I had no time to write proper reviews, or even play all of the games for that matter, but here’s what I thought of the games I did play.
People complain that it’s short, but I think it does what it sets out to do okay. If this were an interactive poetry comp, it’d probably place better.
Hits a bit too close to home; I’m middle eastern myself, and this might have been me just a couple generations ago. (Instead, I get to write about the “first world problem” that is impostor syndrome. Hooray?) It felt a lot that outcomes were a matter of how “positively” one thinks in a situation, and I’m not sure I liked the message that sent.
Bell Park, Youth Detective
Hey, it’s the other game set at a tech conference! Clever writing that’s obviously satirising all those kid detective stories I read when I was young and impressionable. All the adults are horrifyingly irresponsible, which is part of the satire, but I wasn’t always clear on what exactly the satire was trying to say.
Captain Vertederre’s Plunder
Cute. Fun. Loved the subversive element of the Captain not wanting to sell any of the actual valuable stuff.
Another game from that one dude who enters unfinished tech demo things into the comp, thinks the reason he always places so low is because no one likes CYOAs, and then leaves the IF community in a huff because no one understands him. Sigh.
Dad vs. Unicorn
Nice illustrations. Not a pleasant game, but isn’t meant to be, so the message is effective. Like many people, I killed the dad all three times.
I haven’t played a StoryNexus game since Fallen London was still called Echo Bazaar. Horror isn’t generally my thing, and this game is totally longer than two hours, (and yeah, StoryNexus ran slow for me…) but I was absorbed enough in it to try for a few endings. The movie reviews at the end reminded me of a similar thing I did for “The Play”, and I was charmed. The bloopers were cute, too.
Machine of Death
My favourite Hulk Handsome game so far, just barely edging out his timeless classic, “Don’t Pee Yourself”. Fun and clever and silly.
Impressive tech demo. Not really a fan of the protagonist dude’s narrative voice; he came across to me as a judgemental prat. Plus, obsessing for months over a woman one barely knows doesn’t show much depth of emotional maturity to me – sure, this is likely intentional, but it only alienated me further from the story.
Ollie Ollie Oxen Free
Challenging story material, which I appreciate. Love the diversity represented in the ragtag bunch of misfit schoolkids, and also being able to play from the perspective of a gay art teacher. Fiddly mechanical puzzle things were hard, and I totally peeked at the walkthrough several times, because I’m unapologetically bad at these games. My favourite things were a) adorbz responses to hugging the kids, and b) telling one of them that they don’t have to hug if they don’t want to.
Our Boys in Uniform
Enh, Iunno. As a Canadian pacifist who never bought into the whole YAY AMERICA thing in the first place, I don’t think I’m really the target audience for this game.
The Paper Bag Princess
Being a HUGE fan of the book since I was little, I’m already predisposed to liking this game. (Do non-Canadians even know who Robert Munsch is? He was as much of a household name in my childhood as Sharon, Lois & Bram.) I’m terrible at ASK/TELL conversations, so I had to peek at the walkthrough to figure out how to talk to the dragon. I was amused that xyzzying at the very beginning gave me an alternate puzzle solution.
A math homework/trivia game that doesn’t even work in non-IE browsers. This is an interactive fiction comp, not a puzzle comp… and even if it were the latter, this game still probably wouldn’t win.
Sam and Leo Go To The Bodega
I don’t know what to make of the blurb; feels like it’s mocking certain authors for making games about Serious Issues. The author’s name looked familiar, and then I saw he’d previously penned some screeds complaining about Porpentine and “zinesters”, so yeah. (“Porpentine & the Zinesters” is so going to be the name of my next riot grrl band.) The game itself is pretty much just Harold & Kumar-esque stoner comedy, which, as a non-stoner, I’ve never found terribly exciting.
Their Angelical Understanding
Gruesome, disturbing, powerful imagery. Pretty audiovisual effects. Like much of Porpentine’s work, something I may have to play a few more times to really let it sink in; this is poetry, and I’m generally more of a prose person. It is good at evoking the feelings, however. Forgiveness is hard and I’m still trying to figure that stuff out.
Trapped in Time
Ooh, a gamebook! The gimmick was fitting and the story itself filled me with all the childhood nostalgia.