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Reviews by MathBrush

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Alias 'The Magpie', by J. J. Guest

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A hilarious comedy game with plenty of puzzles and a British setting, February 17, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This is a great comedy based on misunderstandings and physical humor.

You are a thief, sent to steal a priceless object from a British manor. But to do so, you must assum a variety of costumes and identities.

Along the way, you discover the secrets of the household and the neighborhood, including lies, deceit, regret, and gorillas.

There were a few sticky points in puzzles that were fussier than they needed to be, but otherwise this is a prime example of what a polished parser puzzler can look like. One of the best games of the 2010ís.

Dynamite Powers vs. the Ray of Night!, by Mike Carletta
A difficult and polished short superhero game, February 3, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I beta tested this game. In this game, you play as a superhero who has been captured, and must escape to stop the evil villain from shooting a giant ray at Earth.

The game is arranged linearly, with 4 big set-piece puzzles. Each puzzle requires multiple steps to complete, and can be quite complicated.

I found the game very polished, although occasionally harsh (requiring death to learn what to do, for instance). Highly recommended for people into difficult puzzles in parser games.

A Final Grind, by nrsm_ha
A combat RPG investigating a mine with math-based mechanics, February 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This is a twine RPG with an interesting mechanic: you can either do randomized attacks against a single opponent at once, with them randomly attacking back, or you can consistently do 10 damage to all enemies and block their attacks by answering math questions. Questions are hand-written, not randomized, so you can see the same ones over and over, reflecting your increasing skill. They range from "2+2=?" to "what is the first derivative of xcos(x)", so if you enjoy being quizzed on arithmetic, algebra, and calculus, this is the game for you (I enjoy that, so I liked it).

I did get stuck on level 2, after finding the altar and decoding the writings. I did skip some material on level 1, so maybe I missed a ladder? In any case, this seems like a fun RPG, though I wonder if there is a 'story behind the story', because leveling up never increases strength, it only increases exhaustion and self-loathing.

(I wrote this review during the comp. After, I investigated more of the code and found the endings, and I do believe this RPG has an overall theme related to resignation and/or stoicism, but I don't want to spoil it).

Night City 2020, by Hoper
A faithful French Twine translation of a Cyberpunk roleplaying game, January 31, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game is an odd one out in the French IF Comp. It seems to be a direct adaptation of a pre-existing Cyberpunk gamebook.

Because of this, the content size is enormous, with pages often having numerous paragraphs or in-depth conversations, with a minimal number of choices, each retaining their 'turn to page 182' text from the gamebook. The author made the choice of deleting choices which ask if you have a certain item that you don't, resulting in lots of text and few choices.

This made a stark contrast with the other Twine games, which feature more choice and less text. Both are good, but the text seemed also to have been written by a professional author, and just copied and pasted by Hoper (the pseudonym this was entered under). For some reason, I found that less appealing than 'fresh' IF. I can read a standard professional book author any day, but earnest amateur IF writing is harder to come by, and, in my personal opinion, more valuable.

Overall, I may have just been overwhelmed as a non-native speaker. I enjoyed it, but the first two pages had more text than the entirety of some of the other games in this comp, making it difficult for me as a non-native to read without getting fatigued.

Space Punk Moon Tour, by J_J

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A big, illustrated, intricate, futuristic Quest game with implementation issues, January 10, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game is cool. Itís illustrated and animated. Itís big. It has some real time events, great worldbuilding, and rich settings.

Unfortunately, it suffers in implementation. There are huge numbers of implemented items. Actions can be difficult to guess. I constantly found myself struggling against the parser and the system, not understanding what was wrong.

I recommend checking out the first few scenes to get a feel for this interesting game.

Adventures with Fido, by Lucas C. Wheeler

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A big, sprawling twine game with crazy colors about a dog, December 19, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I bounced off of this game during IFComp. It has white text on a light blue background, and occasionally has combinations even harder to read (like lime green on light blue). Also, it has most of its content locked behind actions that take multiple in-day actions without promise of reward.

But now, going through slowly after the comp, and especially using the walkthrough, this is a great game. Having a real-time pegasus race in the clouds, exploring haunted houses and underground worlds, there's a lot of fun to be had.

It's all disconnected and a bit weird, but that's some of the fun of IF. I just wish there was an option to change the background color.

Ailihphilia, by Andrew Schultz (as N. Y. Llewellyn)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Great for wordplay fans, November 9, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I read a review once saying that Counterfeit Monkey had killed off the wordplay genre because you couldn't get any better than that.

I think that's silly; that's like saying that Jimi Hendrix killed the guitar solo or Betty Crocker killed the recipe. When there's something good out there, you want more of it, and this game delivers.

Many of Schultz's games involve puzzles too hard to compute on your own (Ugly Oafs come to mind). The best games, like Threediopolis or Shuffling Around, give you just enough freedom and hints that you can figure it out on your own.

This game is palindrome-based. The palindromes are mostly spread into the background, although there are a bunch of puzzle solutions that require a puzzle-based answer. The dedicated wordplay fan will love this game, and casual fans will as well.

Flint, by Alexis Kennedy, Failbetter Games
The premier fate-locked story of Fallen London, September 24, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I had played Fallen London for over a year before I purchased Flint. It is the most expensive story of Fallen London, one of the older ones, and most likely the longest.

Flint is split into two portions. The first ended faster than I thought it would. It mostly consisted of preparing for a trip. However, despite the fast-ish ending (which was still long; the first half felt as long as some exceptional stories), many interesting things happened. The game plunges into deep lore that explains so much of the game (including the prison), nets you cool items/people, and has some exciting action sequences.

The second sequence was longer, and had several lucrative opportunities, and ended in some highly unusual and unique interactions that I found poignant and touching, and which feels like one of the most important events possible in the life of a character.

The story ends with both strong lore rewards and strong in-game monetarial awards.

The Pyxis Memo: On Resurrecting the Free Web, by Lyle Skains
A post-apocalyptic take on current American politics, January 12, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This is an ePub game with hyperlinks. It consists of a series of articles with footnotes and cross references.

The idea is that a viral outbreak has caused the collapse of America, combined with Trumpís actions. As you dig deeper, though you find a greater truth.

Itís coever, but the chosen format is slow paced and sometimes dull in the name of realism, like when it had a largely standard ten page blank medical form. Many critical moments are hidden in transcripts emulating Reddit and 4chan, and the author took painstaking care to recreate the racism, homophobia and misogyny of these forums. This didnít really suit me.

This was a creative format, and represents a great deal of work. The writing is detailed and feels authentic.

Excelsior, by Arthur DiBianca
An early example of the limited-parser genre, December 3, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
Arthur DiBianca has made several popular limited parser games, including Grandma Bethlinda's Variety Box, Inside the Facility and The Wand.

Excelsior was their first attempt, and its player respons/reviews influenced the later games.

Excelsior restricts all action verbs to movement and 'USE'. Your goal is to reach the top of a tall tower.

I thought I had played through this whole game before, but I played through with the walkthrough, and I was surprised at how much there was. I think this game does not measure up to DiBianca's later games, as there is a great deal of "something changes somewhere that you can't see" devices here, that makes the game very complicated.


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