Hello! I’m Arclight_Dynamo. I’m not well-known in these parts (or known at all, really). This is literally my second post ever on the forum. But it’s my intention to play and review every game entered into the IFComp this year… we’ll see how that goes. I’ll be posting my reviews in this thread.
So what kind of reviewer am I?
Well, I’m not an old hand at IF. I only started playing these things about nine years ago, and not as often or as deeply as some. Though, I have been an IFComp judge for all of those years, just a silent one – so I’ve been around the block a bit.
I’m not a huge fan of puzzle-fests, traditional dungeon-crawls, or other overly-gamey IF. I’m much more into experiential, literary, and gameplay-light (or gameplay-free) works. When I play non-IF games, I tend towards narrative-heavy games and walking sims with messages or things to say. Those preferences are going to colour how I view works of IF, and they’re going to make it into my reviews.
I’m not a fan of puzzles at all, really. I’m in this for the stories and the experiences, not figuring stuff out. A super-clever puzzle, a real innovation, is going to be lost on me. It’s not what I focus on. And I’m no fan of being stuck on a puzzle. I’m perfectly happy to reach for the walkthrough to get past what is, for me, the boring bits, and get on with the interesting story.
I’m also generally not one to dig down into a work, playing it over and over, to find all the different possibilities or endings, or anything like that; I’m looking for a satisfactory narrative experience, and that generally means I run through the work once. That’s not a hard-and-fast rule, obviously, but if I get to the end of a work and it tells me I’m missing 300 points and this was the “bad ending,” that can be a turn-off.
My philosophy on judging and reviewing these works is the same as my philosophy on looking at art hanging in a gallery: I’m going to talk about what a work makes me feel and makes me think. I’m going to talk about what I like and what I don’t. Maybe I miss what the author intended, maybe my take is entirely different from your own. But art is meant to be experienced by everyone, all reactions to a work are valid, and it does no good to be intimidated away from stating your piece.
I should mention right now that these reviews will include spoilers. If you want to play a work unspoiled, don’t read my review of that work until after you’ve played it. I’ll make sure, though, that each review is hidden behind one of those collapsible spoiler-box things so that you can scroll down and find the review you want without being spoiled on other games.
I’m also going to mention that I’m making use of the IFComp website’s “Personal Shuffle” feature, so these reviews are going to appear in random order.
Finally, the format for these reviews is as follows:
Blurb – Yep, I’m going to review the blurbs! These will be written before I fire up the game.
General Impressions – My overall impression of the work, right after I’ve played it.
The Good – What I liked.
The Bad – What I didn’t.
Concluding Thoughts – If anything else needs saying, it goes here.
Do note what’s absent: a numerical score. Obviously I’ll be rating the works on the IFComp website. But I’m not going to include them in my reviews. I find what a review says is much more interesting than what number it boils down to, so I’m going to stick to that.
Anyway, here’s to a fun comp!