Okay. So. Let’s try this again, because the last time I did reviews on this site I copped-out not even a quarter way through.
Inspired by @manonamora’s Neo Tiny-Sized Reviews.
The length of the reviews will probably vary according to how much I have to say for each work, but like Manon’s, they’ll likely still be short due to the size of the games in this jam.
I won’t be posting reviews for every one of the games released so far.
Just a note: I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quantity and the quality of entries entered so far. They just keep getting better and better. And I already espy some (really good) entries to add to my Civitas list — I’ll have those (and some more, maybe) up on IFDB soon, if they’re not already up!
Some reviews might be posted concurrently on the game’s submission page and/or IFDB.
Palazzo Heist by @smwhr
- A game set in Venice! Finally!
- And the second puzzle-style game in the Jam! Boy, was I glad to see you.
- Loved the simple design. Orange links on black — I approve. It had a very Halloween-y feel to it.
- There were a few grammatical mistakes in the text (because the author’s primary language isn’t English, I assume) which I’ll correct and send to the author somehow.
You want their Token, the only way to vote in the upcoming Doge’s Election.
- You have no idea how happy I was to read this sentence. Real historical context on Venice in a game! Usually, when people use Venice as a setting in media, it’s for the place’s aesthetic and romantic charm, which I agree there exists a lot of, but it’s a problem when that’s the only face they show / popularize of the city and sweep everything else under the rug. And then you get the daytrippers who arrive in the city for just one day and treat it as a pit stop to check off on their bucket list, who get disappointed that Venice isn’t like “in the movies” or “in the photos” and more like a real city, all the while contributing to the overtourism and in turn, depopulation problems which plague the city and feeds the cycle of decline that seemingly befalls the health of the city — Anyways. I’m just glad to see this tidbit here.
- The moving gondola was a clever mechanism to add. It heightened the flavor and sophistication of the puzzle-solving.
All in all, a clever little game! I hope to see future installments (whether beyond the scope of the Neo-Twiny Jam or not).
Thanks for the very nice review ! (I’ll gladly change any english mistake I made, I mainly speak a flavour of english understood by people whose main language is almost never english)
Regarding Venice : it may look like History but beyond the fact that june 19th 1841 is actually the day of the new moon (according to some random website on the internet), the last Doge election took place more than 50 years prior, Doge who abdicated in 1797.
I was inspired by the actual voting though : 41 people were chosen amongst a couple thousand citizens using a complex procedure involving golden tokens (go read the procedure on wiki if you want a headache). In real life you couldn’t steal anything an impersonate another voter, but this is a 500 word interactive fiction, nobody will fact-check this right ?
I didn’t know you were on here! My bad, I should’ve checked. I posted the grammar mistakes along with my review on the game’s jam submission page because I didn’t know how to reach you (I’ve since deleted that by now).
Here are my corrections/suggestions:
Except for your signature white tie, identifying you as The Stealer.
Do you mean The Thief?
It looks like any of the thousands of other gondola that glided along the canals of Venice.
Or alternatively, gondole if you’re going for the authentic Italian version.
One of the richest family in Venice.
I’ve read about the general procedure a lot in books, but I’ve never really been clear on the specific details. I’ve never heard of the golden tokens, for example. Interesting stuff!
Actually, it’d be pretty surprising if no one’s tried — even if they didn’t succeed. Probably would’ve been caught by the Council of Ten or their bocche dei leoni (lion’s mouths) around the city and beheaded in St. Mark’s Square (“In Saint Mark’s Square, if you look towards the island of San Giorgio, you can see two large granite columns carrying statues of the two patron saints of Venice, Saint Theodore and Saint Mark. The columns arrived in Venice from the East in the 12th century and they have been in the Square since 1000 years. Public executions took place between the columns: the convicts were hung by their feet.”), though not before a quite thorough torture session.
You could implement this as a consequence for not “beating” the game, though that’d be hard to do within 500 words
I think that’s the beginning of “All Roads” by Jon Ingold
Ebb & Flow by Arezou
Cute, funny & relatable. One of the rarer times where I’ve found reading about the “human condition” to be enjoyable. It’s sweet but not rhapsodizing on the subject of love; it meanders but gets to the point nicely in the end — well done.
I liked the lavender theme — for me, among the shades of purple and violet lavender in particular has always represented desire — which fits this piece perfectly.
I hope we get to see more of the author’s prose in the future. It’s very refreshing!
the boy who died, alive by vvvild
I don’t have very much to say about this one except that it was heartbreaking and you should go read it. What this poem explored is something very personal and close to my heart; it was and still is a source of trauma and grief for I and many others, making it hard to talk about. I hope one day things’ll get straightened out and humanity’s sense of right and wrong righted and the rejection of children by parents can stop.
the ride home by cassian
The level of anxiety in this is intense. Well, the author did a good job in bringing that to her readers, the music being an instrumental (har-har, get it?) touch.
