IFComp 2023 - Josh Grams

Vambrace of Destiny

My time: 90 minutes, fairly generous use of hints, I do pretty ok with puzzles.

This is probably Arthur DiBianca’s most approachable dungeon-crawl puzzler yet. It’s worth trying at least the first floor if you’re the kind of person who wants to like parser puzzlers even if you’re bad at them…

In the late-game of last year’s Trouble in Sector 471, movement around the map got tedious: N <enter> E <enter> E <enter> S <enter> and so on. This game streamlines things by moving as soon as you press the letter, which is terrific. Then all commands are single keys (letters): you gain more abilities as you go but you end up with all 26 letters unlocked. (Note that you can type a backtick/grave accent to start an out-of-world command like save or transcript, though I don’t think you can softlock yourself.)

Sector 471’s map also got hard to read toward the end with so many three-letter room abbreviations: this game alleviates that by breaking it into 4 separate levels of the dungeon (three levels and a boss). So it’s easier to read the map but then you don’t know how long the game is until you get right near the end: I used the hints pretty liberally because I was worried about running out of time.

But I think it’s right around two hours without hints if you’re decent at puzzles and don’t worry about getting all of the twelve optional treasures. The puzzles do get harder as you go down through the dungeon but Level 3 felt like it had fewer harder puzzles than Level 2 so I suspect it may take approximately the same amount of time. And the boss level is quicker than I was expecting.

It has the usual thin-but-silly/fun frame story: in this one you have been sent into the dungeon to retrieve the Staff of Many Powers from Senior Librarian Zolmaskar who stole it in a fit of rage after being passed over for promotion to President of the Society of Wizardry. You’re NOT a wizard yourself, but you’ve been given the titular Vambrace of Destiny, a forearm guard which allows you to slot in spell-gems and use their powers by tapping them.

Despite the limited command set, Sector 471 felt more like a usual parser puzzler: despite having more commands, this one reminds me more of Inside the Facility where all you do is move around and things happen as a side-effect of your being there. It does a really good job of having fairly systemic actions, so despite ending up with eleven spells, seven possible objects to draw on, and (I think?) three sprites who will temporarily upgrade one of your spells, it was usually pretty obvious which ones were useful in the current situation, even if it was tricky to figure out the right sequence and timing (oh yeah, there’s a “wait” command: Z for zzzz like sleeping/snoring as usual in Inform games, and that’s important sometimes). Gust to spin pinwheels to power equipment, Radiance to activate things with a burst of holy light, Operate to summon a burly Krotonian to operate simple devices, etc. (the enemies are trickier to figure out, but that’s the fun part so I won’t spoil that).

It’s also fairly Metroid-ish open-worldy in that you very often see the situation where you need an ability before you find it. It’s not designed so that you find the ability first. So buzz around and explore first: none of the enemies actually kill you so there’s no harm trying, and it’s more fun to explore than to bang your head against an obstacle that you don’t yet have the tools for…

Also take note of any mottos and the locations and descriptions of any special items that you come across: they may be important later and the map is big enough that you’re not going to remember all of them. Level and three-letter room abbreviations is enough that you can find them quickly…

Anyway. Fun puzzler, very approachable. There are graduated rot13’d hints in a text file. I thought they were pretty good but we’ve already seen a couple places where they’re missing details that you might not think of if parser games aren’t your usual, so ask over in the hint thread if you need it.


Lake Starlight

My time: 35 minutes.

This is the first “book” of a longer work: you’re a magical girl just finding her powers, you go off to magic camp and meet the other campers and live through the first day and then it stops there.

I tried this one because I liked the art and the pitch sounded… ok? But it… feels like beginner work, of the “my story’s going to be like this fantasy story! And that fantasy story! And that other fantasy story! And I’m going to put everything in it and it’s going to be awesome!” variety.

They haven’t learned to trust their readers to see the subtext so it’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer. Has a fair amount of typos too. Twine doesn’t have spellcheck but it could have used another tester to do a proofreading pass.

