is fairly juvenile, though, especially the parts with nymphs/satyrs and the general breathless feel.

Calliope, by Jason McIntosh
A short fun game about gathering inspiration for IFComp, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a relatively short game. You play a programmer in an apartment who is trying to get IFComp inspiration.

As you continually attempt to write your game, you begin to get trippy dreams...or are they dreams?

The game is over relatively quickly, but its enjoyable while it lasts. Has a couple of puzzles.

A Checkered Haunting, by Andrew Schultz
A fun graphical mini-puzzle with a twist, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This was Andrew Schultz's 2016 Ectocomp game. The author has made a mini-game, kind of reminiscent of one of the hat puzzle games (maybe Playing Games?) with a sort of maze you need to trace out, through 5 different levels.

The fifth level is different than the other levels. It needs a special command to finish it. The more times you replay it, the more hints that you get as to what the command is.

Vlad the Impala, by Pumpkin B. Parjeter
A humorous shortish twine-like game with an impala, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has you playing Vlad the Impala, whose identity has been stolen by the vampire Vlad the Impaler.

It is hyperlink-based, and has you going around collecting inventory items of a sort to turn on a device to destroy the Impaler. It has some plot twists.

The humor was actually pretty good, but there was some 'guess the link' issues with underclued puzzles. But with this and Dr. Sourpuss, the author has made some good games, and I hope they make more.

Four Sittings in a Sinking House, by Bruno Dias

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A great multimedia creepy twine-like experience about consumerism, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game utilizes a nice animation of candles that changes throughout the game.

You play a sort of medium who contacts the ghosts (or memories) of a family in a house that is slowly sinking.

The writing is good, and deals with a good deal of capitalistic consumerism, but at heart this is a good creepy story. It didn't draw me in emotionally, but otherwise was enjoyable.

Amnesia, by Dustin Rhodes
A 'goofy and silly' entry about waking up without amnesia on an island, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is purposely wacky and silly. This would be fun, but it has numerous implementation errors, and a game-ending bug that prevents you from leaving a room as a scene fires over and over.

The author knew the game wasn't that well put together, so they threw in some funny stuff. The spirit guide that follows you everywhere is bizarre. The author has a lot of imagination; this game could be a lot of fun with more work.

Adoo's Stinky Story, by B. Perry
A short humor game about making a stink bomb to save your house, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you play Adoo, a college student come home who discovers it's going to be sold. So you decide to set up a stink bomb based on half-remembered ingredients your dad mentioned in a dungeons and dragons-esque tale.

This game has great ideas but is lacking in concept. It has many guess-the-verb problems, typos, and scenes mis-firing. But the writing is humorous and friendly.

Because You're Mine, by Owlor
A short horror based on My Little Pony, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This was an Ectocomp 2016 speed game. This is set in a MLP-type world, similar to Owlor's other games.

You are a hardened and vicious magic-using pony out for revenge. You need to go an a quest to find the ingredients for your potion.

This was relatively straightforward, and fun, with good cluing, until I got stuck on one ingredient for a long time due to misunderstanding a description.

It is unpolished and didn't draw me in, but that is due to it being a speed-IF.

The Mouse, by Naomi Z (as Norbez)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An illustrated Twine game about bullying, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a shortish alt-game about bullying and abusive relationships. It is illustrated with various hand-drawn illustrations.

You play as a character who is in a sort of abusive relationship, and who doesn't fit in. You have to deal with this relationship and how it affects the rest of your life. It can get intense, with some strong profanity.

It gave me a good sense of the emotion involved in the game, but it felt like it could use more polish.

Rite of Passage, by Arno von Borries
An interactive years-long diary about children and cruel interactions, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you are reading through diary entries of a young child going through several years of school. It's a twine-type game, and it has a large scope, going through several years at a fast space.

You have several friends you interact with, with mechanics keeping track of the relationships, but I found this fairly opaque; I wished I had more feedback on my choices. One nice feature was that choices you were not able to make due to past choices were crossed out, showing you 'what could have been'.

