Review – Into The Dark

This is a medium-length swords and sorcery story written on the Twine platform. Unfortunately, I don’t think most players will stick with that game beyond the first screen or two. I say this for two reasons: first, at least in my browser, the black text was difficult to read towards the periphery of a radial gradient that is white at the center, but dark grey near the edges. I at least have a quick fix for that issue: go into a text editor and delete the CSS that sets the background:

body {
background-image: radial-gradient(White, Grey, Black);

The other game stopper for this story is the rate of spelling errors. It’s almost like the story was spellchecked in reverse to assure one error in every paragraph. I know that some reviewers stop when they find a game that shows no signs of beta-testing or even spellcheck. Next comp, I think I’ll follow that practice, particularly if the number of entries is on par with this year. Since I had given full review to other poorly edited games, though, I decided to keep going with this one, but skimmed the text.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

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Review – A Castle of Thread

This is a medium-length parser game in three acts. As he often does, this author set the story in a world that would be at home in the HP Lovecraft Cthulhu mythos. I’m not sufficiently schooled in the mythos to tell whether this borrows specific elements from the mythos or just its flavor.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

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Review – The Wizard Sniffer

The Wizard Sniffer, one of the longer parser-based games in this year’s competition, strikes a successful balance between silliness and game play. It checks an impressive number of boxes: Comedy, Fantasy Setting, Castle Venue, Medieval Combat, Monsters, Non-human Protagonist, Multiple NPCs, Magic, and I’m probably leaving some out.

I had a good time playing the game, but if I could offer a bit of advice to anyone who hasn’t played it yet: don’t be uptight about using the built-in clue system. It isn’t a crutch so much as an integral part of the game. One of the reasons my game session ran up against the 2-hour limit was my pig-headedness in not making greater use of this part of this game feature.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

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Review – The Adventure of Esmeralda and Ruby on the Magical Island

I think this is a serious entry, so I’ll review it in the usual manner. While the author may have put some effort into learning the authoring system and incorporating graphics, I don’t get the sense that a lot of time was spent on the writing or editing. If there was editing.

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Just Get The Treasure v0.9.1

If you’re judging this for IFcomp (or just playing for fun), my advice is to give it the full judging period. This Twine story can be over in a few clicks, but if you think that’s all there is to this story, have I got an iceberg to sell to you.

In an IFcomp full of RPG, evil shape-shifting wizards, goblets and goblins, this one might not get much attention. There’s goblet, there’s a goblin. Probably course of action: Take A and Kill B or, for variety, Kill B then Take A. THINK should not even enter into the equation, yet in this game it does.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

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Review: 1958 – Dancing With Fear

By habit, when I play a parser game, I am always in beta-tester mode and the first thing I type is “script”. In this case, the document that is produced kind of is a script, at least according to the blurb. The author nailed a classical film vibe with a twist of Latin flavor.

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Review: The Owl Consults

By Guillaume Brocker - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Photo by Guillaume Brocker

This is a lovely premise: what’s worse than a crime lord? A crime lord consultant! Compared to a convention of consultants, lawyers, or lobbyists, the the Mos Eisley Cantina is a kindergarten. Dr. Owl has an ideal job for someone whose stock in trade is pure cunning: he provides advice at a distance so he can reap rewards but not expose himself to danger.

The consulting mastermind does, as I had predicted, bear some resemblance to Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis, Dr. Moriarity, although in this case, Dr. Owl is not so much evil as amoral. He maintains a laser focus on his bottom line. He’s not out to ruin anyone’s day, but if there is some collateral fallout along the way, it’s not his problem.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

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Review: Alice Aforethought

Alice Aforethought is a hypertext IF that leverages characters and some of the otherworldly mechanics of Wonderland. According to the splash screen, it is written in AXMA Story Maker, a system unfamiliar to me, but one that seems promising in terms of capabilities. The core of the story is told in prose, with highlighted hyperlinks either leading to other pages or bringing up floating text boxes in front of other text. To the side of the screen, there are other areas with clickable text, for example, inventory.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

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Review: Off The Rails

With a name like Off The Rails, I was prepared for a screwball comedy, but that’s not what is in store for this relatively short Twine work. That’s not to say the author doesn’t have a sense of humor or at least irony: the story begins on a train, and if you don’t get off the train, the story is entirely linear, i.e., the player is railroaded to a quick but not all that enlightening end.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

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