Mathbrush Spring Thing 2022 review thread

I’m starting to review games on IFDB. I’m beginning at the longer games first, and I’ll do the shorter games last. I’ll post them here as well!

Abate: Hide Behind the Curtains, by Rohan
Another Cabin In The Woods, by Quain Holtey
Baby on Board, by Eric Zinda
Beneath the Stones, by Kieran Green
Bigfoot Bluff, by P.B. Parjeter
The Bones of Rosalinda, by Agnieszka Trzaska
The Box, by Paul Michael Winters
The Bright Blue Ball, by Clary C.
Computerfriend, by Kit Riemer
Crow Quest, by rookerie
Custard & Mustard’s Big Adventure, by Christopher Merriner
Digit, by Joey Acrimonious
externoon, by nune
Fairest, by Amanda Walker
The Fall of Asemia, by B.J. Best
Filthy Aunt Mildred, by Guðni Líndal Benediktsson
fix it, by Lily Boughton
George and the Dragon, by Pete Chown
Good Grub!, by Damon L. Wakes
Graveyard Shift at the Riverview Motel, by Seb Pines
Half-Alive, by Bellamy Briks
Hinterlands: Marooned, by Cody Gaisser
The Hole Man, by E.Z. Poschman
Hypercubic Time-Warp All-go-rhythmic Synchrony, by Ben Kidwell and Maevele Straw
Lady Thalia and the Rose of Rocroi, by E. Joyce and N. Cormier
The Legend of Horse Girl, by Bitter Karella
Let’s Talk Alex, by Stephanie Smith
The Light in the Forest, by Emily Worm
Ma Tiger’s Terrible Trip, by Travis Moy
New Year’s Eve, 2019, by Autumn Chen
Orbital Decay, by Kayvan Sarikhani
The Prairie House, by Chris Hay and Kelsen Hadder
Roger’s Day Off, by Sia See and Jkj Yuio
A Single Ouroboros Scale, by Naomi Norbez
Super Mega Tournament Arc!, by groggydog
Sweetpea, by Sophia de Augustine
Thief of the Thousand Suns, by Dom Kaye
Thin Walls, by Wynter
Tours Roust Torus, by Andrew Schultz
Wry, by Olaf Nowacki
You, Me and Coffee, by Florencia Minuzzi

Back Garden

5e Arena, by Seth Jones
Confessing to a Witch, by HeckinRobin
A D R I F T, by Pinkunz
Manifest No, by Kaemi Velatet
Phenomena, by Dawn Sueoka
The Wolf and Wheel, by Jason Ebblewhite, Angus Barker, and Milo von Mesdag


Thin Walls by Wynter

I always enjoy a good story about a strange house that changes over time; I haven’t read House of Leaves, but I’ve seen many games and stories cite it as an inspiration. Others I’ve seen include Map by Ade McTavish, Aaron Reed’s novel Subcutaneous and the Backrooms urban legend.

This novel focuses on the ‘house grows larger’ largely as a metaphor for relationships, shown in individual vignettes (I’m sorry for making constant comparisons, but the vignette system reminds me of Spoon River Anthology, a story told entirely through gravestones).

People come into the house and find themselves changed, some losing friends, some losing each other, some arguing, some finding friendship, but the house always grows.

Overall, I found it polished and satisfying. The only thing I had trouble with was occasionally not really knowing what to do next (especially around the orange juice), and not knowing when the game would end. The narrative arc kind of meanders around, like the house itself. Otherwise, I found this to be a solid and thoughtful story.


Roger’s Day Off

This game uses the Strand engine, which is the same engine (or a related one) used to put the Magnetic Scrolls games on the web. It features a parser but most interactions are through choices. The majority of non-choice interactions are typing the name of an object to give or WAITing. It features numerous images as well. For me, the images were larger than the screen size, requiring some scrolling that obscured some of the text.

This game reminds me of Steve Meretzky games, like Leather Goddesses of Phobos or his later graphical games. You play as a nerdy programmer who runs into tons of women, all of whom look like ‘sexy’ Halloween costumes (sexy pirate, sexy robot, etc.). There are references to sexbots and wanting to kiss the nerdy programmer, so it has a lot of that ‘nerd gets the girls’ vibe from 80’s and 90’s films and games. It has a shop called '9/11’instead of ‘7/11’, which, I thought, ‘Is that a September 11 reference?’, but I thought probably not. But then the clerk there is named Abdul, which could be a pretty weird Sep. 11 reference, a stereotype about shop owners, or just a coincidence.

