Manon tries to finish the Comp (49/75)

I say try because there are 70+ games, and I’m pretty bad at parsers (I’ll try my best though!). Last year, I managed to play and review about half of the games. So let’s see how many I can do this year…

My game plan is… no plan. I’ll probably play games at random, without any order. I might skip some depending on the blurb, the TW, or just because :woman_shrugging:
And unlike my usual writing style, I’ll try to be concise :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ll link back the reviews to this post when I’m done, to make it easier to search.
And I’ll them to the IFDB when the pages are up.




4- Oct:










Let’s gooooo :partying_face:

(@sophia gifted me the coolest of images for it)

PS: I beta tested two games: One King to Loot Them All and Antony & Cleopatra, so those will be “reviewed” at the end.

Also, I’ve published the reviews on Tumblr, with some delay between here and the blog. If you have an account and want to be tagged bc I didn’t, lemme know!

Ughr I just noticed I put 77 instead of 75… why did I think there were more games than that???


Help! I Can’t Find My Glasses! by Lacey Green


Help! I Can’t Find My Glasses! is a relatively short game, where you must find what happened to your glasses, and maybe discover more in the process. There are multiple paths to take, with choices branching towards different endings. I found 3 of them (maybe it’s 2 1/2).

The games is a bit… peculiar, feeling at times incomplete in its story, and depending on your choices, unsatisfying. In my first run, I managed to find my glasses and won a funny achievement. In others, I didn’t find them, and the game seemed to stop somewhat abruptly.

In those runs, I wondered whether the author had planned more for the player or was setting the stage for a grander adventure… There were some intriguing aspects with each characters, that were barely explored, since you have limited interaction with them.
(I’m also not sure whether the achievements are all attainable?)

I enjoyed the goofiness of the setting, and how light-hearted it seemed. It was cute, as is.


For Eternity, Again and Again by TheChosenGiraffe


For Eternity, Again and Again is a quite short entry, about love, unbending fate, and rebirth. The entry plays on the trope of immortal lover vs reincarnated mortal, set in a vague fantasy setting. I found all endings.

I found the game quite confusing. Even reading back on my previous choices, or going through the ones I had not picked yet, I found myself wondering what this game was about. I gathered that the story meant to show the struggles between lovers facing their doomed end, but the vagueness and unevenness of the writing didn’t quite manage to hit the mark for me.

Having found all ending, I did note that the two paths were somewhat mirroring each other. I think you get to play both lovers, one for each path? I’m still not sure… :woman_shrugging:


Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head by The Hungry Reader


Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head is quite a long entry mixing the heist genre with horror tropes, with a focus on puppetry, and a hint of a mystery. Your job is to recover different puppets hidden throughout an abandoned - about to get demolished - studio. However, the job is not as easy as it seems: monsters roam the corridors… and will take from you what you carry.

From the (actual) start, PYHITPH reminded me of Five Nights at Freddie’s, not just because of the puppets themselves, but also with the spooky buildings you need to explore, and the strange things that hunt you. You need to be strategic in where you go and when you get to it, or you’d cross path with the monsters (the Hints refers to the game as having a Pac-Man sort of gameplay). Adding onto it, you have to solve puzzles to get to certain puppets or bits of information.

I got frustrated losing the puppets pretty quickly (even if I tried to play it smart), so I ended up using the cheat mode pretty early on to reach the endings. It is not an issue from the game itself, though. The mechanic and the puzzles pretty neat, I just couldn’t handle it in my current state. Were it not for the spooky monsters and tracking their movements…

I’m not like a puppet person, but I felt like I was missing context or references when I played the game. I could obviously be completely fiction, but something about the writing made it pretty believable that something like this happened in real life?

Also current state = flu, just fyi


Into The Lion’s Mouth by Metalflower


Into The Lion’s Mouth is a relatively short game about being stuck in a very unfortunate situation, in the middle of the Savannah, surrounded(-ish) by lions. Lucky for you, you know the ins-and-outs of the region, being an animal refuge guard. You won’t be found dead where you stand!

Mixing humour, wildlife facts, and meta commentary, ITLM is, as it calls itself, a lion taming simulator. Though you have multiple paths on how to solve your current situation, it is clear there is only one way to reach “the ending”, as the game will nudge you back towards the correct paths. You won’t really ever “die”.

From the tone of the writing, or the animation and formatting of the text, it is clear the game is not meant to be taken completely seriously. You learn some neat fact, sure, but with a giggle here and there. I think that worked out nicely.

