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Reviews by MathBrush

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Gone Out For Gruyere, by B F Lindsay

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A 'cheesy', compact puzzler, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I beta tested this game.

In this game, you are bullied by cheese. In a bizarre twist, you find yourself in a sort of pocket-dimension blocked by an enormous, rude wheel of Gruyere cheese.

There are eight corridors leading from the cheese, each heading to a different area containing useful items.

Some of the puzzles can be pretty tricky in this game, and some of the concepts can be very difficult to puzzle out (like what exactly is the nature of the (Spoiler - click to show)'hole' you find). But it's compact nature means that there are only so many things you can try before finding the solution. I found this game to be pretty amusing!

Pas De Deux, by Linus ┼kesson

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A daring experiment and a taxing challenge, November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I beta-tested this game.

┼kesson is one of the most successful creators of new parser languages in the last few years. His new A-machine and Dialog language have proven to be powerful and smooth, and its default messages are, perhaps, more appropriate than Inform's default messages.

This game is a great departure from usual parser fare, and a bold choice for IFComp. You are a conductor, and you must follow a real-life score (from the Nutcracker Suite) and cue everyone at the right time. The real score is contained in the game, as well.

This is like no other game I've seen before, and playing it is extremely taxing. I felt like I was burning calories as I played this game. Even slight errors can cause havoc in the orchestra. And if you play perfectly, a problem arises that is outside the scope of the score, providing a 'lousy last point' puzzle.

Is this well-done? Yes. Is it innovative? Definitely. Is it a great display of the Dialog language's capabilities? Absolutely. But is it fun? For me, playing felt frustrating, but winning was truly enjoyable. So if you're going to play it, try to schedule time to finish it!

For the Moon Never Beams, by J. Michael

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A compact teen horror game with difficult puzzles , November 19, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I beta-tested this game.

This game is is a horror story that effectively borrows elements of both games and pop-culture from the 80s. This is a monster-focused horror game set with two kids driving the boy's car to prom, with the date wearing the boy's ring. It brings to mind the music video for Thriller or parts of Back to the Future.

Gameplay-wise, this has elements from older games as well. There are numerous timers on the game (including one that killed me off at 70 points as I was playing the competition version), a maze, and a complex machinery.

I like this game, both as a tester and as a player. It can get frustrating at times, though. I recommend playing past the first scene and seeing if you like the overall feel of the game or not.

Very Vile Fairy File, by Billy Boling

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An enjoyable rhyming-based game, November 10, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
Andrew Schultz makes games by taking a wordplay idea and finding as many examples of it as possible, then building a game around that list.

Sometimes, it feels a little forced. Some times, it feels great. This is one of those great times, at least for me.

I'm not coming in looking for a cohesive narrative. I'm coming in to have pure puzzling fun that hurts your brain.

I would rank this game up around with Shuffling Around, one of my favorites, but a little below Threediopolis, my absolute favorite.

Clusterflux, by Marshal Tenner Winter

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A typical MTW game with cool settings, October 24, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
MTW tends to make games that have similar strengths and similar weaknesses.

Pros:
-Large casts of interesting characters that talk to you and follow you around
-Big maps and inventories
-Compelling plot points and settings

Cons:
-Only one path is implemented
-Difficult to predict correct paths
-Typos and bugs

This game is no exception. A mysterious mongoose/cat and a mysterious woman come into your life, and you investigate a weird house with links to the past.

I used the walkthrough because, from experience, it's difficult to play a MTW game without one.

Edit: For some more specific feedback on this game:

(Spoiler - click to show)Consider the following exchange when meeting the first human NPC:
>talk to woman
That's not a verb I recognise.

>ask woman about woman
sleeping young woman doesn't have anything useful to say about that.

This is a game filled with NPCs. It takes only 5 minutes to put in a response to TALK TO WOMAN that suggests using ASK/TELL instead. The capitalization and/or article usage for "sleeping young woman" is harder but is doable.

The default responses for many simple verbs like JUMP, PUSH, and EAT have all been left in.

Error messages make up the bulk of text you see when playing a parser game, and they need a lot of work here.


ALICE BLUE, by Chris Selmys
Obscurity and fairy tales, October 17, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game is obscure in many senses of the word. First, it is very hard to run, intended only to run on a linux system. I was able to play it following helpful instructions at http://intfiction.org/t/reviews-for-beta-tested-games/43016/7.

Second, it's obscure because the writing is deliberately vague. Everything is allusions, none of which (maybe one?) is about Alice in Wonderland. Most of the allusions seem to be to Hansel and Gretel or Cinderella.

