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Reviews by MathBrush

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The Myothian Falcon, by Andy Joel

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A detective game with a great story but a few unfortunate bugs, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game was actually pretty good. You are on a different planet, but in a very grungy-noir city. I didn't think of it at the time, but the aliens take the place of non-white races or transgender individuals or any other minority you want to think of.

A murder has occurred, and soon enough the mysterious artifact known as the Myothian Falcon (a direct nod to the Maltese Falcon) shows up missing as well.

Two things make this game problematic: guessing conversation topics (often impossible feeling!) and a few bugs. I asked out an encryptionist on a date, didn't do so hot, was told not to bother again, but when I talked to her, she acted like she was still on the date.

Beating without restarting or using a walkthrough seemed impossible for me, but otherwise this was a great game.

The Wizard's Apprentice, by Alex Freeman
One in a long line of Zorkian master-apprentice games, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game is so similar to other games that I kept having deja vu. Games where a master wizard gives you tasks are very old and very common. It reminds me of Berrost's Challenge, Risorgimento Represso, the Erudition Chamber, Junior Arithmancer (althugh the twist makes that one amazing), the Enchanter series, etc.

This game doesn't really bring anything new.

I wouldn't usually give 1 star to this game, however, I found it not very descriptive, with a bit wonky interaction via the puzzles, not emotionally touching, and not a game I'm interested in replaying. These are 4 of the 5 stars in my rating scale.

Final Exam, by Jack Whitham
A game with complex, hidden depths and impressive programming tricks, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
The biggest achievement of this game is an impeccable rope. Emily Short once described the challenges of programming rope:

"This is one of those things that has received so much attention that it almost seems pointless to recount the variety of the challenges associated therewith. First of all, a rope has two ends, so you have to remember the state of each (and disambiguate between the player's references to them, of course.) Then there's marking what the rope can be tied to; the possibility of cutting the rope in the middle, making multiple ropes of new lengths; the problem of using the rope as a fuse, of tying it to something in one room and then carrying the other end, of tying the ends together, etc., etc., etc. Ultimately I think the very trickiest part of all this is the disambiguation problem, ie, figuring out exactly what the player means when he says >TIE ROPE TO X (which end? Do we untie something that's already tied, if both ends are in use?) But it's all pretty grotesque, frankly."

All of this is handled in this game except for fire.

Basically, you wake up for an exam in a simulated world, but everything is strange. You have to enter a robot's body and do some odd IP-address voodoo to fix everything.

This involves finding cables, which you can combine or cut, and which trail from room to room.

There is a secret path (kicked off by (Spoiler - click to show)looking at yourself). Fun game!

I just felt a bit of an emotional barrier between me and the game, which makes sense, as you are a robot.

Magic, by Geoff Fortytwo
A magician vs rabbit game with overly ambitious mechanic, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This reminds me of a John Evans game. John Evans used to write games that had these absolutely crazy mechanics, like teleporting anything in the game to you or being able to wish for anything.

This game revolves around the mechanic of comparing, where you find things that are similar and say COMPARE [THING] TO [THING], when the first becomes the second. Or something. Not a single time it appeared in the walkthrough did it make sense to me.

The story is kind of odd, too, a bunch of rabbits on a rampage. But it was overall descriptive and fairly fun.

Xen: The Hunt, by Ian Shlasko
Cinematic sci-fi game with interaction problems but great story, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
The Xen games in general are well-described, with extensive backstory and compelling characters.

In this sequel, the powers you discovered in part 1 are out of control, and the police (and others) are hot on your trail.

The game includes chase sequences, extensive conversations, cutscenes, etc.

Unfortunately, the author didn't find a good way for people to discover this stuff on their own. It switches between extreme railroading and extreme lack of guidance. But I enjoyed it.

Ruined Robots, by Nicholas Dudek, Gregory Dudek, and Natasha Dudek
A game that aspires greatly but does not reach its goals. Big mishmash, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This is a big game that is (I think) written by a couple of kids and a parent. It's scope far exceeded the team's grasp, and what's left is a bizarre and difficult game that is clearly under-implemented and nonsensical.

Items require non-sequitur interactions, the setting leaps from place to place, and even the format for score increases changes from brackets to asterisks. The walkthrough is filled with moments where the author messed up and tried something else. The only saving grace this game has is the cheerful enthusiasm behind it and the sounds, colors, and images early on.

Escape to New York, by Richard Otter

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A theft game set on the Titanic, June 22, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game is set on the Titanic, and borrows a small bit from that show. There's no romance, but you play a thieving character who must hide from the law on the ship, including using an axe on metal and having a special painting.

The game is huge, but it comes with a very helpful map.

The main puzzles are fairly well clued, but there are a host of other puzzles. The fussy mechanic of opening and closing the suitcase, as well as the maze-like map, is fairly frustrating, though.

Sabotage on the Century Cauldron, by Thomas de Graaff
An ambitious space game that needed more love and care, June 21, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This is a game almost all of whose problems could have been fixed with beta testing. The author did much of the work for a great game, but it's that testing and polishing that makes or breaks games.

This game has mislabeled exits, strange computation problems that make it chug to a snail's speed at times, unimplemented scenery items, guess-the-verb problems, and a 'kill people and impress women' play style that was never my thing. I was frustrated with playing, and one of the last things I saw was 'a cloud of liquid gas'.

But the core of the game is extensive worldbuilding and intricate characters. This could have been a great game. The author of this, 14 years later, could likely produce something truly marvelous. But I don't think this is it.

The Mouse Who Woke Up For Christmas, by Luke A. Jones
An expansive and imaginative animal-centered Quest game, June 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This was the only IFComp 2018 game I had never finished. I finally finished it today. There was no walkthrough at the time of the comp, and the one in there now doesn't work for the last area.

But I finished it today, and that last area wasn't too bad!

The reason I had so much trouble is because Quest has synonym trouble, and the author didn't implement very many synonyms. Quest also has context-sensitive commands, which is great except when it makes commands seem wrong when you're just using them out of order. So for instance, "USE MATCH ON LUMP" gives an error unless you've done everything else completely right.

Other issues are unguessable puzzles, leaps of intuition, etc.

But the characters are fun, and it's all very imaginative. I remember Steph Cherrywell made the switch from Quest to Inform and ended up winning IFComp. I think almost all the issues here are with the Quest engine, and that the author has great ideas that may possibly be expressed in a different format.

Diddlebucker!, by J. Michael

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A big puzzlefest about a crazy puzzle race, June 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game took a lot of work, and will provide great enjoyment for many people.

It's a parser game that is (as far as I can tell) bug-free and has creative puzzles, lasting longer than pretty much all the other parser games in IFComp that aren't buggy.

So why am I only giving it 3 points? The interactivity and polish felt off to me.

The game is fairly generic, especially with the standard responses. X ME, JUMP, SING (even at a concert!), DANCE etc. either give the normal response or aren't implemented at all.

And many interactions seem purposelessly fussy, almost like imitating what they think old games were like. Possessing only one object capable of creating fires, the verb LIGHT asks 'with what'? Saying LIGHT WITH [FIRE THING] doesn't fix it; you need to turn on the fire thing. But TURN ON [FIRE THING] isn't implemented. You need to LIGHT [FIRE THING] then LIGHT [THE THING YOU WANT TO BURN].

Similarly, when there's one puzzle that requires you to listen to a loud ambient thing, just LISTEN isn't good enough, you have to say what to listen to. And so on.

It seems a definite stylistic choice, and one that didn't resonate with me. If you're looking for a bug-free game with a big map, creative puzzles, and extensive gameplay, this is your game.

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