As has not gone unnoticed, the greater part of what’s entered the Jam so far are personal works. I wonder why? Is there something about shorter content that appeals to ideas like this? I’m not complaining, but they can be emotionally taxing to go through, and I’m not really used to works of this style in the first place. Most of what I write — in comparison — is about the outside world, e.g. the weather (no, really). Ambience. Mental landscapes, really, is as close as it gets. Escapism. I can’t sit still with my problems rattling around in my head, especially when I’m trying to write. Writing is or is at least supposed to be a safe place for me in the turbulence of day-to-day life — sacred, almost. So I’m curious about people who seemingly take the other route and use writing as a tool for catharsis — me, I’m like nope, the more I dwell in negative emotions the worse I get, and besides sitting with my problems for longer than three seconds will make me incredibly itchy and wanting to move.
That was more musing than jam review. I shall still conclude it with a sticker.
and there are no stars. by Cressida St. Claire
This was beautiful to read. Sad but hopeful. I’m in awe of how much people can express within the boundaries of 500 words. The focus on the stars appealed to me as a (fellow?) night sky-watcher.
Here's a little something I wrote sort-of as a response to this text:
I stand in the middle of a pond. The moon shines bright above.
Bitterness coats my tongue.
Scrolls of my misdeeds sail into the water, falling like meteors. A thousand tumbling lanterns in the night.
Only when I am dead and quiet will I finally learn the sounds of my own name.
Make something out of your hurt, your evils and sins. Make something to rise from this sepulchre of mud. A shining obelisk whose light stretches for thousands of miles.
Between the rain and the cold days something else emerges. Between the guilt and tears, the pages of the book give way to the entrance of:
The Paper Mache Puppet by LoAvis
- An ode to freedom.
- Oddly comforting.
- Oddly beautiful, too.
- Papier-mâché, though. Or paper-maché. The last accent at least would’ve been nice.
- Ambient-like. One could spin a bigger story / place with this piece. A city of dancing dolls, a city of freed dolls, a dolls revolution in the making …
- But I digress.
boobs by The Happiest Camper
This was sweet and a little funny to read. Comic relief. A rather relaxed way to present a(n) (usually) serious subject.
My Mail Carrier is Always on the Phone by @PatientRock
This is a very interesting way to present your own thoughts (as opposed to straight fiction) — in “games”. I’ll have to look into this further when there’s the time to, given that I have a tendency to think more than I imagine. Nice use of graphics and imagery. I’ve never really paid attention to mail carriers, so I have no clue what they’re always doing on the phone, either.
You Bird. by Wandering Basil
Aha! This one was really fun to play. The short word and phrase structures were quite captivating, going through the game. It also reminded me of three previous games I’d played — Among the Seasons by Kieran Green (Spring Thing 2019 Best in Show entrant and winner), free bird. by Passerine, and How To Be A Blackbird by Holly Gramazio. So free recommendations if you liked this & haven’t played any of the games mentioned above.
You know, it’s interesting … The Thief may be “proper” English and better in this case (I don’t know, haven’t looked at things yet,) but The Stealer has a certain ring to it that suggests that much more intent. I like it.
Googling The Stealer, amusingly to me, turned up a K-Pop song.
I don’t know if I’ve ever followed real-time reviews of jams before. It’s cool to see someone chip in besides one of the co-organizers.
I suppose I should poke around and see if there are others outside this board! Maybe I should dig up my old tumblr account.
Disappeared for a few days to try to work on my own projects — which hasn’t borne much fruit but I’ll keep working on it. Also made a bunch of playlists
Here’s another one!
winter by 30x30
In this one, I liked the fact that:
- There are different choices to be made in the first part, which revealed different parts of the storyline;
- And that it repeated at the end so the player could explore all such choices / the entire story without too much of a discontinuity / break in between, e.g. by having to click a “Restart” button, I know I at least have a tendency to play through choice games like this only once, which sometimes mean I miss out on the whole picture / the different narrative facets — so, good job! A clever and well-implemented feature that made play so much more natural and smoother.
It’s strange, because I’ve seen each and every single one of this author’s works around (in this IF landscape), but never made the connection they were made by the same person. Which is why when I looked at this entry, I was like, hey, I know this author and why does the name sound so familiar.
I’m wondering if I should go start a Seasons (and/or Months, y’know) Recommended List. Funny that I seem to be more inclined to curation than actually making creative works
The next one in the list has a title of january frost — well, perfect!