Not all paths were created equal in this game. Some are quite short (as being the obvious wrong answer), and some seem a bit to run into circle (until you go back to the correct path. I found the cub rescue path to be the strongest bit of the game, as it was quite sweet (who doesn’t love petting animals).

+1 on the wild kittens


First parser on the list… :scream: which I didn’t manage to complete under 2h… :scream:

The Vambrace of Destiny by Arthur DiBianca


The Vambrace of Destiny is a dungeon crawler adventure, with limited commands and filled with puzzles. You must go through the different levels of the dungeon, fight monsters, discover treasures, and gather all the spells.

I did not reach the ending. The current review only account for what was played.

Until I reached the second level and was essentially stuck, banging my head against the wall because I could not solve the puzzles, TVoD was quite an enjoyable light parser (especially for a parser-adverse like me). It has limited commands, which are essentially shortcuts; a visible map on the screen (at least in the play online version), which indicate where you are and what rooms you discovered, and reasonable logical puzzles (even the one I got stuck on…), and hints (external document).

The logic of the game is relatively simple: explore the dungeon, find a monster but can’t fight it, explore some more, find a spell, fight the monster with the spell, go to the next bit. As you advance further, the puzzles require extra steps to be solved, often with combinations of actions or “passing a turn”. Even if some puzzles required retracing your steps to unlock further parts, they were quite enjoyable to solve!

I still spent enough time faffing about, pressing the wrong direction on the screen, or forgetting to press a certain command, or just not getting the puzzle, that the clock ran out before I could reach the end. Starting level 2, the puzzles leave the beginner level…

Still, I had quite a bit of fun, and breaking through the blocks on the path, defeating the monsters, and finding the treasures, were pretty satisfying!

I still want to reach the end of the game, and might update this review when I do.
I am currently stuck after the Artificer’s Lab, but can’t manage to unlock the Dungeon yet. . I made a thread for hints, but first… sleep.

Also, sorry, I forgot to input the transcript command at the start… I might even restart the game later, with a fresh transcript/brain.


I recommend it. Personally I found the game got a lot more fun as I progressed to deeper levels and had more tools to work with.


New day, new reviews. Still sick.
Yesterday, I finished the games without any indicated length. Today, I’ll get into the 2+h entries (maybe doing a long, then a small one).

First one is another parser ;-;

Milliways: the Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Forenote: I have not played HHGG, but have read all the books.

M:REU is a very large parser game, reminiscent of the old Infocom era, and very much a love letter to the original HHGG game. The story follows the event of the second book of the HHGG series, in which the protagonist makes their way towards Milliway, the restaurant at the end of the universe. It combines puzzles and exploration, and includes hints and a walkthrough. It can’t be completed in 2h (afaik).

When starting the game, I knew I would not be able to finish it within the 2h mark (the beta call, mentioned a 8h-long playthrough…), nor would I have been able to go through the different parts without losing (its difficulty being cruel, one wrong move and you die). But I did not expect the quality of the game to be this impressive, considering this is the first game of this author and the fact that the game had been re-coded a few months prior to the comp.

Through my limited playthrough (I managed to get to the 4th location?), it is clear this was a labour of love for the old Infocom games, and the HHGG universe. The game manages to encapsulate the wittiness of the books so well, from the description of your actions, to the error messages, or the in-game hints. I gladly tried to die, just to see the funny messages, and the game calling me a noob for being a bad player.

Some of the puzzles seem a bit obtuse, and require either knowledge of the story or some trial an error (thank you, walkthrough for the help). They are definitely not meant for first-time parser players. Even trying to understand the hints, or follow the walkthrough, it is pretty easy to make an error and see your progress blocked completely.

Close to the 2h-mark, I stumbled into the Milliway kitchen, tried (and failed) to wrangle with the cupboard and my inventory. At some point, the cupboard just refused to open, and the timer rang. I still tried to play a tiny bit more, undoing previous actions and redo the puzzle, but alas, I could not get it past (is it maybe a bug? or did I miss something obvious?).

Honestly, from the little I played, it is really impressive, and could pass for an official game.

Maybe I’ll restart it later and try to play it fully.

This time, I made sure to log a transcript at the start… but I played online, so it wouldn’t let me download it or save it in the tempfiles? From what I saw on the IFComp website, it should be available to the author on their side. So Max, if you see a transcript spamming Z in the Milliway kitchen section, that’s probably me…


The Library of Knowledge by Elle Sillitoe


The Library of Knowledge is an interactive piece, where you get to browser three sizeable and intertwined stories, in a turn-the-page/click-to-continue style. The setting is heavily influenced by Chinese mythology, mixing historial realism with fantastical aspects.