The game treats very serious subjects, including sexual assault. The biggest drawback to me was having trouble seeing how my choices relate to the pages you reach.

the uncle who works for nintendo, by michael lutz

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Effective mind-bending Twine game about two friends with many endings, June 27, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
I was a big fan of My Father's Long Long Legs, so when I saw this game by the same author, I was intrigued. However, I found the name off-putting, thinking it would be a video game fan work or something similar.

It' s not; it's much more like Shade with conversations and in Twine (which would be an effective format for Shade, in my opinion). You are at a sleepover with a friend, who has a mysterious uncle that works for Nintendo. As the night progresses, strange incongruities arise.

Michael Lutz is an excellent storyteller. The author's notes at the end of the game are fascinating, and include a discussion of how the game accidentally relates to GamerGate, the controversy surrounding a group of mostly male gamers who attacked female journalists over trumped-up charges.

This game is among the very best Twine games, and in the end, is uplifting.

Ash, by Lee Grey
A moving kinetic game about death, May 9, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game shows, like Stone Harbor, the power of a great story mixed with good physical and visual interaction. Both games are strongly linear, with fewer interactions, but with a great effect.

Ash tells the story of the death of the authors mom, a lingering death in the hospital. There are some interesting choices in the story with subtle effects later, but it's mostly linear. The beauty comes from the tight writing, the smooth visual effects, the appropriate font, and the way that the choices seem to reflect thought and intent more than actual decisions. You are choosing how to feel, not what to do. This worked well for me.

I finished both times with goosebumps all over my arm. This game is on the opposite end of the also great Cactus Blue Motel in terms of world model and interactivity, but both are great. Neither game resembles the super-branching wild stories that the lower-placing entries have. I love this game.

To The Wolves, by Els White
A polished mid-length fantasy twine game in a fantasy setting, May 9, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game has some good graphics, excellent styling and a convenient user interface with saves and achievements. This is a great setup for a Twine game, especially one like this with more 'game'-y features.

The story was a good read, too. You are cast out of a village and left 'to the wolves', but you make a new life for yourself. Your interactions with the villagers and yourself are up to you.

The mechanics were a little opaque, and the endings didn't quite click for me, but overall, Highly recommended.

Fair, by Hanon Ondricek

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A slick and smooth mid-sized game about judging a science fair, May 9, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is Hanon Ondricek at his best. There's a million moving pieces: a book-selling minigame, events on a timer, mobile NPCs, in-depth conversational trees, easter eggs, crowds, a million little easter eggs, non-standard parser responses. It's a great game.

It's fairly short, but I think it was designed that way intentionally to allow all players to reach an ending. You just wander around, looking at everything, talking to the kids and parents, selling books, and then you pick a winner.

Highly recommended.

The Queen's Menagerie, by Chandler Groover
A visually rich Texture game about feeding grim animals, May 9, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you play as a zookeeper for a queen.

This is a texture game, which is good for mobile and desktop. You grab a few nouns at the bottom, and drag them above; in this story, they nouns are mainly keys and food.

Your job is to feed the animals. This game is about exploration of the universe; your choices matter, making replay enjoyable.

The game is visually well-developed as well.

Highly recommended.

A Colder Light, by Jon Ingold

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent parser/choice hybrid about Inuits and magic, September 15, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you play as a young Inuit native (I believe; it never says, but you live on the ice and eat seal meat). You can summon beings from the Stars by placing runes on the ground that describe them, two runes at a time.

This game uses a parser/choice hybrid, by having a variety of nouns at the bottom which, as you click them, provide verbs to act on them with, usually two or three verbs at a time.

This system took me a bit to get used to at first, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. The runes become an alphabet of sorts that, like the alphabet in Ingold's adaptation of Sorcery!, allows for a great deal of variety and difficulty in a parser hybrid.

The story was slow to start for me, but grew on me. I strongly recommend this game. It took me about 40 minutes to play.

It Is Pitch Black, by Caelyn Sandel
A fun short, creepy game about running out of light, September 10, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you are trapped inside a small shop with a grue (a creature from the Zork series). Just any connection with Zork makes a game more silly, but that's not a drawback here.

You have to move through the darkness with limited resources. As you do, you find different sources of light and other surprises. You're just trying to survive.