Terraquakes! Droughts! Firestorms! […] Man-made monsters on the loose. Teenage girls in mind-control cults. Packs of mad dogs.


You shake your head and sigh. The childish toys. The tangled-hair dolls. The ripped and faded posters on the flaking walls. Damn! Even your bedroom is cringe!

It can’t decide whether to use “earth” or “terra” especially in the list of four (five?) elements. Anyway. Then your abuelita and witchy godmother give you a magical present for your birthday and pack you off to magic camp, and it kinda feels like… contemporary fantasy? This world, but with magic? And then you meet the other campers and the one girl is like, yeah, my mom is a pirate and my other mom is a mermaid, “I learned to be a deep-diver into the darkness beyond the veil.” And the next:

“I am Marie,” she announces, her voice flowing with power and confidence. […] I come from a long ancestral line of female entrepreneurs, heroines and spiritual saints. For centuries my family has helped enslaved people escape from colonizers and guided war orphans to find new beginnings."

Marie has the dreamy air of mystic, but her speech is extremely polished. Practiced, even. Almost like a politician. She definitely doesn’t talk like any fourteen-year-old you’ve ever met.

Ashelle’s “first cry was a song, in perfect harmony with the cries of my mother, who was the sixth Oracle of the Three River Cities.” She was to be “the seventh Oracle, but five years ago our river was destroyed by a chemical spill. Then famine drove my people away from our homeland. Now, I am orphaned. I have been led here to finish my training. My inspiration is from beyond the veil.”

etc., etc.

The choice design isn’t great either: for instance you can just… opt out of the story near the beginning and get a lengthy linear epilogue about how time passes and you hang out with your boyfriend and smoke weed as the world burns. I wasn’t expecting that to be a single choice with no confirmation or attempt to talk you into going to magic camp. Though some of those sort of problems are probably a scoping issue.

And it feels like they haven’t learned to find a balance between hard branching with the requirements for lots of extra writing, and softer subtler choices. Nor to have a good feel for how much information to give the player before the choice and then intentionally either play into what the player thinks is going to happen or subvert it for effect. It all feels kinda accidental.

Dunno. It’s not necessarily terrible but it’s too much and it all blends into a hyperactive mush. And the prose bounces back and forth between fairly utilitarian suburban or wilderness camp activities (get up, eat breakfast with your abuelita) and this over-the-top drama and it’s a little jarring.

I’m just not quite sure who this is for.


Death on the Stormrider

My time: 67 minutes, a little use of hints.

Murder mystery on an airship. You and your brother are strangers to the crew, he’s locked up on suspicion of the murder. Crew members are roaming around so you have to hide anything suspicious that you’re doing.

It felt… a little programmer-ish and a little beginner-ish, but it’s a good game.

The prose is very solid although it leans just slightly more workmanlike than evocative. Good use of moving parts, and the mechanical parts of that implementation were totally solid. But it was a little under-described and under-clued in some places. You can get a personal item related to each crew member as evidence but to do that you sometimes have to search objects that seemed like they were just scenery with a description suggesting they’re unimportant. In order to find one ending you have to interact with a part of an object that’s not described so I guess you’re just supposed to intuit how to interact with it. Or trial and error, I guess. There are only a couple possibilities.

It would have been nice if prying things with the crowbar actually opened them, instead of just telling you that now you can open them and making you type an extra command, but that’s minor.

Also it would have been really nice to have the exits listed or described, since they’re definitely a little unconventional in places.

And I would have liked to be able to reveal both sets of crimes rather than having each action end the game, though I can see that that’d be more implementation trouble. It just felt a little abrupt.

Yay for Invisiclues-style graduated hints!

Well worth playing: a solid game, a fun mystery, just a little light on “what the heck are you supposed to be doing and why?” and more adventure-game style “go around and try all the possible things and some of them will turn out to be solutions eventually.”


One Does Not Simply Fry

My time: 20 minutes (so far).

