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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 1 hours about 2 hours IF Comp 2015 Infocom less than 15 minutes more than 10 hours Spring Thing 2016
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Grimnoir, by ProP
A solid and enjoyable Twine mystery game with a fantasy noir setting, March 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
I love this game. I'm a big fan of mystery games in general, but they tend to have a common problem: how do you model the investigative process?

Some games have you collect physical evidence until you have enough to convict (the Infocom mysteries, for instance). Other games represent knowledge as individual clues that can be combined or traded (like some of my games and the excellent Erstwhile). Some games have you just guess who did it after you collect enough information (like Toby's Nose).

This game follows the latter path, and does it well. You're given quite a few cases (this is a big Twine game), and in each one, you read information about a monster causing trouble. You have a big encyclopedia listing different monsters' characteristics. Your job, as the player, is to read the encyclopedia, compare it to the monster's characteristics, and guess which monster it is, as well as its motivations.

This game wouldn't be nearly as good without its slick presentation. Beautiful intro, nice transitions and classy color use.

I beta tested this game, but it got a lot of work done after I did so. Very pleased with the outcome here.

The Forgotten Tavern, by Peter M.J. Gross

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Smash vicious vegetables in a high fantasy setting, February 24, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This is an interesting game; I had a ton of fun, but felt a bit deflated by my own ending (in hindsight, I should have saved!)

It's a homey game. You are on the run, but taken in by a sweet couple who run a tavern. They have odd chores for you...this game primarily consists of beating animate vegetables to death with a hammer. I found this very satisfying, and it even had an RPG-like element.

I got the ending faster than I thought I would, and I was specifically told I had picked the dullest ending, so I wish I had saved right before that or had an undo button.

Overall, it was an innovative concept and a game I enjoyed playing.

I.A.G. Alpha, by Serhii Mozhaiskyi

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A brilliant choice game with a meta narrative and text input, February 3, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This is a well-done IFComp 2018 game.

It runs in ITCH and is primarily choice-based. The conceit is that the author wanted to develop a big, fun sci-fi fi puzzle game, but didn't succeed.

Instead, he leaves the frame of his unfinished game alone, and adds author commentary. As the game progresses, the protagonist has more and more power to affect the game itself.

The styling is excellent, with several beautiful images and switches between different interfaces. The music is lovely and appropriate.

This is a game made with love, and it shows.

Let's Explore Geography! Canadian Commodities Trader Simulation Exercise, by Carter Sande
A parody of educational/trucking sim games set in Canada, February 3, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This game uses the Desmos online educational software to make a game about leaving your humdrum job to take on a trucking gig in Canada. Each city has things you can buy and things you can sell.

There are several endings you can reach, including giving up and one really interesting one that takes you all over, which I never quite completed. A guide is included on the IFDB page.

I say it's a parody because the author called it that, but the parody element isn't too strong. It mostly seems like a serviceable trucking game.

Instruction Set, by Jared Jackson
An innovative game using the Scratch programming language and classic puzzles, February 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
Unfortunately, this game seems to no longer work in the current version of Scratch.

Scratch is a programming language originally designed to help children make simple games. Jared Jackson and his daughter used (or abused) the system to make a parser game with animations and puzzles.

This game is based off of conceptual, educational-style puzzles: manipulating amounts of water, moving around mazes, etc.

The overall storyline is brief but illustrated. It has a different feel than almost all other IF games out there, and I hope that one day it can be recreated in Scratch 3 or a stable language.

Dilemma, by Leonora
A few dozen trolley dilemmas all put together, February 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This game is a custom web parser built from UnityGl. It seems to work based on searching for one or more keywords in your text, ignoring extra words.

It's built around the trolley dilemma, which is an ethics puzzle: if you know someone is about to die (due to, say, a trolley crash) and you could stop it by having other people die, what would you do?

In this game, your choice on one trolley puzzle may lead to another and another and another. You have 51 possible outcomes to search for.

It was interesting, but hard to interact with.

Flowers of Mysteria, by David Sweeney

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A homebrew small fantasy parser game, February 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This game is a homebrew parser game. It seems expansive at first, intimidatingly so, but it soon settles down to a fairly small, nice-sized map.

Unfortunately, the possibility space of commands is fairly high. In most modern parser games, Inform or TADS take care of common synonyms (LOOK AT vs. X vs. EXAMINE, TAKE vs. GET, etc.), and new verbs are generally hinted at in the text or provided by using items where only one word works (a shovel leads to DIG, for instance), and extensive beta-testing finds all synonyms a general player might use. This fails at times, frequently even, but it is a standard that is widespread among Inform/TADS authors.

Games written in other engines tend not to have this flexibility (with Robin Johnson's Versificator parser games being a notable exception). The standard synonyms in Inform and TADS are the results of hundreds of hours of work and playtesting, and even well-established rival engines like Quest and Adrift fail to come close to their standards. And personally written parsers tend to have even more trouble.

This is a long-winded way of saying that there are a lot of commands I wouldn't have guessed on my own without the walkthrough. Besides that, I adored this game. Crossing the chasm reminded me of The Neverending Story for some reason, finding the island reminded me of the first Zelda game. A fun slice of enjoyment.

Tohu wa Bohu, by alex wesley moore
An extensive free-form poem in Texture with styling and graphics, February 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
Tohu wa Bohu is intentionally poetic, utilizing allegorical language, stream-of-consciousness, and unusual punctuation and capitalization.

It's developed in texture, with a short, skippable intro followed by a 19-part quiz, with each quiz question actually a link to another poem segment, some with images or other enhancements.

I found it well-done and beautiful. The reason for my low score is my scale. I found it:

-polished, and
-descriptive,

but somehow I felt an emotional distance that kept me from fully enjoying the piece. And, occasionally, the sheer length of the piece made the dragging and dropping tedious, leading me to be unlikely to play again.

If you're interested in poetic IF, I'd check this out.

Eunice, by Gita Ryaboy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Psychology in a metaphorical parser game, December 18, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This parser game has an intriguing concept: provide psychological therapy while playing a game.

You play in a metaphorical and dreamlike world, with trolls in houses and random cookware scattered everywhere.

The therapy occurs in the gameplay: you are told relaxation techniques and other tips, asked to exercise them in-game, and generally work on laughter, dance, happiness and fixing things.

This game has a lot of implementation trouble, both with guess-the-verb and unclear instructions. This gets in the way of the relaxation experience, and makes me less likely to play again in the future.

Escape from Dinosaur Island, by Richard Pettigrew

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A homebrew web parser game with minimalistic old-school dino style!, December 18, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This game was entered in IFComp 2018.

Escape from Dinosaur Island is a homebrew parser game that features nice coloring and styling.

The parser has most of the weaknesses of homebrew parsers in general, mostly a lack of synonyms or responses for things like 'get up' or 'push basket'. However, this is alleviated by generous in-game hinting of the correct verbs.

The plot and gameplay are Scott-Adams-esque: each room has an item or two, the plot is mostly scenery for the fun setting and puzzles, and most of the gameplay is bringing the right item to the right place.

If you like that style of gameplay (like I do), then this will be a fun little nugget of gameplay.


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