Noah's IF Spaceworld 2023- Evaluations

LUNIUM (Ben Jackson)

What it is about: Escape room and murder mystery. No supernatural elements or creatures involved here.

The good: The illustrations, the Victorian-era setting.

The bad: The ending is somewhat anticlimactic. More areas to explore would be fun.

The Huh: Given the number of objects and areas that we have, this could be implemented in parser format. Of course, this would mean that we won’t have access to the illustrations.

Grade: 65.8%


Lonehouse (Ayu Sekarlangit Mokoginta)

What it is about: Returning to your estranged sister’s house and sifting through her belongings and recollecting memories.

The good: Your sister’s legacy will live on. A moderate response to coping with grief, loss and the death of a family member.

The bad: Most of the time spent was on inspection and reflection, and not much else to do- in particular descriptions of stuff tend to be a little on the short side. Granted it is short, but we could also have a poem!

The Huh: More childhood nostalgia please!

Grade: 69.2%


The Sculptor (Yakoub Mousli)

What it is about: Being an elderly sculptor, no achievements, no money, and finishing your magnum opus (or not). More recollections about your life.

The good: Surreal and reflective. Moderately greyish slice-of-life.

The bad: There is only one significant choice- to destroy your honor or to destroy your craft- once again, more destruction at the endgame. The context to this story needs to be fleshed out more.

The Huh: Can’t there be some way to preserve your legacy, unlike in Lonehouse?

Grade: 65.3%


All Hands (Natasha Ramoutar)

What it is about: Being on a ship: dancing, recollecting and more dark scenes- of death, neglect, abuse, family tension, etc. I guess that nautical, murder mystery and dark are the main setpieces for many of this year’s entries.

The good: The areas of the ship you get to explore- including the dreaded storage room where the ghost of your sister shows up. The mention of some deep-sea monsters. Who doesn’t like kraken? The dance scene. The dark scenes.

The bad: The primary choice is what sort of song you would sing- once again at the endgame. And all endings seem a little… weird, I guess?

The Huh: Well, we could have more of the ship to explore. And find out who killed your sister, of all things.

Grade: 71.3%


Dysfluent (Allyson Gray)

What it is about: You stutter a lot, and this is a day in your life.

The good: The recollection scenes (again). The fluency difficulty options are clearly color-coded. Starting out in a nightmare is often overused, but clearly appropriate for someone who stutters all the time and is in a no-win situation.

The bad: Having a covertness scale makes it misleading- ‘covertness’ is more fitting for an espionage setting. Calling it a fluency scale would have been better. And the final act of the job interview is not winnable- but you still have a good friend in the end, I guess?

The Huh: Silence is not always golden, even if there is an achievement for one. And what’s with the expletives?

Grade: 74.4%


The Whale’s Keeper (Ben Parzybok)

What it is about: You are swallowed by a whale. It’s dark all around. Time to explore what’s inside it, and hopefully find some way out. It uses Telegram, one more example of writing IF in media not meant for IF (there was one that used Google Forms, of all things).

I ended up staying in the whale with Jonah. A utopian society? Who knows?

The good: 21st century Jonah and his interactions were sweetly described. The exotic tools that Jonah had, the alien environment inside the whale, despite it being dark and dirty, clearly has a mystical aura to it. It also gives off the sense of actually living through Merville’s Moby-Dick.

The bad: We could have used more protagonist backstory. And more of the whale to explore. Mentions of suicide put a dampener. Especially if you end up being part of the whale… Moreover, having a sanity stat makes it feel like I’m expecting more horror scenes. Given what happened with All Hands, I was suspecting that this could happen with this one too.

The Huh: Being in the belly of the whale is a transition phase- but this time, to what, exactly? Could it be a metaphor for freedom? Also, it has a pseudo-parser format. And is there an ending where you get out of the whale and not die?

Grade: 76.6%


Detective Osiris (Adam Burt)

What it is about: Step into the shoes of Osiris and discover the cause of your murder. Ancient Egyptian mythology, but retold as a murder mystery.

The good: Going to different places: the land of the dead, the land of the sky and different areas of ancient Egypt. The description is accurate and warming. Talking to different Egyptian deities to reveal what they do and who they are immerses yourself into their world, rather than as a passive bystander (see below). The ending reminds me of Detective Pikachu of all things.