Dear Lord, so many groan-worthy Lord of the Ring puns. :joy: Of course, that’s kind of the point, though there are stats and stuff in this comedy cooking game too. ChoiceScript. I just played once through but I’ll probably go back and play another run or two to see how the other characters go.

But… let me just point out that you get a magical tome: the Silma, by Real Leon. One of the other contestants is a disgruntled chef known as Sour Ron. You are trying to create the On(e)ion Ring on top of winning the Fry-Off.

Eh. That’s all clear from the blurb. You probably know if this is your jam or not. If it is, it’s silly, it’s fun, it’s relatively short.


Thank you for the review!


The Paper Magician

My time: 36 minutes, mostly trying to draw a map for no reason.

A cute little 15-minute science & magic story with a frustrating implementation because programming is hard.

After 13 minutes bumbling around I had seen everything and knew roughly what the four riddle answers should be, but then I spent a further 20 minutes trying to draw the map to determine if I actually had seen everything or if I was missing some rooms, and to try and figure out the exact strings needed for the passwords.

So. This game has a 2500-word linear intro, and then a small map with four passwords/riddle answers that you have to find. Which should be really simple, but… all of the room connections curve around so you don’t know which way is back the way you came, the four interstitial rooms where you enter the answers are featureless hallways with nothing to distinguish them except their exit directions (and you’re sitting there wondering… are these exit directions unique? Or is this a room I haven’t seen before which just looks exactly the same? And you don’t have objects you can drop to find out), and the answers (this is the programming-is-hard bit) are just a string comparison against the correct answer, so you have to get the characters of the answers exactly right. Or it makes you start the unlocking process over and you have to enter them all again.

But other than that it’s a charming little story and it’s easy to know generally what the answers should be. The writing is nothing amazing but there’s nothing too wrong with it either.

Edit: yeah, thinking about it more, if this used cardinal directions to directly connect the rooms, checked the riddle results with something like <<if $north_answer.trim().toLowerCase() is "the answer">>, and maybe changed the one riddle to “What must we sever the subject from?” so it’s more clear what kind of thing it’s looking for, I’d think it was a perfectly pleasant game, though the linear intro is longer than I’d like and I feel like you could combine some passages to reduce the extra clicking (e.g. move the textboxes into the door rooms instead of them each having their own passage, etc.). The story’s ok, it’s more the presentation that needs work. Although maybe the directions are intentional, to make it more disorienting and dreamlike? But that didn’t work for me.

So… with some hints, I think this an enjoyable 15-20 minute game, so here you go. Unless you like that sort of thing unspoiled, in which case, have fun!

What the heck shape is this map?!

  1. You may not need to draw a map: it’s small enough you can just fumble around until you get to all the places? But if you want to…

  2. It’s 10 rooms: your cell, four hallways where you enter the answers, four rooms that give you the clues, and then you unlock the one room that lets you escape.

  3. The 9 rooms other than your cell are arranged in a square: the room connections just curve around.

  4. The starting hallway is the top-center. The clue rooms are the corners of the square. All hallway exits are diagonal and curve around to enter the clue rooms on the primary directions

Why won’t it accept my answers?!

  1. They’re all capitalized (title case)

  2. Two of them are one word, two of them are not.

  3. (full solution, you probably don’t need this) clockwise from top center: Dragon of Origins, Subject 0013, God, Curiosity

Little Match Girl 4

My time: 91 minutes

I think this is my favorite of the series so far. They’ve been getting better and more elaborate as they go but LMG3 was kinda boring collect-party-members-and-level-them-up JRPG-ish turn-based combat (with random damage amounts?) which… eh. It just felt clunky in a parser form, or at least in that parser form. Though I think once you played it and understood how it worked, you could go back and just level up your main character a ridiculous amount and do the whole thing without a party, or try other combinations, which might be interesting… but probably not interesting to grind through the whole thing again. Although the map shapes in LMG3 were excellent: tricky/sneaky enough that you had to draw them out, but simple enough to easily navigate once you saw the shapes.

