Manon reviews the Single Choice Jam (Complete)

Following the good streak from the Anti-Romance Jam and the Neo Twiny Jam, I’m reviewing all the entries of the Single Choice Jam :stuck_out_tongue:
… well, except The Dinner, because I made it…

View all the entries here:

Like the last time, I am going in order of submission :slight_smile:


A Stranger Plays Cards at Night by bertilak

A Single ChoiceJam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by bertilak - Tumblr Review

Playing cards with the devil…
This entry is a retelling of a popular European folk story, where a card game is being played at a pub, when a stranger comes in and asks to join. Promising all your heart could desire if you beat him, but if you lose… he would take something from you too. Will you take on the challenge or fold?

The entry is very short, only a few passages before the eventual choice, and its visual is bare, putting the focus on the text. I really liked the depiction of the group of friend playing cards at the pub before the stranger’s entrance, giving a false sense of normalcy - a sticking opposition with the description of the stranger.

The choice itself feels both quite consequential and not very surprising, considering the heavy hints the game provides ahead of time. Both option will give quite different and expected endings. I think I preferred the “playing” option more than the other one - mainly because I’m still not sure what price will be paid…

It was a neat piece of folklore.


Demon Hatching by mxelm

A Single ChoiceJam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by mxelm - Tumblr Review

Wrong form, wrong place, wrong time…

Waking up in a strange land can be perturbing. Realising your body does not look right, feels all kind of wrong. Finding yourself in the presence of a stranger by your bedside, terrifying. So what do you do? What can you do?

This short game gives you three choices, branching the story towards three different ends. Funnily, these choice kind of represent the Freeze, Fight, Flight behaviour we have when faced with a stressful situation.

The writing balanced quite well the more horrory/odd elements of the character, especially compared to the human they are facing. There was an interesting focus on how bodies should look like, the transformation of bodies, and how the character’s body felt wrong - adding to the uneasiness of the situation.

Visual wise, the game uses the basic UI of Ink, putting focus on the text. Still, it made some interesting styling choices, with the honeycomb link.


One last for today:

Little Glass Slipper by vileidol

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by vileidol - Tumblr Review

This is no happy ending…

Do not get fooled by the pastel pink palette, and the child-like font. This game is much darker than it looks, and it is not afraid to show it. And it does it good.

If the title wasn’t enough of a hint, the game is a retelling of one of the darker versions of Cinderella, but with a twist. It is one of her step-sister who bagged the Prince, living the not-so-fairytale life. The step-mother’s trick, of sawing her daughter’s heels off was not discovered, and fooled the desperate romantic man. And through the step-daughter eyes, the story starts.

The game depicts this less than perfect life, with a woman who doesn’t feel like she belongs, in pain as a consequence of her mother’s action; and a husband who does not love her. Yet, she is forced to pull through, and perform the duties of her title, no matter the pain. The descriptions are gruesome and explicit, the feelings are raw and quite depressing. And it is done good.

I quite liked the author’s take on the single choice for the entry: with two cycling macros, giving 12 different options, each diving further into the Step-sister’s mind, her relationship and the titles that come with them, her regrets and shame, and her wishes. It is pretty grim all throughout.

I really, really appreciated the way the author coded the return to the choice, without having to read through the whole start of the game or remembering the last option seen. It made it so much easier to play all endings!

I wasn’t particularly fond of the font, and the shaky text made me sick a bit (since there weren’t any settings, I coded it off to read it)


New day, new reviews!

The Last Notebook by TrexandDrago

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by TrexandDrago - Tumblr Review

A strange reveal…

TLN is a kinetic piece, a sort of small sequel to the Shadow Realm, another game from this author. The story follows NBQ, a side character from that other game, still in the Shadow Realm, going through the item that Anthony, the main character of that other game, has left behind. One of those items is a notebook, within which NBQ discovers a shocking piece of information.

There is not much more to this entry, which took the only one option to click on path of the SingleChoice rule. Elements of the story seem to require knowledge of the previous game to be fully understood, and the prose made things a bit confusing as well…

The illustrations were cute, though.


Girls’ Day by Nice Gear Games

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by Nice Gear Games - Tumblr Review

Looking down memory lane

This short entries flips through a photo album, with the narrator commenting on the different pictures and how much has changed since the pictures were taken. Until you reach a turning point, looking at a picture from when you were still a sweet little girl - or so your mother like to remind you. What you do with this picture will determine the ending of the game.

