Rovarsson's Spring Thing 2022

Hello fellow Springthingers!

I’m jumping in a bit late this year. There was a hiking vacation in an internetless dark corner of France where my presence was required.

Internal mood-batteries replenished, I’m getting ready for this year’s IF Festival.

I’ve made an initial selection of eight games from the many great-looking options. First (this evening, wheee) will be Lady Thalia and the Rose of Rocroi, which I have been looking forward to from the moment I heard about it. We’ll see how it goes from there.

I’ll be posting short comments here to capture my impressions of the games and hopefully provide some helpful feedback to the authors. More elaborate reviews aimed at prospective players will appear over at IFDB, for games that I find particularly interesting in some way or other.

Have fun everyone, and many many thanks to all the authors!


Lady Thalia and the Rose of Rocroi

A delightful reacquaintance with Mel and Thalia. Their chemistry is even more electrifying than in the first game.
The game excels in pacing and rhythm. A gripping narrative arc with up- and down-tempo bits alternating. Beautiful use of language, practical and efficient with many humble gem-like sentences hidden in the paragraphs.

Very good game.

Full review: Lady Thalia and the Rose of Rocroi (IFDB)

Next up: Adrift



Unfinished though it clearly is, ADRIFT shows great promise. The two hard-science puzzles (the science is hard; the puzzles are not) at its core would put a smile on old Isaac’s face (or so I like to imagine).

Good scaffolding for what will hopefully become a great full game.

Next one in line: The Prairie House


The Prairie House

An eerie atmospheric horror piece. Good tension throughout. Great use of music and sound to enhance the mood. Great use of pixel art to illuminate the text. However, no matter how pretty you make the book cover, it’s the text (and, in the context of a text game, the implementation) that counts.
The game severely lacks customization and polish. It forbids perfectly reasonable actions without any explanation. (TAKE HOUSE PAPERS → “You can’t take it.”)

Always a good thing: I got interested in the history of Ukranian settlers in Canada and in the indigenous Ojibwa tribe. I have some historical learning to do. Thank you for that!

Good setting and idea, needs more work.

Next: Wry


FWIW, I think many of the frustrations you ran into are due to the way Adventuron’s parser works. I don’t know too many of the back-end details, but my sense is that it’s primarily inspired by old two-word parser games of the 80s, and while it can work with more complicated input, that requires a lot of additional work from the author. Like, in Inform adjectives are built into the parser’s understanding of an object if it’s created with a multi-word description, whereas I think in Adventuron all that needs to be done manually (and in some cases might need to be implemented separately for separate actions? I’m not sure about this bit but think I’ve heard something along those lines). I also find that the default responses aren’t super helpful – like, that “You can’t take it” could mean that you’re forbidden from taking the object, or it could mean that the parser doesn’t know what item you’re talking about due to the adjective issue and is just kind of bluffing.

Being used to more complex parsers (Inform, TADS, etc.) I found my first couple of Adventuron games pretty hard going, but there are some tricks that work. I’ve found that trying to force myself to rewrite complicated commands into two-word versions is often successful, and if I get an unsuccessful response to an action that I feel should have worked, I usually back up to try to X the different objects to make sure I’m using the simplest, most correct name for it. It’s definitely more mental effort for me than just sinking into an Inform game, but there are a lot of authors doing really cool things with Adventuron so I’m glad I stuck with it and figured out some of the parser’s idiosyncracies – given the wealth of games out there I can definitely understand not being excited about doing all that, though!


Oh, you’re completely right. Playing old DOS and BBC Micro games and recent Adventuron games has certainly shown me how spoiled I was to take TADS or Inform conveniences for granted. I have learned to not let the occasional (or even frequent) struggle with the parser spoil my enjoyment of a game.


Where BBC Micro games (for example) had to sift and trim and cut to get an entire game into the available disk space, Adventuron authors do have the benefit of limitless memory space. The structure of the underlying language may mean that it takes a lot of commitment and, well, work to customize default responses or implement many nouns, but there are no inherent obstacles to doing just that.

My favourite ParserComp game last year was Faeries of Haelstowne. I cursed at the parser many times but my love for the story and admiration for the author’s effort eventually won out. This year I playtested Custard & Mustard’s Big Adventure (you did too, I believe?). That game shows that it is certainly possible to tweak the default responses and smoothen the parser’s grumpiness a bit.

I read in the documentation that The Prairie House was made in a month or so. Impressive, certainly. It could use another month in polishing and testing though.

All in all, I really liked the slow haunting experience. Some of the irritating bumps just got in the way of getting deeper into the mood.


Let me in turn agree with everything you say here! I’m also a big fan of @chrism’s games – I love his writing and sensibility – and tested both the ones you mention, so am very aware of the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to wrangle Adventuron’s parser into a more player-friendly form. It is a good amount of work, though, and one cool thing about Adventuron is that it seems like it’s bringing in new authors for whom that might be daunting.

So I think reviews like yours here, flagging what’s good about a game while also mentioning that implementation challenges that make it harder for a player are really good – hopefully the player-facing tips are also useful for helping folks figure out how to get over the potholes and enjoy the good stuff!

(OK, I’ll stop derailing your review thread to bang on about Adventuron now)


In my experience, it’s impossible to bang on too much about Adventuron.


As an Adventuron author I largely agree with this. I see it as the author’s responsibility to manage these things, and while it can be a lot of work it is also a joy (or perhaps I have a strange concept of joy :smiley:).