I had to replay a couple of times to get it right. It has some nice ambient sounds and good use of images and backgrounds.

I really liked it, and recommend it.

Fabricationist DeWit Remakes the World, by Jedediah Berry

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent sci fi game about rebirth , August 20, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a mid length Twine game set in a post apocalyptic world. You awake from a long sleep, not knowing who or what you are, but knowing what to do.

The game has only a few locations, but each one is packed with detail. The other characters in the game are vivid.

I found the general setting and characters to be very compelling. A must-play for sci fi fans.

The Fairy Woods, by rosencrantz
A charming fairy tale about a quest for a lost love, August 19, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This twine game takes a lot of well-used tropes and works then into something special.

This is a 10-20 minute game with 9 endings. You seek a loved one in the fairy woods, and face a sequence of 2-3 choices at a time when finding them.

The game takes classic fairy ideas like fairy rings or greedy trolls and somehow gives them a sense of realness. The NPCS are all thoughtful.

The styling is individualized for this game and uses occasional special fonts.

Beneath Floes, by Bravemule; Pinnguaq
A haunting multimedia Twine about an inuit legend, July 21, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game uses many full-color illustrations and background music to tell the story of a young inuit child, her relationship with outsiders, and an inuit legend.

The music and sound effects are well-chosen to establish the atmosphere. The illustrations are nice, too, with a couple of cool tricks with them.

The pacing of the twine story was effective for me, with appropriate use of fade-ins and repeated links.

Overall, a nice short creepy story.

An Evening at the Ransom Woodingdean Museum House, by Ryan Veeder

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A tightly-paced and well-written ghost story, June 9, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Ryan Veeder is known for tongue-in-cheek, polished games. This game is well polished and paced, but this time it's a creepy ghost story. Like a campfire tile, it is spooky, and dark, but has a vague hint of a smile at times (which may just be my interpretation).

I found the game to be effectively creepy, banking on anticipation, slow changes in writing, and gradual, creepy, realizations.

I strongly recommend this game, especially for fans of campfire tales.

Candlesmoke, by Caelyn Sandel and Carolyn VanEseltine

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A spooky, visually beautiful Halloween game with sound, June 8, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is genuinely creepy in many of its parts. It has gorgeous css and html styling, with nice background music.

You play a police officer investigating the disappearance of a shut-in. As you enter his home, you discover more and more about his history and his solitary life, as well as interacting with a variety of candles.

Everything worked well for me in this game; it was effective and well styled.

Mere Anarchy, by Bruno Dias

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Anarchy in a grungy magic world, June 6, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This games, an entrant in last year's Spring Thing, is an Undum game (meaning you can click on links to advance the story, graphics are included, and the story can be scrolled back to see what came before.

The story is about a small group of anarchists rebelling against an oppressive hierarchy. While the game uses magic, it feels more like a stand-in for power that allows the author to discuss class struggle in an attention-grabbing way.

I feel like this game has something to say, and does so in a way that deserves attention.

The barbarians are coming!, by Daniel Kosacki

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A rare game that is goofy in a good way. Save your village, May 24, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is the author's first Twine game. It uses no styling, and is based on goofy, crazy humor. These are usually signs for disaster, so I was skeptical when I saw it was highly rated.

But this game has a lot of thought and some actually pretty funny humor. You play a villager sent on a quest to find a magical item that can save your people from a tribe.

The narrator frequently talks with you, and the game discusses the balance between choices and story and free will and so on, but only in a goofy way.

I enjoyed this story, but I had low expectations. People expecting it to be great may be less impressed, but this is a long, funny Twine game.

HUNTING UNICORN, by Chandler Groover
A branching narrative about a maiden and hunting unicorns, May 8, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is set in an unspecified fantasy setting. You play as a poor young woman, who, unlike most poor young women in fantasy stories, is very ugly.

You have been coerced into things that you may not want to participate in, but your actions remain your choice. There are 8 or so endings depending on what course you decide to take.

The writing is well-done, with rich descriptions and a well-conceived plot. The game is polished and smooth, and includes some text effects and images.

Overall, recommended. This was I believe the author's first game, and they have gone on to win several competitions. This first effort was a sign of things to come.

