Micro-reviews on the IFComp games I actually got to play

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.

100,000 years

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.

Autumn’s Daughter

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.

The Challenge

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.

Final Girl

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.

Whenever I see “100,000 years” it makes me think of that “We must be doing something right to last 200 years” song from the movie Nashville. I don’t know why I chose now to mention it.

Whenever I see “100,000 years” it makes me think of Chinese courtiers wishing their emperor a reign of “a thousand, a thousand, a thousand-thousand years”.

Whenever I see “100,000 Years” it makes me think of the adorable small Flash game “400 Years.”

Whenever I smell asphalt, I think of Maureen.

Ow! What was that? The game about the biker, isn’t it? What was it?

Full Throttle.

Wow, trip to the past. I could quote the entire introduction…

Mark Hamill’s most memorable performance by far.

Ah, but for some of us Mark Hamill will always be Detective Mosely. Just like Tim Curry will always be Gabriel Knight, and “the voodoo lady from Curse of Monkey Island” will be Malia Gedde (and the bartender from CMI will always be the innkeeper on Gabriel Knight 2. Even after I actually saw him on an X-Files episode).

I really like GK, in case you didn’t notice. [emote];)[/emote]

And Leah Remini on KING OF QUEENS was his receptionist/assistant, snarking it up way back when. I remember seeing a video interview with her about the game and liking her a lot.

Yeah… I really liked Joanne Takahashi, but Leah Remini was THE Grace Nakimura.

It’s going to be seriously weird when the GK Annyversary remake comes out with an all-new voice cast. I personally don’t think GK1 needs a remake at all. GK3, on the other hand…

Erm… now I suppose we should get back on-topic. [emote]:)[/emote]

Hmm. I am sure that that was not the message I was trying to send. Considering that it is based on a bunch of stories I know to be true, this ay have crept in unintentionally.

[spoiler]The “problem” with Autumn’s Daughter is that it employs a design where events and characters aren’t set from the beginning but player choices can change them retroactively. It’s seen most obviously with the character that can turn out to be either a slave trader or a NGO employee, depending on what the player chooses to think about them after meeting with them (I’m pretty sure Squinky was referring to this).

I’m not too fond of this kind of design personally and in this case I can see how it might seem inappropriate because it teaches that you are safe to trust people as long as you think only good things about them, which is not how real life works.[/spoiler]

Point taken. To be honest, I consider this to be the weakest point of the game as well. Since I’ll be doing an updated release, I will be eliminating that problem, which was not possible during the comp, IMO.

I look forward to the updated version!

Maybe I’m a horrible person, but I thought…

I had this idea that Layla was a brothel madam in both cases; it’s just that the protagonist can choose whether she’s okay with prostitution or not – whether she sees it as another form of slavery, or as a preferable alternative to her current situation.

Miseri at least one other person mentioned that interpretation. But I am not okay with it personally and I’m reasonably sure that this is a minority interpretation. I’d rather clarify it then leave it in the form of a potential land mine.