In its gameplay, save for an early-end at the start and a potential choice at the end, the entry feels more like a kinetic piece than anything. The interactivity focuses mainly on “reading” through the books, with limited conversations with the library inhabitants afterwards.
While there is nothing wrong with a more linear/interactive-less type of game, the turn-the-page mechanic felt a bit… tedious, making me wishing I was physically turning the page myself. Especially considering the quite substantial word count in game.

As for the stories within the story, one book explored your past, while the others focused on the world around you. The latter read like some sort of codexes, while the first felt more like a novella. While there were some interesting bits, I have to admit I ended up skimming through the books by the end. The forced and lengthy exposition felt like a drag, and didn’t quite manage to make the ending satisfying for me.

By the end, I wasn’t quite sure whether this format fitted the story best, especially with the mechanical gameplay (you have to read every page of each books). I wondered if the entry might have worked better if the player could “play” the PC’s story with maybe “fake” choices, rather than reading about it in the book.

kinda felt more like an exercise in worldbuilding in a way?


I’m going to play a few short ones…
The next one is a Texture one. I learned from my mistake of last year, and playing it on mobile instead :stuck_out_tongue:
curse you, click and drag…

We All Fall Together by Camron Gonzalez


We All Fall Together is a short surrealist game about “taking the plunge” and facing things head on. Made in Texture, you click-n-drag actions towards specific block of words to affect the displayed text or move the story along. There is only one ending.

With its fantastical setting (you falling towards the eye of a storm, falling with others), WAFT proposes a very simple and silly game. Yet, intertwined the silliness, the game discusses a very human trait: the fear of just… doing things. Of diving head forwards into things. Of avoiding situations for fear it will end badly…

It was a fine small entry.


20 Exchange Place by Sol FC


20 Exchange Place is hostage-situation high-stake game where you play a Sergeant trying to solve a sticky situation. The game offers multiple consequential choices, with many leading to a bad ending. I would rate this game Cruel on Zarf’s difficulty’s scale. I know it is possible to reach a “good” ending, but didn’t manage even with my multiple attempts.

This game was… frustrating, especially as someone who wants to do good when playing game, and strive to reach at a minimum the least harmful ending as possible. I usually don’t mind replaying, until I find a (somewhat) satisfying result. But here, I gave up after a good half-dozen try. And savescuming is difficult with Ink (only one slot).

20 Exchange Place is very much a “golden”/“only-one-true” path type of game, and if you stray from it, you will face the consequences. And while each failed state will get its own extensive variation, having to restart the whole thing every time (especially when you are pretty far along) is tedious at best.

The difficulty of the game is that you are pretty blind when choosing what to do next, as there are little to no indications in the text to help, which is frustrating when the PC is supposed to be a veteran on the job (or are you just that stupid). Even choices characterised as “safe” can lead you down a bad path.
This is kinda the type of game where you need some sort of walkthrough… Someone should add one to the IFDB page at one point… if they find the correct path!

While the prose does a good job at setting the scene, and pushing the high-stake envelope about the situation, I also found it awkward at times. This was made even more obvious with the missing punctuation in the dialogues, or the censoring of “bad” and “swear” words, which, considering the indicated genre and content warning, feels out of place.
Is hell a bad word? I think it was most in the context of swearing…

Is it supposed to be like… a critique of the police force? that they are bad at their job?
or that there are always too many variables to take into account in difficult situation, leaving the end state muddled at best? (but then, why a good path?)


Thanks for the review! I am very glad someone liked it.


Last one for today, also the 10th one!
I should be working a bit on my EctoComp entry… which won’t be today again apparently.

GameCeption by Ruo


GameCeption is “a game within a game” action thriller, where the goal is for you and your friend to win the gaming competition, and win the much needed prize (money!). The game you must play, however, is really not what it seems…

I’ll say it out of the gate: I liked this game. It was nicely paced*, with engaging gameplay and choice, and a pretty stylised UI (I’m a sucker for a sci-fi-esc interface). Even if I saw the twist coming from a mile away, I was still pretty entertained, and felt vindicated when proven right! I thought the game knocked it out of the park.
*timed text on replay was a taaaaad annoying, esp when trying to speed run the last part

I liked the differences between the two parts of the competition, both in terms of styling of the page and the text itself. As both parts sort of mirror each other, especially in terms of action, there is just enough distinctiveness between both parts to make it feel fresh. The “parser”-like actions with the links added to the game competition aspect.