But this one goes back to the “go to different places and get items to use in other places” formula, and extends it to… well, at one point Ryan suggested that LMG4 basically was a remake of Metroid Prime and Baf suggested Metroid Prime Rematchstered and… yeah. You go around getting items that grant you new abilities that you can take back to old places and solve them. You get to magically travel through fires (well, you start with that one: that’s the little match girl’s whole deal). You get to see in the dark, and shoot ridiculously powerful flaming bullets from your revolver, and get a sci-fi scanning monocle, and dress up as a pirate (which is great fun, although the fake beard required is kinda gross) and get a “skeletonic key” that unlocks everything. And best of all you get to turn from a flaxen-haired girl into a flaxen-furred (that made me chuckle) mouse to fit into small spaces and sneak around people who’d recognize you as Ebenezabeth, and gather signatures on a petition to make the colony ship captain’s goldfish the official galactic representative of animalkind.

The fast-travel through the flames is well-connected enough that it’s pretty quick to get anywhere even once you’ve unlocked the whole map. There’s an in-game hint command that’ll tell you whether there’s more to do in the current room and whether you can do it yet, which is terrific. And the stories and descriptions and locations are ridiculous enough that a lot of them are fun. Ryan Veeder’s wacky descriptions and scenarios without the “what the heck am I even supposed to do?” drug trip of A Rope of Chalk. It landed just right for me.

I don’t know if I can strongly recommend the previous three in the series, but this one… this was a very fun parser game. The puzzle-solving never goes beyond “which ability do I use on this thing?” and the hint command will tell you if you can yet, or if you’re missing something. So it feels like it might be a good place to start: you don’t need a lot of puzzle-solving skills, you just need to draw out the maps and make notes of where things are so you can get back to them once you find the ability you need.

Good stuff.


Paintball Wizard

My time: 91 minutes (again, huh.)

Edit, content note: Hoo boy, I guess I really successfully went “let’s pretend that wasn’t creepily and completely unnecessarily written in a non-consensual way,” huh? Because I completely forgot this when I was writing about the game originally, but the way you learn more spells and advance is by rummaging around in your frat brothers’ heads and reliving their traumatic first childhood experiences with learning magic. And of course they’re all fine with it afterwards, but you don’t ask before.

This is joining Chuk and the Arena on the list of interesting “parser-like” Twine games that I ended up thoroughly enjoying after their cover art and blurbs caused me to not even try them initially. IIRC I didn’t play Chuk and the Arena until after it took third place in the 2019 IFComp, and… dunno. I only started this because it didn’t have any public reviews yet and I more than half expected to quit out of it in the first five minutes.

So… yeah, it’s themed as frat-boy wizard paintball. But it’s not that objectionable. And… you wander around a map, you have a few inventory items, and you have a verb-noun spellcasting system, and the spell-words themselves are constructed out of pieces that you stick together in various combinations. The interface is about as unintuitive and as hugely clunky as you can get, but you get used to it. And the actual spell reveal progression ends up being nearly as fun as Junior Arithmancer or Suveh Nux or whatever.

Took me an hour and a half, I got 11 out of 23 optional figurines or whatever, so there’s obviously some more stuff out there. But well worth your time, I think?

The last two major puzzles are a little underclued, I think? Well, no, the time-loop one is just tedious and annoying: I knew basically what I had to do but it took a bunch of tries to actually do it. But for the necromancy one it was extremely unclear what to do, and although there’s a “hints” document linked from the walkthrough button on the ballot, it just says “look at the in-game hints!” which is basically “talk to your frat brothers” and which you can’t do while you’re inside one of their heads, so that was useless. So it turns out that you can transform the materials of the polyhedra and the goal is to have each one be made of the correct material and (really spoiler) if you put it in the center of the pot, then close it and press a symbol, then open it again it’ll be a different material, which is incredibly tedious, but whatever. I was stuck on that one puzzle for about half an hour just because I had no idea what to do and I was looking in the wrong place.

