Another Neo Twiny Jam review topic (Andrew Schultz)

Let’s see if I can more or less keep up! My goal is to get through half of them.

Updated, collapsible list of links to entries published most recently first, so in case someone else wants to review/look at them, they’re there. Other topics may be doing this, too, but I figure the more links the merrier.

I will grab whichever title looks interesting to me and look through it. I reserve the right to silently skip anything I may not mesh well with.

Don't want a textwall to start the topic, though! Especially since it may get bigger as the jam goes on.

piele, by slugzuki

Friends :sparkling_heart: Friends: Coffee Talk, by PRINCESS INTERNET CAFé

winter, by 30x30

january frost, by mogar

i’ve been drinking again, by yuveim

Just a normal Human, by glucosify

crash-landed, by Cyra Ezekeli

Scale, by lavieenmeow

The Truth of the Nightmare, by TrexandDrago Development

Please Don’t Take This The Wrong Way, by Crosshollow


(almost eleven), by spacedfoxes

Collision, by manonamora

forever, an echo, by wilderlingdev


choke heart, by Cressida St. Claire

serious, dude?, by prince of the clouds

The Meaning Extractor, by cpollett

If I Die, Consume Me, by Fiddles IFs

Distance & Mirage, by HeartForge

Lockdown, by gamerpotato

Marla, by mina

(12:35), by I’m L

Palazzo Heist, by Ju / smwhr

Ebb & Flow, by ? Arezou ?

the boy who died, alive, by vvvild

the ride home, by cassian

SOL, by nyehilism

Before Sunrise, by spudsie

Listen to the Phone Ring, by Rylie Eric

nine months out, by nell

Why Am I Exist?, by TrexandDrago Development

and there are no stars., by Cressida St. Claire

The Paper Mache Puppet, by LoAvis

boobs, by The Happiest Camper

faith, by kit

My Mail Carrier is Always on the Phone, by PatientRock

The Flames That Take, by OkayMayoGames

You Bird., by Wandering Basil

Theo, by prince of the clouds

It Was Meant to End Like This, by catsket

Sprinklepills!, by lancecirone

Concerto of Life 3rd Mvt., by Alby

Concerto of Life 2nd Mvt., by Alby

Concerto of Life 1st Mvt., by Alby

The Unseemly Virus, by cpollett

The Real Me (Neo-Twiny Jam 2023), by Ashes_and_Sand

A Crown of Ash (Neo-Twiny Jam 2023), by Ashes_and_Sand

Witch Blood, by Ramona G.

idle hands, by sophiades


(Concerto of Life 1st Mvt. by Alby for Neo-Twiny Jam - of Life 2nd Mvt. by Alby for Neo-Twiny Jam - of Life 3rd Mvt. by Alby for Neo-Twiny Jam -, by Alby

This was a cheater-choice by me to get to my goal of the halfway mark for reviews, since it is three in one. I meant to read it in order, but I managed to bungle things and read the 2nd part first. This actually worked quite well for me, as I certainly was left wondering whether there was a breakup or whether someone was dying. I actually leaned towards the breakup and wondered if the 3rd part had reconciliation!

I think this is a good use of the competition parameters of 500 words per work, and it packed a lot in. It’s very smooth, and while the interactivity isn’t huge beyond putting in names and choosing a few locations, that doesn’t affect much for me. It is about, well, people living a life together, with a lot of ups and downs and reflections.

Re-reading it I was amused to note how it seemed to incorporate fantasy tropes (going out on adventures) as feeling like, maybe, a high-paying job in the real world that required a lot of travel. This was unexpected. I also enjoyed the brief discussion of their one kid much different than them. Because of the word count, it ended too soon for me.

Sticklers might argue the author bent the rules by submitting 3 parts, but you do get 3 entries, and I’m glad the author used them the way they did. It’s odd–doing something like this is probably off the beaten path for a jam, even though it seems conventional, because most people submitting entries to a jam will say “Oh hey I should completely diverge here or people will get bored.” Here I definitely did not.


Actually, we gave our ok for this. :stuck_out_tongue: So all within the rule…


I’m glad you did! I should have clarified and said “silly rules mongers who like being overly literal when it suits them.” (Also, I noticed you’d DQ’ed others. So that gave me extra confidence you’d given the okay to this, even though I failed to check the message boards on itch to verify.)

