Encorm's En-corner: Ectocomp Edition

Thank you so much for this review! I really appreciate the kind words about our game, and I’m so happy to hear it made your week a little nicer. <3

It makes sense that it felt a little parser-like—we had the game half written in Inform before we decided to switch to Twine, and that fixed pretty much all of our stumbling blocks in getting it finished. Glad to hear it worked out!


I definitely think it worked out!

On another note, I also forgot to thank you two for including a light mode option. I know it’s non-trivial to do under the hood, and for a game this length I probably would have made it through without too much eye strain in dark mode, but it did help me a lot here.

1 Like

This made my eyes bug out in frustration for you. Luckily, the game was absolutely worth all the work!



I love weird concept games! And this one is pretty darned weird, being inspired by a dream the author had. Props to them for rolling with it, I am so here for Antarctic plant horror. The writing backs it up too, descriptive and suspenseful. Most of the game is spent introducing the player to the central concept (military fungal killing machines that require a human handler to prevent them from eating each other) and then slowly building up to the PC actually meeting one of these monsters in the flesh(?).

The game also features a lot of Bengali phrases as the PC primarily speaks the language, with the option to look at a translation and get a pronunciation guide. I thought this was pretty neat, and I think some of the vocabulary is going to stick with me. (Not much, unfortunately, but that’s a me problem again. I am not good with languages.)

There’s a lot of potential here, but unfortunately it’s not all realized. After the intro, the gameplay consists of a handful of tasks that you can choose to do or not do in order to affect how your meeting with your assigned Hyphaen goes, which then determines which of three endings you get. I got two (including the good end), but there’s quite a lot of text to get through before you get back to any choices so I didn’t go in for a third round. I’d really love to see a more expanded version of this game, since it currently just feels like the introduction to something really cool.

Also, one further nitpick - if you’re going to have a lot of text on one page with only one link out, please put the link at the bottom! Luckily I only ran into this problem in the intro here, and objectively it’s not that big of a deal, but idk I just have A Thing about user interfaces and how they relate to the experience and this one little thing drives. me. nuts. Not nuts enough to change my review score, of course, but nuts enough to spend my Sunday evening ranting about it. I’ve run into it in a few other games recently so this isn’t meant to bag on Defrosted specifically - my apologies for getting snippy about it here.

(If someone really wanted to mess with me they could probably comb through all my reviews and create The Game To Specifically Annoy Encorm, which would have dark mode only with slow timed text and links anywhere but at the bottom of the page. Of course now I’ve probably summoned it into existence. :upside_down_face:)


I’m back! Rumors that I was eaten by a grue are greatly exaggerated.

You’re In Deep

This is a quick but surprisingly deep (heh) Twine game about trying to survive a hurricane in your attic. There’s only one puzzle (concerning what to do when the waters rise too far), but there’s plenty to see. While I’ve luckily never had any similar personal experiences, I didn’t mind too much because it makes sense. How many puzzles can you solve trapped in an attic? Instead, most of the game focuses on passing the time while you wait out the storm. Incidentally (and appropriately for Ectocomp) there is a whole lot of supernatural freaky stuff happening, but also a decent amount of regular weird stuff that comes along with your town flooding to the rafters. The regular-weird and supernatural-weird blend together nicely against the surreal natural disaster backdrop, helped out by the protagonist’s commentary. (Also, super appreciated the cameo from Terry Pratchett’s Death in one of the endings. Hello, fellow fan!)

This is an excellent little game full of mood and vibes, and it kept me playing until I ran out of endings. Great job!


God is in the Radio

I’m always delighted when a visual novel shows up in IF-land. As far as I’m concerned they’re certainly IF-adjacent if not outright a member of the genre, but the internet author spaces for both are very different so there’s not as much overlap as I’d like. This seems to be changing lately (from both sides, given the number of IFComp 2021 games that cited VNs as an inspiration and the 2022 games that feel like VNs-without-the-V), and since I’m a fan of both it makes me very happy.

God is in the Radio is a short visual novel made in Ren’Py, and with its heavy emphasis on the visual side stands out from the crowd. (This is no mean feat given the number of high-quality games in this year’s Ectocomp!) The story focuses on an unnamed cult centered around the Major Arcana of the Tarot, who have just been told by their High Priestess that they can hear a message from God of they complete a ritual involving a radio. The plot is mostly on rails, with the protagonist Death being given a few choices to decide how they feel or react to the whole ritual situation - these won’t change things immediately, but will affect what ending you get.

