Manon tries to finish the Comp (49/75)

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



I took a break yesterday (progress on the Ectocomp is going, and so is nursing that darn flu). I don’t know how many entries I can manage to do today, so I’ll finish the 15min or less if I can at least.

The Sculptor by Yakoub Mousli


The Sculptor is a pretty short interactive story about the artistic dilemma of creating for the sake of creating and essentially selling out, through the lens of an older man yearning to create his Magnum Opus before it is too late. Through a fairly poetic prose, the man reflect on his gifts, the process to get to the finished state, and that dilemma.

With a focus on touch-related imagery, the entry does a fairly good job at describing the tedious, and often painful, but fulfilling process of creating art. Its poetic prose engages to see creative endeavour as more than the final product, but all the acts, the efforts, the sweat, the tears that made it happen. I was particularly touched by the yearning of the old man to accomplish one last piece, fulfilling his dream, before meeting the inevitable.

Though it is a major point of the story, I did not find the dilemma quite satisfying. The question itself of creating for the sake of creating or to be able to survive has been debated almost ad nauseam, without much of a new or fresh angle to it. It also felt like the Sculptor’s position was clear: not preserving the art from being sullied through transaction would tear his soul.

Another thing that felt strange was placing the time period of the piece. The cover art and starting prose suggest a Baroque or maybe Romantic period, while the dialogue from other characters would place it in a more modern time. It would not be too surprising to learn that the sculptor’s sensibilities were tuned to older periods, being maybe even detached from reality due to his age or current state. An angle like this could have helped bridge the gap, I think.


Escape your psychosis by Georg Buchrucker


Escape your Psychosis is an illustrated CYOA booklet about escaping the cycle of psychosis by recognising and avoiding the unhealthy choices. The format allows you to click on the option to process through the story. The text is accompanied by whimsical illustrations, relevant to the state of the story. The entry is meant to be educational.

This very short entry is the product of the author’s experience with psychosis in their surroundings, wanting to spread awareness and demystify what it means to fall into a psychosis. Through short snippets of situations, the entry takes a light-hearted, often humourous, approach to the theme. Still, it recognises that this is not a situation-fits-all type of content.

For what it tries to do, I think the game manages to do quite well. It provides enough variety and choices to make it feel believable, but brushes over the more darker elements of going through a psychosis to not make it a bummer (the illustrations* are a big help in this way). However, this can also be seen as what doesn’t work about the entry, with how over-simplistic the game tackles the subject matter, or how it overlooks completely the darker realities, or how too cheerful the entry looks for what it tries to portray. It can feel a bit superficial.
*they reminded me a bit of the Little Inferno game style…

I’d love to see more CYOA entries in a similar format in future comps!

And that’s it for the under 15min!
I’m probably going back to writing for now…


New day, new reviews! Def one, maybe more :woman_shrugging:
I wrote quite a bit yesterday, so I can enjoy some more games…

Trail Stash by Andrew Schultz


Trail Stash is a short-ish puzzle, where you must go through trash to find treasures. Along the way, you pick up items you can use to unlock new locations. As the story is rather not deep and quite nonsensical, the focus of the entry is meant to be on the gameplay. I could not solve the puzzle without the external map.

Trail Stash is the latest entry of Andrew’s experiments in SugarCube, which I got into with his Neo Twiny entries last June, where the focus is less on the story itself but what the code can do or what gameplay could be added to a Twine game. In this entry, it is all about a puzzle map, where you can pick up items, use those items, unlock rooms, and collect all map pieces to get to the ending.

Though it is humorous and you should take the story at the first degree, the puzzle itself is a struggle. There is no indication on what you are supposed to do, or even hints. When you finally manage to understand what’s going on after clicking on everything, solving the puzzle itself comes down to a trial and error, and error, and maybe a win, but mostly error, and an error again. If there was a certain logic in where to use which item, I did not find it…
Even while using the map, I’ve made many errors because I could not differentiate the colours.

Honestly, this felt a bit like one of those old school parser puzzle transplanted into a choice-based engine. Which is neat in and of itself, but didn’t really work… I found quite a bit of friction, with how the pages were formatted: with the locations being in a line, whole pages refreshing instead of a single line, or the inventory hidden*. That made, to me, the entry feel more like a proptotype.
*I think it could have worked better tagged at the end of the passage, with a popup on whether the combo worked or not…

Still, I’ve always found something interesting with these experiments, as it’s made me think of new ways to approach SugarCube or gameplay in general. There’s always something intriguing, making me wonder how things work under the hood. And this one is no different.