Lockdown, by gamerpotato

There’s going to be a lot of relevant COVID nightmare stuff for a while now, isn’t there, for better or worse? My first reaction was “Oh, it’s over. Do we need to go back?” But we sort of do. And we sort of need to admit we have to, to keep healing and to remember what we can’t take for granted and what we want to (re-)establish as regular social rituals.

Certainly I still just feel I can’t or shouldn’t go out at times, and there were definite loops during lockdown when I felt I should do something. I remember being glad a census taker came to my door and glad to have an excuse to help them track down my downstairs neighbor. And of course there is the fear a COVID strain will mutate horribly e.g. as Omicron did. If nothing happens, we worry we’ve been too lucky. If something happens, we worry it’ll get worse.

But it’s just the repetition that really seemed to weigh on me, and it’s one that stopped me doing new things, and even when I could get back to the athletic club, it felt odd. And this captures things very well. (Small voice Debbie Downer/spoiler) the twist didn’t quite work for me, maybe because I anticipated it, and because the other parts were a bit more effective. Nevertheless I still have a constant fight over what restrictions I’ve imposed on myself and what restrictions the government has done. As I see it, they didn’t overstep, and I still have a fight in my head about Biden declaring the pandemic over when it really wasn’t.

This also captured my feeling of being trapped in other senses, perhaps by my own fears or moods or whatever, so it was effective.


My Mail Carrier is Always on the Phone, by PatientRock

I can be suspicious about the gimmicks of using graphics or text effects in Twine, but then something really neat comes along to remind me, yes, there is a lot to be done or explored, and it may be right in front of your face. Here that applies to both the subject matter and the webpage effects.

Someone simply wonders what their mail carrier is up to. It’s very quick and effective, and there are a lot of t things you can mouse over that change. The stamp in the upper right corner, for instance. There are a lot of things you’ll find on letters, in the US at least, stuff I sort of took for granted or glossed over.

My biggest disappointment was that I couldn’t go backwards. In fact at the end I couldn’t even restart. But for the first time in a while I cleaned out the cookies for itch just to check everything again. There aren’t any different paths through–it would ruin the tone to find a secret society of postmen having a hush-hush meeting. But there was some hidden stuff I missed the first time.

I’d been thinking a lot about a certain GK Chesterton Father Brown short story lately. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read it, so … you can google it if you really want to. It involves postmen and potential secret lives and having certain questions, too, though it’s in a far different context. They probably couldn’t have imagined cell phones back then. But it has that same sense of wonder and realizing we don’t ask as many questions as we could.

The author has 2 other works. I looked at The Leaf Blower, which was pretty quick, and I hope to see more.


Please Don’t Take This The Wrong Way, by Crosshollow

I had a lot of thoughts about this one–the unfolding essay works well here, because it feels like someone who isn’t sure how much they should apologize or explain and wants to leave it up to the listener, but they’re genuinely not sure how good-faith the listener’s questions are.

While this deals with self-harm it made me think of my own dealing mechanisms over the years. It might’ve been meaningless doodles or shading a page in when I got bored in class. And there would be people who asked in good and bad faith. And I was never sure how to respond. (This also applies to not liking loud music or crowded parties. Some people have said I’d ruin the party anyway, and others would feel sorry for me, that I’m missing so much and I should just give it a chance, and I’m only ripping myself off/ripping other people off as well by being unsocial, as if I hadn’t already tried.)

And there are good parts in here too about being equally repulsed by cheek-pinching types as well as overcritical types. It could be snarky or overwrought, but that would ruin things. It contains things I wish I’d been able to say as a teen.


Interesting! I removed the back button because I needed the screen real estate for the envelope and all its various stuff, plus the “return address label” lets you cycle back through paths, but I hadn’t considered how aggressive itch is about retaining the session. Next time, a restart button. Thanks for playing and reviewing!


Oh! I get it now. I’d assumed the return address label should back things up and I was confused when it didn’t seem to … but it didn’t go to the most recent one, rather to the start of a sequence. So if I post a review to IFDB I’ll fix that.

Also I didn’t recognize from your username that you were one of the authors of Cragne Manor! That’s kind of neat, to be a part of a big Twine jam and a big Inform jam.

