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Reviews by RadioactiveCrow

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1-8 of 8


Lore Distance Relationship, by Naomi "Bez" Norbez

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Tore my heart in two and then put it back together, December 3, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 1 hour
In this choice-based work you play as a kid who, in order to escape a bad situation at home, goes to a Neopets-like website called Ruffians and makes a friend named BusyAsABee. The game plays out over the course of 11 chapters and 11 years (you start as an eight-year-old and get one year older each chapter). The game primarily plays out through the chat function on the Ruffians website, though in the interludes there is some conversation with your sister (including voice-overs). Over the years you have the choice of how to develop your friendship (or romance) with Bee and how much to reveal about your troubled home life.

The middle part of this game is rough, with the player-character experiencing (Spoiler - click to show)maternal abuse and ridicule at school. Some of the scenes and conversations are heart-breaking. But thankfully, in the end there is still hope and things are looking up. Depending on how warm you've been in your conversations with Bee, the ending scenes can be beautiful in how much trust and love has grown between the two of you. I played through the game twice to try some of the other options. It is possible to get an aborted game if you don't want to open up to Bee at all in the beginning, and some of the best stuff is cut if you are more aloof towards the end. So in this game, as in life, it seems best to open yourself up to those that love you to get the best experience.

I thought this game did many things well, including a realistic portrayal of a now decades-old messaging system, and the speech patterns, cadence and abbreviations of kids chatting with each other online from elementary school age through college. The images of the Ruffians website were also great to help set the mood. I also thought the voice acting was very strong and really added something to the game. I loved the character of Rachel and her relationship with the player character. Finally, I had a huge smile break out across my face when the game ended with some music, a la the credits scene in a movie. It was a great song for the occasion and I let it play to the end.

The few things that I didn't like were the parts of the game where the audio looped until a part of a scene finished. Purposefully, the audio is intrusive to match what is happening in the scene. But the more it repeated the harder it became to focus on the text. I'd recommend the audio fading out or stopping after 2-3 loops. Also, sometimes the text and graphics were so big that I had to scroll to find the right place to click to continue the story, and I think that could be polished a bit to make it more compact.

Well worth your time!

Vampire Ltd, by Alex Harby

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
This appears to be the author's first game and it feels like it, November 28, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 1 hour
According to IFDB as best as I can tell this is the author's first game, and it definitely feels like the game you'd write based off of half an idea just to see if you can make a functional game. That said, it is a pretty good first effort, lacking depth and in need of polish, but showing potential.

You play as a vampire businessman, bent on getting revenge on your chief rival, another vampire businessman. You have to infiltrate his headquarters and destroy the latest project he is working on to ruin his reputation and his company. The parser was pretty well implemented and I only had to fight it a little, but there were a few hiccups that threw me off. The game bills itself as a comedy, but I think the hardest I laughed was reading the introductory blurb. That line was genuinely funny, but much of the rest of the game is only barely grin-worthy. The puzzles are lacking too, feeling either nonsensical, or telegraphed (again, like this game is a test run). However, I did enjoy the climatic scene and thought the solution to that, once I figured it out, was very clever.

The map is mercifully small and depending on how much time you spend reading the extra content (i.e. all the possible dialogue choices) can easily be completed in under an hour. A good first effort and I hope to see more from the author in the future.

Academic Pursuits (As Opposed To Regular Pursuits), by ruqiyah

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
One-room game that works its puzzle(s) into its storytelling, October 20, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 1 hour
This is a short, one-room, parser-based game where you play someone moving into an office at a university. The game is basically one complex spatial puzzle where you have to take items out of your moving boxes and put them in various places around your office until they all fit. Well, actually (Spoiler - click to show)they don't all fit, and so a second layer to the puzzle is to figure out which items are important and which items can be thrown away or sent back to storage. Despite the basic nature of the puzzle, the game uses the objects in it and your actions with them to tell your backstory and reveal why you are at the university in the first place. Part of the story, who you are, is pretty obvious from the get-go. The rest becomes clear as you work through all the puzzle pieces. I thought it was a fun and unique way to tell a story.

My biggest complaints would be that the game was heavy-handed in some things, like (Spoiler - click to show)revealing your true nature, and not clear enough in others, like (Spoiler - click to show)how to know when you were done or even if you were headed in the right direction. Still, well worth the time!

Choice of Broadsides, by Adam Strong-Morse, Heather Albano, and Dan Fabulich

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Fun introduction to Choice Of Games, October 13, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 1 hour
This is the first Choice of Games game that I played and I really enjoyed it. You play a member of the navy of a fictional country, roughly equivalent to 19th century Great Britain. It isn't particularly deep or long, but it was fun to guide the main character through not just a single battle or campaign, but really his whole career. You make a high-level choice for how to proceed with the next step in a battle or your career, and then watch the result play out in front of you, with your choices having lasting consequences throughout the game. While I usually go for more characterization and detail, this game is a nice change of pace. An excellent introduction to the Choice Of Games model/style as well.

A Rope of Chalk, by Ryan Veeder

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Now I know what it's like to... well, best you experience this one for yourself, October 8, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 1 hour
While I've never taken hallucinogens, I was drinking whiskey while I played this game. Not sure if that made me like it more or less.

