Billy Mays Reviews ECTOCOMP 2016.

I will be incorporating what I have learned from the community feedback from my ifcomp reviews. The scores are probably going to be a bit off initially as I try and assess how the games stack up to each other within their specific category. I am also going to go back and fill in a handful of the reviews in my ifcomp section within the next week, I have not forgotten about them, I just needed to take a break.

I am going to try to write into my reviews for games I disliked how I feel they could have redeemed themselves. This is not intended to be disrespectful towards the work that the authors have done, I am not an author myself, this is just one opinion that may or may not be a good one.

Thank you.

Going Home

La Petite Mort


I played this game several times to make sure I didn’t miss anything. You get turned into a zombie on your way home, you eat some people, and then you make it home and eat your daughter. My major criticism with this game is that the ending was sick, it wasn’t scary, or suspenseful, or terrifying, it was just really sick. The suspense and horror should occur between the moments the protagonist opens the front door to his home and when he enters his daughter’s room, this is what the writing should have emphasized rather than the street scenes. A quick introduction via a couple of the early street scenes, followed by the emphasis of walking through every room while listening to the sound of your daughter’s playing voice getting louder and louder as you are getting closer to her room, the dread building up in the player as they realize where this is going, and the final final page would just be the daughter excitedly jumping up and shouting “Daddy!” with her doe eyes as a smile turns into terror - end the game there on a cliffhanger, the final picture should have been the one with the pale man holding the teddy bear. The bloody picture wasn’t necessary, I probably would have had a picture of kitchen or something when the protagonist enters his house.[/spoiler]


La Petite Mort


A crossroads in your path forces you to decide how to confront your past. This game had multiple endings, I was able to achieve three different death endings as well as two different winning endings. I feel there are even more endings, and I will come back at a later date to see if I can discover them. As somebody who has personally driven down many wooded back country roads at night, I can say that the one thing they all have in common is stress. This is from the heightened state of awareness you need to maintain in order to avoid colliding with trees, sudden drops, bodies of water, and wildlife. This game captured that stress and isolation very well with the failing engine, the low tank of gas, the trees closing in around you, and your relentless pursuers. I also liked how the “wait” command was used repetitively to drive forward. This is pretty much what driving for hours on a dead road feels like, you are here and need to get there which could be hours away, so it is pretty much just waiting with your foot in the same spot for hours. I didn’t like how the moose was introduced: “A great lumbering moose stumbles out of the darkness into the headlights of the car!”. Suburban wildlife stumble out in front of vehicles, forest wildlife materialize out of thin air. They are so stealthy and used to things trying to constantly eat them that you will be looking straight at them and not even know it until there is a wiggle of the ear and they just materialize out of nowhere, it is the weirdest thing you have ever seen if you’ve never seen it before. When you do see them move it is like they materialized out of nowhere or out of a fog and the movement would be closer to a graceful gliding than a stumble. An animal with an injured leg or one that is particularly old will move with something close to a stumble, not quite, but I can’t think of the correct word right now, and those animals tend to avoid moving too much because they are easy targets for predators, unless they are pack animals in which case they get weeded out pretty quickly. I didn’t knock any points off for this, I would just like to see it changed in a future update. The part where the moose crashed through the windshield was strange. A male moose weighs between 840 – 1,500 lbs so hitting one would probably be similar to hitting a dumpster. I don’t know why, but the imagery for this crash worked really well for me despite being unrealistic. The “but at what cost” tacked onto one of the winning endings was really bad, I would like to see that part removed in future updates, I didn’t deduct points for this as well. There’s Not really much to improve with this game, I anticipate this game falling between a 7 to a 10 for the final score after I see how it stacks up to the other games in the competition.[/spoiler]

The Curious Incident at Blackrock

La Petite Mort


This was a pleasant game, I liked it. It is set roughly around the Salem Witch Trials in the very early 18th century. There are multiple endings in which I was executed in one of them but not before cursing a family to die, and I blamed it on the preacher in another game and then ran off to hide in the Caribbean in another. It definitely captured the insanity of the period. There were sources referenced in the game to which the author stated at the end that they used the resources of a couple of historical societies for the game, I like when real historical primary sources are used to tell a “real life is stranger than fiction” story. A very nice game.[/spoiler]

Thanks for play Going Home! [emote]:)[/emote]

As you say, there is nothing more in this IF that a gore-explicit ending. It’s a Halloween crazy joke. The game that you suggest is fine, but I could not create it in two hours.