ᕁ᙮ᕁᕽᕽ CozmoPets ᕽᕽᕁ᙮ᕁ, by groggydog

This one was recently submitted, and I recognized the author as someone who’d written reviews and a comp entry too! I still need to play The Familiar and on the basis of this, it’ll be pushed forward a bit in my Spring Thing backlog.

The display mocks a GameBoy interface, like Death by Lightning from IFComp 2022, but it’s far more lighthearted, and the choices are always binary–though the opening is a funny take on “But Thou Must.” Well, some are technically tertiary, as you can pet your future monster, feed it junk food or feed it good food.

I just rushed through so I didn’t figure out if there was any rhyme or reason to the “Left or Right” and “Up or Down” puzzles, but getting all four pets didn’t seem counterintuitive at all. I might have liked an option to drop the timed text after a runthrough or two.

It holds no great social message but was a great use of 500 words including a bit where the screen went wonky.


Glad you liked it! I’ll see if I can code something up to speed things along. I’m sure there’s an easy way to figure something out.


Big Barbarian’s Tiny Adventure, by nlem

This sort of thing is right up my alley. It’s not the first spoof of adventure gaming, and it’s not the first twine game with directions out there (this could be inspired by the parser or by side-scrolling RPGs,) but I enjoyed it a lot, because I think having the word limit forced the author into stylistic choices to put as much content in there as possible. Mages would have to worry about big long spell names. Priests? Praying and so forth. Thieves might be too obsessed with treasure. Bards? Well, you have to shoehorn in a song or two, to make them believable characters.

Fighters, especially barbarians, are entities of few words. Which of course lends itself well to fitting inside a word limit and providing enough content to satisfy the reader. If you’re wondering about actual size, I decided to map the game out on a post-it note to see if I could, and there are eight rooms total. The puzzles connect well.

BBTA also has a few deaths that you really should know if you paid attention. One is hinted particularly well. It is worth taking the scenic route for them. And as brevity is the soul of wit, they and the puzzles do indeed combine for a good deal of humor.

At the end, you get a choice of reward, and the unusual but in-character one is quite funny. About the only disappointment (for me) for this entry was that there wasn’t more in-game art like the image! That said, it was easy enough to imagine.



So yes this is an intriguing title. It suggests not just nonviolence but enforced nonviolence. After all, the sleeping beast hasn’t killed you yet! Um, at all.

Stuff about addiction will always leave me thinking whether or not it works. So be warned. The thing is it can put me into a pensive rage about things I was told were good for me but in fact put me at serious risk of substance addiction. And I think I’ve discussed before how playing stuff I don’t enjoy any more is sometimes an anodyne that hides more serious stuff. “Well, it’s not lethal,” you hear. It’s a sleeping beast sometimes, too,when you’re not into it.

I think Twine works like this have definitely matured over the years. They’re a lot less in-your-face and feel a lot less like they have to prove a point or be exciting or exemplify the pinnacle of a certain art form. (Maybe I’ve mellowed on my views towards them, too, because there is less of a choice vs parser war than before.)

There are a few questions with the same response. So this doesn’t especially branch, but I think (and this may be an old choice trope by now) it doesn’t matter, and you’re stuck. Here you ask how likable you are but are pretty convinced you’re not being objective, and if anyone really cared, or you were worth caring about, they’d help you out. It’s a heckuva dilemma to be in. Certainly I got to imagining “well, I-the-character am less likable for having an addiction, and I probably can’t get back to where I was, which wasn’t great anyway.”

So I found it effective, probably because it had a level of fantasy with the king, the knight (you) and the beast, and the looping gave you a chance to fight fruitlessly to make sure you knew what was going on. And it captured well how addiction/depression etc. is like a cycle where you say you don’t have the energy to tackle THAT yet, or it isn’t quite SO bad, or other people deserve to tackle it first. Or, it could be worse!

It reminded me, too, of other things, such as comments by my family about how (paraphrased) druggies hang together. So don’t hang with the wrong crowd! And the isolation this presents turns that bit of nasty prejudice on its head.
I’m not sure who the king is supposed to be. That didn’t make DNKTSB any less effective for me.


Jacob’s Body, by Carter X Gwertzman

It’s always good to see IFComp authors pop up somewhere else–it’s a reminder to me that I enjoy having a corner of the internet, but I don’t need to stay in a bubble. In fact, I should not.