Andrew, a new interface when? :stuck_out_tongue:


The Whisperers by Milo van Mesdag


The Whisperers is an interactive game set in the late 30s Soviet block, where you are an audience member of an interactive “propagandist” play, of three “families” living inside a paper-thin-walled apartment. Throughout the story, you are asked for your opinion on how the play should continue. There are essentially 3-ish possible endings.

I personally hate plays where the audience needs to take an active part of the story, where immersion is broken because the audience must have a say. But as an interactive game, I’ve quite enjoyed it! The active participating is not only welcomed, but adds another layer of intrigue into the story (at least in this case). The awkwardness of waiting for the play to start again is not there, as the passage loads right after your choice is made.

As for the story, a morality take in two acts, it made me think of those typical contemporary French plays happening within an apartment, where miscommunication and personal drama becomes the crux of the issue. While it is not as vaudevillian, with the play set in Soviet Russia during Stalin’s regime, it is nonetheless cynical in its treatment of its characters. No one is good, no one is bad, everyone is stuck in their own situation (and some are maybe a bit stupid*).
*the characters felt at times a bit flat, or a bit preachy in how they discuss some topics.

If you take it at face value, it’s a pretty neat experience; and if you look deeper into it, it shows off the extensive research on the setting and the length taken to portray its intricacies, the horrors, and the hopes. It felt a bit like a commentary of the period. The play is fairly fast paced, and doesn’t overstay its welcome, ending just at the climax. The interactiveness of it is fun, with your choice mattering or being disregarded (depending on the mode played) – it could have been fun to learn whether these choices affected your position.
I found the hidden ending to be the most fun one.

But, I did have some issue with the formatting of the text itself. While I appreciated the inclusion of formatting options, with palette themes and text font/size*, it made it obvious when an aspect was not customised (link colour not contrasted enough, popup). But that’s a detail compared to…
*it might have fitted more inside a Setting popup, the buttons’ colours were too eye-catching.

… the passages not looking like an actual script. From the blurb to the game itself, it was clear we were meant to look forward to a play on our screen. But the text is vaguely formatted like one: the Act is centred on the page, but not the scenes or the character’s names; the actions or voice level* are made obvious in brackets, but end up feeling lost inside dialogue (especially in the Guide’s and Sergei’s monologues)… It might seem like a detail, but the essence of playwriting felt a bit lost because of it?
*the whispering aspect kinda felt like an afterthought after the first scene? The voice level of the characters didn’t seem to matter much in further conversations…

Visual friction aside, this was neat.

A game I played recently that took advantage of the Script/Play format was Goncharov: Coda. It made the difference between play and reality more obvious than this entry, though.

EDIT: Turns out, there’s no one way to format a script. The formatting in this entry can be found in published play. It just depends what you’re used to/what printing you’ve read before.
Still would make some tweaks to make blocks of text more digestible or differentiate names/actions/spoken words better.


20th review…

The Ship by Sotiris Niarchos

Forenote: I stopped playing during Chapter 4, without reaching the 2h mark.

The Ship is a hypertext puzzle game, following two interconnected stories of captains, each looking for a specific location. The game includes different kinds of puzzles, from visual ones to more fetch-quest like, and achievements. I completed 3 chapters out of 7.

I don’t know why I had a hard time getting into the game, it has all the stuff I like: pirates, some sci-fi elements, some puzzles, some fun characters with interesting or funny backstories… Mixing genres is usually so much fun, and drawing parallels between storylines is usually intriguing and has me on the edge of my seat. But something just didn’t click with this game.

I don’t think there was one reason for why it didn’t work (for me), but more of a combination of frictions with the story or the gameplay that resulted in not enjoying as much as I thought I would have. I could see where it was going with the tropes of the characters and the similar elements between the captains, so it felt a bit frustrating.
I ended up relating quite a bit with the first captain from the start of the game.

Though there were bits of humour, I found most of the prose a bit dull and dry (more so in the sci-fi section). The dialogues were more palatable, especially with the more cookie crew members (they had some funny bits, playing the tropes and such). The pace was a bit slow, and in conversations lore-dumpy with the long paragraphs.

Still, I pushed onward, discussed with the different fun characters on board, ran around the ship to get things rolling, tried to solve the puzzles and put stuff back into order… I followed what the game wanted from me, but it still didn’t grab me. After reaching the navigation puzzle*, I stopped.
*a neat puzzle, but too many to solve at once to continue the story.

