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Reviews by MathBrush

15-30 minutes

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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

1 of 1 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.

Valand, by Ann Hoffmann

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.


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