I also got stuck at the very beginning for about 5 minutes and couldn’t get anywhere because I couldn’t figure out how to cast spells. I’m going to spoiler this because I’m curious if other people just breeze past this hurdle, but I feel like this could have been made more obvious (it’s in the tutorial, at the very end, but I skipped that because I didn’t think I’d need it and really I still think I shouldn’t have): the “Cast” button is mis-named, it doesn’t cast a spell, it just selects a spell and then you click on the “ordinary” links anywhere on the screen–any noun–to cast a spell on that target.

So anyway. Probably would have been a one-hour game if not for getting stuck in those two places. Fun magic system, good progression, the story… eh, I can take or leave it, but I didn’t find it obnoxious, anyway.


I didn’t do the tutorial, and I was bumbling around for a bit, but that was okay, and I got some satisfaction out of discovering how to use the casting just by trying things out… I haven’t finished this one yet but I think I’m pretty far…


There’s five other fraternity brothers that you have to find and SPLORT, so I think that’s a good measure of progress… pretty sure it said the number somewhere early on but I didn’t remember it later.



Best regards from Italy,
by a perplexed Dott. Piergiorgio.


SPLORT is the spell (and sound?) of you splatting someone in the game of paintball you’re playing.


A Thing of Wretchedness

This one is billed as an hour, but I think it’s much shorter: I know I read fairly quickly but in half an hour I got to two endings myself and then looked up the walkthrough and tried the other two.

I tend to find horror very boring so I’m not the right one to review this, but I felt like it did a decent job of what it was trying to do. The atmosphere seemed well-done. But I’m not sure if the randomness and mysterious “not explaining the backstory” really works well here: does the uncertainty make it feel more scary or just empty? It also felt like it made you work very hard to put yourself in actual danger so it was more about the ick factor of the situation.

I’ll be curious to see what the horror fans make of this one. I feel like Akheon has made some well-regarded horror things before and also some not-so-well-regarded things? Oh, yeah, Ascension of Limbs but also Fat Fair and Smart Theory.

Edit: Yeah, it just feels a little shallow to me. The game is obviously pushing you to do a bad thing based on nothing more than it keeping hammering you with how the player character feels, which feels like “haha, did you think that maybe you were the monster?” Or you can double down (quadruple down) on the action that’s procrastinating and avoiding doing the bad thing, and the game just… ends. You can (eventually) do the obviously reckless thing and get yourself killed. Or… you can ignore the whole situation and sell off an eldritch object to some possibly-imaginary antiquities dealer? Not sure what’s up with that. And then there are hints that maybe the whole thing was just a dream/vision anyway. Eh.


Last Vestiges

My time: 41 minutes.

One-room forensics game. I think probably half my time was spent fighting with the parser. But when you finish the game, it says:

Inspired by a real case.
Created as a potential teaching tool for forensic science or medical education.

That makes a lot of sense. Say and talk to don’t work, it turns out you have to use ask <person> about <topic> and it’s picky about topics. It drops you into the room with no real guidance, so it feels like if this was a test for people who are supposed to know the correct jargon and questions to ask in a potential crime scene, that would fit.

It’s also a weird mix in a couple of ways. You got called in by the police to investigate but it was very unclear to me what your exact role is. The landlord refers to you as Detective but are you on the police force, or are you a private detective? The inspector calls you on the phone, but then when you come in he doesn’t say anything or brief you or… nothing. Ask Knapp about murder gets no response, nor does asking about the crime. So… you’d think if you’re his subordinate he’d be telling you what to do. And if you’re a private detective… you’d also think he’d bring you up to speed? Dunno. That was weird. But if it’s a game to test your knowledge of what to do in these situations, then that makes more sense.

And then you find various objects and asking about them also gets no response or very snarky responses, so I assumed talking to the Inspector wasn’t a big part of the game, but then it turns out it’s a lot of solving the incident. Maybe half of the things you need to know come from talking to the Inspector.

