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Reviews by MathBrush

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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.

+ = x, by Chandler Groover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A twisted Texture tale. Short and obscure, a sci fi story, March 12, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This was a controversial IFComp game. Chandler Groover, known for writing well-received games with dense, descriptive writing, released a short and cryptic game for IFComp.

After listening to the author talk, and playing it myself, I now think I know what it's all about.

The clear part is that there is a fortune telling machine. People are 'added', which summons them to the machine. There, they are either equalized or multiplied.

After finding the easter egg, I realized on my most recent playthrough:

(Spoiler - click to show)The fortune telling machine is the engine for a spaceship/planet. Each person who is 'multiplied' is erased from existence. The energy from erasing them is used to rewrite the timeline to one where the planet is in another space. Movement by not moving, just changing the timestream.

Figuring this out made me like it more, otherwise I'd give it a 3. Nice presentation and good use of the Texture format.

I still don't know what being Equalized means.

LET'S ROB A BANK, by Bethany Nolan
A minimal heist game in Twine with strong characterization, February 17, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This is a shortish replayable twine game where you assemble a team for a heist. You choose people for different roles, such as getaway driver, then see what happens.

It seems like a very branchy game, but a big chunk of branches are eliminated early on by one choice, making it smaller than it seems. The styling is non-existent, using the standard Twine design and formatting.

The characters are memorable, though. It's pretty intense for a humor game, and I played it several times.

Pegasus, by Michael Kielstra

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short and emotional tale about partners in a futuristic organization, February 13, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This is a fairly stripped-down parser game, mostly involving linear conversations and simple tasks where you follow orders. The emotions are on-the-nose, and the descriptions are small.

But I liked the game. For my personal, somewhat cheesy style, this game was a great fit. I've played it a couple of times, and I enjoy the relationship it develops.

Panoptique, by Hugo Labrande, Nighten Dushi
An illustrated parser game with multiple independent tracks, February 1, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This French IFComp game was written using Vorple, allowing it to have a dozen illustrations.

In stark contrast to the freedom of parser or the generally linear Twine games, this game has twelve different screens you can pay attention to, each of which has its own timeline. This makes it more like Varicella or Master of the Land, which implement similar parallel timelines.

However, just as with those games, I found it difficult to make and carry out plans.

I believe there may have been an error in the scoring. Despite receiving positive feedback on many of my police reports, and playing through a half-dozen times, my score only went down from 100 out of 1000, sometimes even becoming negative. My final scores were 100, -50, 80, and so on. I checked the walkthrough after and it seemed to say I was doing a good job, so I don't know.

Le jour oý la Terre dťgusta, by Yakkafo
An amusing take on alien-human interaction, January 31, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game employs two common tropes but combines them in a fun way.

The first is communication using emojis. Like B.P. Hennessy's Known Unkown's and litrouke's 10 pm, you have an array of emojis you can pick from and combine into different emoji sentences.

The second trope is 'aliens communicate and we must decode it', like Contact, 2001, or Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind.

This particular game takes a humorous approach. I was faked out twice at the end, which I enjoyed. I used google translate, as there were many French words I was unfamiliar with.

It's a fairly short game, with 4 chapters and an epilogue, but each chapter being only a couple of choices.

I felt like the game respected my choices and made an effort to be interactive.

Firefly, by Indigo
A partially illustrated futuristic sci-fi tale, January 27, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This is a French IFComp entry, and it worked pretty well for me.

You are a cybernetic soldier who has been massively damaged on the field of battle. You have a screen/HUD sort of thing that you can control (the theme of this year's comp is 'screens'). Clicking on different armor pieces gives you different options.

The storyline, dealing with the aftermath of war, goes in fairly standard directions for sci-fi, but I found the presentation charming and my mangled non-Francophone reading ability found the writing interesting. Slick game, and not too long, for any English speakers trying to get some mileage out of Google translate.

Escape Game, by Bryan

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An incomplete puzzle Twine game from the French IF Competition, January 25, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game presented a conundrum to me. As a non-native French reader, I couldn't tell if the lack of punctuation and capitalization was avant-garde or the result of less-than-perfect design processes. However, I reached a point where 2 out of 3 choices lead to death and the third said 'click anywhere to edit this node', so I believe that this is simply an incomplete game.

But the idea of it is fun. It hearkens back to more riddle-based gameplay than most narrative-focused Twine games. You're trapped, and there's a madman with a knife coming to get you. You must find six digits to unlock a door, each digit being given as a reward for a puzzle. Puzzles include logic puzzles, wordplay puzzles, etc.

I would have liked to see this finished and polished. But, in its incomplete state, I can't recommend it.

I Should Have Been That I Am, by E. K. Wagner

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short game about autonomy and robots with one big moment, January 7, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
Zarf/Andrew Plotkin has said before that he thinks about a certain interaction he wants players to experience in a game, and then builds the game around that.

This game was built around one interaction at the end. Itís a cool interaction, but the rest of the game doesnít do enough to build up to and support this special interaction at the level it deserves. Itís like having a small 1-tier cake with a huge crystal wedding topper that it canít quite support.

The cards were a nice visual feature: this is set in a futuristic Vegas casino, and you can see the cards being dealt.

Overall, this shows a high level of craftsmanship, and I anticipate that a longer game by this author would be great.

Bi Lines, by Naomi Z (as Norbez)
A shortish, nice-looking Twine game about bisexuality, January 6, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
Norbez has written quite a few games over the years now, including several IFComp games, and itís clear that their style is progressing, adapting, and improving. This is the best Norbez game Iíve seen, and definitely one of the best ďPSAĒ games Iíve seen. Just like Depression Quest for depression or Hana Feels for self-harm, Bi Lines is meant to help you consider what itís like to be a bisexual man in an unacceptably society.

What made this piece work for me was the presentation. Nice chalk/like effects when you click on choices, smooth writing, and a supernatural setting with a reporter talking to ghosts make an excellent frame over the deeper charcterization choices and the central narrative.

This game takes place over three days, but is still fairly short. It contains some strong profanity in a scene or two. I recommend this game.


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