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Reviews by MathBrush

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Railways of Love, by Provodnik Games
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

1 of 1 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
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

1 of 1 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.


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