Third, the way forward is obscure. It is difficult to discover how movement works, difficult to find out how a room is finished, and difficult to go on to the next room. Some basics of movement: (Spoiler - click to show)Typing EXITS shows you the exits. You can move with N, E, S, and W as abbreviations. I took to the source code first and walkthrough later. The source code encourages you to look at it.

I encountered a bad ending that made me get stuck. It was when I (Spoiler - click to show)became a tree. I beat it by typing, not (Spoiler - click to show)run, which was the highlighted term, but (Spoiler - click to show)running away.

Occasionally I used the source to type the right word to move on if I got completely stuck.

One note: all of the major keywords (that give you special results) are (Spoiler - click to show)HTML color codes.

The fiddliness of interaction put me off a bit, and the game either has a few bugs or only has bugs because I played it on the wrong system. Otherwise I was impressed with the design and descriptiveness and would be interested in playing again.

The Call of the Shaman, by Larry Horsfield
The latest in an epic series of Adrift games. Travel to colonial America., October 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I've seen the Alaric Blackmoon series suggested to me on IFDB for years, but never tried one of the games.

There are six or more in the series, and they involve a valiant warrior in Europe in the times of swords and armor.

In this game, you travel to America to encounter a Native American shaman.

I'd love to talk more about the game, but I encountered a game-destroying bug. A thief comes into town, and you chase him out. When I killed him, he kept appearing anyway, and so I was periodically kicked out of town and could not reach the trading post.

I'd love to update my review if this bug were fixed!

Edit: There is an updated version that fixed that bug, and I had fun exploring the town. I added another star to the review. I got stuck again, because I couldn't find Henrik, but I'll keep trying!

Island in the Storm, by JSMaika
A game showcasing a powerful new IF engine. A magical island, October 9, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game showcase a new parser, which usually makes me skeptical.

But I was very impressed with this IntFicPy game.

Pros of the engine: Smoothness! It looked fabulous, typing in and scrolling up and down felt natural and very nice, saving and loading was easy. Different text colors worked well, timers, changing room descriptions, conversation was implemented. Many of the hard problems were dealt with well.

Cons of the engine: Could do with some better synonym handling, and especially pronouns (IT, SHE, HER, etc.) It felt sometimes like it was just reading a part of my command and not all of it.

Game wise, I love the worldbuilding here. Not such a huge fan of timers, but it seems forgiving until the endgame. I did well in the first part and then hit a big bump sending me straight to the walkthrough for the rest of the game (finding money was the bump, I think, and I could have solved that, but then the commands I saw seemed intimidating).

You play as a newcomer to a dangerous magical island where the Storm kills all who dare approach, except for you. You go about the island seeking to repair your boat and discovering a village with a large religion.

A good showcase for the new engine. Online play would be a huge boon, though.

RÝo Alto: Forgotten Memories, by Ambrosio
A text novel in older Latin America with an interesting graphical interface, October 9, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I played this game through to a death after about 30 minutes.

You play a man who has recently moved to a small town with wells, town doctors, taverns, etc.

The interface is wild. On the left is an illustrated book, with lines in slow typewriter text appearing as you make choices. You have three categories of 'inventory': thoughts, places, and things. These appear in the lower right.

The upper right contains the contents of your current location.

Actions are done by dragging inventory onto each other.

It's a good mechanic. It's slow, though, as is the typewriter text. And the game is long. And I couldn't find any way to save, and there are insta-deaths.

So I'm going to keep my rating and review as it is and maybe one day revisit this game. A save feature would help a lot!

The Untold Story, by Michael Pavano
A tale of brother's love in a mysterious forest, October 9, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
I rated this game on the following criteria, one star for each:

Descriptiveness: This game is descriptive. You play a man mourning his brothers death. A bizarre occurrence happens, and you must recover your five chess pieces from a forest full of wizards, dwarves, beasts, and magic.

Polish: This game is not polished. Many synonyms are not implemented and the game doesn't recognize reasonable solutions. I even received the extremely rare 'something dramatic has happened' inform library message (not necessarily a bug, but requires a bizarre combination of circumstances).

Emotional impact: The frequent praying was interesting, but praying for points seems kind of hypocritical. The dwarf seemed kind of like a bad caricature of a dumb Scottish person. Big, emotional moments were compressed over too short a time span (a problem I had in my first published game).

Interactivity: So many commands just didn't work. There were multiple devices that 'revealed' things, and it was very frustrating trying to figure out if, when one failed, it was a bug or intentional. I didn't even know I could reenter my cabin until I read a transcript. Very buggy.

Would I play again?: I would not. Parts of this game were charming, but I believe it's too buggy right now.

(Thanks to stian on intfiction for posting a transcript! Extremely helpful!)


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