The entry is full of nostalgia and melancholy. Sadness is present throughout the recollection of the past, even after your choice - though one is a bit more hopeful. Even with its short format, the story manages to give a snapshot of a distant relationship between a mother and their child, and the gender norms that may have cause that distance.

It is beautiful, in its pain.


The thoughts crossing my mind. And the ones stuck by Zhanko

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by Zhanko - Tumblr Review

The jar that keeps on filling…

Seeing the news, it sometimes feels like the world is a shitty place, and things keep getting worse. It’s not hard to drown in negative headlines and feel bombarded by tragic events left and right. And no matter what we do or say, things don’t seem to change.

And, even with positive things happening around us, negative thoughts will often linger, sticking for a while, until the sheer size of it all overwhelm us. This is what this entry manages to evoke with the visual of the bitsy engine, with the thought bubbles sticking around, piling onto one another, until it fills up the screen.

While I did somewhat expected it to happen, since the same thing happens to me, it was still distressing to have these feelings visualised before your eyes. The entry is devoid of any meaningless words and descriptions, only leaving the pure unaltered thoughts on the screen. The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.


What They Don’t Know by alyshkalia

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by alyshkalia - Tumblr Review

… can still hurt them.

Setting the stage at the Highchester estate, where a widow, the Lady of the house, trains her only daughter, Chelle, to take on the helms, a change of plans disrupts the life of three women. The arrival of Ara, requested by the Lady, enacts change in the relationship between mother and daughter, as well as subordinate and estate owner. The game lets you explore the perspective of those three women after this change. I recommend you leave The Lady for last.

With very little words, the entry depicts a sad tableau, painting pained faces and hurt feelings, the urge of having affairs in order forced by hidden secrets, and the expectations from one’s stations surpassing love and affections. But it also shares emergent feelings and an hopeful look on the future, as well as hinted breaks of class rules. It is impressive to depict much in such a tight package, and depict in a very touching way.

I was honestly wondering if Chelle and Ara would pull an Eugénie Danglars before the end…



A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by raazberry - Tumblr Review

Visceral and gratuitous

You were kidnapped by a stranger, for a reason unknown to you. And you are currently strapped to a chair, while the stranger essentially tortures you. You are given a choice, to hopefully gain some information about who that stranger is or why you’ve been brought here.

This visual novel is quite short, and lets you skip the part you’ve already read during replay, so it is quite easy to wrap it up in about 10min or so. And while there are hints to how you got there, I don’t believe there are enough pieces to solve the puzzle altogether. The writing focuses more on visceral description of the violence, making it quite gratuitous at the end.

I was honestly left quite repulsed (so the writing did what it aimed to do!)

The choice of background music was also pretty in line with the vibe of the game. Did not detract from the writing.


One last one for today:

At the Poison’s Edge by Natasha Luna

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by Natasha -Tumblr Review

Confront your… lover?

This short VN starts with a bang… or more accurately, poison. Realising what your lover may have done, you go onto confront him, and maybe get the antidote to avoid your demise.

You have multiple options to confront the man, some with violence, some pleading with his heart, and one asking Why. The truth lies in the lies, and life sometimes lies in death. Your survival is never really into question, but your feelings are another deal…

I wasn’t left completely satisfied with this entry. With the limited amount of words, it is hard to have a concise story pulling punches. In my case, it didn’t. Maybe because the outcome change little, or maybe because most is left unexplained. But maybe you’re not supposed to feel satisfied. Life usually isn’t…

The visuals however were lovely, and so was the addition of sound.


Welp… less today. But here it is.

Yandere-chan by Maple

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by Maple - Tumblr Review
CW: harassment, kidnapping

Obsession and delusion

A cosplaying fan of a yandere anime strikes up a conversation with you at a con, remarking your resemblance to a major character of that anime - the “girlfriend” of the one she is cosplaying. It doesn’t take long to realise she is a certain kind of crazy… the obsessive kind.

Hoping to get away to find your own girlfriend, you are left with two choices: agree to take a picture with her to calm her down, or try to run away. Only one is the safest thing to do.

Though it is short, and not really my thing (I am not an yandere fan at all), the entry does manage to hit all the trope of the yandere character, making you wish you never have to deal with someone like that in real life. It is somewhat a good reminder not to let yourself be consumed by what you consume…


If You Had One Shot by mathbrush (et al.)

