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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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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

2 of 2 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.

Guttersnipe: The Baleful Backwash, by Bitter Karella
A clever puzzle game with lots of character and some bugs in the ointment, May 8, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
I've enjoyed the full Guttersnipe sequence of games; they generally feature well-thought out puzzles involving an urchin doing ridiculous things and eating junk.

This game puts a spin on things by placing your long-standing help system and narrative device Percy the Rat in confinement.

It features stereotypical Italians as the antagonists, with names like Tony Macaroni. It would be somewhat uncomfortable, except that it's less of a parody of Italians themselves and more of a parody of gangster movies's and novels' parodies of Italians.

There were several bugs in the version that I played, but it made the game more interesting, as I had to type exactly the right command, and it became just another puzzle. But polish and interactivity correspond to two of my stars, which is why I'm giving 3/5.

Edit:

Since my original review, the game has been revised to fix many bugs, so I'm increasing my score to 4/5.

Xen: The Contest, by Ian Shlasko

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A lengthy TADS sci-fi novella with sketchy implementation, April 25, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This is one of the longest and most plot-intensive games entered into IFComp.

The story is a sort of self-insert fantasy. A college student who is bullied and shy is courted by beautiful women and powerful men due to his latent universe-changing powers. It unfolds over several days, over a week.

Unfortunately, there are two flaws in the implementation and design. First, the author has decided to implement in great detail the most tedious parts of the game. Ordering food takes several steps, repeated daily. Campus contains many non-essential locations, which seem possibly to be based on the author's actual campus. Most of the game consists of opening your backpack, selecting the right book, putting it in your backpack, closing it, marching across campus, sitting in class, waiting, going to the cafeteria, ordering food, swiping your id, sitting, going to your dorm, swiping your id, and entering your room. This is repeated at least five or six times in the game.

The second flaw is that only this path is implemented, and only with the exact walkthrough commands. Attempting to order food without the walkthrough is extremely difficult.

Overall, I was glad I played.

Illuminismo Iniziato, by Michael J. Coyne
A big, polished sequel to a big, polished game, April 21, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This sequel to the 15-year-earlier Risorgimento Represso is a fairly large glulx game that uses advanced features such as graphical windows.

In classic parser game style, you are an eccentric wizard's apprentice in a blended fantasy/modern setting where you push the boundaries of the law to get what you want.

I enjoyed the variety of puzzles, such as timing puzzles and transportation puzzles.

This game reminds me a lot in style and quality to Bob Bates' game Thaumistry. Both games were charming, and reached a level of quality that is quite difficult to reach, but failed to grip my imagination. In both games, I felt like some solutions were unnecessarily restricted.

I believe this game is most likely to win Spring Thing (this review was written before the competition ended).

Drumsticks, by Luke A. Jones
A 'get the band back together' game in Quest, April 13, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This is a complex Quest game with a life-like map and NPCs that are responsive and numerous.

For my personal taste, the NPCs were too lifelike, with your main companion having a foul mouth, using profanity as a form of verbal seasoning rather than a means of emotional signalling. It made me uncomfortable the whole game. For some players, though, this is a selling point.

The game itself is fun; you try to convince all the members of your band to get back together. Each one is vividly defined, and you're asked to perform various fetch quests, intuition-based puzzles, and logic or experimentation puzzles to get to your goal.

Quest has its usual limitations, but this game was better programmed than many quest games. Great for puzzle fans and fans of real-life slice of life games that don't mind strong profanity.


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