It’s also strange that some parts are trying to be very naturalistic: oh, how do you unlock the phone, hey, you found some pills, what’s this dude’s medical history? while others are straight up adventure-game nonsense or hey, here’s a nonogram, go draw it on paper and solve it.

Plus it’s kinda under-implemented and overly-stocked with objects, in common new-author ways. There are some objects that feel like they only exist because they would be there in the real scene; some that feel like they exist because this is a thing you check at a crime scene (open the window and see if the murderer could have escaped that way?); some that are weirdly fastened down (or not fastened down when they maybe should have been); the descriptions are super terse.

But there’s the germ of a cool idea under there. I think this highlights just how tricky and finicky it is to make good parser IF…

I will say that, while there are hints in the game, they stop well short of giving you the whole solution, so note that there’s a full walkthrough linked from the IFComp ballot that isn’t included in the ballot. If you get really stuck (I did, and it sounds like @mathbrush did too) the walkthrough is probably necessary…


One King to Loot Them All

My time: 53 minutes.

A swashbuckling, cinematic, self-aware sword-and-sorcery adventure. Limited parser: movement plus six verbs. Good stuff.

This was a lot of fun, and it does a great job with the storytelling and the thoroughness of rewriting all the possible responses in the voice of the game. It started (I’m pretty sure?) as a potential entry for the Single Choice Jam (where you were only allowed to have a single actual choice in the whole game: everywhere else there had to be one way to move forward).

And I think that restriction is responsible for the fast-paced drama of this story. But I think a slavish adherence to that restriction is also responsible for the things that aren’t quite as ideal about this. I’m fine with the story being linear: many many parser games have a single through-line. But, well, let me digress and talk about a non-IF game for a…

Minit is a 2018 action adventure game. Similar to the original Zelda games: you run around with a sword whacking at things and solving puzzles. Its gimmick is that each life (day?) lasts only 60 seconds and then you are respawned at your current sleeping spot. And I love this as a design constraint. It means that none of the game’s puzzles can be big long tedious affairs where you can see the solution but it takes forever to slog through performing it.

But as a gameplay restriction it’s mostly just an annoyance. If you’re exploring and you find a new puzzle with 20 seconds remaining, and you see the solution immediately but can also tell that you don’t have time to do the whole thing, then you’re just stuck waiting. And on launch it didn’t have any way to end the day early. So you’re sitting there waiting 20 seconds for the timer to run out, and then spending 15 seconds walking back to where the puzzle is, and then solving it, where if you just had 5 more seconds you wouldn’t have had to wait at all.

It does do some fun things with it. There are several places where they make it a race, though you could do that without having a global day timer. But to me it mostly it felt like an internal restriction that shouldn’t have been in the final game.

And One King is a little like that, though not as badly: here it’s subtle things. But it felt like the point of this game was to have a smoothly-flowing story, and forcing you to do several things in a single location in an arbitrary order worked against that for me; it felt a little stilted.

For instance, near the beginning, you need to travel in a ferryman’s boat. So you have to find something to use as payment, ring the bell to summon the ferryman, and find something to take as a sacrifice. In that order. And Onno makes a heroic effort to justify that, but it still makes no sense in story terms.

More often it’s just that one of the actions seems trivial and skippable: in the latter half of the game, there’s this exchange where you talk to your companion: she says to ignore the markers. So you do, then she stops you saying, no, you have to read the marker. Then you get sucked in by the magical runes and she’s like, no, no, what are you doing, ignore the markers!

transcript snippet
>t lydia
"My lord," Lydia says, "please follow your instincts and get us
out of here. I do not like these markers calling out to us." 

"My lord," Lydia says, "I feel uncomfortable looking at this
marker, but there appears to be some kind of runic script on it.
It may tell us which way to go." 

>x marker
You lean in closer, studying the runes intently. It is almost as
if the runes are speaking directly to you; you hear whispering
voices, encouraging you to listen to them, to hear their stories,
to learn what they have seen and heard.