While characterised as an action thriller, I think Survival, à-la Battle Royale, might fit the game even better, especially considering the gameplay when the competition starts. Though the interface of the game and the cover art would maybe give the expectation of a more sci-fi like entry.

For a game with multiple “losing” state, I appreciated “respawning” at the last major point, avoiding replaying the whole game to get back to the action.

Maybe a less positive point, it would be in the characterisation of the protagonists’ relationship. It was maybe left a bit too vague for the question at the ‘interview’ to hit harder.

I was also curious how whether there were other endings, so I popped the downloaded file into Twine, and there was like a whole other game inside! (I don’t know if this was intentional, haven’t tried it, didn’t seem like it was related.)


Continuing on the +2h entries…
Good thing there are blurbs, because you could expect something completely different with that title (puns!).

One Knight Stand by A. Hazard


Sitting at over 400k total words, One Knight Stand is quite a sizeable game, with extensive branching. It also is a demo (prologue + 1st chapter), meant to be part of a longer series. Characterised as a mashup between Among Us and Arthurian lore, the story will twist and turn at every corner. I found one Dead End.

The game is very much anchored in the ChoiceofGame style of interactive fiction, with its extensive, almost overwhelming, character creation, lengthy playthroughs, and variation galore. Replay value seems to be an important part of this entry, due to the many many choices available (some are even locked depending on previous choices).

While the amount of available content is impressive (400k for a single chapter is massive), the pace of the story is at times painfully slow. In part due to the extensive nature of the character creation. From requiring you to confirm every single character-building choice, to going into details about some trivial options (like the shade of your favourite colour has a dozen of option per hue), it often felt unnecessary and tiresome (be prepared for choice-fatigue here…).

The entry starts pretty intriguing, with a spooky nightmare set in an Arthurian setting, with a bone-chilling feeling that continues to follow you throughout the rest of the chapter (with creepy voices and creepy feelings)*. To balance it out, the prose strive to add humour when it can, from mentions of or punny winks about mainstream media (Knights of Our Lives, lol), to taking an almost sarcastic or parody approach to some situations**. The balance was not quite there, however, making me question whether the story was supposed to be primarily comedy or horror.
I had a bit checked-out by the time the horror started to pick up.

* It’s kinda funny a fast-food server can be part of a Polo club…

While I was not particularly fan of the pronoun switch between the main text (you) and the choice list (I), as it sometimes broke the flow of reading, the formatting of the more horror-y beats (especially the ones with creepy sounds or anxious feelings) helped keeping things fresh.
Another thing I hope will be used further into the game was the phone element, specifically the texting side-“game”. The options of sending back messages were pretty funny (yay for creepypasta).

For a ChoiceofGame style game, it has a pretty solid base and I suspect it could become quite popular with CoG fans. But I don’t think it’s my kind of game.
(I was almost relieved when I reached the end, even if it wasn’t a “good” one).

I’m calling it now: you are the long lost child of the Phone Company CEO.


The Witch by Charles Moore


The Witch is a fairly difficult parser where you must save the snatched villagers, though how to do so or solve the puzzles along the way is not quite clear. There are limits in both the inventory and turn count. The entry does not include an in-game help or hint system, but an external transcript walkthrough is included. I reached a total of 60 points before stopping playing (using the walkthrough for help).

Knowing my (in)aptitude in playing parsers, I wasn’t expecting to sweep through the puzzles and reach the end easy-peasy. I just hoped to be able to solve at least one puzzle all by myself. It became quickly apparent I wouldn’t be able to do much by myself without the walkthrough either.

Aside from the blurb, the game gives you little indication of what you are supposed to do. You are essentially dropped in this world, left to your own devices. You can explore the world, pick some stuff up, interact with elements around you… and hope for the best. I found myself running around the world, and ended up stuck in some sort of tree that wouldn’t let me leave*.
*was there a hint somewhere about the order of actions you should input?

Going through the rooms, I kept wondering if I missed some clue or if there was some context about the game or story I should have known about or found before getting to certain locations. It kind of felt you had to do quite a bit of guesswork… and that was a bit frustrating.

The game was not meant with beginners in mind. I hope more experienced parser players have an easier time than I did…

Is this a cruel-level game? It felt like one. ;-;


Since it’s not my game, I can feel free to point out that this is 100% a “Choice of Games” style thing rather than author choice (I mean, technically it’s author choice but regular ChoiceScript readers would find it extremely jarring if they DIDN’T do that).