The bad: More puzzles and riddles would be nice. And not all of the Egyptian pantheon is introduced. (Horus, Amun, Sobek, Bastet?) Also more stuff on birth too.

The Huh: An alternative approach would be a Night at the Museum like, or a book approach not unlike A Beauty Cold and Austere, where the exhibits or stories literally transport you to the scene of the incident. If it worked for mathematical concepts, it would also work for historical events, and these are way easier to explain. Given my mathematical background and that I have heard that Beauty was a good way to introduce said concepts, I would also think that this game would be good in introducing ancient Egyptian history, but the murder mystery touches on only one particular aspect.

Grade: 75.2%


Thank you for taking the time to review Detective Osiris!

I appreciate your feedback.


In the Details (M. A. Shannon)

What it is about: You’re a rock star about to go for their first major blockbuster performance, but something’s gone wrong. Devilishly wrong. And you have to fix it before it’s too late.

The good: The unexpected plot twist. The title is pun on the saying ‘the devil’s in the details’ (took me some time to decipher that). The darkness gets thrown right in your face- in times like these, verbose descriptions are unnecessary.

The bad: Looks like you can’t cheat Death in the face. All ending involve you outright dying or someone else takes your place, resulting in a cliffhanger. Also, they are too abrupt. The stage is set, and then, suddenly, game over. The meat and potatoes of the story would have been your escape from Death itself, but the story focuses too much on the wrong part of the journey.

The Huh: Where are the epic chase scenes? Where are the humorous scenes?

Grade: 63.5%


Parser games with illustrations shouldn’t really be an impossibility, in this day and age; my concern with making this a parser is, how would you deal with an assortment of verbs? For most objects, all you can do is examine them or interact with them in one particular way (which the links work well for).


Thank you so much for the review!

It’s very cool to see your specific takeaways from the game, and it makes me happy to hear that you enjoyed parts of it!
I’ll definitely keep in mind the things you found confusing when working on a potential post-comp version.

I won’t blab too much about my intent and process while the comp is underway, but just leaving a small note here for anyone curious about the use of “covertness” in a stuttering context:


Covertness (and its antonym “overtness”) are used to indicate whether a person is comfortable with their stutter being noticed or known by others.

Simply put, it’s about the stutterer’s relationship to the disorder and it encompasses internal experiences, as opposed to fluency which describes external symptoms.

Articles like this one provide a pretty good overview of the phenomenon, and there are also scientific studies exploring the reasons why people may choose to be overt or covert in different environments (and the impact that each approach can have).

I find it really interesting and funny that it reminded you of espionage – with my specific and narrow scope on the word, the other meaning never even popped into my mind the whole time I was working on the game! That broadened my horizons in an unexpected way. :smile:

(Maybe I could write the first ever IF crossover of espionage and speech pathology, where you get sneakier the more you hide your stutter… “Stuttering Spies”? “Agent Zero-Zero-Stammer”?)


The Ship (Sotiris Niarchos)

What it is about: Two captains. Two ships. (despite the title) One common destiny.

The good: The story is told from two points of view, which is difficult to pull off, but it does so successfully. The eclectic mix of pirate and sci-fi. The troubled pasts of the main and supporting characters. The puzzles. The explorable areas. There is a lot to do here. Most of all, these two points of view collide in the end, revealing new horizons… And we have the two ingredients needed for a good IF game: good puzzles, and good reflective plot.

The bad: The length. It is really ambitious (for a two-hour game, it’s slightly over the limit) and has a lot of things it wants to say. It can also be a little difficult on the side.

The Huh: How do I get the last 3 achievements? And welp, parser-like commands for using items (whatever little of them we have) and for talking to people, or in one case, the central computer.

Grade: 87.5%


The Gift of What You Notice More (Xavid)

What it is: You want to leave your house, but something’s not quite right. Enlist the help of a mysterious angel and three sages and all will be clear, right? Sort of escape room cum puzzle-like piece.

The good: Pouring insight on a photo to enter it- no Mario 64 shenanigans here. Three different photos, each holding three different lessons, so you are forced to revisit the photos and use stuff that you have previously acquired in new areas.

The bad: The surreality and abstraction are overdone, to the point where I am forgetting the main objective and just ‘using x on y’ and suddenly, the lesson pops up in my face all at once. In other words, build up is not very clear.

The Huh: The endgame felt sort of anticlimactic. No heartbreaks, you just leave the house, I guess?