Gameplay consists of warping to different time periods and solving puzzles that are mostly about puzzling out patterns through trial and error. There are a lot of combinations and the puzzles seem designed to take some time, and I ended up using the walkthrough fairly soon.

The themes and messages didn’t really gel with me, and I would have preferred a little smaller pictures to give the text more room. I appreciate the technical design that went into the game and can imagine several people who I think would enjoy it significantly.


The Prairie House, by Chris Hay and Kelsen Hadder

This is an Adventuron game set in the plains of Manitoba. It involves research about local plants and wildlife and about Ukrainians who emigrated to Canada.

It also contains a jumpscare, so fair warning! Scared me quite a bit. Just the one scare, though.

Overall, it’s a well-done horror story that is elevated by the obvious research and care into the background details. It has 10 different achievements, of which I found 8.

*Polish: I didn’t run into any parser problems, the art is well-done and the prose is smooth.
*Descriptiveness: A lot of vivid imagery and attention to detail.
*Interactivity: I liked the open-endedness of the achievements but also always had something to do.
*Emotional impact: Pretty scary, although 80% of it was the jumpscare.
*Would I play again? Yeah, I think I could.


Thank you!


The Light in the Forest

This game is a lot of things all at once.

Perhaps the majority of it is wish-fulfillment, of a sorts. Your character is a nervous, self-doubting trans woman with major executive processing issues, and the biggest storyline is about a girl you’ve had a crush on for years turning out to have a crush on you too and the two of you flirting, with her being deeply accepting of everything about you including your transness and disability. This is contrasted with your family and society (represented by an institution) who accepts neither of these things.

Overlayed on this is another storyline, that of the world having already ended and a messenger of light from Hell (I think?) having become entangled in your dreams.

Overall, the game does a good job of sketching distinct characters and their personalities. There were enough small typos here and there to be noticeable (wish I had written them down, but forgot). There are some bursts of strong profanity, mostly used to express anxiety (including the first screen). The game has a lot of references to attraction and making out but is generally non-explicit except for a segment describing the character’s own body, from the lens of their satisfaction (or lack of) with her appearance.

Overall, I think this game appeals most to one’s sense of longing for acceptance and belonging, which is fairly universal. And in that sense, I would say it’s a successful story.


Very much agreed on the wish fulfillment aspect - that can sometimes be an irritating trope but I thought it was ok here since it fit the overall low-key vibe. Relatedly, I liked how in the confrontation with the mom, it’s actually not that hard to get to her acknowledge she’s made some bad decisions and needs to rethink things. I feel like there could be a version of this story that skews much darker and more intense, and that would be valid but I prefer this one!


Lady Thalia and the Rose of Rocroi

I had some trepidation approaching this game, as, based on the last Lady Thalia game, I assumed it would be:
-requiring a great deal of thought,

and thus require some special time set aside. And I was right! If anything, this game exceeds the last one in all those categories.

You play two different women this time: one, the infamous lady thief Lady Thalia; the other, a policewoman named Margaret Williams, somewhat stodgy but dependable. Together, you are teaming up to stop a rival art thief who is obsessed with royal privilege and the trappings of aristocracy.

Play alternates between playing as Margaret, who investigates and prepares, and Lady Thalia, who follows up on Margaret’s leads. There’s a point system (which is humorously lampshaded in-game), and sub-systems including a relationship tracker between the two leads.

There are a variety of puzzles, with the most consistent one being a conversational system where you can choose between being flattering, direct, and leading someone one; most conversations give you 3 chances to find the ‘right one’, with a bonus if you get all 3 right.

The other puzzles for the most part involve retaining information from earlier and using contextual clues. There is a complex save system which allows for easy restoration (I did this quite a bit), but some choices have significant delays, so a perfect playthrough is quite difficult.

The characters are bold and well-written, and I’d consider this among the best crime/heist Twine games.


Thanks so much! This game was a challenge because we had to make it a satisfying follow-up to the previous as well as a good game, so I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

There are a lot of good crime and heist games out there, so I’m really flattered!