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by mathbrush - Tumblr Review

There is no UNDO command in life…
If You Had One Shot is my favourite kind of parser out there: simple, short, and you will always reach the end. So short even, you can be done with it in a few minutes, 10-max for all endings. Simple enough it only has four commands: N/W/S/E. And very much like Aisle, you will reach the end at the end of the action, no matter what.

But IYHOS goes further with that mechanic and its ‘One Shot’ premise: you can truly only choose one thing - the game locking any possibility of restarting the game, even when prompted*. It does hammer on the consequences of your action. Like life, you cannot go back, undo, restart… you can only move forward, with your regrets, your guilt…
* Well, you can, but not while the game is open…

As for the story, it is written by four different authors, each focusing on a different choice and its consequences. Honestly, unless you are familiar with their works, I found that their style blended so well that I couldn’t tell had written what. I think it speaks to the strength of each author, as well as Mathbrush’s choice of having those authors on board.

Kind of like Aisle, each branch will give the player a bit of information about the MC, the characters around them, and their relationship. Though, unlike Aisle, aside from the direct consequences of your action, the provided information is connected with one another. I thought the twist from them was quite funny, but also kind of sad. You kind of feel for the oblivious MC…

While it made for a powerful punch, the locking mechanic did annoy me quite a bit, especially when wanting to replay the game…


Toast by morgana

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - Tumblr Review

To burn, or not to burn…
… that is the ultimate question. A slice of toast in hand, you are faced with this conundrum at the start of the game: will you cast the yeast to the fire or let it be?
A simple decision, right? Who doesn’t want to have a nice golden slice of toast? What’s the worst that could happen?

Either path taken, the game will dive into absurdism - one path kind of reminded me of a Monty Python sketch. It is silly, and it knows it. It is silly and it wants you to have a silly time as well.

Great for a short silly break!

Yes, I know its a terrible pun, the other one I had was A troll(e)y problem

Might be the last one for today…


Thanks for the review!

I really don’t like disabling UNDO, and I assumed it would annoy players the same way it annoys me. When I asked for help with the writing, I asked for people to pick choices where the consequences are unforeseen and people want to go back and undo desperately (or at least want to just a little) but are unable to do so and have to face the consequences.

So while Undo provokes a negative response, it was intentional. It might not be a good idea to intentionally add a feature that you know will make the game ‘worse’, but it’s interesting to see how things play out. I am glad that it had its intended effect (although I don’t plan on doing it in a longer game!) Thank you for the nice comments on the writing and themes!


I don’t think I minded much the UNDO, I think it made sense, and the added flavour text was great. It was the RESTART that was killer (though totes understand why, it works with the theme and moral of the game). It kinda feels like those permadeath in games (I hate those with a passion :joy: ).


Threads of Snow by Butter Blanc

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - Tumblr Review
Note: the author indicated this was their first game

This small game is a kinetic visual novel, where, unable to find sleep, you confess your deepest secret to your resting (unconscious) lover. One that would probably freak out a lot of people if they were told - think speculative fiction trope meets romance.

Aside from the promised weather metaphors and alliterations, the game is essentially a monologue, recalling how the MC got to this point. One thing feels pretty murky: the MC might be a very selfish person for prioritising their feelings above the well being of her lover (as she knows what is to come) or this is a tragic groundhogs day tale where no one wins/breaks the cycle at the end.

At the end of it, neither the prose nor the visual* really grabbed me. It is still quite a feat for a first game to write this many words, and put up the visual and code it all though.
*I don’t know if it was intentional, but the sprites were all pixelly during the page loadup.


Ah darn… didn’t manage to make it a half dozen. Anyway last one for the night

The Inimitable by dsherwood

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by dsherwood - Tumblr Review

Would you take the deal?

Invited to a fancy party, you are given the opportunity to take part in a strange game. One you would refuse, but which could award you the greatest of prizes… if you are hungry enough for it. A one-of-a-kind watch that can grant you the unimaginable. A watch that, according to your host, chooses its winner.

If I am being coy about what it does, it is because it is essentially the twist of the game. The text hints at the reason for the presence of each guest (leaving yours up in the air), a reason for why they would want the prize. It raises an interesting question about free will and its consequences, the guilt and regret from actions.