Six Gray Rats Crawl Up The Pillow, by Caleb Wilson (as Boswell Cain)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A brief, well-written light horror about staying the night in a haunted house, May 8, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, you play a medieval character who has been dared to spend the night in the house of a deceased nobleman.

This game is divided into a couple of parts, the first of which is figuring out just what is going on. The game has three inventories, including one for things worn and one for memories.

The memory mechanic works well for me, as does the big last puzzle at the end.

Overall, this is a light treat, lasting 15 minutes or less. The writing is very descriptive and gameplay is definitely polished.

Three-Card Trick, by Chandler Groover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A shortish, story-driven parser game about dueling magicians at an exposition, April 7, 2016
Chandler Groover has put his characteristic mark on the magician genre. The game is similar to "An Act of Misdirection" in tone and concept (where the player is forced to perform magic tricks without completely knowing how, in a grim setting). However, the focus is on atmosphere over puzzles. I felt on the edge of my seat the whole time, wavering between fear and mild disgust.

The game is about dueling magicians who will go to any length to disrupt each other. This part reminded me in a good way of The Prestige, especially as the magicians use new tricks to upstage each other and try sabotage.

The game is thoroughly polished, and credits a lot of testers for a compact game, which helps explain its smooth gameplay. I encountered no bugs, and the parser was very well-stocked with synonyms. Playing this game was like watching a thriller, with the parser so slick that it essentially disappeared, leaving the player to interact directly with the story.

Tangaroa Deep, by Astrid Dalmady

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An immersive submarine experience. Twine game with 3d world model., April 6, 2016
This game is generally about exploring in a submarine. You catalog new species you find, you can descend, ascend, or go left or right.

Perhaps the best thing about this game to me is the ability to make and execute plans. I had an idea from the beginning of what I wanted to do, and the game let me do it very well. You are constantly presented with choices to explore, to go deeper, to chase something, to return.

You have an air meter that goes down when you make choices. The beginning is more linear than the midge me and endgame.

I only played once, but it seems to be highly branching.

Winter Storm Draco, by Ryan Veeder

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An amusing journey through a massive winter storm, April 6, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game begins with a fun text-effect introduction, teaching you about the background of Winter Storm Draco.

You then begin to try to get home from the grocery store to your house. You will encounter a striking variety of puzzles, including classic-style puzzles, combat, and conversation.

Overall, the writing is amusing (although the game clearly states that it is a serious documentary, and not intended to amuse).

This is a short parser game, and I strongly recommend it.

Weird City Interloper, by C.E.J. Pacian

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A fantasy conversation game with a Miyazaki-like setting, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
In this game, every 'room' is a conversation with a new individual. Topics that you can discuss are highlighted in brackets or by other means depending on the interpreter.

Interestingly, every topic you learn in one location can be used in another. An important command here is 'GOODBYE', which I didn't learn for a while.

The story is intricate and interesting, told only in conversation. You have returned to a city dominated by a new god and his priest, Salyndo. You try to find a way to overthrow it.

Short, but breathtaking in the images it gives you glimpses of. I used 'help' about 5-6 times.

Strongly recommended.

ASCII and the Argonauts, by J. Robinson Wheeler

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An all caps, minimal Speed-IF homage to Adventureland., February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Adventureland was the first commercial adventure game, written by Scott Adams. It was all caps, with short, simple sentences and basic verbs.

This game is a homage to that, a Speed-IF with 7 treasures, an interesting map, and several enemies.

The game is actually very appealing; people haven't changed in the last 40 years, and there is a reason that adventureland was appealing back then. Pure minimalism really stokes the imagination. I got the same sort of feel I have talking to characters in the original Zelda game.

It's short, but difficult. With the small number of combinations possible, however, it should be possible to beat it. Pretty fun!

Grandma Bethlinda's Variety Box, by Arthur DiBianca

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A 3-verb minimalist parser game about a fun-filled puzzle cube, February 3, 2016
This minimalist parser game feels like it learned a lot from the success of Twine games, and responded by making a stripped-down straightforward puzzle box. I really liked it.