Despite the relative lack of interactivity, I had no trouble staying engaged with the plot. Part of this is because the story is well-written and well-paced, with tension slowly rising at every step. The other part is due to some kind of writing wizardry, because there are 22(!!!) characters including the protagonist - one for every Major Arcana in the Tarot. They all have unique portraits and uniquely defined characterization, and somehow despite being a short game with this many characters it doesn’t feel overstuffed. Mostly I think this is because the full cast only participates in the ritual, with a more limited number being part of the rising tension beforehand. Even with that it would be easy for the ritual portion to outstay its welcome so I am deeply impressed.

My only gripe with this game is how the endings are managed - the three choices are spread out throughout the game, and as far as I can tell different choices won’t change anything until you get a different ending. Because of this I wasn’t motivated to play through again in the hope of seeing the other endings (I got ending 2), but I don’t think this is necessarily a flaw in the game structure, not exactly. Most VNs I’ve played are like this (i.e. with long sections of non-interactive text between choices) but most of them make up for it by allowing you to skip text you’ve already seen, effectively fast-forwarding you to important choices and/or new content. God is in the Radio was written in four and a half hours and is a phenomenal game given that restriction, but I think it could be elevated further if the author implemented a similar feature.


Thanks for reading and the feedback! It was originally supposed to be a reference to Charon, but instead of a gondola, they use a floating prius. When I wanted them to speak however, I decided to go for classic GNU Terry Pratchett’s Death.


As a brief heads up, this game and likely all remaining Ectocomp parser games were played in conjunction with @EJoyce, who is much better at them than I am. That said, this review is solely my review, not hers - the only impact should be that you are all freed from more complaining about my lack of parser skills.

The Spectators

I always struggle with writing good reviews. Not writing well-written reviews (I hope!), but writing reviews of genuinely good games. It’s easy to write a wall of text about what I think a game did wrong or could do better. I personally find it much harder to go on at length about what I like about games and what they do well beyond “This was great! 10/10 would recommend.” In light of this, the reason I took so long to review The Spectators is simple: I really, really, REALLY like this game.

The Spectators is a game set in 16th-century Italy, and stars a cast of characters (mostly servants) going about their duties while observing the decline of the relationship between the jealous Duke and his new naive bride the Duchess. Each character’s chapter follows roughly the same arc: they need to do a task as part of their job, but they have something else that they desperately want to do. The puzzles all revolve around trying to fit said task in without detection by other staff (and therefore avoiding the harsh punishment that would come with it). While going about these tasks, each character gets another look at the Duchess’s life and the Duke’s controlling relationship with her, all the way to its inevitable end. This description falls short as it makes things sound much more repetitive than they are - the characters are rich and varied, as are the puzzles they need to solve, and I never felt bored. Even though we spent only a little time with each character I felt invested in each of them and their desires (even, in the case of one particular character, that investment is shown by disliking her intensely).

The player character writing here, I have to point out, is good but not too good. What I mean by this, of course, is that while I was fascinated with all of the PCs, none of them overshadow the story of the Duke and the Duchess. The Duchess is the center of the game and is the axis about which the plot spins around - catering to her and interacting with her shapes most of the servants’ days, and form the tasks that conflict with their own desires. While we never get to see the world through her eyes, we get an idea of the kind of woman (or girl, really) she is, and the shape of the Duke’s conflict with her. He’s not seen as much but his presence looms large over the entire castle. Whenever he makes an appearance on screen the story tension goes up a notch. The pacing of the story is superb as well, with the rising tension lasting exactly as long as it needs to before coming to a horrifying climax.

There’s a number of other touches to this game that I loved as well, particularly the attention to detail. The author has clearly done her research about the setting, both about the poem the game is adapted from and the real history behind the poem itself. I love all the little details, especially all the ones that turn out to be true (I had no idea dial locks were invented that early!). This extra effort made the whole game a delight from start to finish.

Finally, some spoiler discussion: I was not previously aware of the poem My Last Duchess, which this game is an adaptation of. I am fascinated by the general idea of IF adaptations of works, and in particular by the way this work pulled it off. It’s almost entirely written from whole cloth, but it follows the beats of the poem faithfully and is, in my opinion, an excellent adaptation.

I could keep going for a while, but I’ll conclude with this: Thank you, Amanda, for making this game. I had a great time playing it, and a great time challenging myself writing this review. I can’t wait for whatever you’ve got in the pipeline!


Thanks so much for this lovely review! I was quite nervous about adapting a work like this, because it’s so easy to fall short when the source material is so superb. Yet it’s the perfect setup for IF-- the entire nasty story on a silver plate, wrapped up with a bow-- so I couldn’t resist trying. I’m gratified to hear you think it was successful!