I apologise if the reviews are somewhat unstructured but I at least want to record some thoughts, for the authors’ benefit or for other people’s…
5 Minutes to Burn Something
Non-spoiler review: this is a very traditional, short, “my apartment” puzzle game with a humorous premise. I recommend it if you like that sort of thing. Until the bugs are fixed, I recommend you try both ‘search’ and ‘examine’.
[spoiler]I managed to do most of the puzzles without hints, but not quite all of them. Scratching the eyes in the photo is the one that had me stumped; I still don’t understand the logic of it. Since it was right at the end and the tension was high, it kind of spoiled the experience a bit.
But the game had me laughing throughout most of it, going from its ridiculous premise to its even more outlandish resolution. The ending, story-wise, felt a bit out of place. I was expecting something outrageous (which you kind of do get in the bad endings). The philosophical ‘moral of the story’, that “karma is a myth”, though hinted at with the Buddha statue, also felt like it didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the game.
There are some bugs though: there are some objects that require you to use either the verb ‘search’ or ‘examine’ and using the wrong one will return a misleading response, e.g. the ashtray.
I’m thinking I’ll give this 6.[/spoiler]
A Figure Met in a Shaded Wood
Non-spoiler review: Not sure about this yet. It’s worth a look, as it’s pretty short.
[spoiler]I’m not sure what to think about this until I know whether it has an alternative ending or not. As it stands, it seems like the message is “There is no alternative ending, that’s fate for you!” Which I kind of think is a somewhat underwhelming message. But, I guess it’s something that you could only convey in an interactive format. This couldn’t have been a short story, for example. As a game, you can replay it several times expecting something different to happen and then it hits you, “it can’t go any other way, how depressing”.
But maybe it can go a different way? Is there a puzzle here that I just didn’t get?
I found it interesting that the story’s written in the third person, which is unusual for IF. But I admit that the use of the singular ‘they’ as the pronoun for the main character threw me a little bit. If the main character is supposed to be me, then why not just write the story in the second person? I mean, I guess it’s OK as it is, it just confused me for a little while, thinking there were multiple people involved.[/spoiler]
Arcane Intern (Unpaid)
Non-spoiler review: This is a nice little choice-based puzzle-lite game. The interactivity is mainly just about finding the multiple endings.
[spoiler]I like choice games where the choices are meaningful. When I replayed this game (since it’s quite short), I noticed that the choices I made weren’t having much impact on the events, if any at all. That always makes me think, well could this not have been realised as a short story? But the interactivity is justified, because there are multiple endings which each has a big impact on how you understand what has just happened.
I got the first ending on my first playthrough which made me think, “is magic real or not? Was I just imagining things?” And then on the second playthrough I got the third and presumably ‘best’ ending where it all clicks and is pretty satisfying.
I liked the humour and the premise. I will probably give it a 7.[/spoiler]
Not sure what to do about this at the moment because it doesn’t seem to be working properly. Anyone else having trouble? It just seems to get stuck on the sentence “Home is not that far off” and nothing else comes. I know it’s not the end because I got further than that on a previous playthrough.
Non-spoiler review: Play this game.
[spoiler]Birdland is a very good game. I like Birdland.
What I liked: the humour, the birds, the campers, the protagonist, the birds, the gameplay, the dreams, the story, the humour, the humour, the funny bits.
What I didn’t like: The writing was good enough to make this bearable and acceptable, but I definitely felt like some of the scenes dragged on just a bit too long. Also, at times I was a bit disappointed that it doesn’t tell me which stat I’m improving when I make a choice in the dream world, and that there aren’t really any clues about which stats might be useful next.
I might give it a 10, unless there are lots of even better games to come.[/spoiler]