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Reviews by MathBrush

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Howled House, by B Minus Seven

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A B-minus game with a strong sense of place, December 25, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
B-minus makes surreal poetic games where you have to puzzle out the meaning, if there is any fixed meaning.

Some of those games work really well for me and others not as well.

This one from a few years ago has a navigable 'map'. It's made in raconteur, and gives an effect similar to Twine.

The map is a house with three wings, each with two rooms, each with an object inside.

If there's any way to combine the objects, I haven't found it. The hint of a coherent structure paired with incoherent elements confused me more than if there weren't any structure at all, kind of like the famous 'Cow Tools' Far Side cartoon.

+Polish: Worked great, looks good.
+Descriptive: Very well-written.
-Interactivity: Not sure what's going on.
+Emotional impact: Some good parts in here, I liked the grave dirt and the opening.
-Would I play again? I'm not sure what to look for here.

Bring Me A Head!, by Chandler Groover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A horror Twine item-trading game with complex code, December 13, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game is polished and well-done, but I think I admire the coding more than the game itself.

You play as an executioner of some sort in a dark castle. This castle seems to me like a prototype of the one in Eat Me, with a similar cast of bizarre creatures and vaguely reminiscent layouts. But castles in games tend to be similar, so it's probably in my head.

You're required to find a head for your master in this game, so you have to explore the castle, finding what you can and trading it for better things.

The complexity comes from two things: the styling (boxes around progress links, none around 'aside' links, glowing words to represent runes), and the way that each character has a unique reaction to each item you carry.

+Polish: Very complex and smooth.
+Descriptive: Rich writing
-Interactivity: While there are some clues, it felt mostly like searching over and over for the right person to talk to.
+Emotional impact: It was unsettling
-Would I play again? It was good for a short game, but I think once is enough.

10 Lost Boys, by Mark Sample

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A game about the wayward paths of children, December 11, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game is thought-provoking, and I don't know quite how I feel about it one way or another.

At its core, it's a character generator with 10 options per choice. It's very short, with more than half the play time (for me) dedicated to the achingly slow text in the opening few screens.

It's posited as a generator for the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. However, it always ends up with a darker twist:
(Spoiler - click to show)you are actually creating white supremacists.. The game ends with a scene from your character's childhood, now with a different shade of meaning from the opening scenes.

Production-wise, this is excellent styling, music and css animations, the kind you'd expect from the author of Babyface.

Content-wise, I'm torn. On the one hand, the feeling I get from the game is that (Spoiler - click to show)it 'others' the white supremacists by making them seem like creatures very different from us, the reader, someone with with we have no connection and no relation. I worry that that hides the deeper issues, as I feel like most white supremacy is hidden inside otherwise-normal looking people, and by relegating it to the 'frightening other' in media we neglect looking within ourselves. On the other hand, the narrative is designed in a way to humanize its characters and track their journey, so maybe I'm wrong.

The other issue I think about is the way some things are lumped together. For instance, I know (Spoiler - click to show)many white supremacists, if not the majority, use religion as a pretext. But not all people espousing Christian values are supremacists or terrorists; in fact, white people are less likely to be Christian than either black or hispanic people in the US.

Both of my objections are framed from my own perspective and stem from my own interpretation of the piece, so I can't say it's anything related to the author's intent. Still, it was interesting.

+Polish: It was very polished.
+Descriptive: The text is well-written.
-Interactivity: The slower opening was a bit offputting, and the many menus made me feel like I somehow had less freedom from so many indistinguishable options.
+Emotional impact: It made me feel a lot of different things.
-Would I play again? Technically I did play again once, just to remind myself before writing the review, but I think this is more or less a one-shot game.

RED FAST BENT, by B Minus Seven

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Gruesome poetry in triplicate, November 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
Like most of B-minus's work, this is a shortish surreal Twine game with haunting descriptions and poetic use of choices.

In particular, this game features several choices in a row, on one page, where for each one you can pick RED, FAST, or BENT.

I originally was going to give this 3 stars, but the layout and format are so nice looking, especially for a game made in 4 hours or less.

I wasn't big on B-minus when I first read their work, but Chandler Groover has always expressed a lot of appreciation and interest in B-minus games, and it made me look at them with more appreciation. I wonder how much of my own reviewing is tangled up in my own experiences and history that I bring to the game. Earlier today I gave a higher rating to an Among Us-based IF game and rated it higher because I liked Among Us. It's weird to think about.

Anyway, I thought this was pretty good.

Rat Chasm, by Hatless

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short graphics-intensive musing on humanity with rats, November 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
At first, I thought this game was just a link to BBC (which for some reason didn't work for me when I clicked on it but worked when I manually entered it into the search bar).

Then it turned out I could scroll down. It's a multimedia page and it has some interesting features (for instance, you can either scroll down to read more text or click links instead, with some interaction between the two).

The non-working initial link and the abrupt, buggy-looking ending put me off the game a little bit. The writing is vivid and imaginative, though, and the visuals are compelling.

Phantasmagoria, by Jac Colvin

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short replayable escape game in Choicescript, November 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
I debated back and forth on what score to give this game, so I'm going to break it down by points.

This is a short choicescript game where you have to defeat an evil spirit in a test involving an ever-shortening candle.

It has a cool yellow bar representing the candle, and its structure allows for quick replay.

When I saw the timer, I felt nervous, so the game was able to impact me emotionally. I played through to two different endings.

Very impressive for four hours. I know its silly, but I think the yellow bar is what bumped it up from 3 stars to 4 for me, it's just cool to me as a Choicescript author.

Last Day, by Earth Traveler

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short parser game about the end of the world, November 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game is surprisingly complex for a 4-hour game. There's conversation (although only ASK X ABOUT COMET works in general), many locations, a vehicle, rope.

There are a lot of grisly details. As a content warning, this game has frequent references to suicide. That part was a bit too dark for me.

I only found one ending, on a cliff. I'm sure there are other endings (I think other reviewers have found them).

The Imposter, by Carter Gwertzman

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short story based on Among Us, November 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This is a very short story about the game Among Us. I feel like I'm giving all the La Petite Mort games 3 stars (which, I figure is what you'd expect most speed-IF to be at most). This game is very short, but I love playing Among Us with my son, so it was fun.

And it surprised me twice. The first one I feel very dumb for not thinking of, given how obvious it is, but the second thing that surprised me is how customized the text is based on the order of your choices.

Short fun.

Fracture, by Ralfe Rich

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short but vivid one-verb game, November 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game is directly modeled on Lime Ergot and Toby's Nose, where the main action is found by examining something over and over again, including things mentioned in the description.

It's more rough than those two, with some typos and less direction for the player, but the worldbuilding was intriguing to me and the descriptiveness well-done.

It's a brief game, but I played through it twice and feel there's still more for me to discover.

Ebony & Ivory's Halloween Party, by M. Nite Chamberlain

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Monster party shenanigans, November 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This is a short, styled twine game about having a party with monsters and you having to find some gourds.

It has a world-model, various characters that can interact with each other, and some items.

Everything's just small. There's very little of interest in the conversational options that don't advance the story, and only a few options do anything.

But this was made in 4 hours, and I'm honestly impressed at how much they packed in in that time. And some of the characters are described very well (especially Orlok and Lycan).


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