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Reviews by MathBrush

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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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Irvine Quik & the Search for the Fish of Traglea, by Duncan Bowsman
A fun but buggy space cat sci-fi adventure, July 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This game is big and complex, with 6 chapters (albeit some very short), real-time sequences, and a special helper robot.

But in all of its complicatedness, the game frequently falls short. Too many interacting states go unchecked. I couldn't progress past the challenge to the champion, and others have reported many other bugs (although several have played to completion).

You are the last human, a mouse-like man named Irvine. You have to help the cat-aliens (who have a system that reminds me of Star Trek), and prove yourself to them.

Choice of Magics, by Kevin Gold
A divided fantasy world where all magic has a price, July 24, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
Choice of Magics is a wonderful Choicescript game. Iíve probably played through 3-4 times and intend to play even more.

You live in a world where magic is banned after an ancient war. There are five kinds of magic, but each takes its toll. Glamor can charm people, but it rots your body. Negation blows stuff up, but it creates permanent death clouds.

There is a church you can work with or destroy, a neighboring land to explore or conquer, and many romantic options with customizable levels of content. And thereís a stuffed monkey puppet.

Even though it has more content, I didnít quite like this as much as Choice of Robots, which had an undefinable quality to it. But thatís like saying a Da Vinci painting isnít as good as the Mona Lisa. This is a solid game and one of the best of Choice of Gamesí offerings.

Anchorhead, by Michael Gentry

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
One of the best text adventures of all time, even better in Steam version., July 6, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
Review for Steam Edition:

Anchorhead is a masterpiece of interactive fiction. In this well-illustrated Lovecraftian game, you have to piece together the history of your husband's family as you move to a new town with a dark history.

This edition fixes a lot of the worst puzzles from the first edition, especially the very difficult mill section. It adds some new puzzles, too, some of which I found quite difficult (such as the dinghy), and others less so (the new opening sequence).

The illustrations are very well done, and go a long way to making this worth the purchase price. I love this game, and I'm glad to see it in such good form. I also appreciated the change in the orderly's magazine, which made me laugh. Some of the older texts in the game contain echoes of Lovecraft's racism, and they seem to be written new for the game, not old texts quoted, so I thought I'd mention that.

Earlier Review:

Anchorhead can completely draw you into its world. The writing and atmosphere are classic Lovecraftian horror, beginning as merely dismal and developing slowly into madness. Early scenes take on far different meanings on a second playthrough.

That said, this is a very hard game. I'm not sure how anyone could solve the (Spoiler - click to show)telescope lens puzzle on their own.

However, the depth of the game and the quality of the writing is such that it is still enjoyable even if you have to resort to hints from time to time. Many of the best moments are also the easiest puzzles.

Hill 160, by Mike Gerwat
A game about WWI with complex but flawed mechanics, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
Mike Gerwat has made several games, and they all share some features. They tend to be enormous, with instant deaths all over the place and complicated walkthroughs that are often slightly incorrect.

This particular game is set in WWI, in the trenches, with a grim and seemingly accurate portrayal of trench warfare. The game is worth trying out, seeing the horrors of war and the sad extremes that soldiers are pushed to.

Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort, by Tiberius Thingamus
A fun parody of Homestar Runner's parody of IF games, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This game takes Homestar Eunner's 'get ye flask' joke and dials it up to 11. The entire game is in ridiculous fake old-time speak. It would be incredibly annoying, but it provides an amusing secondary game where you mentally translate the phrases you see and realize how stupid those phrases are.

The game is very long. I only played to the halfway point or so, as it didn't seem like there was any overarching storyline. It was amusing to found so many 'ye magic [thing]'. And the series of rooms called the bakery, the cakery, the makery, the snakery, etc. was pretty funny.

One of the best Adrift games I've found.

Reconciling Mother, by Plone Glenn
A big mishmash of rooms, time travel, cosmic horror and space, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This game is technically finishable, but I don't have a huge desire to finish the game. It's huge, with rooms that frequently are filled with items of uncertain purpose. There are bookcases that are always closed, and when opened are filled with the author's favorite books which he enthusiastically recommends. SPAG errors are everywhere, especially with quoted text.