Maybe the game needs like a specific mindset/humeur to be in before starting the game? I might come back to it later on… Because there were still some good bits in there…


Please Sign Here by Road


Please Sign Here is a fairly linear visual novel mystery. As a coffee barista, you have been brought in for interrogation after being involved in an accident that took the life of your friend and the police finding your signature linked to other incidents. The game goes through the events of the past week, ending with you potentially naming who you think did it. There are about a dozen endings.

Out of all the things I would expect to see in Twine, a visual novel wasn’t really one of them. Usually made in RenP’y or Godot, this one was made in Harlowe, a Twine format. Even if the scaling doesn’t always work, or the positioning is not always quite right, or the music bar being distracting, just for trying to do that, kuddos to you!
Just a little note on contrast, the text sometimes blended with the background, which was a bit hard to read. A darker text background or different positioning of the image would help a ton!

The story itself might be a bit generic (oh, no! you were accused wrongly!), and the prose awkward at times, but throughout, the game managed to keep up with the suspense. When it starts to mellow out a bit, here’s a creepy sprite, or the background changes with darker tones to reflect the state. It is also made clearer with the main character slowly losing her sanity, which is already exasperated by working too much.

Though most of the story is pretty linear, you have a few choice on how you interact with your surrounding and the people entering the coffee shop. Still, your agency stays fairly limited, as the majority of the game happens in a flashback. The main choice happens at the end of the game, with most endings being fairly similar to each other (not one felt quite satisfying).

A big big plus for this entry was the illustrations for the game, especially the backgrounds. Really added to the vibe of the game. I think I liked the car scene the most.

Also found a bug on the option page (also appears in the ending)




Thanks so much for the review!

I think I know what you mean by it not looking like a script? Like were you expecting something where the character name would be central and the line would be beneath, left aligned? That’s certainly something I’ve seen, but it’s something I’d definitely associate with screenplays, not scripts for use in theatre (although you had me so unsure I had to google image search to sanity check :stuck_out_tongue:) As for centring the scene and act name, that’s really a coin toss from script to script, from what I know.

But I’ll definitely look at changing my code for the accessibility options later! I’m really terrible at that visual design stuff…


Ah, I guess this is more of what people are used to then :thinking:
Because I recall reading plays only in this format (link to Molière) when I was still studying. Maybe it’s a publisher formatting thing, I guess?
Typing Theatre play script formatting seems to be giving guidelines separating character names, actions, and spoken words… but it might be more like academic essay formatting where every uni has their own type…

Still, having some sort of linebreak or text-style (italics or colour) to differentiate speech and action would make some bits easier to read/digest.


Hu, weird. Yeah, it does seem very inconsistent, from what I’ve seen. All I know is that I’ve spent a while being confused about who’s speaking while reading plays, so maybe copying that particular aspect wasn’t the best call for readability :stuck_out_tongue:


6 posts were split to a new topic: Formatting Plays

Virtue by Oliver Revolta


Virtue is a short-ish linear entry, where you follow Gloria, a newly middle-class woman on a self-righteous path to prove her standing in her new community. It is meant as a satire about the origin story of a conservative member of parliament in Britain.
It should be noted that while the blurb sort of spoils the gist of the game, the original content warnings are not clear enough on the actual content of the entry. Please note that there are mention of an assault of a child, as well as xenophobic comments in the game. It was genuinely upsetting to read through some parts, unwarned.

Honestly, I am incredibly conflicted about this entry, because it is clear what the author was trying to make fun of, but the results is undermined by issues (see last point). A shame the ending is spoiled in the blurb, it would have made the revelation stronger…

On the surface, the entry does a decent job at make a jab at those conservative pundits, how they got where they are now, how conservative talking points are sometimes hypocritical, or downright dangerous, or how comically easy people can fall into extremism. It touches on what you’d expect, and makes clear who you are supposed to like or not.

But when you dig deeper, the entry feels a bit shallow. While meant to be off-putting and shocking, the text barely dives into the tory-ism and more extreme talking points. I was expecting Gloria’s decent into her “moralistic” path to be more explicit in both her views and her spoken words, but she barely go further than what you’d see a light “Karen” do*. She is much too restraint to make the satire work in that regard (even with the British “politeness” coming into play).
*sorry for all the decent Karens out there…

Speaking of Gloria, it is obvious from the start she is not meant to be liked. She is a vapid busy-body woman who has nothing better to do than keep up with appearances. Like your usual stereotypical middle-class stay-at-home mother, she berates her husband to no end, disregard her daughter (which I felt she even envied), and, in some sort of Oedipal concept, puts her son on a small pedestal… that is when she actually pay attention to her family. She seems more interested in her little dog than anyone else. To further the point of how sad and empty this woman’s live actually is, the game shows a clear lack of hobbies and passion by the end of the game.

