Phil Riley's Really Short Reviews of SpringThing Games

Marie Waits by @dee_cooke

I chose this game first for two reasons (1) I’m a parser enthusiast, and (2) I liked Dee’s game from last year Things that Happened in Houghtonbridge. This is a short, lightly-puzzled story about a woman who finds herself in the clutches of some very bad people, from whom she must escape before something mysterious but likely awful happens. Unlike Houghtonbridge, which was Adventuron, this is an all-text barebones PunyInform game. The obstacles the player must overcome are pretty straightforward and not too hard, but the time limit gives it an urgency which actually works – it’s an incentive to be economical with turns, but it’s not so short that it feels frustrating. I’ll admit I ran out of time and had to back up to a save game, but only once, which is totally acceptable in my estimation. The implementation is pretty solid; there are a few places where things could be fleshed out with more text, and one minor bug that doesn’t affect gameplay, but nothing that detracts from enjoyment. To my taste, I’d like it a little harder and a little longer, but that’s not a knock on the game, that’s just me. In sum, it’s an enjoyable and well-done game that would be quite appropriate for beginners or those with a taste for lighter puzzling.

If this game were a tree it would be a dark foreboding tree of indeterminate type.


Many thanks for playing and for your lovely review! It was a bit of a balancing act to get the time limit right so I’m glad it worked out well.


Repeat the Ending by Drew Cook

No review yet, since I haven’t finished playing. But an exhortation to go play it yourself. This game is f’n brilliant.


Repeat the Ending by Drew Cook

This may or may not be a parser game, which may or may not be an update of what may or may not have been the original game from 1996, and which may or may not be autobiographical, annotated by persons who may or may not actually exist.

I say it may or may not be a parser game, because even though it’s keyboard driven and written in Inform, it is, as the game itself notes, “not a traditional, Zorkian game of things.” Not only does this mean that you won’t be focused on taking and dropping inventory items, but you won’t be concerned with puzzles in the typical sense. Yes, there are puzzles, but they’re not really the point of the game – they’re opportunities to screw up, to lose.

And screwing up, losing – being fucked up – is the story. The protagonist, D., who is also the narrator, maybe – (the pronouns I, you, and we are used interchangeably.) – is mentally ill, on disability, and lives in a trailer with piles of dirty clothing and dishes and “nerd stuff”. All he needs to do today is pick up his medication and get to the hospital to visit his mother. And that’s almost impossible to do, sometimes because of actual obstacles, and sometimes due to those his mind creates for him. And each of those obstacles is an opportunity to do the wrong thing, to make things worse. And that’s the point of the game, you soon learn – your score is based on how many wrong endings you reach. Do something wrong, earn a point, then start again right before the misstep.

Layered on top of this is a constant meta-commentary, in the form of footnotes, the narrator’s habit of questioning the player’s/protagonist’s lifestyle, choices, etc., and a rather extensive Guide known as the “Reader’s Companion to Repeat the Ending”. I wonder if the author intended this as a parallel to the obsessive negative self-talk of the mentally ill.

Repeat the Ending is a great accomplishment for an Inform game. It feels in many ways too “flowy” for a parser. The writing is very immediate, speaking directly to the player as if it were having a conversation with them. It’s emotionally engaging in a very brutal, direct manner.

Let me reiterate that this is not a traditional parser game, as a way to encourage those who avoid parser games to try this one. In many ways, it’s more like a Twine game than an Inform game. And it would be a shame if some missed out on it because of prior experiences with parsers.

Repeat the Ending is truly a remarkable game.

If this game were a tree, it would be the weird recursive tree generator at the Museum of Mathematics:


I helped test this version of RTE so I’ve been anxiously waiting for folks to play it and react to it – I agree, it’s a remarkable piece that I think has broad potential appeal (though I could also see some players justifiably not liking it! Different strokes and all that).

I’m looking forward to writing up some thoughts when I get through the games I didn’t test, but I’ll just flag that while I, you, and we are all used to refer to the protagonist, I’m pretty sure they’re not actually used interchangeably – RTE plays with the player-protagonist-narrator triangle more aggressively than most games from the last decade or so (I feel like that was a bigger thing in the late 90s/early aughts, appropriately enough).


Hey, Phil, thanks for reviewing my game! I decided to wait a couple of days before posting in case anyone wanted to discuss or comment (I’m always hesitant to post in a review thread after the author posts. Just a weird quirk, I guess). Anyway, it feels good to see my game discussed so thoughtfully. Thanks for spending time with it, and for letting me know about some issues with the festival release.

I’m glad you mentioned choice games, because that’s something I thought about a lot during my writing process.

(Mike, a few more items have been added to the guide, so there will be a couple of surprises yet!)



Nothing Could Be Further From the Truth by Adam Wasserman

Wow, way to put me off a game – mention Tucker Carlson!

I’ll finish – I just need a break for a little while. Ribbon: Worst Political Reference.


I am laughing… hope you do actually finish. It would be awful if people stopped playing because I couldn’t choose a better name.


I respectfully disagree! It is absolutely hilarious in its awfulness.