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My reviews

  • 16-Nov-08 13:53
    Message # 68928

    The time is 1:48 EST, November 16, but the competition results haven't been posted yet.  In any case, following are some of my observations on the games that I played during this competition.

    10 Nightfall.  I thought this was the best game in the competition--  even better than “Violet” because of its grander scale and greater sense of player freedom (even if some of that freedom is illusory).  I had a feeling, through the first half of the game, that the PC himself was in some way responsible for the evacuation.  About half way through I started to realize the truth.  The only ending I discovered within the two hour time limit was the one in which the player is complicit in Emma’s plan.  To my mind, that ending was the natural conclusion to the story (even if though it was labeled as a sub-optimal ending).  I later played to some of the “better” endings, requiring hints and the walkthrough for some of the later puzzles.

    10Violet—The first game I’ve played this competition which really stands out.  So extensively detailed and described that I easily overlooked the fact that it might be described as a one room game.

    This game is almost certain to win the competition.  Amazing on many levels:  technical, writing, unique voice, enjoyable to play.  Wow.


    9 Everybody Dies.   An exceptionally well told story, with shifting perspectives.  The interactivity is more limited than those games I’ve given a “10”, but the game really has no bugs.


    9 Piracy 2.0.  Another old school puzzler.  I thought the implementation and writing on this was slightly superior to Berrost’s challenge.  The puzzles seem like they ought to be easier than Berrost’s challenge, though I still haven’t reached the optimal ending.


    9 Afflicted.  I really can’t give an unbiased review of my own game, but I rather enjoyed writing it.


    8 Opening Night.  A memorable game with some fun puzzles, and a surprise ending.  As other reviewers have noted, this game shifts tone several times, from slapstick, to spooky.  I didn’t mind that, and the shifting tone seemed to go along with the story’s gradually shifting perspective.


    8 Berrost’s challenge.  I beta tested this game, and really enjoyed it.  The world is medium sized and well implemented.  Puzzles are amusing, even whimsical at times.  Several puzzles offer multiple solutions, which provides the game a limited replay value.  A decade ago these types of fantasy quests were considered “cliché” by modern authors, but I think they’ve now fallen _so_ out of style that this can once again be regarded as an original.  I didn’t care for the hunger and sleep daemons.


    7 Burried in shoes.  This game is simple and moving.  Tries for the same emotional effect as grief, but I think more effectively because the player isn’t required to restart.  Nice use of cut scenes.  But limited interactivity.


    7 April in Paris.  A fun little puzzler, but not especially memorable.  I played one of the beta versions, so I wouldn’t ordinarily be allowed to judge.


    7 grief- I played a beta version before the competition.  The game is striking in its simplicity.  I played several times until I reached the final ending, which stuck in my mind for several days after.


    6 Underworld-  This was fun to read and fun to play, but less thoroughly developed than other puzzlers in the competition.  I needed a walkthrough to use the coke machine.  I believe I was able to solve the rest of the puzzles on my own.


    6 Snack Time- Well written, well implemented, but ultimately too short for the competition.


    5 Red Moon.-  I haven’t seen many reviews of this one on the competition blogs.  So I am pleased by my initial impression of this game when I first type “x me”, “x shadows”, “kiss sister”, “sing”, “dance” and “pray”, getting non-default responses to all of these.  Great start.

    But my sister isn’t very responsive.  I show her the family photo from the cupboard, and she is “unimpressed”.

    No “about” or acknowledgement of the beta testers either.  I’m starting to worry.

    I’m beginning to think I’m dead.  Is this going to be like that Haley Joel Osment movie?

    No I was just sleeping.  How lame.


    4 Lucubrator-  You wake up on a slab…  More developed than “Lighthouse”, but again this one feels sparsely implemented.  Some “guess the verb” puzzles.  I eventually resorted to the walkthrough.


    4 Cry Wolf.  I didn’t care for this game as much as other reviewers have said they do.  Too buggy.  Too easy to die.  I must admit, I didn’t get very far.  Maybe it gets better.


    3 Riverside.  I think I would have given it a five, if not for that damn stupid ending.  The story was compelling enough for me to reach the ending, but the implementation was weak.  And the “ragequit” verb which is recommended at the end doesn’t even work at the point in the game when a player is most likely to try it (that is, just before entering the train).


    3 Freedom.  The first command I type on any new game is “examine me”.  It’s a bad sign if the game tells me I’m “as good looking as ever”.  After finishing the game without hints, I read the “about” section.  I understand the author’s intent, but I don’t think they achieved it.  If I were a socially anxious person, I would not be hugging a stranger I just met at a college meeting hall.  Everything else that happened to me seemed perfectly normal.  I stopped in the middle of the road to examine some roadkill, and almost got run over.  That sort of thing happens to me all the time, but I don’t take it as a personal affront.  I guess one’s reaction to this situation differs with one’s perspective.


    3 Martian Odyssey.  Well, the music was a neat gimmick, but I was really turned off by the Spartan descriptions, sparse implementation, and choice of puzzles.  At least the author has overridden the self-examination response.

    I was annoyed by the lack of hints, and even more by the snarky response when I typed ‘hint’.  I don’t care to use a walkthrough (I’d rather read a book), but just to give this game a chance, I checked the walkthrough to get past the first puzzle (getting out of the damaged ship).  When I got stuck again, at some kind of pyramid thing, I just quit.


    1 Lighthouse-  Short.  Minimal location description.  A few lock and key puzzles.  No story really.  Minimal implementation of objects.  This seems like a beginner’s exercise.


    1 bad game-  The title says it all.


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