Grade: 69.7%


Tricks of Light in the Forest (Pseudavid)

What it is about: Exploring the forest. What can you find there?

The good: Plenty of areas in the forest to explore and plenty of stuff to collect. It is not mandatory to collect everything. The pseudo-parser user interface (examine, touch, photograph, collect), compared to The Gift of What You Notice More, is easier to use here.

The bad: Looks like there are no other humans beside yourself. No, I’m not counting the wild boar or the monitor lizards. The hut could use a little more exploration within it. There are no major puzzles at all (see below).

The Huh: It could be a little longer, I guess. The title suggests that light, or optical illusions, are key, but there seem to be no puzzles that revolve around this mechanic. At least it’s not a haunted forest, given that it’s Halloween month, this would be appropriate but generic.

Grade: 77.4%


Dick McButts Gets Kicked in the Nuts (Hubert Janus)

What it is about: Different ways Dick McButts can get kicked.

The good: The dry, weird and crude humor. (Un)like Pick Up The Phone Booth And Aisle, this one takes eclectics to the extreme. Darth Vader, Hitler, car chase, cyborg, restaurant, factory… you name it, and it will show up somewhere. One central idea, and multiple possible ways to toy with it, all of them crazily executed. Fourth wall breaks galore.

The bad: Seemingly, this piece lacks a clear plot. At least in Pick Up The Phone Booth And Aisle, you probably know what you should not do (Shoryuken the phone booth for the win!). Here, there is absolutely no ideas of what you should do.

The Huh: Why did the author decide to do a crude humor entry? The answer will probably never be revealed. The crude humor, in excess, may be off-putting to certain people (alas, me included).

Grade: 66.6% (since it’s a joke entry, I’ll give a humorous grade)


The Paper Magician (Soojung Choi)

What it is about: The coming-of-age of another magician (as compared to the one in Lake Starlight)- this time, they’re a test subject. They escape from a mysterious lab.

The good: You are the specimen, the ultimate lifeform. An interesting, albeit short, puzzle. You finally end up among the stars.

The bad: Not enough backstory and lore (for a fantasy genre). What made them end up here in the lab? You can’t name the cat. There is a cliffhanger ending. Also, I was hoping for gimmicks, since you are a magician, but I didn’t find any.

The Huh: Curiosity really killed the (Schrodinger’s) cat, I guess.

Grade: 64.4%


Xanthippe’s Last Night with Socrates (Victor Gijsbers)

What it is about: You are Xanthippe, and this is your last chance to hang out with your philosopher husband before he has to drink the poison that befell his life. Time to drink a cup of wine and start kissing his cheeks.

The good: The lighthearted, witty humor. Chock full of philosophical quotes, mostly those of Plato, especially the cave. Someone really wants to be a horny cow here. And some dose of Greek mythology (we already had some Egyptian). The spicy (?) romance. A fun little romp.

The bad: It can be dark and explicitly sexual sometimes- something I’m not quite used to. This needs more Socratic sayings. Why can’t they do more stuff together on their last night?

The Huh: Since we don’t know much about Xanthippe, much of her personality was constructed by the author- and while it may not be that exaggerated, it makes it feel like it is so. That one-and-only philosophical heroine that she is still difficult to warp my head around.

Grade: 75.6%


The Library of Knowledge (Elle Sillitoe)

What it is about: You visit an ancient library and find out more about your world and your past. You also meet a mysterious deity. Also featuring: a mysterious illness, a goat.

The good: Nice pet goat, Chinese cultural references. Moreover, the inaccurate depiction of the West as something more Eastern Orthodox feels strangely appropriate. And you get to ride a dragon.

The bad: Some parts, in particular the world lore and your own story, are too linear and are thus better suited for a short story instead. In fact, so is the dialogue with the deity, which feels more of a philosophical discussion (we’ve already had one earlier). Good conceptual idea, poor execution. Why not let us make more decisions at the start of the story rather than ‘Finish the story’? Flashback, while overused, should have been used here.

The Huh: I think the premise of humanity being able to evolve on their own without the past to hold them back needs to be explored more. There needs to be more to explore within the library, otherwise it feels more of a temple than a library. And what exactly is the message that the writer wants to put across, for I didn’t completely get it?