Hypercubic Time-Warp All-go-rhythmic Synchrony

This is the third game by this duo, the other two in the past having been very long, surreal games, one of which reflected a psychotic break and really felt like what such a thing would be to experience.

This game starts with the first author confessing that he/she (both pronouns are used) made sexual advances to their trans step son whom they’ve lived with for 9 years, and that it has ruined the partnership of the two authors, after most of this game had been written, and that the author is trying to make up for it.

Much of this game isn’t real, so it’s hard to know if this is, but it certainly seems so, which is sobering and disturbing.

The rest of the game focuses mostly on a few recurring themes:
-The idea of very large cardinal sets and non-principal ultrafilters on them. This is an area of math that is extremely abstract, especially since (as mentioned by the author) most of these things are non-constructible and cannot be proven to exist in any meaningful way under normal mathematical assumptions.
-The author’s life at the Lothlorien coop in Berkeley, which still exists and houses people today.
-The idea of using psychic energy to communicate with Hong Kong singer Deng Ziqi telepathically.
-The author’s relationship with Staci (who I believe is also Maev?)

The game is laid out on a six-dimensional hypercube, corresponding to 6 binary digits, corresponding to the 6 cardinal directions N,E,S,W,U, and D. Unlike most games and real life, N and S are not opposites and have no relation to each other. Instead, going North cancels itself out, so going N twice will bring you back to where you started.

Not all 64 options are filled; about 20 or so are empty ‘unfinished’ rooms. One room had its connections backwards (so that going U and D changed the N and S bits), which may or may not be intentional. The room names are based on the binary numbers.

In the rooms are found items, one at a time or zero. There are lots of scenery objects described in the text but none are implemented.

I received around 432 points (I think) out of 530 or so. There is no overarching goal outside of ‘binding’ some items together in a chain, which just gives more points. One room contains a complete walkthrough for the bindings.

Overall, as a game it continues the glimpse into a surreal world offered by the previous games, but the confession at the beginning overshadows everything else and renders it all heartbreaking.


I don’t have much to add to my coauthor’s comment, but I wanted to thank you for the review as well! It is, as you note, a more ambitious game than the first one in terms of length and complexity, so I was a bit nervous about whether we’d pulled it off.



This is a long Twine game about a young woman who’s had a very difficult life finding her younger brother being sucked into a mysterious portal by a dark creature.

Following her brother, she enters a mysterious world filled with destruction and many malevolent entities. Her brother’s life is at stake, and there’s not much time left.

As the author puts it, this is a narrative-focused game and eschews large-scale branching, but manages to find numerous ways to test the player.

Puzzles come in two varieties: riddles, which are either type-in or choice-based from a huge list of options; and using a color-based system where some colors in the game always signify the same thing (kind of like (Spoiler - click to show) in Sorcery 2).

Overall, the writing is earnest and deals with a lot of childhood trauma. Emotions are plainly spelled out, and overall it reminds me a bit of Steven Universe (crying breakfast friends) or She-ra in terms of the emotional notes it reaches for. The emotions didn’t land quite as effectively for me as in those two examples, though.

There were some unusual word choices in the game that were jarring, like using the phrase ‘he was made into a room’ instead of ‘he went into a room’. It could be cleaned up a little bit grammar-wise; I would give it 4 stars if that happened.

Overall, I felt like it was a worthwhile investment of time, and I was glad to play it. I’ve enjoyed the author’s other games and hope that they continue the trend of releasing fun and meaningful games.


Thank you for the kind words.

Half-Alive was definitely a step away from the genres I typically focus on and was a pretty drawn-out project so I was nervous about it’s reception. I’ll look out for grammar mistakes in my future games!



This game manages to strike a fine balance between puzzle and story, giving fairly easy puzzles with a lot of ‘oh, I know where this goes but I can’t use it yet’ moments. It reminds me of Ryan Veeder’s work in that way.

This game is a mashup of many fairytales, including the ‘three brothers’ theme, three challenges, and stories like Snow White, Rapunzel, the musicians of Bremen, and many of the lesser-known Grimm’s Fairytales.

It decides to show the darker side of many of these, with the darkest presented as exactly in the books. One lean I felt uncomfortable with was (Spoiler - click to show), but after reading the notes and remembering the original tales there’s a good chance that was in the original stories.