Still, something did feel a bit lacking. If you do play the game, and go through the instructions left for you… most of it is just vague. You, the player, could fill in the blanks, but I felt it did somewhat break the immersion. I think it might have worked best if during the phone call, the player could fill in those blanks in a textbox, even if the information is not saved in a variable. It would probably make the ending all the more sweeter… or fulfilling.

Some other UI/QoL comments: changing the colour for the dialogue was nice, but the contrast between the text and the background was quite poor. It would have been nice to go back to the choice (or the pick of the winner) instead of restarting the whole game.


Another day, some other reviews. Starting super gruesome (really, read the content warnings):

A Beef with the Chimichurri Steak by chimeriquement

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by chimeriquement - Tumblr Review

What a twisted meal…

Your relationship with your husband is at best rocky, and at worst… Tonight won’t be as different, and yet, nothing will ever be the same. To please your husband, you’ve tweaked your chimichurri dressing to his taste… well, for your sake. Will you obediently serve him his dinner? Or give him a piece of your mind?

The writing does not shy away from violence, far from it. It will list the nitty gritty details of the offences, from the little ticks to plain and simple assaults. Your husband is not a good man, not just breaking his marriage vows, but breaking you as well. Really, this game is not for the faint of hearts!

And don’t think this will be a painful run-of-the-meal story. You did tweak the recipe. You’ve been pushed past your limits. And, when you think you got all figured it out… did you really?
Part of me really want to spoil it… I saw coming maybe one of the twist for one of the choice, but definitely not the others.

I think for me, one little downside that broke my immersion, was the way-too-youthful visual of the husband. Though built like a brick, and having a bit of the chav haircut, the man looked barely 20 in my eyes. Not that young people can’t do what’s being described in this game, I think if he had been aged a biiiit more, it wouldn’t have been as distracting.
But this is mainly my only complaint on the visual. The choice of animating certain text, or changing its colour, or even changing the focus of the different element on the screen, gave the game a more cinematic vibe.

Quite well rounded short game. I will definitely not play it again. Too gruesome.


Zenith by Hituro

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by Hituro - Tumblr Review

A climb of faith…
Before you is a seemingly neverending tower, a mark of a different time, rising up the the heavens. Few can claim they’ve reached its top and stood on its final platform. And by golly, you will be one of them!
That is… if you climb up the right path… and don’t fall…

Through randomly displayed storylets, the game will take you on this impossible climb - a Daedalus climb… or maybe Icarus one if chance is not by your side. Those tit bits are quite varied, from finding nests of birds, empty offices, and many failed climbing attempts, along the way - sometimes you even get a treat (item)!. And since they will randomly appear, not one climb will ever be the same.

Halfway through the climb, I wondered if I would ever reach the top (spoiler: you eventually do), as well as the futility of the climb. What will you achieve when you do? Is there truly something that will change your life? Or will you realise that all you needed was on the ground? Why climb this Babelian tower, riddled with remnants of past and forgotten times?

The game kind of reminded me of TTRPG sessions, with the Herculean quest, the journey meeting others and finding items, and the visual descriptions found in the writing, or the randomness aspect from those darn dice rolls.
While a neat experience, it sometimes felt a bit grindy when having to climb the tower again (but I’ve also felt this way with those RPG games too).

I think what caught my eye the most was the very sleek UI of the game, with the text cards of previous passages stacking on top of one another (hover over them, btw!) or the inventory pouch displaying your items (some angles were a tad difficult to read though). Having both the settings and restart button being so custom was a nice touch too! I especially liked the background changing as you go up the tower… the stack, on the other hand, made me a bit height sick…

One sliiiight extra thing: the scrollbar/arrow down didn’t work for me (Opera) even when toggling the setting. And the light blue for the links could have a been a tad more contrasting.


Goncharov by Ju / smwhr

A Single Choice Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by Ju - Tumblr Review

A small taste of unreality
While this was probably one of the shortest entry of the Single Choice Jam, its subject matter has a special place in my heart (having been part of the Goncharov craze). And, following in those footsteps, the game took its own part of the canon, recreating a the setting for the confrontation between Goncharov and Andrej.

To save the most previous thing in his life Goncharov made a deal, one which would involve betraying his friend. You choice here is to either follow through with this plan, or double-cross the dealing party. Which ever option you choose, the scene ends abruptly. But the consequences… they wait for no one.

Though the game is very short, I did enjoy the way the scene was set - in some sort of a Previously in Goncharov serialised way. It gave the fairly intricate (overall non-canon) story some touch of humour.

This was a treat.