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Reviews by MathBrush

15-30 minutes

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View this member's reviews by tag: 15-30 minutes 2-10 hours about 1 hour about 2 hours IF Comp 2015 Infocom less than 15 minutes more than 10 hours Spring Thing 2016
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Be There!, by William Dooling
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
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 2 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

1 of 1 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
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
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

1 of 1 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
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!


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