The game has an interesting relationship between the player, narrator and player character, with a lot of dramatic irony (in the original sense of the audience knowing what’s going on without the character doing so). This thing has been done before, but rarely in such a polished and enjoyable game.

Overall, the game feels effortlessly fun, but a great deal of work must have happened underneath to make this happen. Puzzles give you increasingly strong hints if you are stuck, a feature found in games like Coloratura and part of my own philosophy.

Large text dumps are fairly common, but read easily and are mostly based on the fairy tales.

I can strongly recommend this game, and enjoyed it quite a bit, perhaps the most I’ve enjoyed an IF this year.


Thanks so much! I put a ton of work into this game, and I wasn’t sure at all how the PC/player/author mechanic was going to land, so this is a big relief! Woohoo!

ETA: Just in case anyone needs it, there is an html walkthrough for the game in the download files!


Custard & Mustard’s Big Adventure

This game reminds me of what you’d get if you mixed the ‘buddies’ movies (like Space Buddies) with Secret Life of Pets and Sherlock Holmes but both characters are Watson.

You are a dog on a leash. You like you’re owner, but don’t want to be on a leash. You escape, and eventually find another dog.

Then the game opens up into a huge map, with I swear 30+ locations. Many farcical situations arise, including things like kick-flips, ollies, pretending to be a dog mannequin, wearing a dog bow-tie, and an enormous chunk at the end where you stop a burglary of a museum.

It’s a very long Adventuron game, one of the most complex I’ve seen. It’s charming and funny.

My biggest sticking point was just not knowing what to do. Different IF communities have different conventions on what’s considered ‘fair play’. Most games I spend a lot of time around with (like old IFComp games) tend to only use standard verbs or verbs directly mentioned in the text. In this game, I had to fiddle around for a while, especially with an embarrassingly long 20 minute session I had trying to solve the first puzzle. I didn’t want to resort to hints, but after that, I used them copiously.

I especially used hints later on because the game often sets up and plays out hilariously funny scenes but with little motivation. As a hypothetical example (not in the game), it’d be like hearing an alien is attacking the city, and then you see a line of dominos leading into an alleyway. Pushing the dominoes would tumble them down, and then you’d discover there’s a giant cannon in the alleyway which the dominos trigger, shooting and defeating the alien. This is an absurd example not in the game, but illustrates the kind of logic: it makes sense in hindsight, but otherwise it’s kind of hard to guess that you need to do it.

This is a common issue with humor games, where you have to balance player participation with setting up good punchlines. For my part, I enjoyed the humor and am willing to sacrifice a little agency for it.

I did experience one difficult bug, near the end. When I had succeeded in the biggest task of the game, foiling the robbery, I dragged the robber out of the water and tried to lead the police to the museum. I got lost though and accidentally re-triggered the water scene in an infinite loop. I got out of the infinite loop by reloading my browser window, which took me back to my previous turn, and going a different direction.

Overall, a fun romp, one of the most enjoyable long Adventuron games, and highly recommended.


Thanks - glad you enjoyed it and apologies that you fell into my infinite loop. That is, of course, entirely the fault of the player for deviating one iota from my carefully prepared script! I’ll fix it and post an updated version.

EDIT: Now fixed in version 1.0.1 uploaded to Thanks again for spotting the bug.


To Mathbrush in this thread:

  • That is, of course, entirely the fault of the player for deviating one iota from my carefully prepared script!

From a PM about a bug I found in Faeries of Haelstowne last year:

  • I’m very grateful for bug reports and typo spotting, although of course, this is entirely your fault for doing things in an order other than that the author anticipated :slightly_smiling_face:.

Blaming the player for lack of telepathic giftedness. In very similar terms no less. Are we seeing a pattern emerging here? :wink:


It’s just possible. The hierarchy of blame for deficiencies in my work is arranged as follows:

a) blame the player
b) blame the tester
c) blame the weather
d) there can’t be anything left to blame me for after that, but on the off-chance there is, I’ll shoulder whatever blame is left.

That seems fair, doesn’t it?


The decline of Western Civilization as a whole comes to mind. That’s not really in your work though, more a consequence of it. All that silliness. Tsk tsk tsk… what’s the world coming to these days…

Hope you have broad shoulders.