Angryisosceles' Brief Reviews

Hi, all! I’ll be posting my reviews of games as I play them. I don’t have any particular order in mind - I’ll likely just be skimming the randomized list for things that look interesting, staying away from games that seem too long or puzzley due to my own lack of time. Be warned that all reviews will contain spoilers for their respective games.

Starting with 4x4 Archipelago:

Wow! I really liked this one. It feels like a cross between Candybox and Sunless Sea. I’ve only played through it once (“Ignis the Swashbuckler, searching for the Heavenly Spire”), so I can’t comment for sure on the replay value, but I had a blast doing quests and exploring the isles. The only parts I didn’t like were some aspects of the combat (status effects felt a little too strong, I didn’t have a very good ranged weapon so flying enemies were a huge pain, allies felt useless), and feeling frustrated after I squandered all the easy-to-obtain resources. In 2+ hours of playing, I only found one bug, and it was easily circumvented due to the frequent autosaves. Either way, though, I loved this game and I’m very impressed with the execution - I tried to peek at it in Twine, and my laptop almost crashed.

Dead Account

I’m not sure how to feel about this one. The premise was intriguing, but the game didn’t really grab me. If the game’s characters have personalities, they aren’t being expressed through the messages they send. Similarly, a lot of the major “story beats” just feel like exposition. I learned while reading through messages from the dead user’s husband that he was killed in a car accident, that his friends went to a furry convention without him for the first time, and that the person who hit him with a car was charged for it. I then learned the same thing again, from someone else’s messages. There’s no new information there. But my real issue is the way the game looks: the text is huge, and images the game uses are even bigger, so I was forced to scroll on pages that contained less than a paragraph of actual text.

I think the thing that added the most personality to the game was the characters’ profiles. Other than that, the only information you get about them is that they were hurt by Mike’s death, which makes sense, but doesn’t really make me care about them. The characters talk about what they missed doing with him, and what their relationship was like - I would have liked to see those interactions, or even some of Mike’s messages from when he was still alive.

Side note: I haven’t played the companion game, but going off of what I’ve heard, I probably should have for context. If I’d gotten to meet the characters in Dead Account, this game would have meant a lot more to me. My apologies to the author for that, I guess.

Thanks for playing! I appreciate your feedback. What browser were you playing on? B/c I wasn’t having that text/image problem on Chrome; I had no idea they were so big.

Thanks for reviewing 4x4 Archipelago. I’m glad you had fun playing!

Would you mind describing the bug you ran across in more detail? Since it was something that forced you to load a saved game, I’d like to try and fix it as soon as I can.

EDIT: Yay, I found it based on your description, and fixed it! Thanks again for your help!

I was playing in Firefox.

Here's a screenshot of what I'm talking about:

Hope this helps!

Sure! Here’s what I remember:
The Hunters’ Guild gave me a quest to hunt a griffin. I fought it, but then fled from the fight. When I came back later and searched for the griffin (either with Survival 2 or by clicking on the right environment option), it sent me to a blank screen with no text. Clicking on the “wrong” environmental options still gave me the generic message. Hope this helps!

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Yeah, it might be a Firefox thing; I forgot to test it in that browser. >m<

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This Won't Make You Happy

This Won’t Make You Happy is short and funny, but has a bit of an identity crisis. The writing reminds me of Kingdom of Loathing, and is generally well-executed (I liked the bit with the gems). That said, the title and blurb suggests some kind of deeper meta-commentary on the nature of happiness/games, but if that commentary was there, it was obscured by the game’s tone. At times, some of the text transitions made the game hard to read.

This Won’t Make You Happy was a light, fun use of 15 minutes, though it left me feeling like I’d missed something.

The Libonotus Cup

The Libonotus Cup is a pleasant, pirate-y parser game about a boat race. The prose, and many of the story elements, gave the game a Monkey Island feel. The game’s puzzles are short and relatively straightforward, though I found myself playing guess-the-verb on one occasion, after getting stranded on a desert island. That said, I was easily able to get the solution from the hints and thorough walkthrough provided.

The first half of the game is parser-based, and involves your attempts to get your ship in good working order. I was a little confused about what I needed to do (did I need a cannon? did I need a bird? did I already have a crew?), but that never stopped me from progressing. The second half of the game, which concerns the race itself, is choice-based. To me, this part felt like it went by too quickly. I didn’t really feel like the options had any “weight” to them, and I couldn’t tell if I was winning or losing. I appreciated the interlude where I got stranded: the bit with the rock and the vowel-less crewmate was interesting, and it was nice to get back to puzzle solving.

While I struggled once or twice, The Libonotus Cup was a polished and flavorful game.

Grandma Bethlinda's Remarkable Egg

Grandma Bethlinda’s Remarkable Egg was fun and funny. The voice commands I learned provided some great mental images (e.g. a tiny racecar zipping in and out of a big metal egg while hammering sounds come from inside). The game generally did a good job nudging the player forwards. While I was sometimes frustrated in optional sections (like the microbot or the steam vents), I never felt stuck, and I always had something else to try. Even after I broke out of my handcuffs, I kept playing - I wanted to see what other absurd things the egg could do. All in all, I definitely enjoyed this game.

Papal Summons, or The Church Cat

The game’s premise - a cat that speaks in bible verses - is interesting enough. The game’s setting, catholic with a heavy dose of “something isn’t right”, blows that out of the water. Descending deeper into the Basilica was morbidly thrilling, like poking a dead body with a stick. The writing was excellent, and very evocative. As the game progresses, it becomes increasingly obvious that you aren’t wanted here, that the Church is sick and decaying, but you can’t turn back now. You have a summons.

Least favorite part: the inventory button sometimes felt out-of-place, particularly as the game got more intense.
Favorite(s): the scene with the fire-obsessed prostitute and the cat’s alternative verses.

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How it was then and how it is now

There’s a quote somewhere about how the difference between modern and regular art is that modern art evokes the same emotions as regular art, but the audience can no longer articulate why.

I didn’t really “get” this game but I enjoyed it. The game has you escaping a ??? geometrical maze with your ex? partner? friend? Clara. The game does an excellent job at steeping the player in weirdness. Towards the end, I felt a lot like the narrator — not knowing what to do or how to escape, but pushing on anyway. Gameplay is minimalistic, but the puzzles are fun and they definitely fit the tone. If something no longer resembles a cube, is it still a cube? What about a person?

Favorite part: The shape identification puzzles and the blurry text
Least favorite: I felt like the game was trying to tell me something with Clara, but I missed it.

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I would say that the goal of modern art is to make it difficult for the audience to articulate their experience.

– Jim

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