The box has different moving parts you have to interact with (using the single command U for USE or UNDERTAKE TO INTERACT WITH, according to the author). As you do, more and more pieces show up. You are taught how to use some pieces that you have to remember later; other puzzles require leaps of intuition or timing. I finished without hints, which is very unusual for me.

KING OF BEES IN FANTASY LAND, by Brendan Patrick Hennessy

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A metaphorical Twine game set as a retro video game. , February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
King of Bees is short, with a braided storyline (where choices temporarily affect the storyline before converging again.

This game reminds me a bit of Endless, Nameless in its visual design,with a combination of types.

You play a space knight, who is sent to kill the king of bees. The game has several layers of meaning, and it is hard to know what the ultimate message is ((Spoiler - click to show)for instance, is the heavy-handed environmental subtext meant as part of the ultimate message, or is it presented ironically?).

I recommend it.

Aisle, by Sam Barlow

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A one-action game with over a hundred endings, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Aisle is a well-known game with a strange mechanic; you are inside a grocery aisle shopping for food, and you only get one action before the game ends.

One-action games such as Rematch or Pick up the Phone Booth and Aisle started appearing soon after Aisle's publication. It became a mildly popular genre, and still is.

What makes Aisle successful? Part of its success is its specific details; you're not just in any aisle, you're by the gnocchi, and gnocchi remind you of your trip to Italy; the woman by you isn't just a stranger,or is she?

Another reason the game is fun is that the endings contradict each other; the story of who you are and what your past is actually changes based on your decision, so that your one action generates an entire past.

The third reason I think many people enjoy it is the wide variety of moods in the endings, from pathetic to hopeful to violent.

This is a game that everyone should play at least one time.

Shade, by Andrew Plotkin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
One of the few games to truly frighten me (because I thought it wouldn't), February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Shade is a surreal game. It is an almost one-room game, where you are trying to leave your apartment, but encounter more and more difficulties.

Shade is one of the most well-written short horror games available on IFDB, and has been sold as an iOS game.

There were two points in the game that I wasn't expecting and deeply unsettled me. I won't list them here. Unfortunately, this whole review is a bit pointless, as nothing is scary if you are told it is scary. The scariest story I ever read was NES Godzilla, and it was only scary because it was such a ridiculously stupid story that when it actually got scary, it surprised me. On the other hand, I was told The Lurking Horror was one of the scariest games of all time, so when I actually played it, I was pretty disappointed.

So your best bet is to forget this and the other few reviews, wait a few months, think, "Oh, what game is this?" and then play it.

Most of the game, including the ending, was not that scary. Just a few moments stuck out for me, but they were big moments.

The Warbler's Nest, by Jason McIntosh

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Short, medieval, edgy psychological thriller, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a game kind of like the stories Ethan Frome or the Yellow Wallpaper, where you have a kind of growing sick feeling in your gut, not from gore or sex or anything like that, but from a disturbing psychological predicament.

This game is set in medieval times, and deals with faeries and the fey. Or does it? It's hard to tell. You are outside gathering eggshells, and soon you discover what purpose they are for.

This game has stuck with me for a very long time. It creeped me out. I don't want to give away too much, so suffice to say that you can make strong moral choices.

my father's long, long legs, by michael lutz
Incredibly effective use of Twine as a horror story form, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
My Father's Long, Long Legs is essentially a publishable short story, as good as Stephen King or Dean Koontz.

This doesn't mean that the Twine format feels too confining. The story branches and recombines at various points, and the illusion of choice increases the feeling of powerlessness.

Also, some of the more advanced techniques of Twine are used in the last scene to improve play experience.

I recommend it strongly to subtle horror fans.

Common Ground, by Stephen Granade
A small slice of life game from 3 perspectives , February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a short 3-act play of sorts. You have to live through a single evening through the eyes of three people. I found this story to be compelling because it asked me to identify with people I usually would not have identified with.

In each subgame, the actions are relatively basic; I did not have to use hints or a walkthrough, which is unusual for me. Eventually, the game will hint at what you want to do.

Stephen Granade is one of my favorite authors, with the ultra-hard Losing Your Grip, the comedy Child's Play, and the mid-length escape game Fragile Shells.