It is a long learning process, though, and I find I’m still tweaking and improving my strategy for it a dozen games in. I’m always quite forgiving of parser frustration in newer authors’ games as a result. (For me it can be part of the charm of playing a game by somebody who’s new to the system, though maybe that’s because I’ve played a lot of such games!)

(And yes, I too will let you get back to your reviews now.)


@dee_cooke , @DeusIrae , @ChristopherMerriner

Oh, derail away and bang on about your pet IF language all you want. I was procrastinating anyway.

(Actually, I was busy laughing my arse off with the antics my PC gets up to in Wry.)



I’m suspecting the author of Wry of having a bit of a wry sense of humour.

It’s a very funny game, well written with a great sense of timing. You get a good feel for the PC whose mind seems to be playing embarassing (and somewhat pleasant…) tricks on him. In his confusion, slapstick ensues…

Expect to play through at least a few times to explore the surroundings to the fullest, remember the shortcuts and see what comes up. For the rest, as the response to HELP says: “You’re on your own. You can do it.” I won’t tell you any more.

I’ll be playing The Bones of Rosalinda next.


The Bones of Rosalinda

I had a blast with this!

A comedy-fantasy story with a sense for the macabre. An interesting NPC-who-turns-coPC with great deadpan delivery of his lines. Some good puzzlework in a slowly opening-up map.

Also: A Twine that plays like a parser, with all the fiddliness we’ve become accustomed to but still like to grumble about. (“We” being parser players)

EDIT: @fos1 and @ChristopherMerriner . Remember this thread: ParserComp 2022 is open! - #16 by J_J_Guest? About allowing Gruescript games in ParserComp. If the clicketiness of Gruescript is allowed, then a Twine like this, with a freely explorable map, object tracking, inventory juggling and lock-and-key puzzles should also meet the requirements. Blurring lines, I like it.

Full review: The Bones of Rosalinda - Details (

My next game will be The Wolf and Wheel.


Huh, my previous comment made me realize. For a self-designated parser player, I sure am liking the click/choice games a lot.


joinnnnn ussssssss



-fires up Anchorhead…CLIMB RUBBISH BIN…X UMBRELLA…JUMP…wipes sweat from brow-

Aaah! Much better now.


I have a pet theory that we should understand this period of IF history through a Hegelian/Marxist [1] framework – after the conflict between the thesis of parser and the antithesis of choice has subsided, we’re now in a time of synthesis, with authors moving more freely between and even blending the styles (with the audience following along). My crackpot elaboration of the pet theory is that in so doing, we’re kind of reinventing the graphic adventure except this time there mostly aren’t graphics (one day I will write this up, because I swear it makes sense).

[1] All I know about Marx is I read the Communist Manifesto and was entertained to learn that ~75% of it is diss tracks aimed at other, loser socialist groups. All I know about Hegel is I read 50 pages of the Phenomenology of Spirit and knew less about Hegel than I did when I started. So this nomenclature may not be 100% correct.


The Wolf and Wheel

The sacred burden of the innkeeper: listen to the patron’s stories, empathize with them, never tell anyone else. The innkeeper in this story goes deeper than most. He enters into the stories and somehow changes them.
Great setup for questions about choice and free will, the purpose of life and the nature of evil. The philosophy is a bit heavyhanded sometimes. Answering a question about the value of life by choosing from a list of choices feels forced.
The stories have a folklore quality. Powerful symbols and a magic-realist feel. The background world is intruiging: somehow the sun has stopped rising, leaving the people in constant night…
While I liked the content of the tales, the writing (choice of words, sentence structure,…) feels off sometimes, jagged and not fluent.
The artwork is very beautiful. I wanted more of it. I am not fond of the choice of letter type however, it doesn’t mesh well with the dreamy content. Maybe something more rounded or resembling handwriting would work better?

A good read which could be polished and edited some more.

Next up: Fairest.



A twisted tapestry of Grimm’s fairy-tales, broken up and rearranged. Disturbing, immersive, satisfying.
Meticulously implemented too.
The player-PC division was apparently added at the eleventh hour. @AmandaB , I stand in awe at how well you pulled this off. It adds a layer of depth I can hardly fathom. (hah)
True to fairy-tale endings, this one has a heavyhanded moral too. It’s a bit different though…

Extremely good game. One for the XYZZYs and the all-time IF top 50. (For those interested: most recent: Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2019 edition) - Details (

Full review: Fairest - Details (

Next: The Fall of Asemia


The Fall of Asemia

An intruiging, compelling story. Form fits content.

I like being thrown into the middle of a story and making sense of it bit by bit. (I read fantasy series out of order on purpose…)
The fact that I-as-protagonist am laboriously translating that story from unknown source material reinforces the feeling of discovery.

Well worth a read, and then another.

I’ll play Orbital Decay next.


Orbital Decay

A realistic depiction of troubleshooting a spaceship in fase red-alert. I like real-world puzzles and solutions. I didn’t feel the urgency in the situation to back up the puzzles though.
This game felt more like an interactive training drill to memorize procedure, with me constantly aware that I was in the simulator.
Nice use of pictures. Using real photographs brings the game closer to the player than drawings would. On the other hand, I thought they also added to the clinical feel.

Good, but not my cuppa.

Next up: Filthy Aunt Mildred