With Gloria putting so much importance in appearance and status, coupled with her lack of personal life, it is no wonder she’d end up where she did. And it works for the game! Who doesn’t like a comically evil (or maybe stupid) character.

Finally, a bit of the elephant in the room. [See point below]

Mention of assault moving forward

The whole tragic backstory of Gloria having been assaulted in her childhood, used later on as an angle for moral and sexual purity, was not just uncomfortable to read (especially the implication that it helped pushing her down that path), but downright unnecessary and unimaginative. There are enough content out there using the rape trope as a backstory, and coupled with the “self-indulgence” satire, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The whole ‘you’re dirty’ angle played almost for laugh is genuinely upsetting, as the need of wanting to be clean is an actual trauma response following an assault. The carelessness in this, especially when the content warnings are lacking in that regard, really sours the game.

And there were other directions the author could have taken to use the whole clean/dirty bit. Gloria came from council houses, aka poverty, aka was a dirty poor. But now, she lives in a middle class house. She is not dirty anymore, she is a proper not-poor person. She has worth. She turns her back on where she comes from because that’s shameful and dirty, and she is a proud and clean woman.

And that’s it. No need for the cheap assault trick. Instead of undermining the point of the satire, it pushes the hypocrisy angle of conservative points.


Thank you for the kind words and taking the time to review the game! It was definitely a challenge but I’m learning a lot on what to improve on for next time!


Dr Ludwig and the Devil by SV Linwood


Dr Ludwig and the Devil is a small parser game, where Dr Ludwig recounts a time where he made a deal with the Devil, and find a way to keep his soul. The parser is fairly beginner friendly, including an external walkthrough and in-game hints. I used the walkthrough to solve some puzzles.

If the blurb didn’t catch your eye, the introduction inside the game surely should. Mixing Drs. Faust and Frankenstein lore with a good dash of humour, Dr Ludwig and the Devil is a delightful small parser cracking laughs left and right. From the witty dialogue, to the descriptions of rooms, reading through the pages of a book or failing to act accordingly, the game just wants to make you cackle*. It is here for a good and fun time!
*also… why do you mean you can’t do magic in France >.<

There’s a lot to love about the game: the puzzles are reasonably simple, but you get plenty of help if needed (thank you for the hints!); the characters are all delightful in their own way, and have a whacky reason to be where they are; the overall shtick of the game is just fun to boot! It is entertaining and there is never a dull moment.

While I don’t have much experience in what’s to be expected or not in a parser in terms of puzzles, I found the whole mechanic with the devil pretty interesting (it was fun to order him around, hehehe). And if you mess up (which I did quite a bit), you don’t get punished for it - you just get a witty response before you’re sent on your way.

The characters are still the highlight of the game, from the mad scientist striving to attain godhood - oh but oops something keep going wrong and now I’m being chased out of my manor again - to the pitchfork mob acting like a HOA* with their contracts, every character in this game has a special flavour of wittiness and charm, with jokes to boot! Interacting with the NPCs, especially diving into plain regular conversations with them, adds a delightful layer to the game (they’re just like us, normal peeps with normal problems**).
*also… the head of the group is a illiterate legalese lover. xD

**honestly, I might side with the pitchforks after talking with them…

Fun time!


All the Troubles Come My Way by Sam Dunnachie


All the Troubles Come My Way is a very short game, where the goal is to find your hat in a strange place. While the game is fairly small (you are limited in ways you can get to an end), it uses a level check mechanic to let you/block you from using certain options. I found 3 endings.

ATCMW is very silly, and not apologetic about it. It knows it’s silly, and will leave you with wanting more silliness by the time it ends (which is quite abrupt, unfortunately). I mean, why not have a time-travelling cowboy go into the future and disassemble and reassemble an Ikea table? This is the kind of silly I look forward in the comps :stuck_out_tongue:

The stat-related interaction with the world around is delightful and quite funny, giving a nice flair to the overall vibe of the game. Though, it is a shame that levelling up those stats took longer than actually solving the main “issue”. I wish we could have has more outside interaction (still in the building or outside of it), and be able to use those stats more.
I should have expected the consequences of drinking yourself under the table, but it still took me by surprise.

Still a fun short time.