Thank you for making Going Home! I may still raise it a few points as I see how it stacks up to the rest of the competition, but even a 1 is infinitely better than no game at all.

Thanks for the review, I do agree my writing was sloppy in places (that’s what happens when you try to implement multiple ending with only three hours to do it in!). This is exactly what I will be working on in a post-comp release.

Thanks for playing! Glad you enjoyed it!

I actually found the writing very effective overall in spite of the harsh time restrictions you had to make the game, that is one of the primary reasons I scored it so high.

Thank you for making the game, I enjoyed it very much. In particular I felt the Old English worked for me, usually the danger of using it to try and represent an older time period is that it appears very artificial. I’m not an expert on Old English, I didn’t look up any of the grammar, but I can usually tell when something is blatantly over the top, and the writing here felt natural enough for me to believe your narrative.

Because You’re Mine

La Petite Mort


You play an evil horse who needs three ingredients to perform a dark ritual to win the affection of another horse. I enjoyed the story, the book was a neat trick to clue players in to uncommon commands, and the writing for the characters and environments were very convincing. One thing that I always find particularly refreshing is when authors implement popular folklore into a game, so I really enjoyed the mandrake reveal. I am not sure where the game could have improved as my two biggest complaints are probably due to time restrictions. These are how a number of important things such as the gallow’s tree were not examinable, and the ending was cut really short. I feel an extra sentence or two at the end could have buttoned up the game better. I didn’t deduct any points for this as I am assuming that the time constraints was the culprit here and there was a good bit going on despite these constraints. An 8 just feels about right for now.[/spoiler]

The Unstoppable Vengeance of Doctor Bonesaw

La Petite Mort


This game is completely mad, and I loved it. You play the role of Doctor Sargon Bonesaw, stamp connoisseur, in his quest for vengeance against I am not even entirely sure if he actually had a real grievance or if he is just completely insane. Everything in his office helped fill in another detail of this deranged individual, from the portraits of his four enemies, his insane journal, hit tuxedo and flesh colored mask and bone saw, and the surgical table that transforms into a leather easy chair and a shipping crate. It was all of the tiny details that added up to this spectacular game. The addition of the words “extremely comfortable” in “extremely comfortable leather easy chair” was genius, the author could have just left it at “leather easy chair”, but by adding the “extremely comfortable” it tells you that the protagonist is not completely dead inside, he very much enjoys his creature comforts, and this plan is a very lucid one despite how totally deranged it appears. Another tiny detail that I just thought of that I had missed in my review originally was the bone saw. It was mentioned in the text that a power surgical bone saw will not cut soft tissue, but that was the only thing the doctor brought with him on his revenge mission. He had steel panic doors installed in that office which very appropriately didn’t make any sense because all it would do is imprison him in a room without food or water in an emergency, it was all gloriously mad. You have an assistant name César who is arguably more mad than Bonesaw because he goes along with this whole massacre without reason or questioning any of it, this leads me to my favorite line in the game: “You stride out into the night, César following closely behind,…”, César never says anything and is completely emotionless, it is just like going to the store to pick up some milk for him, no part of the plan was discussed which means that it has been gone over in painstaking detail for years, and César just went along with it without any motive. I even like how the game can be won in a single turn, and the command to beat the game is told to you in the opening description to the first location. This further drove home how completely mad this game is. It was very appropriate that the game could be beaten in one move because the protagonist’s white whale was walking out that door, that was his triumph, the actual massacre was so well planned out that it could be taken for granted like the sun rising in the morning. This game is magnificent.[/spoiler]

What to Do When You’re Alone

La Petite Mort


This game simulates a search engine that is supposed to identify intent. I probably played it a dozen times and I am pretty sure I died each time. The game failed to interest or scare me. Basically you ask it a question regarding some life advice and then get some really weird suggestions that send you down some strange path until you die, I just couldn’t get into it. This is because if I ever decided to try out a new search engine, and I typed something in and got some crazy nonsense like did you mean how to kill yourself, or is there a stranger in my house, or how to stalk an ex, how to hide a body, or are demons real, etc, I would just exit out of it immediately and just be like “well, time to go back to google”. In all honesty if such a search engine did exist, unless it was clearly marketed as a goof search engine or a game or a work of fiction, I would probably report it to the authorities.[/spoiler]

