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Grandma Bethlinda's Variety Box

by Arthur DiBianca profile


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Number of Ratings: 25
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- comfortcastle (Sheffield, UK), August 24, 2018

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Absolutely Loved This, July 13, 2018
by Whystler
Related reviews: dibianca minimalist
This is exactly the kind of experience I was looking for. A delightful play through. An interesting and quirky performance. Press this; turn that; tap; pull; hear things in your head; have a giggle and even a snack; experience a variety of mechanical machinations; test yourself with a puzzles. All of this done with two commands - so much functionality and theatrical entertainment with no need for a lexicon of word guessing. Thank you sir!

- play_all_day, June 14, 2018

- IFforL2 (East Asia), May 7, 2018

- Stas, April 5, 2018

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A Puzzle Box Well Worth Solving!, February 24, 2018
Arthur DiBianca; quirky, imaginative, witty, innovative, minimalistic (in the sense of the interactiveness if not of the writing). The philosophy presented here, as far as IF design is concerned, seems to be "less is more"; and he makes a strong case for it. As streamlined as ever, his three verb interface (x,u,z) makes for a straightforward, frustration-less experience (aside from forgetting and actually trying to use a traditional verb). This is DiBianca merely hinting at the scope of his design space and world-building capabilities. While a few of his signature puzzles are sure to delight most IF fans, solving this puzzle box does provide a bit of tedium towards the end. Even still, I was able to solve the box without a considerable amount of trouble, and without needing to consult the walkthrough (that's always a good thing).
With that said, I'd be torn between giving this a 6 or a 7 in the Comp, so 3.5 stars here would be nice if it were possible. I guess my bias toward his inventive, unique style will have to dictate a four then, even though DiBianca's more recent entries are sure to impress to an even greater extent!

- nosferatu, January 18, 2018

- Guenni (At home), January 6, 2018

- Spike, November 8, 2017

- ifMUD_Olly (Montana, USA), April 21, 2017

- Robin Johnson (Edinburgh, Scotland), November 30, 2016

- The Xenographer, August 12, 2016

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Made me exclaim aloud in wonder, June 24, 2016
by Danielle (The Wild West)
Haven't finished this game yet, but I keep laughing aloud and clapping with delight as I play with it, so I'mma give it five stars.

Others have noted how well-written it is. Being a writer myself, I marvel at the craftsmanship! Writing clear descriptions is a hard trick for some of us to pull off, but the writing in GBVB's practically invisible, a window into the world of the box. Add in the ingenious use of "U" and you get all the delights of physical puzzle-solving minus the annoying fiddly bits.

In short, this game is the philosophical opposite of Hard Puzzle.

- Doug Orleans (Somerville, MA, USA), May 19, 2016

- Sobol (Russia), March 26, 2016

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A 3-verb minimalist parser game about a fun-filled puzzle cube, February 3, 2016
This minimalist parser game feels like it learned a lot from the success of Twine games, and responded by making a stripped-down straightforward puzzle box. I really liked it.

The box has different moving parts you have to interact with (using the single command U for USE or UNDERTAKE TO INTERACT WITH, according to the author). As you do, more and more pieces show up. You are taught how to use some pieces that you have to remember later; other puzzles require leaps of intuition or timing. I finished without hints, which is very unusual for me.

- Aryore, December 12, 2015

- prevtenet (Texas), November 19, 2015

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A compact puzzlebox, November 17, 2015
by CMG (NYC)
You're in a room with a box and that's all there is in the room. Your object is to manipulate the box until you've triggered all the little bells and whistles attached to it. And also the horns, buttons, ropes... you get the idea. It has secrets and surprises and you want to find them all.

This game has an extremely streamlined verb system. "Examine" and "undertake to interact with" (abbreviated "u") are its two primary actions. This is so smooth and prevents so many potential problems. The box is totally stuffed with weird contraptions, and if you had to worry about turning or pulling or tapping them, etc., etc., all but the most patient players would throw a fit trying to figure out what syntax to use. But "u" covers everything while still preserving the need for players to think about how they should manipulate the box.

I could see some people saying, Well, with so few verbs, why isn't this just a Twine game? Click the equivalent "u" or "x" hyperlinks and be done with it. But that wouldn't work, again because the box has so many components. In a hypertext game you'd have to click each component, click components within components, and then return back to previous screens to see what's changed or hasn't. It would be a headache. The parser allows everything to be right out in the open so that you can interact with anything at any time.

Since this game is a pure puzzle and descriptions are brief, I could also see some people overlooking how good the writing is. It's very good. It manages to give you clues, reward you for solving puzzles, and paint a clear description of the box (no matter how complicated the box gets) all within the same snappy little sentences. A tone, a personality emerges from the game that's perfectly complementary to the bizarre Variety Box itself.

- zeartless, November 16, 2015

- Karl Ove Hufthammer (Bergen, Norway), November 9, 2015

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), October 31, 2015

- Simon Deimel (Germany), October 30, 2015

- Pegbiter (Malmö, Sweden), October 24, 2015

- jamiephelan, October 2, 2015

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