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Reviews by MathBrush

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Dreamland, by Tatiana Statsenko (as eejitlikeme)
A small series of dream vignettes , April 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game is fairly simple, but a pleasant way to pass the time.

You are given warnings about how what you do before bed affects your dreams. Then you fall asleep.

You experience 3 dream vignettes, one with a puzzle, one with little agency, and one with a few moral choices. The order you experience these vignettes in depends on your earlier actions.

This game would be good for an interactive fiction class to analyse, because it has some delayed branching, a variety in choice structures, and is small enough to digest.

However, the game itself isn't strongly polished. I had the impression of grammar mistakes at times, and the visual presentation could be developed more.

The Ballroom, by Liza Daly

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A brief demonstration of an innovative method for changing a story, April 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
Liza Daly has come up with quite a few ways of presenting stories in the past, including complex parser games, the precursor-to-Twine game First Draft of the Revolution (in tandem with Emily Short), and the Windrift engine.

This game builds on that earlier material. It is very short, finishable in 5 minutes (unless I missed something major!).

Basically, there is a sequence of choices in the story, each of which can be revisited at any time. There is a bit of hysteresis, a term Emily Short has used before to describe how doing and undoing choices doesn't just put you back where you started, but has lingering effects.

a short walk in the spring, by Amorphous

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A partially-random walk in the forest, April 20, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This was an interesting game. Perhaps the most interesting part was the author's afterword.

The idea is that you set off to several journeys that are procedurally generated. Along the path, you can control how surreal the messages are by staying on the path or wandering away.

Much of the conversations at the end of each journey were repetitive, which the author states is a bug. It gave an interesting effect, though, almost like a dream, a ghost conversation, or a fading memory.

Writing Program Five, by Dan Cox

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An intriguing experiment that is at times confusing, April 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game is a sort of meta-commentary on writing and the nature of writing, technology, and maybe a bit of Sci-Fi.

It's format is essentially that of a cited and annotated series of paragraphs, each on separate pages. The presentation is slick, handling different browser sizes adeptly.

There is an extra layer to the game allowing you to access a command prompt with a few actions.

This game constantly hints at their being more, but I felt like that promise never materialized. That may be part of the point, but I feel that somehow just a couple of small tweaks here and there could have made everything gel for me.

Dashiell Hamlett: The Blue Dane Meets the Black Bird, by Tony Pisculli

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A deconstruction of Hamlet in Ink, April 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
More than any other piece of Western literature, Hamlet has been mangled up and mashed and transformed, from Hamletmachine to Lion King. But it makes sense, because it's a compelling story.

This version is a mashup between The Maltese Falcon and Hamlet. It borrows heavily from noir tropes, to the point of parody, but it also features heavy elements of surrealism.

This is a short, linear game that maintains an illusion of slightly less linearity.

It's an interesting concept. Some of the surreality was hard to distinguish from bugs at first, and this created a kind of disconnect between me and the interaction.

Our Darkest Thoughts, by Jesse Villa
A short Twine game about identity and depression., April 8, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This short Spring Thing game is in the genre of text games that take a major issue confronting humanity and explore it through a player's story. In this case, it reflects depression.

You wake up in the dark, forced to rely on sense besides sight to discover more about yourself.

This game is dark, literally and metaphorically. It allows you to do anything you set your mind to.

I felt like the game's mild puzzles contributed to a sense of agency. But somehow I felt an emotional distance from the game, perhaps because of my personal feelings regarding the subject matter.

Darkness, by Jeff Schomay

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short contemplative metaphor game based on the new Elm Narrative Engine, April 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game is designed to showcase the Elm Narrative engine. Although it's not the first game written in the engine, it's the first I've seen.

This engine is based on the Elm programming language. From what I've seen of the engine, it features less emphasis on branching and more on context-sensitive choices (which would be useful for inventories and such).

In-game, the same link can have multiple effects depending on when you click them. Because the links can scroll out of view, there is a handy top bar listing all active links. This gives an experience somewhere between Twine and Robin Johnson's Versificator engine (which the author praises in an early dev blog).

There was one critical issue that cause me trouble. Due to the large font size, I usually had to rely on the bar, and the bar wasn't always there. I had to tap the up arrow to make it appear. This was the case in both Chrome and Firefox. I know this is just an option in the engine, as the other sample games use a constant menu bar.

Everything else about the engine was smooth and enjoyable. I could see this engine gaining wider adoption.

As for the game itself, it is a metaphorical game about the pursuit of light and darkness. It's short, contemplative, and even melodic at times. I had difficulty making an emotional connection, though, which may be related to my interface frustration.

Quiet, by Martyna "Lisza" Wasiluk
A contemplative game about the role of words vs expressions in conversation, April 6, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game joins the growing sub-genre of twine games where you express yourself with emojis (including 10pm, a recent French IFComp game, and parts of Known Unknowns).

The author speaks about being a quiet person and the game forcing you to consider the effects of that. That's an angle I really haven't seen explored before, and it was telling.

I found the game frustrating, because I couldn't guess the effects of my choices. But maybe that's the point? Intentional frustration for the player, depicting the problems quiet people unwittingly cause? If so, it's quite clever.

I Will Be Your Eyes And Hands, by Cam Miller
A short, thoughtful and polished take on dystopia, April 6, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game is a take on dystopia in the well-trodden vein of Kafka and Orwell, but I think it does well, mostly due to pacing and attention to graphical detail.

This game is more of dynamic fiction than puzzle. The interactivity is there to draw your participation in the story, and it does a good job of that.

smooch.click, by Devon Guinn
A short game about kissing with great design obscured by the execution, March 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This is a simple game. It's a random kissing simulator. Input gender, then make some atmospheric real-time twine choices about your feelings, then kiss. Over in 5 minutes.

Reading the documentation and looking at the game structure, though, it's clear there's a bit more here. The game does some state tracking and the best endings are hard to find. Reading the source code, I find the worst endings (found by (Spoiler - click to show)Making choices that increase anxiety) highly amusing.

But finding these endings isn't even possible sometimes due to RNG, and the game doesn't do a stellar job of giving you feedback on your choices.

But perhaps this is an intentional choice? A way to model the inherent uncertainty in romantic relationships?

In any case, this is a fun game to poke around with, especially if you look under the hood. Good styling, too.


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