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Reviews by MathBrush

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View this member's reviews by tag: 15-20 minutes 15-30 minutes 2-10 hours about 1 hour about 2 hours IF Comp 2015 Infocom less than 15 minutes more than 10 hours Spring Thing 2016
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Braincase, by Dan Lance
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
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
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.


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