"My lord!" Lydia says urgently and pulls you away. You realize you
were gripping the marker with both hands, afraid to let go and
lose the soothing sound of the voices.

"I do not like these runes. They feel ... tainted. I think it's
best to ignore them for now and rely on your instincts to guide us
through this darkness."

>* well, that's what I was TRYING to do. Jerk.

You proceed to march eastward, following your instincts. The
pitted black stone pathway seems to stretch endlessly into the
darkness, but you remain resolute in your advance.

Or right at the beginning of the game’s second half, the action you have to take before being allowed to leave the room is to look at yourself in the mirror. And this was immediately after the game had told me “You are no exhibitionist, seeking to catch a glimpse of yourself in all your glory.” so I assumed it wasn’t something I should be doing. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on: even reading back through the transcript I’m not 100% positive, but I don’t see what else it could be.

And with some of these actions being undercued (or occasionally not cued at all? dead end in the dungeon, I’m looking at you) it feels like it’s falling into the choice-based trap of “oh, there are only a few things to do here, so go ahead and try them all until one works.” I found myself just lawnmowering through the options a lot.

Anyway. These are minor niggles: it’s just that (as I keep saying) I think the game is trying to be (and mostly succeeding very well at) being a fast-paced, dramatic, campy sword-and-sorcery story, and some of its mechanics throw up unnecessary roadblocks and act to make it subtly more stilted.

one-king-transcript.txt (150.9 KB)


Hi Josh,

Thank you very much for your kind review! I will study your playthrough and see where I can improve things.

I am aware that the strict ordering is not helping, and will cause players to get stuck. I think I have a way to fix that, but that will be for a post comp release. Same as with the pit where the action to get out is not very obvious.


The pit was funny once it happened, but if you look at the transcript you’ll see me just embarrassingly banging my head against the wall for way too long and I eventually resorted to story mode for one move…


You are in good company, ClubFloyd was also banging for a while… until they figured it out. With a limited verb set, one needs to be creative :smiley: .

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Paintball Wizard Content Note

Hoo boy, I guess I really successfully went “let’s pretend that wasn’t creepily and completely unnecessarily written in a non-consensual way,” huh? Because I completely forgot this when I was writing about the game the other day, but the way you learn more spells and advance is by rummaging around in your frat brothers’ heads and reliving their traumatic first childhood experiences with learning magic. And of course they’re all fine with it afterwards, but you don’t ask before.


To Sea in a Sieve

My time: 46 minutes (35 to play, another 11 to try some amusing things I missed.)

You are Peter Petibon, 14-year-old cabin boy, writing a letter to Captain Charles Johnson (nudge nudge wink wink), detailing the “strange, wild tale” of pirate Captain Rupert Booby (ditto).

Hmm, and at one point he gets doused from head to toe in blue dye powder: does that make him a blue-footed booby? And, y’know, if he had been Robert instead of Rupert that would have made him Captain Bobby Booby…

Ahem. Anyway.

This is a one-room escape game: your pirate ship has been sunk, Captain Booby has escaped in the heavily leaking jolly boat and brought you along to row and bail, since he’s above doing such work himself. The boat is also heavily overloaded with pirate treasure, and you must throw it all overboard to lighten the boat before you can row to safety.

This was a fun, ridiculous game, as you’d expect from J.J. Guest. After disarming the Captain at the very beginning, I was stuck for a bit and had to check the walkthrough. The big problem for me was that you’re incongruously strong and slippery and capable for a 14-year-old former thief, so I just assumed that I wouldn’t be able to simply steal or flat-out wrestle things away from a full-grown pirate captain, no matter how ineffectual, or simply struggle free when "no one escapes the clutches o’ the dreaded Yateveo tree, and especially with the latter when you have three turns of the game telling you you’re helplessly trapped in its tendrils and none of your commands work before the Captain gives you the clue to the one (custom) command that does work.

But once I got the idea, I was able to solve most things myself. Great fun.