The author wrote Flattened London for IFComp 2020 which was a combination of Flatland and Fallen London, and it was a pretty big and amusing parser game. Then for IFComp 2021, they wrote My Gender is a Fish in Twine. I thought it was an effective and succinct counter-measure to those who used gender pronouns as a joke without directly crusading.

This is about a slightly supernatural cycle of life where someone’s body is repurposed following death. It branches to three stories, then a conclusion. It has the odd effect of making, for a moment, (warning) cannibalism seem almost natural, each small story in a way reminiscent of how I read Native Americans performed rituals after hunting certain animals for food and made sure not to waste as little as possible out of respect for the animal’s life.

But in our brief glimpse into Jacob’s world, even what is not used, is used. And what is not used to clear constructive purpose has its own use in a way. It has a clear cause for content warnings but paradoxically the stuff that causes them is potentially the most uplifting or hopeful.

I hope Carter Gwertzman is writing other stuff, too, outside of comps and jams. I’m pretty sure that is the case.


Milk Quest!, by Dug Makes Games

This has some cute and funny pictures and is relatively simple. You go to the store, even though you don’t want to, choose from 20 varieties of milk (hello, paradox of choice,) and try to navigate small talk successfully with a cashier.

There’s some timed text which usually irks me because it feels like the author making ABSOLUTELY sure they have your attention, but here it works well, as you have options to choose from and it cuts off right away … and the options (usually) don’t matter much.

This is the author’s first game and I think Neo Twiny Jam is a good place for it. The hand drawn images bring across fear and whimsy nicely. They also fixed a bug I pointed out rather quickly.


You Could Stay Here Forever, by KnightAnNi

This is a story about the last night of a closed mall before it is demolished. You sneak in, hoping to find memories. It’s well done, with the sound manipulated at a critical point.

I haven’t visited a mall in ages but I am sad to read of ones I liked closing down.

I was thinking of Jim Aikin’s super-long The Only Possible Prom Dress while playing this, and while it’s unreasonable to expect a 500-word Twine Jam game to be that complex, I’d love to see the author expand on this theme. From what they have, it sounds like they could, if they want to go in that direction.


alias, by nyassidy

This is a short story that takes an idiom and turns it on its head effectively. That idiom is “may I have your name,” except, well, it’s literal in this case. It’s hard not to feel a bit defensive about all this. You get some interesting deflecting responses. You shouldn’t have to say them.

I don’t think there’s any way to do as the fairy asks. But it’s a really neat look at invasive questions and having one’s personal space breached in a way that doesn’t make me need to go wash my hands after.

They way it ended for me, I wondered if the fairy ever had any intentions of taking your name, or it just wanted to be annoying. Maybe it had no power to do so. It’s an interesting clever twist on chance encounters where someone was rude to you for no reason at all and you are left wondering “what did I do.”


piele, by slugzuki

Ah, here’s an author I’ve seen on the boards. I was a bit confused as to what was going on the first time, but even without trusting their other works Went Somewhere Interesting, it was pretty clear the confusion was 1) intentional and 2) added to the experience.

To overgeneralize, There’s just one page where you click on lots of words that change to a final format, and the journey matters.

This feels like a work you should experience for yourself, as explanations fall short. So I’m going to slightly hide what I saw of it and just mention that clicking on the ending twice kicks you to the end of the work, so avoid that if you want to see it all right away!

what I saw/interpreted

There’s a bunch of text in a language you might not be able to guess. That you cannot guess the language seems intended. It’s not super-obscure. The point is that you go through the process of deciphering stuff, not just translating, but understanding what the words mean. The writing is poetic in nature, with two poems of four lines each, and sometimes, when you click on it, the literal interpretations appear first before the translated ones do. So the meaning slowly pops up.

Hint for the language: look at the accents. They are unique (AFAIK) to a reasonably-sized country.

But what is the language, though? Cut and paste and use Google Translate. I think it’s a good choice for what the author was trying to accomplish. And I think it was successful, and that’s why I’m only semi-revealing the spoilers.