Re-live the infamous sidewalk chalk tournament of 2011 as you take control of various people who were there, playing out your part in its sordid conclusion. I can't say too much about this game without spoiling the best parts of it. I will just say this: go into it with an open mind and if you get stuck don't be afraid to scroll slowly down the walkthrough, just to get the trick you need to move forward. I used the walkthrough a few times and it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the piece at all. Rather, while this game does feature a few things that I would consider puzzles, it is mostly about experiencing the moment. So take your time with this game, look around, talk to people... and when it gets weird, enjoy that too. I promise it will make sense (at least as much sense as possible) by the end. And don't forget to explore the bonus content after the end of the main game. Plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in this game once you get the bit.

The only very minor, slightly spoiler, but essential thing that I would advise players of going into this game is (Spoiler - click to show)that in the first scene, playing as Lane, as you move through the map, make sure you stop and "x art" in each artist's square. It will help the rest of the game make more sense. Trust me.

Sense of Harmony, by Scenario World

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Exciting start to what I hope to be more Elizabeth Boldan stories, October 2, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 1 hour
This is a primarily a straightforward choice-based piece, but there are lots of visual bells and whistles to accompany the text. Pop-up panels (not pop-up windows, don't worry) to add details, changing choices depending on which details you decide to examine, and other visual/text effects. And I've never seen them put to better use. Usually visual effects in text games don't add a lot to the story, they are mostly distractions or an author/programmer showing off. But in this story they are on point.

You play a cybernetically enhanced woman, making her living in a high-tech brothel. But your enhancements are not for use in your sex work, as you might expect in a story like this, but rather the result of experiments on you as a child, and you prefer to keep them hidden from the world. One of the benefits to this tech is a hyper-awareness of the world around you, implemented by flashing or stylized words in the text that you can click on to examine that aspect of the story in superb detail. At times these additional observations will alter the choices available to you, with new choices delivered in a corresponding color and typed out quickly, one letter at a time, the perfect choice to strengthen the mood. To me, it felt like some of the opening scenes of Terminator 2, with your electronic components giving you micro-reports on the environment and people around you, directly to your HUD/consciousness. It really helped me embody the character.

I'm looking forward to playing through it again when I have time, hopefully when the next installment comes out, as this is meant to be the first in a series of stories.

My only compliant would be that the pivotal scene, at least in my playthrough, when you are (Spoiler - click to show)fighting with the mysterious woman in your massage room, drags a little bit for what should be a fast-paced and tense scene, and that some parts of it are vague/confusing as to what Elizabeth is perceiving to be happening (I'm sure more will be explained in future installments though). A very minor downside to an otherwise entertaining experience.

This game is part of IFComp 2020, so if you are reading this in October or November of 2020 head over to ifcomp.org and sign up to be a judge. You can play this and other wonderful games and vote on which authors should win cash prizes!

The Magpie Takes the Train, by Mathbrush

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Clever and fun one-room game, October 1, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 1 hour
"The Magpie Takes the Train" is the authorized sequel to "Alias 'the Magpie'" by J.J. Guest. You once again assume the role of the eponymous gentleman thief, this time riding a train in hopes of stealing a priceless jewel right off the lapel of an aging steel magnate. Pretty much the entire game takes place in a single train car, which had me confused at first as this was the first one-room game I've played. But once you realize that (or after reading this) you will get into the groove of the game's mechanics, which I found very clever and made the puzzles a joy to work out. I feel like there are enough hints along the way, plus a limited number of choices, that if you read carefully and try messing with everything in the usual IF style then you will have the satisfaction of solving the game without hints. However, the author has provided a walkthrough if you need it.

This game also has some features that make it extremely user-friendly and cut out some of the tediousness of other games that require (Spoiler - click to show)waiting for certain conditions to be right before a puzzle can be solved. I also thought the conversation system was good and fit with this size of game perfectly, no playing "guess the topic" that will advance the gameplay.

The prose is excellent and laugh-out-loud funny at times (particularly when you try the amusing things suggested after you beat the game for the first time). Mathbrush is a long time IF author and one of the most passionate and dedicated advocates for IF that I've encountered. So far I've only had the chance to play one of his other games ("In the Service of Mrs. Claus", available from Choice of Games, which will certainly give you a lot of bang for your buck), but I look forward to playing more.

This game is part of IFComp 2020, so if you are reading this in October or November of 2020 head over to ifcomp.org and sign up to be a judge. You can play this and other wonderful games and vote on which authors should win cash prizes!

I-0, by Anonymous

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting, but frustrating game, June 27, 2019
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 1 hour
After all I'd heard about this game it ended up not being anything like I was expecting. It is true that you play a 17-year-old girl who can take her clothes off any time she wants, but that doesn't affect game play nearly as much as I expected. In fact, if you completely ignored this option (which I would recommend on your first several playthroughs) then the game hardly plays any differently and only a few of the branches are closed off to you.

This game isn't really a story-based game (there's almost no plot arch) and it isn't really a puzzle game (unless trying to figure out how to accomplish certain task with the parser is considered a puzzle). It is just a trying-a-bunch-of-stuff game, but that can be fun too.

I did have a few frustrations with it, however:
(Spoiler - click to show)
I think the parser's response to certain phrases could have been more robust. There were at least two instances when I typed something (for example: "get out from under car") and the game responded by telling me I had to do what I had just asked to do first (the response was literally "You have to get out from under the car first"). Also, I asked the server to use the phone, got a reply of "sure, whatever" but then couldn't use a phone.

I also hated how much waiting the game required at certain points. Typing "wait" over and over again doesn't make for fun game play.


Overall, fun for 3-4 playthroughs (each only takes 15 minutes or so) to try to figure out how to get home, but not much depth past that.


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