Subject to updates/changes without notice, update schedule may be erratic, void where prohibited.
I’m also definitely not going to mention number ratings yet, because I tend to rethink/overthink them and change them over the course of the competition-- I tend to give some weight to relative quality. I may also turn this first post into an index or something eventually, if it seems warranted. I haven’t exactly done this before, sorry.
16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonald’s
I liked this one. I didn’t have the time/patience/drive to go through all the possibilities yet, but it was puzzly without being impossible, and the hints to the different endings provided after play are both optional and actually helpful. Multiple-solution puzzles are a good concept, the writing was solid, the “skip intro” option is always welcome in any game that’s going to encourage replays. It’s probably not going to be my standout favorite of the competition or anything, but I thought it was solid and good. I may eventually go back for the endings I missed, even-- what completionist can resist the lure of a “true ending”?
Honestly, I couldn’t get too far with this one. The concept was interesting; the writing I saw seemed solid; it just really didn’t want to run very well on my laptop/browser. I get uncomfortable when my browser stops responding, even if it does recover fine after a few seconds. So I probably won’t be rating this one. And I probably don’t have a large enough blurb sample size to say much else about it, either.
A Time of Tungsten
Solid writing, lengthy (I mean that in a complimentary way), and interesting-- one of the ones I may continue to think about after it’s over. No small feat. I admit I’m left a bit frustrated at various lacunae, but I get the feeling that most, if not all, of that was intentional. Still, if you prefer your plots neatly explained, be forewarned-- despite loads of expository detail elsewhere, some things won’t ever really be explained. Some people hate that, which is ok. I don’t happen to be one of them. Anyway, probably my top pick thus far (got a lot to go, though), and certainly the one I’ve been compelled to write the most about.
[spoiler]Like I said, it’s hard to discern between intentional frustration (the system isn’t perfect, this is second-hand, no story is ever complete, etc) and any lapses of writing. I wish there had been a little more context to the ending, as well as a little more attention given to the post-machine days. The narrator clearly regrets it and seems to place some of the blame for her predicament on it, but why? We hear how people felt about it before it happened, but we hear nothing from them afterward, as I recall. It would have been nice to see something of the effects it had on them-- we can kind of gather some of it through the narrator’s writing, but that is, itself, shaped by the computers and the chip. You can say that perhaps she didn’t feel free to think about any repercussions of it or anything negative about it, but a little better sense of it would have been nice.
As to the ending, a little more context would have been nice. The husband coming out of nowhere is perfectly OK-- the narrator has no particular reason to know about it, and I kind of like it; it emphasizes how little she really ever knew about this woman, about any of her workmates. But why the hell respond to a distress call by blindly ramming into a planet? On the one hand, it’s reasonable enough that the captain didn’t have time or inclination to explain and this poor woman (perhaps no one) will ever know what really happened, but it is frustrating, as a reader. It’s a little sudden and a little illogical-- but people often are. Again, could be intentional.
I also don’t think I had the reaction I was supposed to have to the scene with the figures. I was all “Yeah, dying people hallucinate, this is a hallucination” while the… playtester guy, as it were? was all “AAAAA WAS IT REAL YOU’LL THINK I’M CRAZY AAAA”. He was experiencing it firsthand, of course, so it’s not that his reaction doesn’t make sense; it’s just that the ensuing conversation was all “you believe me, right? please don’t report me to HR”, and the answer “well, I guess you probably experienced that”, when I would’ve expected the answer to be “well of course you experienced that, she was hallucinating, that doesn’t mean it might have been real or that anything is going wrong in any way”. I dunno.
Anyway, the fact that I’m bothering to go on about it like that is a sign of quality, I think.
(Added: the “gender” and “orientation” bits of the crewpeople’s profiles were hard to interpret for me. It seemed an odd way to phrase it, and I couldn’t figure out what it was getting at. Either everyone was gay, or “orientation” meant “attracted to the gender this gender is stereotypically attracted to”…? I don’t know, but I don’t remember it making much sense.)
Anyone tried following the underlined letters in the credits page? I think they’re a username/pw for that one login screen, but it takes some replaying to get there, and I ran into some unrelated technical difficulties while trying. Plus, my stance on spoilers is, by all means, keep them hidden and easily avoidable for those who don’t want them, but also keep them still available for those who do.[/spoiler]
Aether Apeiron: The Zephyra Chronicles
Honestly, between spelling/grammar mistakes and gratuitous fantasy-word syndrome (even if it’s all Greek, my classics minor was in Latin, so it’s all… you can finish that one yourself), plus a structure that makes it a little difficult to tell what’s going to be an aside and what’s going to be progress, I haven’t gotten very far into this one. I may yet try to later. (In the process of this: the chapter-intro quotes don’t seem to have much connection to the content thus far, and if you’re gonna drag up quotes on Greek gender ideas, I would suggest that these days, you’d better have a good reason. What does fishing have to do with females being submissive to males…?? Or even the order of things? I don’t even.)
All I Do is Dream
I like Twine, and I think it’s very important to have a variety of games about depression and other mental issues. I entirely support this. But, to be honest? It’s another Twine game about depression, and one of the shorter ones. It’s not bad! The writing is solid and it’s put together well. It’s just kind of short. It doesn’t bring much that’s new to the table, but that’s okay.
Ariadne in Aeaea
Reasonably well written and implemented. Kind of short, but I don’t like throwing that kind of stone at parser games, it’s not like I’ve ever had the patience to build one. I liked it well enough, but I wasn’t wild about it, really-- historical isn’t really my cup of tea, even with a cup of fantasy tossed in, nor could I really connect to the characters. It was still pretty good, just not enough to my taste for me to be a real fan.
Have not been able to get the thing to work. Am not inclined to try downloading things until I have to. Will check back later.
Black Rock City
Candid admission: I do not get Burning Man, and I doubt I ever will. No problems with the writing; the interface was interesting but the dragging is a little annoying with my touchpad; a bit short but branches a lot. Done fine, just doesn’t grab me. And a bit short.
Cactus Blue Motel
I rather liked this one. Just long enough to be interesting, didn’t get too stuck or confused at any point, interesting storyline and good writing. Plot is pretty much straight-up Hotel California, so as someone who used to listen to the live version on repeat as a kid, it didn’t really blow me away with its inventiveness. And I felt like there was a little untapped potential with the characters-- it would have been nice to hear more about, pretty much everybody. Which says that the characters were interesting enough that I wanted to know more about them; this is a good thing. It was quite good, I just felt like it could have been even better. Definitely my second favorite so far (though again, early days, I’m sorry if I’m damning with faint praise).