Ashes, by Glass Rat Media
A quite effective horror story about a group of friends in a cabin., February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game won the first ever unrestrained section of Ectocomp, which was traditionally a speed-IF until 2015, when it was split into a speed-if section and an unconstrained section.

It is a sort of psychological thriller, when 6 friends (or former friends) visit a cabin to carry out the wishes of a dead friend. Everyone has something to hide. One of the highlights of the game is a drinking game about truth, where you decide how to play.

The game has violence and strong profanity, which is not something I generally recommend, but I enjoyed this story, and I have to admit it. It set a high bar for future Ectocomp games.

The Fire Tower, by Jacqueline A. Lott
A nature hike without puzzles. Very peaceful, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game is a peaceful, calm exploration of nature, the way She's Got A Thing For A Spring or A Change In The Weather would have been without puzzles.

This game was a Landscape entry in the IF Art Show, so the emphasis here is on detail, setting, the five senses, and so on. I loved the nature feeling here.

There are multiple paths you can take, but I just played through once. There are some exciting random events, and some philosophy.

Recommended for everyone.

The Play, by Dietrich Squinkifer (Squinky)

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Highly interactive Undum game about a play and sexism, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is CYOA at it's best: incredible writing powered by a long sequence of choices whose effects multiply so rapidly that lawnmowering (repeatedly trying every option) becomes or seems difficult.

This game presents two stories; the first is a play that is being rehearsed, while the second is the mental dialog of the director. There are three actors and a stage manager you work with, and you keep track of their moods.

I avoided this game for some time because it seemed really long and complicated, but each playthrough has just the right amount of choice (about 8-12 big options). Your choices are usually to help the play or help the performers, but it's more nuanced than that.

All of the paths include discussion of sexism. Several of the paths feature it very prominently, and develop a big backstory for the protagonist.

I loved this game. Amomg the best of CYOA, and of IF in general.

Captain Verdeterre's Plunder, by Ryan Veeder

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Enjoyable, repeatable optimization minigame, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game would work great as a text adventure (which it is), a point-and-click, a sidescroller, and frankly just about anything.

You are stuck with a rat captain and have to get out of sinking ship as fast as possible, grabbing whatever treasure you can. There are some mild puzzles (and probably some harder ones I couldn't figure out), but mostly you just try to figure out what's worth saving.

This is pretty fun. I enjoyed spending a ton of turns trying to get an obscure object only to discover it was completely worthless. Sometimes things are not what they seem (diamonds in the rough) and sometimes they are what they seem (dirt clods in the rough).

Lots of fun, and super short (to maximize replay value). I recommend a few playthroughs for fun.

Deadline Enchanter, by Alan DeNiro

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A parser experiment in constraint, surrealness, and linear stoytelling, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Deadline Enchanter was one of the first IF games I played, 5 years ago. I remember that it's bizarre atmosphere and self-awareness really attracted me to IF in general because it showed me what was possible.

You play someone in a magical city that has appeared in Detroit. You've been given a message from the Folk, a magical race, and the message is a parser game. This game has a walkthrough. So you walkthrough.

The beauty of this game is seeing the story unfold and seeing the guts and edges of the parser. The world it paints is beautiful. When it came out, it was very controversial, but since the Twine revolution, I believe this game can be better appreciated. In facta, the author has moved on to Twine, making great games like Solarium.

Like I said, this is one of the games that drew me into IF and established my perceptions of the whole genre, together with Curses! and Not Just An Ordinary Ballerina.

Guilded Youth, by Jim Munroe
Semi-graphical teenager romp, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This enjoyable game is more story than puzzle, although it uses a parser. You play a teenager with access to an online community. Actions are strongly limited, mostly TAKE, LOOK, and SHOW. You investigate an abandoned house, and have to entice others to come with you.

What made this game work for me was the contrast between your friends online personas and their real-life selves, including yourself. Chris and Maximus gave especially funny contrasts.

The game in the end works as a slice-of-life story. There is one significant choice, and unfortunately it comes at the very end of the game, with no opportunity to save, which prevents lawn-mowering (i.e. trying every branch).

Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home, by Andrew Plotkin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short sci-fi game about wonder with some interesting choices, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game exemplifies the original feel of Star Trek. To explore the universe, to travel through the worlds, to understand the un-understandable.

The game is much shorter than I expected, given the other reviews. This is not really a drawback; the game has a fast pace and feels like an adventure. You explore various planets and stellar objects, with almost all motion achieved by manipulating "sails".

The gameplay diverges from Plotkin's usual games in that it is not very hard, and the focus is on fun over puzzles. The most similar game of his that I can think of is Dual Transform, which I also really enjoyed.

I recommend this game to absolutely everyone, as the enjoyment-to-time-requirement ratio is so very high.

The Skeleton Key of Ambady, by Caelyn Sandel (as Adalai Trammels)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short-to-mid length Twine game with a reputation system and many endings, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This Twine game centers on a woman with a special ability who visits a town. She has many choices regarding the use of this ability and the flow of her conversations, which results in a large number of endings.

The writing is well thought-out and supplemented by several graphics, but it never really drew me in. Therre is a content warning on the site about a graphic sex scene which is easy to avoid; there is a similar violent scene. I decided to check them out and regretted it immediately, skipping through quickly. Next time, I will listen to warnings.

I played through it twice to try some variations on the reputation system. As I said, I did not find the story compelling, but it was based on some song lyrics as part of a competition, and did well in bringing them to life.

Constraints, by Martin Bays

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A bizarre anthology of three point-making philosophical games, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a game of mini-games. As the author says, each of the three short games are unrelated except by concept. Each game strives to make a philosophical point by putting constraints on the user.

The games vary in enjoy ability. One of the games was actually quite enjoyable, with dynamic constraints. The other two were not very exciting.

The writing is melodramatic; it really reminded me of what you might expect if you told a university English class to "write something deep". It's hard to tell, though, if the author is doing this purposely or not, which is a point in the game's favor.

There is unnecessary profanity in the first game, a strange departure from the tone of the rest of the game.

For those who have played through all three games and read all of the author's additional notes and material:

(Spoiler - click to show)There is a fourth "endgame" which, I believe, is what the author refers to when he says part of the game is inspired by House of Leaves. At first, I really enjoyed this game, but then I began to realize that the game seems to place the new staircase only when a large percentage of the map has been explored, and then places it in the unexplored spot closest to the entryway. Because of the House of Leaves reference, I do not believe this puzzle is intended to be solved.

Cute Forest Bus Story, by piratescarfy

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Short non-linear Twine game with goofy atmosphere, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This Twine game takes place in a forest as you try to scrounge up enough change to catch a bus. The game takes about 30 minutes to play.

Unlike many Twine games, there are a few actual puzzles here, but each one is not that hard (one was just hard enough to be fun). The writing is choppy at times, but it fits into the game's "hey, let's be goofy and have fun" atmosphere.

Buried, by SuperFreak

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An academic exercise in archaeological interactive fiction , February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is a Twine-based game that consists of a set-up phase where you personalize your character, followed by a standard Twine game where you choose from a variety of sequences to achieve one of numerous endings.

It is a medium-sized, puzzle less game that is meant to be a sort of academic essay. It was submitted as a dissertation, I believe, and parts of it read like one, but it is not completely dry, and manages to have some fun.

The authors seem unaware of the field of interactive fiction. They describe this as a proof-of-concept of "ergodic fiction", which is defined by the 1996 book Cybertext as fiction that requires human participation and choices to shape the experience. It is clear from the book's definition that almost all of interactive fiction is ergodic fiction, and in fact most interactive fiction is "cybertext", which is ergodic literature requiring calculation.

Attack of the Yeti Robot Zombies, by Øyvind Thorsby
Treat this game as it is: an experiment in removing the save/restore safety net., February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game treats a really important aspect of interactive fiction: the save feature. Most games, despite any sense of urgency they may try to instill, become slow, measured-out puzzle games with the heavy use of save and restore.

It is almost impossible to overcome the habit of save and restore, probably because most games intend the reader to use it.