Grade: 55.4%


One Knight Stand (A. Hazard)

What it is about: You’re headed to polo club practice when something unsettling happens… wait, why is Merlin here… the apocalypse is now… A crossover between Arthurian legend, Among Us, Spirited Away, Resident Evil, and more. My final stats:

Magic : 12 Physical : 12 Intelligence : 33 Charisma : 32

Bold : 70 Sweet : 95 Sassy : 1 Optimist : 53

Health(at Climax) : 52 Health(Final) : 91 Wound : healed Serious Injuries : 2

Caution : 18 Will : 0 Apathy : 0 Purity : 1 Cloudcuckoolanderness : 10 Denial : 6 Coward : 0 Silent : 7 Mute : false Pottymouth : 0 Intimidation : 0

Arthurian Lore : 2 Serenades : 2 Interpretive Dances : 2 Crimes : 0 Known Crimes : 0 Reject the Call : 0 Ward Status : 6 Lore Dump : 0 Lore Dodge : 0

Tech : 10 Medical : 25 Internet : 50 Criminal : 0 Botany : 0

Club : polo Job : wildlife biologist Hobby : internet Talent : tactics Using Pseudonym? : false Pet : None Dibs : None

Childhood : accident Secret : inhuman Crazy Theory : None Crazy Theory Level : 0 Two-Faced : False

Vice : lust Addiction : internet Fear : fear Fear Level (at Climax) : 23 Corruption : 5 Mindcontrol : true

Random Appearance: false Attractiveness Level : 1 Striking : 2 Body Type: 1 Height: average Best Feature: figure

Tattoos : 0 Striking Tattoos : false Scars : 0 Striking Scars : false Piercings : 0 Striking Piercings : false

Striking Clothes : false Heavy Clothes : false Long Clothes : false Flashy Mask : true Haircolor Striking : true Eyecolor Striking : false

Merlin Affinity : 61 Merlin Flirt : 41 Merlin Bond : 1 Merlin Gender : female

Adrian Affinity : 86 Adrian Flirt : 3 Adrian Past Bond : 0 Adrian Current Bond : 1

Weapons : squirt gun | iron lamp |

Inventory : wardrobe | laptop | Magic 8 Ball | bible | pearls of protection | Arthurian Lore guide |

Achievements : Possessed | Nepenthes | BBQ Deferred | One Small Step…

The good: Plenty of humor and pop cultural references abound. Despite the horror and fantasy themes being the two pillars of this piece, there are just so many appropriately and sometimes weird references. There is just so many things to do, so many different ways to respond, so many items you can use (I didn’t get the fake Excalibur, for instance). Even your final words can be direct or Shakespearean. Since it is only the first chapter, there is plenty to build on, but the bar is already set very high.

The bad: The length- the first chapter is equivalent in length to several chapters from other ChoiceScript games. The stat-intensiveness- there are plenty of things to keep track of, with a lot of details being introduced over the course of the game, making it easy to forget about what exactly is happening right now. The flashback in the prologue could have been inserted elsewhere.

The Huh: What’s with the Corruption stat? And what do the other tracked stats mean? And where are we headed next? Can we have other hobbies?

Grade: 82.7%


Kaboom (Anonymous)

What it is about: This is when the games start getting longer, harder and more complicated to digest. You are a toy teddy bear, er I mean a toy hare, and you need to escape from the house, even if you are your mistress’ favorite toy. Translated from Russian, which is why the writing can feel odd sometimes (some Russian stuff also are untranslated for emphasis).

The good: The opening looks innocent enough, but blood soon seeps into the picture- there is more than what lies on the surface. There are a good deal of things to interact with. Seeing things from the perspective of a toy is interesting. It’s dark, but not too dark. No stereotypical Russian stuff, which is great, considering that this is of Russian origin.

The bad: Like The Gift of What You Notice More, this piece touches on dark issues, veiled by a curtain of ‘escape room mechanics’ that hints at a pseudo-parser format. The title is really misleading. I thought it was some kind of military espionage, and it turned out to be something along the lines of, if not more than that. The endgame felt like a letdown- I was expecting some major confrontation, but didn’t get any- ‘fortunately stuff like these only happen in fairytales’, they say.

The Huh: I did not totally get what this piece was trying to convey and the message it brings across- until the credits when it once again highlights the horrors of (the Ukraine) war. And also, what’s with the flashback? What do the sun, moon and fire represent?

Grade: 70.3%