Edith’s Cat

La Petite Mort



In this game you take the role of a political prisoner on the day of his release in an unlikely dystopian future set four years from now. This game does earn the credit of being the first game that I have deducted points for grammatical errors and typos…I think ever. I understand there is a three hour time limit, but reading this game felt like the equivalent of rubbing broken shards of glass into my eyes. I managed to get to Edith’s home somehow, “talk” wasn’t implemented, it was pretty obvious the direction the game wanted you to go so I tried about a dozen subtle commands, couldn’t figure it out and thought to myself “it couldn’t possibly be” [open the game up in developer] sure enough it was that…then some violence happens and more rubbing glass into my eyes. It wasn’t the worst thing I ever played.[/spoiler]

Toiletworld Omega

La Petite Mort


Something to do with flushing toilets, I didn’t like it, but it certainly filled me with dread playing it so that is a positive thing being a Halloween themed game.[/spoiler]

The Periwink

La Petite Mort


I really enjoyed this game. The writing I found to be both fanciful and invigorating, it was a very pleasant experience overall, and I really enjoyed the haunting little twist at the end.[/spoiler]

Light into Darkness

La Petite Mort


This game was difficult for me to deduct a point from because of how much I loved it. I loved the writing, the surreal feeling to it all, I felt the characters had a lot of emotion to them, I loved the plot (most of it, here is where it loses a point for me), I loved the weird time loops that were going on, and the first window scene was rather chilling, it was done very delicately but still gave me the goosebumps. I say delicately because of the combination of viewing it from a pseudo 3rd person (viewing yourself in the past tense while standing in the present) perspective on top of how the mother’s emotions were screaming out through the text. It was gory, but the end result is empathy instead of disgust, and it is delicate because that is a difficult and fragile position for an author to achieve, and I feel this author achieved it there.

Where I deducted the point is in this line when you examine the book at the end:

“Its leather binding smells old. It tells of a woman who was forced to kill her daughter after she made a pact with unspeakable powers. The woman spent the rest of her life fighting to eradicate evil.”

As well as the reveal that you are fighting evil on a loop as shown in the fight with the little demon child at the end.

The problem with this is that in a traditional Faustian tragedy, there is a line that you shouldn’t cross, and when that line is crossed: the protagonist is doomed to eternal suffering. There is no redemption, no forgiveness, there is only endless pain and torment. Two major themes to take away from this is you need to make your decisions carefully because certain actions can never be taken back, and to always be mindful of your own humanity so that the fire that drives your passions in life does not also become the fire that consumes you. These eternal lessons will never lose their value. This was kind of represented in the story, but the problem is entirely in the fighting evil loop. This could just merely be an evil trick to fool the protagonist into believing salvation could one day be at hand for her, but the problem is that even that, even if it is nothing more than the personal gratification of trying to make amends, or having the gratification of purpose, even if it is just some brain in a vat in hell, even these minuscule concessions are too much to give. No matter how much the protagonist regrets her decisions, there can be no redemption and only suffering. Now, I do not want to sound all doom and gloom here. There is a lot of value in personal redemption stories. But in this story, the protagonist made a pact with dark powers and the end result is that she had to murder her own daughter, there is no taking that act back, there is no redemption, an act such as that will change a person irrevocably , and the fires that consume them will be of their own making. Later editions of the classical Faustian story implement various methods of redemption, but I’ve always thought those additions were pretty hack and defeat the whole purpose of the story in the first place.

The fact that I only deducted one point for this massive blunder (in my opinion) should reflect how much I loved this game.[/spoiler]

[emote]:D[/emote] [emote]:D[/emote] [emote]:D[/emote]

I am sorry about that, the intention was not to be a jab at you or your game, and I sincerely wish you the best of success with your future IF projects as I believe you are talented. The purpose of that was to clear up any doubt as to what scoring metrics I am developing for myself through this competition. I may still bump your game up a few points by the end of the competition, I am not sure yet. Thank you again for your entry.

Don’t worry about it [emote]:)[/emote] You really made me smile [emote]:)[/emote] And I believe that you are doing a great work for the Ectocomp with your reviews.