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Reviews by MathBrush

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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)

Lux, by Agnieszka Trzaska
A long sci-fi Twine game with rich world model and puzzles, March 5, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This game is one of the most complex Twine games I've seen.

Rather than focusing on conversation and emotional choices as many Twine games do, this game focuses on inventory management and movement around an extensive map, similar to typical parser gameplay.

This allows for some truly clever puzzles, including a major twist that only occurs in some playthroughs.

Strongly recommended for people looking for old-school puzzles and fans of sci-fi stories about artificial intelligence.

StupidRPG, by Steven Richards
A longish game that wavers between genius and frustration, January 30, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
StupidRPG is a long game, split up into several acts in multiple genres. It has a custom parser with hyperlink shortcuts, and uses quite a few tricks and techniques to spice up the visual presentation.

The biggest drawback to me is that the interface is clunky, which detracted from both my emotional investment and sense of interactivity. The game has a dungeon master that types slowly, leaving large spaces of time where you have to sit and wait for it to type out. You could leave, make a small sandwich, and come back before it finishes, sometimes. Also, the custom parser isn't up to the standards of, say, TADS or Inform 7, which caused some frustration.

The writing is amusing and the settings, especially later on, are imaginative, with puzzle mechanics involving multiple worlds. I just wish I didn't get so frustrated with the interface.

Anno 1700, by Finn RosenlÝv

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A time travel pirate game in Adrift, December 21, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
Anno 1700 is an ambitious and sprawled-out pirate game involving two timelines, multiple NPCs, and a large map.

As is often the case with Adrift games, the game works well with the walkthrough but has trouble for someone without it. Very specific actions need to be guessed, and actions that seem like they would be easy (such as communicating with your base) cause trouble.

Playing this with the walkthrough, though, was enjoyable.

Edit: Several people pointed out to me that this was written in Adrift, not Quest, and I apologize for the mistake!

Six Silver Bullets, by William Dooling

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A complex spy game with some interaction difficulties, November 21, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This is a game that was hard to play during the competition, for a few reasons, and those same reasons make it much better to play now.

-It is a large Adrift game, and Adrift is an engine where a lot of commands don't work. This game gives you hints about the commands in the text, but this requires careful reading of the text.

-This game is randomized, so you can't just repeat commands from memory. The map is the same, however.

-This game is big. It has a few dozen locations, runs on a timer, and has many NPCs with many interaction options. There are little encounters too that happen frequently.

-This game is hard. Really hard. I played it 5 or 6 times before completing one of the biggest mission objectives. You have to keep track of tons of things: where stuff is located, where people are, what times things happen.

So this is definitely a game to be savored. But it is rewarding.

Bullhockey!, by Bill F Lindsay (as B F Lindsay)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A big, densely described puzzle game about a girlfriend's revenge, November 17, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This IFComp 2018 parser game is big and pretty tough.

I beta tested this game. You play as a person whose girlfriend has supposedly left them, trashing the house and hiding your clothes all over the town.

This is, I think, the author's first publicly released game, and a big one. It's clear while playing it that the author got better and better at programming and writing as it goes along. Thus, the first area is the sketchiest/most obtuse, while the later areas are an improvement. I recommend perhaps consulting the walkthrough until you leave the house, to get a feel for the game, then going wild.

Cannery Vale, by Hanon Ondricek (as Keanhid Connor)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An amazing Stephen King-like twisted self-referential tale, November 17, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
I played this game early on in the competition. It was late at night, and I was listening to sad music on my phone.

This was the perfect game. A strange tale about a writer trying to get past writer's block (self-referential art has always impressed me), taking place both in the real world and in the author's book (I love dual world games), with both text entry and choice, this game absolutely impressed me.

I have to warn that the game is extremely explicit, and I played almost entirely on the least explicit level.

The game constantly pulled out surprises, and is big enough to feel like a real, living world. Just like in the real writing process, scenes and characters are written and rewritten, in and out of the game. Decisions are reversible. There's even an inventory and an economy!

I think some people might have bounced off of this because of length, but now that the competition is over, this is one I strongly recommend. This is going on my all-time top 10 list, was my favorite IFComp game, and is definitely getting my vote for XYZZY Best Game!

Birmingham IV, by Peter Emery

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A time capsule from the 80's. A sprawling, difficult fantasy game., November 9, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This game was created over a period of 30 years, using a variety of design systems.

You play a natural philosopher in medieval times, nicknamed Phil. There are a ton of puzzles and a magic system.

However, this game could use some thorough beta testing by six or more people familiar with modern IF conventions. Directions are omitted from room descriptions, puzzles are undervalued, and there's an inventory limit which doesn't really seem to do much in-game.

For people who enjoy struggling with the parser in old school games (I'm in that group, and intend to play this one again!)

Large Machine, by Jon Ingold

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A bizarre, long, unfair but fun parody wordplay game, September 24, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
I do everything I can to complete games before I review them. I read walkthroughs, I look up old message boards, and, at last resort, I decompile to get the text.

This game is one of those rare ones (such as Hard Puzzle 2) where decompiling is worthless. In this case, the text of the game is literally split into two interleaving fragments, so that no whole words remain.

You have a huge anagram machine which makes anagrammed words out of anything you put in it. The results can be used, eaten, modified, entered, etc.

There are a lot of rough edges in the implementation, which is part of the overall effect. I don't know of anyone whose solved it. I got very far this time, but I forget how to do all the puzzles I had solved when I tried this last year. I'd love to see a team of people on a forum solve this one.

The Weight of a Soul, by Chin Kee Yong

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A fantasy/medical mystery, June 14, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This game is advertised as being incomplete, but a very large chunk of it is done. Playing it is like playing 'episode 1' of a large series.

The setting is unusual: you are in a large and decaying city where magic and science are blended together. Scalpels and anesthesia blend with goblins and soul magic.

I found the opening to be a bit constraining (which is something I do in my own games, too), but that after that the game was rich and rewarding. Locations have several interactible details, conversations feel natural, and I felt like a real detective.

I enjoyed the large feeling of the city, something difficult to do right in an interactive fiction game. I did get a bit lost from time to time. Locations were unique and vividly described.

I would love to see this finished.


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