It's almost like Harmonic Time Bind Ritual Symphony with worse programming. I quit when I went back in time and couldn't come forward in time.

Kurusu City, by Kevin Venzke

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An immensely cruel but otherwise great game about overthrowing robots, June 22, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This is that rare game that is very cruel on the Zarfian scale but otherwise fair. Expect to restart, undo, or restore this game dozens of times. I gave up around 5 or 6 points and after decompiling, but I know at least a few people succeeded.

You play a japanese girl who wants to destroy robots, so you explore a city to undertake various actions (that must be done in a very precise order) to obtain various items, in order to stop the robots.

I'd love to see someone do a full walkthrough of this!

Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It, by Jeff O'Neill

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A spotty Infocom game with great highlights, June 16, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This is an interesting game. With wordplay games, the question is, how can you make a game about wordplay that lasts long? One answer is to follow Emily Short's example and just put tons of content into a game (Counterfeit Monkey).

This game achieves its length through unfairness. Parts of this game (it's basically several mini-games put together) are wonderful: Buy the Farm was particularly good, as was the Shopping Bizarre. Those two would make a wonderful game pulled out on their own, one relying on American English sayings and the other on homonyms.

Some parts of this game don't make any sense. I didn't understand In a Manor of Speaking (which btw is also the name of a great Hulk Handsome game) at all, and looking it up, I still haven't found a good explanation at all. I believe having the Doldrums was a mistake, because it made you think everything else had a gimmick (like Gary Larson's infamous Cow Tools cartoon).

But if the game wasn't unfair, it wouldn't last very long. The only way I've seen fair wordplay games achieve length is through tons of content, like I said. Andrew Schultz does this with exhaustive code-enhanced wordspace searches. Shuffling Around is a good example of this.

I also like the Act your Part session. It was nonsensical, but I was able to get a lot of points just doing dumb stuff.

I played the version released by Zarf who was re-releasing Jason Scott's releasing of previously unreleased Infocom releases.

First Things First, by J. Robinson Wheeler
Explore a mid-size map over 5 decades. Well-crafted, great puzzles, May 8, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
First Things First was nominated for an XYZZY award for Best Game, and won Best Puzzles, among others.

In this game that starts out very slowly, you quickly progress to an interesting situation similar to A Mind Forever Voyaging or Lost New York, where you can investigate a mid-size map over 50 years using a time machine. Your actions in certain time periods strongly affect the future in interesting ways.

This is definitely the best long-form time travel I have played, as I felt Lost New York (which explores New York over a century or two) and Time: All Things Come to an End (which explores many epochs in a linear fashion) had relatively unfair puzzles.

IFDB has version 3.0, but the walkthrough is for 1.1, so it didn't work in places. I am a walkthrough junkie, so it was hard for me to beat it, but I was able to guess from the walkthrough what I should try next, and eventually worked my way through it.

The game has good characters, beautiful settings, and a bit of a confused plot, which is natural given the main gameplay mechanic.

For simulation fans, it has an interesting money/bank account/investment system.

Strongly recommended for everyone. (Note: the first area seems incredibly boring, but it gets better and better. I started to like the game as soon as I made it into (Spoiler - click to show)the garage.)

Bullhockey 2 - The Return of the Leather Whip, by B F Lindsay

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A hard puzzlefest that improves upon its predecessor, April 14, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
I beta tested this game, but didn't finish it at the time due to personal events.

This game is similar to Bullhockey 1, but it improves on it. Implementation is smoother, inventory is cut down a bit, and atmosphere is distinctly improved.

Playing through the entire game, the highlights to me were an old house containing a series of dramatic historical vignettes and a self-referential finale scene that breaks the fourth wall.

However, this game is opposed to my personal play style. I play light and breezy, skimming text and rushing through. This game is designed for careful and studious play, with dense and obscure puzzles and the need for careful notes .

Overall, each of these games is getting better.

(Note: game contains some mild BDSM imagery)

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