IFcomp 2015 reviews of all parser games from a new reviewer

The first post is an introduction to my reviews, with the reviews themselves in subsequent posts.

About these reviews and this reviewer: I played Infocom games and other text adventures in the 80s, but missed the independent revival of the 90s and growth of the form in the 00s and onward. I was led back to the world of IF in the course of doing software development for the Plan 9 operating system. After working on some ports of IF software, I have been playing the past two decades of great games that I missed, and IFcomp2015 fit right in to my current obsessions. I played every parser game, I think, and a selection of web-choice works. To give a sense of my game preferences, my favorite 80s game was A Mind Forever Voyaging and my favorite more recent game is City of Secrets. Exploration of the environment and narrative flow are what I enjoy most, seasoned with puzzles that I can solve with a few experiments.

All of these reviews are based on notes written prior to reading other players’ reviews, although some of my play order was influenced by seeing what games other reviewers had been playing. I am basing my reviews on my own subjective enjoyment, and in some cases (like games where the puzzles were too hard for me to make much progress without a walkthrough) the fault may be more mine than the games. I will be discussing strengths and weaknesses of each game, and my overall impression, but I will omit the numeric scores. I valued the experience of playing all these games and appreciate the work put in by all the authors. I am not trying to be completely spoiler free, but I will speak mostly in generalities and I don’t think reading these will significantly impact your experience of the story or puzzles.

I played almost all of the parser games in either plaintext or curses interfaces on a Plan 9 system. I occasionally looked at supplemental materials in a jpeg viewer, but in general these reviews are based on playing the game in the most simple and stripped down way possible, nothing but white text on a black screen. School of Old. Web games and those requiring software not ported to Plan 9 I played on Firefox/Windows. All of these reviews are based on the 2 hour play limit for submitted reviews. The (Not completed) notation is based only on the time limit so some of my favorite games from the comp were not completed by me within the allotted time. Overall I was very impressed by the overall quality, diversity, and quantity of the entries. Some additional summary commentary and a list of my absolute favorites appears after the individual reviews. Reviews are listed in the order I played the games.