Friends :sparkling_heart: Friends: Coffee Talk, by PRINCESS INTERNET CAFé

Oh wow. When I cut and pasted, the heart emoji popped up. You know, I’m still used to the bad old days where you should be grateful that text popped up with minimal formatting, and also when sometimes you could get a graphic, but mixing the two (e.g. in MSPaint) didn’t work. So having an emoji dropped in the middle of text still blows me away.

From this you can guess I had no acquaintance with Friends vs Friends. But I don’t think I needed to, to recognize what was going on here. Changing the vs to a heart was a cute touch. And it’s simply about a dialogue between people about how quickly things can change. And I imagine that’s the case with FvF being (I’d guess) a bigger success than expected. Other people have big successes too. And the characters reflect on how quickly they grew close.

The graphics are attractive, and so is the interface. As someone who zooms around pushing tab and enter instead of clicking with my mouse, I really enjoyed being able to use the arrow keys. The conversations have up to three options, with the right key reserved for reading more text.

This one kept popping up in the “most popular” list and I was a bit worried I would have to know a lot about the subject matter to enjoy or even kind-of get it, but I did not.


Sprinklepills!, by lancecirone

Hey, wait! That name looks familiar … now I know why. I’m glad to see someone who’s written a lot of IFDB reviews make the jump to something reviewable.

This is a short conversation where you head to a doomed sales pitch, which is doomed because of your social awkwardness and the uselessness of what you’re selling. It’s genuinely sweet and the poor confused protagonist may have visions of being someone who repurposes or synergizes (obligatory buzzword) two ideas that, well, are less than the sum of their parts. They think they have found something new. Perhaps the only reason it is or seems new is that everyone else who thought of it ignored it.

I may be reading too much into this, but last night I was reading yet another article about how everyone in America is fed that you need to be an entrepeneur to really make it, or entrepeneurs deserve a lot more than work drones, or do you really just want to be in a cubicle all your life without being able to order people around? Or wave stuff in front of people’s faces saying “You don’t know you want this, but really, you do,” and then they fawn and say “Oh my goodness yes we always wanted this but never realized it?” You should have ambition!

The poor main character in this piece has ambition and persisistence. It’s easy to poke holes in what they do. But I think of all the times I tried to combine two unrelated things together and failed, and I felt I deserved to make that connection, and I was pretty sure I had something new. I was never brave enough to go to a bunch of CEOs with my ideas. Maybe that was for the better.

Still, I want to try piecing things together and making connections, in my writing, even if I fail as badly as the Sprinklepills salesperson.


A three-fer:

winter, by 30x30
january frost, by mogar
i’ve been drinking again, by yuveim

I’m lumping these three together, not because they’re all so super similar, but because they’re all similar enough given the order I played them in, and writing about one individually might drain me. I have a silly goal of meeting manonamora’s reviews at some point, as we are both working from different ends. Maybe not so silly–it would be neat to have each entry covered by one review ASAP, and I may be skimming here, but I want to provide some coverage.

Each looks at unhealthy self-destructive behavior in a different way. In winter, there’s an implication someone is different and it leads to an unnecessary risk. This is, presumably from the content warning, about homophobia, but it could apply to anything. january frost is about a lack of intimacy or willingness for it. i’ve been drinking again is about, well, drinking.

It was tough to get back on track after reading these three, not because they were overwritten, but because they reminded me of how I’d been sidetracked, and there were times I wanted people to ask what was wrong, and I wanted them to follow up, too, but I couldn’t be too obvious with what was wrong, and I didn’t want them asking just to be polite so we could move on with things already. People seem to find the exact wrong way to look for help, and why each main character can’t do so directly is a tragedy in its own way.


A/The Gift, by b_splendens

This is a short Twine about someone who receives what feels (to me) like an inappropriate, random gift and being quite confused about it.

I think a lot is left to the reader’s interpretation, because the choices you took the first time are crossed out, which I realize is nontrivial Twine coding, whether branches at any one page lead to the same next page or somewhere different. And different information is given on different passages through.

I’ve certainly been suspicious of people who’ve given me gifts for no reason before after some bad history. I’ve had people suddenly be nice to me for a bit. Perhaps in this case the (very) wealthy benefactor feels they’ve washed away some sin. Maybe they feel guilty they got out of the town they hated, or maybe they remember doing something bad to the narrator. But there is no indication their act has done any good at all.

The title of A/The suggests the giver has given out other gifts like this before. This one is odd and spooky without anything supernatural.