A Bitterly Indifferent thread of reviews, writeups, and thoughts articulated with varying degrees of quality

My discussions of IFcomp entries:

  1. The Turnip
  2. What the Bus? A Transit Nightmare
  3. Stoned Ape Hypothesis
  4. A Murder In Fairyland
  5. The Arkhill Darkness
  6. Equal-librium: Lion & Mouse?
  7. High Jinnks
  8. Vain Empires
  9. Red Radish Robotics
  10. Turbo Chest Hair Massacre
  11. Desolation
  12. Tavern Crawler
  13. Passages
  14. Quintessence
  15. Savor
  16. Fight Forever
  17. Captain Graybeard’s Plunder
  18. Seasonal Apocalypse Disorder
  19. Accelerate
  20. Big Trouble in Little Dino Park
  21. #VanLife
  22. Doppeljobs
  23. The Copyright of Silence
  24. The Cursèd Pickle of Shireton
  25. You Will Thank Me as Fast as You Thank a Werewolf
  26. Chorus
  27. Quest for the Sword of Justice
  28. BYOD
  29. The Call of Innsmouth
  30. Electric word, “life”
  31. The Impossible Bottle
  32. Tombs & Mummies
  33. Ulterior Spirits
  34. Deus Ex Ceviche
  35. (s)wordsmith
  36. Ferryman’s Gate
  37. Creatures
  38. Little Girl in Monsterland

The Turnip is a short, linear story (described as “hypertext flash fiction”) written by Joseph Pentangelo.

On my blog: A measured amount of alienating details in this entry did a nice job of keeping me off balance.


What the Bus? A Transit Nightmare is a surreal comedy, written in Twine, created by E. Joyce.

What the Bus? pulled off a clever trick with my expectations, although discussing it ventures into spoiler territory


Stoned Ape Hypothesis is prehistoric fiction written by James Heaton, using Ink.

On my blog: As a game, it works: your victories earn a series of power-ups, and your final reward is full integration with society.


A Murder In Fairyland is a choice-based fantasy mystery by Abigail Corfman.

On my blog: Every IFComp entry has players interact with text, but A Murder In Fairyland structures those interactions in unusual ways.


The Arkhill Darkness is a fantasy combat RPG by Jason Barrett. You have been dispatched to lift the Darkness and save the town of Arkhill.

A lot of creative work went into The Arkhill Darkness, but it didn’t take itself too seriously.


Equal-librium: Lion & Mouse? is a take on social critique by Ima, and it does not waste any effort on subtlety.

This entry is fast-paced and dense with information, trying to create the sense of a large, dramatic event unfolding rapidly.


High Jinnks is a choice-based story about a jinni’s mishaps in human society.

It’s a bit like a magic trick: when the presentation is smooth enough, you can ignore the mechanics and delight in the experience.


Vain Empires is a parser-based espionage game by Thomas Mack and Xavid.

“Cold war struggles playing out on foreign soil” is a familiar theme, and that familiarity allowed me to focus on applying game mechanics that departed from normal parser-based puzzles.


Red Radish Robotics is a choice-based science fiction story by Gibbo.

Overcoming almost every obstacle is a matter of finding the right links and clicking them in sequence, which meant that I enjoyed uncovering the story more than solving the puzzles.


Turbo Chest Hair Massacre is a real piece of work by Joey Acrimonious.

The main character’s insecurities prevent her from leaving the house, and you must deal with this by removing her chest hair. Although the razors are missing, useful substitutes can be found everywhere. There’s just one question: What price will you pay for perfection?

I went into this entry expecting a weakly implemented joke, and instead I found smart writing in a parser-based exploration of what it means to be in a relationship. Yes, it contains coarse language and erotic themes, but they’re artistically justifiable coarse language and erotic themes. Without them, the Turbo Chest Hair Massacre experience would be incomplete.

A wide variety of tools can be applied to the main problem, and they are uncovered by exploring the environment and interacting with the main character’s roommate. I enjoyed their different observations and reactions; they are clearly defined through sharp writing.

I was also entertained by how Turbo Chest Hair Massacre nudges the player towards obviously terrible solutions that are easy to attempt. Some of my worst ideas were smoothly executed without having to guess any verbs. After some quick early failures, I thought, “I need duct tape.” Dear reader, the game provided duct tape. After discovering more details about the roommates, I resorted to a method of hair removal that was suitably horrifying.

If I have but one regret, it’s that I didn’t spend more time exploring new frontiers of personal hygiene with Turbo Chest Hair Massacre. It was fun as hell.


this rules and i’m definitely trying this. there’s very few games i like more than ones that reward you most fully for making bad choices. life should be similar imho


Hi, Peter. Thank you for playing and reviewing RRR. I’m pleased you enjoyed the story, and your feedback is much appreciated. The respawn feature was added to take the player back to before the mistake was made, allowing a different choice, rather than replaying from the start, so it’s a shame that players have been a little muddled by this. In future games, I may remove this checkpoint feature or better explain it, as it clearly needs some attention. Thanks again!

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Desolation is a parser-based horror entry from Earth Traveler.

I had a difficult time engaging with this story, and I’m not convinced that a parser was the best format for delivering it.


Tavern Crawler is a choice-based, screwball noir fantasy by Josh Labelle.

Too much dramatic tension might have cramped the interactivity and left me feeling like an observer. Instead, I had enough slack to play around inside the story and enjoy myself.


Passages is speculative fiction by Jared W. Cooper.

I wondered whether I should try to piece together its chronology on my own. Then I decided to follow the narrator’s example and accept things as they are.


Quintessence is a choice-based science fiction work by Andrea M. Pawley.

The choices in Quintesence were less about deciding how my character acted, and more about choosing which actions would affect it.


Savor is a choice-based horror entry by Ed Nobody.

My inability to enjoy the story might have been a personal failing.


Fight Forever describes itself as a white paper. It describes a lot of ambitious things.


@vivdunstan recommended Captain Graybeard’s Plunder, and she’s absolutely right that it should not be missed.

Honestly, you can ignore my review. Graybeard’s Plunder, by Julian Mortimer Smith, is short enough that your time would be better spent just enjoying the work itself.