Oh, I see… I think it shocked me most when the final sentence of the main text would break, only to finish in the choice list. Going from one PoV type halfway through was peculiar :sweat_smile: . Maybe the use of the imperative form instead would work better? :woman_shrugging:

But also, if A. Hazard is reading this, it’s clear I’m not the target audience of the game. If this is part of some CoG styling guidelines to publish with CoG at a later point, please disregard this bit of the review :slight_smile:


Lonehouse by Ayu Sekarlangit Mokoginta


Lonehouse is an emotionally charged piece about facings reality, processing one’s grief, and finding ways to remember passed loved ones. The entry feels very personal albeit short. Following the passing of your estranged sister, you find yourself sorting through her belonging, reminiscing about the past, and learning new things about the time spent apart.

The entry takes you through different rooms of your sister’s place, each giving the player the same actions (inspect, move, thing). It feels methodical, as if you had to force yourself going through the things your sister left behind. But, in each room, you discover a special item, triggering a memory or thought - each showing a different facet of the person you (thought you) once knew.

Grief can be a heart breaking and complex feeling, rendered even more complicated when the situation is itself a complicated thing (there’s a lot of unsaid things in the entry about how it got to this point). I felt like this entry showed maybe a more detached look to that feeling.

For future players, in screens with the hums or the text bubbles, go from top to bottom in revealing the next text. Otherwise you’ll miss important pieces of information.


The Enigma of Solaris by jkj yuio

Entry - Note: it’s listed as Engima and not Enigma on the ballot.

The Enigma of Solaris is a short interactive game set on the Solaris station, where you must find the reason for the power loss threatening the lives of its inhabitant, fighting any hurdles along the way. It can be played as a choice-based or (limited) parser (only used the choice list). There seemed to only be one ending.

The story was reminiscent of those old pulp sci-fi stories, with the strive for advancement at the cost of human life, and the hubris of it all. The game is not afraid to go at full speed into those tropes, which makes it a bit comical (in a good way). The visual characterisation of the NPC add a bit of creepyness to the situation, with it’s uncanny valley-esque vibe.
Those NPC images freaked me out, I kinda wished there was a toggle to wide them.

Though I quite enjoy bite-sized games, this one felt somewhat incomplete - as if a whole part of the story or a different angle to it was missing. Starting strong with multiple options to explore the station, interact with different elements, and diagnosing the issue, the player sees its agency disappear by the second half of the game - railroaded towards the ending, with not even the illusion of being able to make a choice.

I think it could have made the ending a bit more satisfying if you had a final choice between fulfilling the mission to save lives or being persuaded to take a path of higher purpose just before the end. Maybe even a bit more choice in conversation with the second NPC.

There was also a bit of friction with the engine used, with the image messing a bit with the placement of the text (if they were more to the side, it would be nicer), or the longer portions of the text forcing you to scroll up and down to read the new bits.

Stopping here for today…


Probably my only one today, cause i’m trying to make progress on my ectocomp entry.
Everyone have been talking about that one, so here I go:



DICK MCBUTTS GETS KICKED IN THE NUTS is what you could consider a joke entry. It is a nonsensical and completely unserious game, where the point is to make you chuckle, one way or another. The game is not just dipped but fully immersed in absurdism… if you got the correct start when opening the game. I reached multiple Dead Ends, and one True Ending out of Three.

I was pretty lucky, getting the good path from the moment I clicked Play, avoiding the flashing image and on-purpose terrible spelling*. I got to enjoy the adventure of Dick, our protagonist, trying his darn best to protect his family jewels from getting the kick. If this sounds juvenile, it is on purpose. The game is meant to be a joke through out (if that was not yet obvious from the title and the author’s name), and can be enjoyed by playing along with the joke (making the situations even more absurd than they are), or making fun of the game for how stupid the sequence of events is going (how unlucky Dick is to have to choose to flee towards two different shoe factories…).
*Whether the author did it on purpose or not, just for having that path, it will be a Banana of Discord contender for sure.

While it is very humorous, it is also a very specific kind of humour, which will not be of everyone’s taste. It is a one-type-of-joke kind of game, which can become tiring pretty quickly, if you are not in the right mindset. It’s crude, it’s rude, it’s balls-y*.
*yes, not very smart

Though, the author should be commended for how long they managed to keep that joke going, never once faltering, always doubling down. It is pretty impressive how creative the game stays even with just one scenario, and the sheer amount of branching available in the game (every passage or two, you have a choice). It is a commitment to the bit I’ve only really seen with major shitposting and memes*. Just for that, kuddos Hubert!

This was a riot of a game!

Last note, importing the game on Twine give the dumbest but most topical overview of the passage placements. Extra points for effort.

Last commit to the bit