This game was designed as a full-throttle, jump-out-of-the-airplane experience. You should absolutely not undo, save or restore this game; in the Club Floyd transcript, one of the users hit undo out of habit, when it seemed that all was lost; but they then undid the undo, and promised to finish the game together, and it was worth it.

This is a short game, and a fun game. I would give it 5 stars in its genre, but 3 stars as a generic interactive fiction game. As it is, I'm leaving it with no rating.

Thanksgiving, by Hannah Powell-Smith
Mid-length Twine with a tense story and great use of color, January 10, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Thanksgiving was my first Hannah Powell-Smith game, but I'm going to play her other games now. Before I talk about the story, I have to mention my favorite part of this game: the use of color on links. I think everyone should copy this: cycling text is one color, expanding text is another, and branching text is a third. This makes it so much easier to know how to explore. I really support this.

As for the story, it was one I haven't seen done before. As you go to Thanksgiving with your boyfriend, you come under pressure due to your hidden past. It's hard to say more without spoilers, but this game made me nervous in a good way.

Fail-Safe, by Jon Ingold
A clever game with a sci-fi setting, August 6, 2015
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
Fail-Safe is my absolute favorite Jon Ingold game. The game has an unusual plot device which you discover quickly. I won't talk about it in this review, because the game is strong enough without it.

The game is set in a damaged spacecraft that must be explored. The difficulty and fun lies in trying to figure out how the spacecraft actually worked.

The game has some timed events (which are fun but hard) and some hard-to-find exits (which is annoying but fun if you can find them).

This game can be played enjoyably multiple times and has a several, interesting endings.

That Sinister Self, by Astrid Dalmady

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Another good game by Astrid Dalmady, July 11, 2015
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
That sinister self is a great, linear, short-to-mid length twine game dealing with body image. Like Astrid's other stories, I found my heart racing a bit.

There are multiple endings and some mild language.

The game incorporates some special effects which lend it much of its appeal.

Molly and the Butter Thieves, by Alice Grove (as Cosmic Hamster)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Wonderful short fantasy game with compelling writing and interesting format, May 15, 2015
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This was one of most vivid games I have played. The story reminded me of some of my favorite books I read as a teenager. I'd rather not spoil any of it here, though.

The implementation was very interesting, using a combination of standard inform commands and keywords for conversation.

The puzzles were simple, and written in such a way that you always knew what you should be trying to do, even if you hadn't figured out how to do it yet. The game seemed thoroughly tested, with multiple endings.

I'm giving the game 4 stars instead of 5 purely because of length. As a shufflecomp game, it is among the very best I have seen.

You are Standing at a Crossroads, by Astrid Dalmady

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Memorable creepy Twine game with great use of repetition, May 11, 2015
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This is the only Twine game I've played through twice (maybe I've even played it three times). It takes less than 20 minutes to play, with some very mild puzzles. The genre is creepy horror (as opposed to grossout or Lovecraftian).

The writing is well done. Of the four main areas, I felt one was weaker than the others, but on the second playthrough, I found it even creepier than the others.

The reason I enjoy this game is something others may not care about. I enjoy it because it almost feels ritualistic, like a Greek mystery play about life. The format, the pacing, the repetition, is very successful, in a way different than Porpentine's use of the same elements. I see myself revisiting this game every now and then for the fun of it. Others may have different responses.

Feu de Joie (Session 1): cathedral, by Alan DeNiro
Twine game with unusual format and interesting use of Twitter, May 10, 2015
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes
This game contains excellent writing, but that is easy, because more than half of the text comes from the writings of Lord Dunsany, a fantasy writer predating Tolkien and Lovecraft. The writings chosen are about the world wars; it may have been picked as something "dry", but I was actually very interested in the text.

The material surrounding the text is somewhat less well written, relying on some stock ideas common in the 2010's. The visual format is very interesting, trying to mimic a folder of html files (well, I guess it really is a folder of html files; isn't everything?), and then incorporating more and more material.

There are some parts where it is difficult to read due to (Spoiler - click to show)every letter being turned around. It was a little frustrating.

The game incorporates twitter in a fun way; unfortunately, I did not want to use my twitter account (due to it being very public), and I did not want to start a new account, so I didn't get to try it out.


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